September 7, 2012

The Democratic Party's Hostility to Religion and Israel

There's no other way to interpret this than outright hostility to religion and Israel:

The description on the Youtube site:

"DNC Vote on Platform Change - At 2012 Democrat National Convention, DNC Chair Antonio Villaraigosa holds three votes on reinserting references to "God" and "Jerusulem" back into the Democratic Party platform. The language had been removed from the 2012 Democrat Party platform, igniting a firestorm of criticism but reflective of the Obama administration's often lukewarm support for Israel and the President's omission of references to "God" from his readings of the Declaration of Independence. The DNC Chair tries three times to secure the required two-thirds floor vote for the platform change, but a majority of the Democrat delegates clearly vote each time against the platform change. Finally, the DNC Chair gives up, cynically declares that 2/3 of the delegates have voted for the platform change, and the motion passes. The delegates boo in disapproval of Chicago politics on display at the convention."

The editors of the Washington Times have the full story:

Obama's party says no to God
Convention meltdowns show Democrats are in disarray
by The Washington Times

The most memorable moment of the Democratic National Convention was when the delegates denied God three times from the convention floor. It was the latest blunder in an Obama re-election effort that increasingly looks like it doesn't have a prayer.

The deity issue arose when conservatives slammed Democrats for deleting references to God and a united Jerusalem that were in the liberals' 2008 platform. The slap must have stung because the Obama campaign quickly orchestrated a floor amendment to stuff the clauses in the previously approved 2012 platform. It should have been a pro-forma matter, but when convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, called the vote, the floor responded with a vigorous "no" twice. In a fit of procedural integrity, Mr. Villaraigosa tried to get the required two-thirds to amend a third time, but the "no's" were louder than ever. Finally, visibly frustrated, he announced the motion had passed even though everyone in the hall knew it hadn't. It was amateur hour.

It's not surprising that Democratic delegates were generally hostile to God. According to the latest Gallup numbers, President Obama has a 46 percent advantage over Mitt Romney among those who profess "no religion" and lags 23 percent behind Mr. Romney among those who say they are "highly religious." Asking a group of Democratic true believers -- or in this case, true nonbelievers -- whether they want God in the platform is their secular equivalent of blasphemy.

Democrats compounded the platform blunder by not getting their story straight. The Obama campaign claimed omitting God and Jerusalem was a "technical" error, whatever that means. It was reported that Mr. Obama had seen and signed off on the original godless platform, but then the campaign denied he had approved it. Either way, the platform bears the mark of Mr. Obama, who is mentioned by name 38 times and cited more than 200 times in the 40-page manifesto. Voters are left with the conclusion that either Mr. Obama saw the platform in advance and thought it was fine or the president simply isn't on top of things.

The Obama campaign also bungled the Jerusalem issue. The inserted language pledges support for a united Jerusalem, which is not administration policy. The campaign said this reflected Mr. Obama's personal preference, in which case it has no place in a party platform. The hedge, of course, was designed to appease the Democrats' strong pro-Palestinian faction, which nixed the Jerusalem language in the first place. Mr. Obama's clear message to them was, "I support your vision of a divided Jerusalem, but I have to say some things to shore up my sagging support among Jews."

Getting down to brass tacks, these convention snafus expose serious flaws in Mr. Obama's operation. In 2008, the liberal media ran with the story line that the Obama campaign was a well-oiled machine that could do no wrong in its inevitable march to victory. Times have changed. The money isn't rolling in; the crowds aren't showing up; and Democrats can't even pull off a rigged voice vote to amend their own platform without causing a major embarrassment for their nominee. Forward, indeed.

The Democrats didn't always used to be this way, of course. Before the '70s they were center-left, a coalition that included defense hawks and real fiscal conservatives. Today's crowd is all about abortion, free contraception, big mommy government, and an outright disdain for the things of middle America, or most people on the coasts, for that matter.

Of course I didn't watch their convention. I've got better things do to than subject myself to their nonsense. The Times calls the scene above "amateur hour." Were that this was the case. No, it was more a two-minute hate than anything else. But such is the state of the Democrats.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 5, 2012

Debbie Wasserman Liar

Obnoxious, arrogant, and loudmouthed, Debbie Wasserman Schultz is perfect as the face of the Democratic Party. It is only suitable that she be DNC Chair.

Photobucket'

And, since the left is all in a tizzy over Paul Ryan's alleged "lies" (which aren't),let's do do a quick post about a real lie that their chairman has told:

Debbie Wasserman Akin
by William Kristol
Sept 5, 2012

Todd Akin, a six-term congressman and Senate nominee from Missouri, said something stupid and offensive a couple weeks ago. Akin apologized for the comment, and was nonetheless promptly rebuked by every leading Republican, including the presidential nominee. GOP leaders announced they were cutting off support for his Senate race and launched a concerted effort to persuade him to withdraw.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a four-term congressman from Florida and the Democratic National Committee chair, falsely ascribed a statement to the Israeli ambassador for her own partisan purposes, and then falsely denied having said what she did say. Has any senior Democrat repudiated her, or asked her to step down as chair of the national party--a much more significant role than Todd Akin ever had, and one that she holds at the party's, and at President Obama's, sufferance?

Every important Republican was asked about Akin in the days following his comment. Will reporters ask leading Democrats whether they stand by their national chair, who has doubly lied about a matter of international import? Will any Democrats have the courage to call on Debbie to go?

Posted by Tom at 9:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 2, 2012

Joe Biden't Greatest Hits

Since some liberals are (unsuccessfully) trying to knock Paul Ryan down, I thought it would be a good idea to take a trip down memory lane and recall just what the Democrat vice presidential candidate is all about.

Joe Biden is just the gift that keeps on giving. The usual excuse from the left is that he just "misspoke" or "made a simple mistake anyone can make." That works if you're trying to spell a word like, oh, say, "potato," but it doesn't work with Biden. He has not simply slipped up; he's an historical ignoramus, a liar, and is at best racially insensitive.

Remember these?

Here's where he thought FDR was president in 1929 and went on TV to explain the stock market crash

Here's him telling a man in a wheelchair to "stand up!"

Here's one of his little racial "slip ups:"

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Here he is as outright liar

Jonah Goldberg provides the context and background:

... Biden also seems driven in no small part by a staggering intellectual insecurity. The figurative evidence room is full of examples. The most notorious comes from Biden's 1988 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He had been hounded about his law-school record and plagiarism problems (among other things, he copied five pages from a law journal for a 15-page paper and then claimed it was a footnoting error), and he was asked a question about his academic record by a resident of New Hampshire.

He responded: "I think I have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect." He went on:

I went to law school on a full academic scholarship, the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship. In the first year in the law, I decided I didn't want to be in law school and ended up in the bottom two-thirds of my class and then decided I wanted to stay, went back to law school, and, in fact, ended up in the top half of my class. I won the international moot-court competition. I was the outstanding student in the political-science department at the end of my year. I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school and 165 credits -- only needed 123 credits. And I would be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours.

Most of these statements were outright lies. Biden graduated from college with just one degree, not three. Yes, he did win a moot-court competition, but he graduated 76th in his class of 85. He wasn't the outstanding political-science student. And why is he still talking about how many credits he graduated with? Who does that?


Finally, here's one in which Biden is correct; Hillary Clinton would have made a better vice president:

I could go on and on listing Biden's gaffes, see here and here for more.

Bottom line; the man is a blithering idiot and I look forward to more Bidenisms as the campaign continues!

Posted by Tom at 7:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2012

1200 Days Since Senate Democrats Passed a Budget, and $5 Trillion Deeper in Debt

No wonder Harry Reid wants to talk about Mitt Romney's tax returns:

'1,200 Days and $5 Trillion in New Debt Since Senate Dems Passed a Budget'
The Weekly Standard
by David Halper
August 8, 2010

Tomorrow will mark a milestone: It will be 1,200 days since Senate Democrats passed a budget, during which time Congress amassed $4.8 trillion in new debt.

Later today, the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee will release this chart, detailing these startling numbers:

Photobucket

Congress has spent $11.2 trillion since passing its last budget on April 29, 2009, according to the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee. The new debt since that date is $4.8 trillion.

"Since the last budget resolution was passed 1,200 days ago, the government has borrowed 42 cents of every dollar spent," the chart notes. The chart is based on Treasury Department figures.

In a joint statement, Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions and House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan mark the milestone.

"Tomorrow marks another disappointing record for the United States Senate: Senate Majority Leader Reid and his Democrat conference will have gone an unprecedented 1,200 days without adopting a budget plan as required by law," write Sessions and Ryan. "Not only have they failed to adopt a budget, but with America under threat of financial calamity, they have refused to even present a plan for public scrutiny. Last year, Majority Leader Reid said it would be 'foolish' to do a budget and the legally required Budget Committee mark-up was cancelled. No plan from his conference has seen the light of day. He refuses to disclose who he plans to tax and how he plans to spend taxpayers' money."

This year, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad committed to bringing forth a budget plan and conducting a mark-up, and was shut down by the Majority Leader. Once again, the conference put forward no proposal and offered nothing on the Senate floor. The Senate Majority did not offer up a single plan or even cast a vote in support of a single plan. By contrast, House Republicans laid out and adopted a credible, responsible plan that avoids this looming debt crisis with spending cuts and pro-growth tax reform while preserving the safety net.

Never before has our nation needed a budget and a long-term financial plan as badly as it needs one now. The Congressional Budget Office stated this week that the federal government is on track to run another trillion-dollar deficit this year and our debt will continue to explode with this continued lack of leadership. In addition to huge deficits, we face a $4 trillion tax increase at the end of this year and a sequester that Defense Secretary Panetta said will 'do catastrophic damage to the military.' Responsible and moral leadership requires the Senate to meet its legal obligation to pass a budget and to begin to address the fiscal crisis that is fast approaching our nation.


Posted by Tom at 6:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2012

Hard Times for the Left, with ObamaCare at the Supreme Court at the Top

For all the troubles in the GOP presidential field that I've detailed here, it's easy to forget how much it sucks to be a liberal Democrat these days. And, full admission, the troubles on the left escaped me until I read a post by Steven Hayward at Powerline in which he pointed out that "It is typical for politically-engaged people to note the weaknesses and defects of their own side, while overestimating the strength and prowess of their opponents." Reading the rest of it, I immediately saw how right he was.

Regardless of the eventual ruling, opinion around the political spectrum is in universal agreement that the solicitor general's attempt to defend ObamaCare was an unmitigated disaster. Donald Verrilli was raked over the coals by justices from the right, left, and center, and left flailing in the wind. There are a zillion good articles to choose from which summarize the situation, but John Podhoretz, writing in the New York Post, is as good as any:

There appears to be no question in the mind of anyone who read the transcripts or listened to the oral arguments that the conservative lawyers and justices made mincemeat out of the Obama administration's advocates and the liberal members of the court.

This came as a startling shock to the liberals who write about the court.

Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker and CNN confidently asserted on Charlie Rose at the beginning of the week that the court would rule 7-2, maybe even 8-1 in favor of ObamaCare. The previous week, he called the anti-ObamaCare arguments "really weak."

His view was echoed by an equally confident op-ed assertion by the veteran court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who in The New York Times declared the case against ObamaCare "analytically so weak that it dissolves on close inspection."

It was quite a change, then, to see Toobin emerge almost hysterical from the Supreme Court chamber after two hours of argument on Tuesday and declare the proceedings "a train wreck for the Obama administration."

Yesterday, after another two hours of argument, he suggested it might even be a "plane wreck."

That was the general consensus across the board. It held that the two lawyers arguing against ObamaCare -- Paul Clement and Michael Carvin -- were dazzlingly effective, while the administration's solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, put in a mediocre performance.

As my homestate Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli warned in an email to supporters, he's seen plenty of instances in which as a litigator the oral arguments seem to go your way only to see the court rule against you. The reason this can happen is pretty simple; it's not a contest to see who is the best debater. A person can do a bad job presenting an argument but still be right on the merits. More, judges/justices may work overtime trying to poke holes in a case to be sure they are correct in upholding it.

So while we can't say with certainty how the court will rule... I'll go out on a limb and say that I wouldn't be surprised to see the court strike down the entire law in a 5-4 decision but toss the individual mandate 7-2 or even 9-0.

As for the other Democrat/liberal disasters, let's go back to the Powerline post referenced at the beginning (boldtype added):

The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Month for the Left by Steven Hayward March 29, 2012

It is typical for politically-engaged people to note the weaknesses and defects of their own side, while overestimating the strength and prowess of their opponents. This is not a bad instinct, but sometimes it's worth stepping back and trying to view the whole scene from a neutral perspective. It is possible a neutral or objective observer would conclude that the Left has just had about the worst month in longer than I can recall.

First came the Sandra Fluke controversy. What looked like a well-staged triumph for the Left because of a rare overreach by Rush Limbaugh resulted instead in a ferocious blowback against Bill Maher, Louis C.K. (cancelled from the White House correspondents' dinner because of his vile comments about Sarah Palin), and HBO, while Rush's ratings have spiked and advertisers came groveling back after the anti-Rush boycott was revealed to have been trumped up by Media Matters. Meanwhile, while the media elites identify with Fluke as one of their own, it is less clear that ordinary Americans think the government owes free contraception to 30-year old college students.

Second, Obama is in full retreat and panic mode over gasoline prices, and energy generally. To be sure, the EPA is still advancing its jihad against coal, and cheap natural gas is bailing out Obama to some extent (but also driving another nail into the coffin of wind and solar power), but I've always thought that liberal opposition to domestic oil production would not survive an extended period of $4 gasoline prices. Byron York flatly predicts that Obama will be forced to approve the Keystone pipeline before the election. Obama's embrace of the GOP slogan of "all-of-the-above" energy means that environmentalists are being largely thrown under the bus. (Meanwhile, keep your eyes on the Post-It note gas pump protests, and consider joining the swarm.)

Then came the Trayvon Martin incident. But what looked like a by-the-numbers drill for the racial grievance industry has started to collapse beneath certain inconvenient facts that don't fit the narrative such as Zimmerman's ethnicity and political party registration (Democratic), eyewitness testimony that Martin was assaulting Zimmerman (perhaps with cause), and Spike Lee advocating vigilantism against Zimmerman, but tweeting an incorrect home address, endangering an innocent elderly couple. Again, while the media lap up the antics of Al Sharpton, it is doubtful most ordinary Americans are impressed with this. More blowback.

Then of course we have the Obamacare argument in the Supreme Court this week. Even if the Court ultimately upholds the Affordable Care Act, the course of the argument is extremely damaging to the Left. And if it is struck down, I predict the Left will overreact in ways that will also backfire badly. (I'll have more thoughts on this in a separate post later today.)

Finally, yesterday the House voted down Obama's proposed budget for next year by a vote of 414 - 0. Not even the most leftist members of Obama's own party are willing to go on record in support of his unserious and irresponsible budget. Political stunt by the GOP? Sure, but so what? Back in the Reagan years, when every Reagan budget proposal was pronounced "dead on arrival" when it came to Capitol Hill, it could rely on substantial GOP support, and became a fixed point from which serious budget compromises would then be hammered out. Obama's budget was dead before it left the White House, and is irrelevant to any serious effort to confront our fiscal abyss.

None of this should be taken as a sign of a decisive "turning point," or that our side has won, or even that we're winning. "There are no lost causes because there are no gained causes," T.S. Eliot wrote. This is a never-ending struggle, and these incidents just the latest skirmish lines in the hundred years war with the Left. But it's been a lousy last month for the Left. Go ahead, enjoy a smile, have a drink, and then get back in the arena.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 9, 2012

We Don't Need No Stinking Budget!

The irresponsibility of the Senate Democrats continues. It's been 1,000 days now and counting since Senate Democrats offered a budget. From Powerline:

Budget? Who Needs a Budget?
February 3, 2012
by John Hinderacker

Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress have set a new standard of irresponsibility: for the third year in a row, Harry Reid announced that he would not allow a vote on a FY 2013 budget to come to the floor of the Senate. "We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year," Reid told a conference call with reporters.

This year? How about last year, or the year before? The Obama administration has become a budget-free zone, in flagrant violation of federal law, which prescribes a process for developing a federal budget which the Democrats have simply flouted. Has our nation ever seen such fecklessness? $15 trillion in debt, the credit of the United States being downgraded, hundreds of thousands leaving the labor force, and the Democrats don't think our government should have a budget? Or a plan to dig our way out of a $15 trillion hole? How out of touch can the Democrats be?

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) responded to Reid's thumbing his nose at federal law:

It's been more than 1,000 days since Senate Democrats have offered a budget plan to the American people. Now, once again, the Senate's ineffectual Democrat majority balks at the task of leadership. Majority Leader Reid is denying the American people the opportunity to become engaged in the debate about the nation's fiscal future and the difficult choices we face. He obviously continues in his belief that it would be politically foolish for his members to go on record in support of any long-term vision. But by refusing to lay out a budget plan for public examination--a fact no one can deny--the Democrat Senate has forfeited the high privilege to lead this chamber. If Sen. Reid and his members stand by this announcement, it means that the American people will go through yet another year of crisis without Senate Democrats unveiling and standing behind a financial plan for our future.

Budget Control Act spending caps, crafted behind closed doors and rushed to passage at the 11th hour under threat of panic, do not even approach the definition of the budget process that the law requires. They are not in any way or any sense a Senate Democrat budget plan. There is no argument that can be made that these caps are a long-term vision for this country--not on taxes, not on entitlements, not on spending, not on debt. Presumably, this obvious fact is why Chairman Conrad has said he will mark up a budget in our Committee. However, this process will be eviscerated if Sen. Reid refuses to allow a budget resolution to come to the floor.

I will continue to insist that the public process be carried out and that Senate Democrats bring an actual budget resolution to the Senate floor.

Paul Ryan (R-WI-1)said:

Earlier today, Senate Democrats confirmed that they've given up on budgeting. What a disgrace. Senate Majority Leader Reid's refusal to budget is a recipe for crisis. By refusing to confront the storm clouds ahead, Senate Democrats are committing our nation to a future of debt, doubt and decline.

The Democratic Party has demonstrated that it is incapable of leading and incapable of governing. Why would anyone vote for a Democrat for any office?

Posted by Tom at 12:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 8, 2011

"Tea Party Downgrade?" You Gotta Be Kidding

Of all the idiotic things that have come from John Kerry's mouth this takes the cake:

Er, no. Far from the Tea Party movement being responsible for the downgrade, they're the only ones pushing for the type of substantive change that would prevent a downgrade of our credit rating. Our debt problem has been growing for some time, but due to the policies of Barack Obama it is now totally out of control. The facts:

Obama Makes History (of Our AAA Credit)
National Review
The Editors
August 8, 2011

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats are betting their political futures on the hope that the American electorate is ignorant and forgetful, and hence the memo has gone out to functionaries hither and yon, from David Axelrod to John Kerry: This is to be called the "tea-party downgrade." That this is said with straight faces bespeaks either an unshakable contempt for the mind of the American voter or an as-yet unplumbed capacity for Democratic self-delusion.

Let us revisit the facts. The original debt-ceiling deal put forward by the Democrats totaled $0.00 in debt reduction. This would have fallen approximately $4 trillion short of the $4 trillion in debt reduction the credit-rating agencies suggested would constitute a "credible" step toward maintaining our AAA rating and avoiding a downgrade. This $0.00 program was the so-called "clean" debt-ceiling bill -- the one that contained not a farthing of debt reduction. Bad as it was, Republicans agreed to give Democrats a vote on it. Some 82 Democrats and every Republican voted against it, and for good reason: Doing nothing at all is hardly a "credible" program.

The Democrats have suggested that Republicans' refusal to accede to tax hikes is the main reason Standard & Poor's felt it necessary to issue a downgrade, the first in American history, last Friday evening. In their assessment of Standard & Poor's reasoning, the Democrats are acutely at odds with Standard & Poor's. The credit-rating agency did not call for tax hikes in its assessment: "Standard & Poor's takes no position on the mix of spending and revenue measures that Congress and the Administration might conclude is appropriate for putting the U.S.'s finances on a sustainable footing." No position on tax hikes. But S&P, along with the other credit-rating agencies, has long taken a position on one aspect of our fiscal troubles: entitlement reform. From S&P again: "The plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability."

As anybody who has looked at our long-term deficit projections knows, entitlement spending is the major driver of our future deficits. With unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare already running into trillions of dollars -- many multiples of our GDP -- it is implausible that taxes would be raised sufficiently to meet those obligations. Sustaining present spending levels over coming decades while maintaining current levels of debt would mean nearly doubling every federal tax: income, payroll, inheritance, excises, etc. To repeat: That's to maintain current debt levels, not to reduce them. Even if the political will existed to inflict such tax increases on the American people, doing so would prove economically ruinous. Entitlement reform, then -- not taxes, not President Obama's fictitious "balanced approach" -- is rightly understood, as S&P argues, as the "key to long-term fiscal sustainability." Tea-party leaders, far from being a barrier to entitlement reform, have demanded it.

The main obstacle to reform is the gentleman who lives at at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his legislative enablers down the street. Recall: Though Democrats controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives from 2008-10, and therefore could have forced through any budget they saw fit, they left the nation with no budget at all -- much less a reformed or balanced one -- never bothering to pass one in the year before they lost their House majority. Though congressional Democrats could not be bothered, President Obama did submit a 2011 budget. It contained $0.00 toward entitlement reform. He soon disavowed his own budget proposal. The president later gave a speech in which he said he'd like to see $4 trillion in deficit-reduction, but submitted no budget or other legislation to accompany that rhetoric. The head of the Congressional Budget Office, a Democrat, was moved to observe dryly that his agency "does not score speeches."

But the CBO does score legislative proposals, and gave good marks to a bipartisan proposal offered by the president's own hand-picked deficit-reduction panel. The presidential commission offered a credible plan, one that even included the tax increases so beloved of this administration. Naturally, the president disavowed his own commission's proposal, just as he would disavow his own budget proposal. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi declared it "dead on arrival" in the House. The plan was angrily rejected by congressional Democrats precisely and specifically because it contained modest entitlement-reform proposals. Likewise, Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal, which would have brought health-care entitlement spending down to sustainable levels while making key reforms to improve the performance of those programs, passed the House only to be rejected out of hand by Sen. Harry Reid and his Democratic colleagues, precisely because it contained entitlement reforms. It would have cut some $4.4 trillion off of the deficits over a decade, well beyond the $4 trillion mark suggested by the credit-rating agencies. But Democrats would have none of it.

The deal that finally did pass would have contained significantly more in deficit-reduction, except for the fact that Democrats categorically refused to consider -- is this sounding familiar? -- entitlement reform, the most important issue.

Content to offer blind opposition, the Obama administration never put forward a detailed plan of its own, though it insisted it had one, a fact that resulted in a moment of unintentional comedy when White House press secretary Jay Carney irritatedly asked unconvinced reporters: "You need it written down?" When it comes to the Obama administration and spending restraint, the American people have every reason to demand that the president put it in writing.

And so we are led to this sorry pass. We are sympathetic to protests that S&P may have reacted more strongly to the political drama surrounding the debt-ceiling debate than was justified by the underlying economics: Despite the troubles in the eurozone, which are quite severe, Germany and France currently boast of higher credit ratings than that of the United States, a nation that accounts for nearly a quarter of the world's economic output. But even those who believe S&P has overreacted must concede that the finances of the United States have been considerably weakened since 2008. Obama's deficits have been unprecedented in peacetime, and this downgrade is unprecedented for our nation, at war or at peace. Its effects remain unknown at this time, but its causes do not: S&P spelled out its reasoning quite clearly.

Entitlement reform is the "key issue." The Tea Party is not standing in the way of entitlement reform. Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid are. Democrats believe that they have discovered a cartoon villain in the Tea Party, and they are hoping that American voters are gullible enough to be distracted by the political theatrics. Come November 2012, Americans should keep in mind both the insult and the injury -- to the nation and its credit. President Obama has indeed "made history," as he promised, but not the sort that we might have hoped for.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 7, 2011

Disoriented Democrats

Disorientation Week for the Democrats
Washington Times
August 5, 2011
Wesley Pruden

This is Disorientation Week in Washington. From the White House to the Hill, the Democrats are trying (but not trying too hard) to come to terms with a new reality. Attitude-adjustment hour is sometimes no fun at all.

Vice President Joe Biden, who suffers terminal hoof-in-mouth disease, thinks the tea party folks are "terrorists," though the next day he said he didn't really say what everybody else in the room heard him say. Barack Obama, weary of trying to explain away good ol' Joe's frequent civility lapses, seems to be losing patience with his man for all rainy seasons.

When a reporter asked the presidential press flack whether Mr. Obama thinks calling Americans who disagree with him "terrorists" is "appropriate," the flack replied: "No, he doesn't, and neither does the vice president. ... Any kind of comments like that are simply not conducive to the kind of political discourse that we hope to have."

Such dodging and weaving in the wake of dispensing insult and invective is not the way Washington is supposed to work. Conservatives, both mainstream and from the smaller tributaries of "political discourse," are expected to lift their caps, tug their forelocks, and thank Mr. Obama for helpful reproof. But the debt debate has changed all that. The hard-line Republicans in the House invited their tormentors on the left to take their best shots and the tea pot is still right side up.

What we're getting now is the uncivilized civility of disbelieving Democrats. Steny H. Hoyer, the whip of the minority in the House and chief metaphor mixmaster, accuses the Republicans of playing Russian roulette with "all the chambers ... loaded," who "want to shoot every bullet they have at the president." Someone should explain the rules of Russian roulette to Mr. Hoyer. The players aim the gun to their own heads, not to the head of someone else. Rep. Melvin L. Watt of North Carolina says the legislation adopted under tea party pressure "literally holds a gun to the head of the economy of the United States of America." That's not quite right, either, but if you're disoriented that may be as close as a man can get.

Steven Rattner, who was once an economist in the Obama White House and is still disoriented from the experience, recalls the Republican bargaining tactics as "a form of economic terrorism." Whatever it is that he's smoking, it's giving him bad dreams and terrifying visions. "I imagine these tea party guys are like strapped with dynamite standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour and saying, 'Either you do it my way or we are going to blow you up, ourselves up and the whole country up with us.' " Mr. Rattner is so disoriented that he thinks the nation's capital is still in New York.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is the most disoriented of all. Try diagramming these sentences by Debbie: "Well, we're going to focus on what we know is the number one priorities [sic] on Americans' minds right now, that is creating jobs and continuing to get this economy turned around. If we have to drag the Republicans with us, then we'll do that, but, you know, it's been a whole lot of months, eight months they have controlled the House with no jobs bills coming to the floor. Hopefully now with this compromise on the debt ceiling behind us, with the opportunity, with the commission, to sit down and focus on longer-term deficit reduction that will have some balance and ask some sacrifice for our most fortunate in addition to the middle class that we're going to be able to get everyone on the same page that it's jobs." Good luck with the diagrams.

Sen. Harry Reid, who acts as if he got well and truly disoriented by House Speaker John A. Boehner, is upset now because he's afraid he'll be out-maneuvered by the Republicans on the so-called "supercommittee" on cuts that must come up with another $1.5 trillion in savings before Christmas. He complained to Politico, the Capitol Hill daily, that the Republicans say that none of their six members of the supercommittee will want to raise taxes. "So what does that leave the committee to do? Should [Nancy] Pelosi and I just not appoint and walk away?"

Mr. Reid thinks he has a cure for Democratic disorientation. He would feel a lot better if the press would quit reporting news of bad people. "When reporting on political disputes always implies both sides are to blame, there's no penalty for extremism." Disorientation runs deep. We must be patient.

• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 9, 2011

Say No to the Dem's October Surprise

Say No to the Dem's October Surprise
Powerline
by John Hinderacker

Many times in the past, Congress has voted to raise the nation's debt ceiling with little or no controversy. Not so this year. The Republicans turned the vote on the debt ceiling into a major political issue by threatening to vote No, at least unless the Democrats made significant spending concessions. Initially, the Democrats squealed. Over time, however, they realized that the situation presents, for them, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Thus, they developed the strategy that we now see at work: First, publicize a purported deadline for an agreement to raise the ceiling, and promote the claim-false, in my view-that a fiscal disaster will ensue if a deal is not reached by that supposed deadline. Second, engage in secret negotiations with the Republican leadership that are expanded to include future tax increases and limited entitlement reform. That is the stage we are in now. Third, announce a deal-a cosmic, bipartisan budget agreement that ostensibly saves the Republic from a sea of debt-48 hours or so before the bogus debt ceiling deadline. Fourth, commit the deal to writing and rush it through Congress before anyone has a chance to read it or understand what is in it. Sound familiar?

...

The Democrats stand to gain enormously from this strategy. As things are now, they are stuck with a fiscal record that is utterly indefensible. In a mere two and a half years, the Obama administration has rung up deficits that dwarf any in our history. Trillions of dollars have been added to the national debt. We have gone for more than two years without having a federal budget in place-which is not only scandalous, but illegal. And President Obama proposed a budget for FY 2012 that was so absurd that it couldn't garner a single vote in the Senate. The Democrats, based on their dismal record, deserve to go down to a resounding defeat in 2012.
...

Over time, of course, the truth about the deal will leak out. Voters will learn that the ballyhooed trillions of dollars in spending cuts are more or less nonexistent: First, the "cuts" will consist entirely of smaller increases, not actual reductions. Second, they will occur mostly or exclusively in the "out years," and therefore will probably never take place at all, since whoever is in Congress eight or ten years from now will not be bound to the slightest degree by any purported deal the Republicans may agree to later this month. Third, many of the supposed cuts will prove to be nothing but accounting legerdemain.

Likewise, voters will slowly realize that the cosmic bipartisan budget agreement does little or nothing to control our burgeoning federal debt. But that understanding will come later; hopefully, from the Democrats' standpoint, after the November 2012 elections return President Obama for a second term and sustain their majority in the Senate, while-who knows?-perhaps returning the House to Democratic control.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 6, 2011

Resign, Weiner, Resign

I'd say "unbelievable," but I guess these days nothing is

Rep. Weiner admits tweeting lewd photo of himself
The Washington Post
By Jason Horowitz
Monday, June 6, 9:16 PM

In an extraordinary reversal at an extraordinary news conference, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York admitted Monday afternoon that he had repeatedly lied to his constituents and the country in denying that he had sent a lewd picture of himself to a college-age woman on Twitter. In a tearful admission, he said that he had in fact sent multiple inappropriate messages to multiple women but that he had done nothing illegal and would not resign.

"The picture was of me, and I sent it," said Weiner (D), who called it "a very dumb thing to do," "a hugely regrettable mistake" and "destructive."

"I am deeply ashamed," said Weiner, his jaw clenched.

Soon after Weiner finished speaking, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who he said had urged him to tell the whole truth, called on the House ethics committee to conduct an investigation into his case.

For Weiner, a seven-term congressman who was seen as a leading candidate to become the next mayor of New York, the collapse is all the more stunning in light of the heights he had reached in his party and as a spokesman for its liberal wing. In the aftermath of his mea culpa, Republican leaders mostly stood back and watched the public self-immolation of one of their sharpest antagonists.

The much- attacked (by the left, anyway) AndrewBreitbart has been vindicated:

and

Update

Just so we're all clear, what happened was this; Rep Weiner has a Twitter account, and sent several of his young lady followers explicit photos himself. He has admitted to "six inappropriate relationships over the past three years" using Twitter and "other media," probably Facebook. Who knows what the real total is.

Now, this used to be called "sexual harassment," and it used to be feminist liberals who prided themselves in leading the charge against this sort of behavior.

Yesterday I had a conversation with two liberal colleagues at work about the matter. They were both of the opinion that this scandal is not a reason for him to resign, nor a reason to cease their support of him (and presumably their vote if they lived in his district). The reason, they said, was that there was "a line" between private and public life, and that as long as he didn't lie about a governmental matter or steal money it was all ok. "Are their no limits to personal behavior?" I asked. I got what I expected, the classic reduction to the absurd: "Well, if he killed someone...."

Ah yes, let's bring it out to a level that's completely unrealistic so that we can avoid the hard moral issues.

What's also interesting is that both readily admitted that if it had been a Republican he would have been forced to resign long ago.

At this point work interrupted and we were not able to continue our conversation. Too bad, because I had more questions for them along the lines of "Weiner didn't lie about one indiscretion, or one instance of consensual sex. He lied repeatedly and boldly, and made false accusations about others. If he will do this, even if it's "only about sex," can you really trust him on governmental matters? What does this say about his overall trustworthyness?" and, getting back to my other point, "Isn't this sexual harassment, and aren't liberals supposed to be against that?"

No, I'm not saying all liberals are like my friends at work, so don't anyone get their panties in a wad and say that I'm engaging in the fallacy of generalization. Most liberals I know in my county are good folks and I'm sure are appalled at Weiner and want him to go immediately. What I am saying, though, is the attitude by my co-workers is much more prevalent among liberals than conservatives.

Liberals can hate Michelle Malkin all they want, but she gets it right in her post titled

Feckless feminists wimp out on Weinergate; Plus: Weiner's lingering underage girl problem; Updated: 17-year-old gets cop visit; Pelosi doesn't seem to care

Yup. The old double standard that my friends at work acknowledged is in fill swing. One of the few liberal women who is outraged and not afraid to show it is Fox News contributors One outlier Kirsten Powers:

What I find distinctive about what happened with Anthony is that it wasn't an affair, it wasn't, you know, a one-time event, it was predatory behavior. And it was behavior that was done in his official capacity. He wasn't doing this as an anonymous person. He was doing this where you have people who saw him on TV or thought he was a good Congressman or whatever going to him and saying, "Oh, you're such a great fighter for Democrats, Congressman Weiner." And then he was using that position to, sort of, being predatory on the internet and I can't remember which woman said it. She said, "I just want to talk politics," and then it started getting creepy. So he's using his official division, he's not doing this, as much as he wants to say it's in a private capacity, I highly doubt these women would have been talking to him if he wasn't a Congressman.

The sending the picture to the girl, to me it's like sexual harassment. He's a Congressman, she's a student. He has tons of power. She looks up to him.

I can tell you as a woman who has received very inappropriate things from people who have more power than me, it's very intimidating. And you often don't even tell anybody because you're so frightened of what this person could potentially do to you. And so, there's a kind of harassment predatory aspect to this.

"Predatory behavior"

"done in his official capacity"

"sexual harassment'

"intimidating"

"harassment"

Yes, I'd say Kirsten has it just about right.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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!


Photobucket

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:

and here


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)

Federal Budget FY 2010


Federal Receipts v Expenditures FY 2010

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.

Posted by Tom at 7:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 3, 2011

"Enhanced Interrogations," Waterboarding, and Killing Osama bin Laden

Many Democrats and most liberals have been of two minds with regard to "enhanced interrogations," waterboarding, and the like. Immediately after 9-11 they were all for them. They wanted to show that they, too, were tough on terrorism and threats to the United States.

But the years went by, no more attacks took place, and President Bush's popularity waned, and Democrats had a change of heart. Suddenly it was outrageous that we would "torture" "detainees." Why, Bush and his administration ought to be investigated, and individuals prosecuted if necessary.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi even got into the act, going so far as to claim that she had never been told or approved of waterboarding or "enhanced interrogations." Unfortunately for her, evidence quickly surfaced that proved she was a liar. See previous posts

House Democrats Undermine Their Own at the CIA - July 10, 2009
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - April 24, 2009
Pelosi Knew About the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques - May 10, 2009
Hoist By Her Own Petard - May 14, 2009

But enough fun with history, let's get on with the topic of the day, which is how the use of these techniques eventually led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Breaking Down KSM
National Review
May 3, 2011 9:53 A.M.
By Shannen Coffin

Some reports now claim that KSM gave up the information that led eventually -- and with a lot more legwork -- to the identification of bin Laden's courier though more conventional means of interrogation, not as the direct result of enhanced interrogation techniques. Commenters below claim that this somehow undermines the argument that enhanced interrogation played some role in the eventual identification of bin Laden's compound and his subsequent demise. But this argument is specious. When KSM was captured, he was resistant to any form of interrogation, conventional or otherwise. As our colleague Marc Thiessen learned in writing Courting Disaster, KSM's resistance was "superhuman." It was only after being subjected to waterboarding and other enhanced measures that he became compliant, and from that point forward, cooperated with more conventional techniques. As one of the CIA interrogators told Marc, "If we had not had these techniques, we would have gotten zero from him." So enhanced interrogation methods played an integral role in all of the intelligence collected from him.

As I've said before, I still think the debate over the legality and morality of these measures is the subject of fair debate. Marc makes a compelling case in his book, but I respect those who articulate principled opposition. But the question of effectiveness has been answered, if these reports are correct. (Yes, I recognize these are anonymous sources, but this administration has every reason to deny the effectiveness of these interrogation methods, given the president's firm position against them.) Critics are simply denying the obvious when they claim that the facts as reported render ambiguous claims of effectiveness.

And

Viva Guantanamo
The much-maligned interrogators helped dispatch bin Laden.
The Wall Street Journal
May 2, 2011
by James Taranto

Osama bin Laden never made it to Guantanamo Bay, but his arrival in hell appears to have been hastened by information gathered from the terrorists who are detained there. The Associated Press has the story:

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden's most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed's successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

A senior administration official told a White House briefing that "for years, we were unable to identify [the courier's] true name or his location":

Four years ago, we uncovered his identity, and for operational reasons, I can't go into details about his name or how we identified him, but about two years ago, after months of persistent effort, we identified areas in Pakistan where the courier and his brother operated. Still we were unable to pinpoint exactly where they lived, due to extensive operational security on their part. The fact that they were being so careful reinforced our belief that we were on the right track.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 22, 2010

Our Lame Duck Congress

For the first 140 or so years after ratification of the Constitution, the the new President and Congress took their offices March 4 after the elections in November. Without going into detail, although the date of March 4 was not explicitly spelled out, that's what the 12th Amendment of 1804, and custom, added up to.

Given travel difficulties of the 18th and 19th centuries, it took a lot of time to assemble a new government, and travel to and from one's home state to Washington DC. By the 20th century travel time had been reduced, and everyone could see that it would only get faster. As such, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution stipulated that the President and new Congress would take office in January. Relevant are sections one and two of the amendment:

Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

The issues, however, go beyond travel. The writer of this Wikipedia article on the 20th Amendment spells it out:

From the early 19th century onward, it also meant that the lame duck Congress and/or Presidential administration could, as in the case of the Congress, convene or fail to convene. In the case of the administration, to act or to fail to act, or to meet significant national crises in a timely manner. Each institution could do this on the theory that at best, a lame duck Congress or administration had neither the time nor the mandate to tackle problems. Where as the incoming administration or Congress would have both the time, and a fresh electoral mandate, to examine and address the problems that the nation faced. These problems very likely would have been at the center of the debate of the just completed election cycle.

Take it for what it's worth. But the issue of mandate is an interesting one, given how active our current lame-duck Congress has been:

Tax Cuts - Passed - Interestingly, both the extreme right and extreme left didn't like the deal Obama worked out with Republican leaders. I'd have held my nose and voted for it as the best of a series of bad choices.

Omnibus Budget - Failed - Fortunately, Republicans were able to stop the Democrats from digging us further into debt by forcing a continuing resolution instead of a full scale budget for next year. You don't have to look far to find the usual tales of woe in the liberal press about how government agencies will be starved of funds for "vital" upgrades. Sure. It was worth it to stop funding for ObamaCare and the usual pork programs.

Gays in the Military - Passed - The debate about gay marriage in the civilian world is about a lot of things, but marriage isn't one of them. Likewise, the issue is not whether gays can serve without disrupting military readiness. Progressives couldn't care less about the military or marriage. What they want is to force the acceptance of the gay lifestyle as equal to hetrosexuals. They want to forbid discussion of these issues, and shut down businesses and churches that refuse to play ball.

New START - Passed - Irrelevant at best, harmful at worst, the main purpose of this treaty is to make it look like Obama has achieved something. We're assured by the striped-pants set that the treaty is good for us, and you little people should just do as your told. They also assure us that the preamble to the treaty does not inhibit U.S. missile defense systems, but the Russians say otherwise.

DREAM Act - Failed - Otherwise known as the "let's create more Democrat voters bill," yet another attempt to pass what amounts to mass amnesty for illegal aliens was thwarted.

Food Safety Modernization Act - Pending - I haven't really followed this one, but it basically gives the FDA power to regulate "all foods sold, distributed, or imported within the US."

Net Neutrality - Pending - The issue is complicated, but the guiding principle of how government regulation should work isn't: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Internet works just fine, and giving the FCC additional power is asking for trouble down the road. My general guideline to the FCC would be something like "make sure radio station signals don't overlap, and after that you're done." The FCC has no business telling broadband companies how to handle their traffic.

The Progressive Plan

Progresssives realize that their large majorities in the 111th Congress, coupled with the administration of Barack Obama, present the best chance of getting their agenda enacted into law that they'll ever probably see in their lifetimes. It's now or never.

Further, they realize that an law, once enacted, is hard to completely repeal. They know that once the cat is out of the bag on things such as universal health care, or gays in the military, its hard to stuff it back in. And once an illegal alien has been made a citizen, and thus a Democrat voter, you can't take that citizenship away.

Thus their method of ramming as much legislation through as possible while they're still in office.

The Republican Response

There's not much we can do now. Contrary to the dreams of some Tea Party and conservative extremists, we're never going to have anything but a spectrum of Republicans in Congress that run from moderate-liberal to hard right. We're paying the price for screwing up in the early part of this decade.

Once the new 112th Congress is seated we can get to work. We can't repeal ObamaCare, but we can starve it of funds, and refuse to pass any enabling legislation.

What Can Be Done?

It may well be time to revise the 20th Amendment. This Congress has been rejected by the American people, and they have no business passing anything but emergency legislation. If Republicans did this in the past then shame on them, and two wrongs don't make a right.

But given the herculean task of passing an amendment to the Constitution, the 112th Congress would do well to concentrate on practical matters of reducing government spending and rolling back ObamaCare. If they can simply prevent the progressives from doing any more damage I'll be happy. Let's set ourselves up for a bigger victory in 2012, and then we can really set about the true business of reform.

Update - Additional Research

The Heritage Foundation has a paper on treaty ratification during lame duck sessions of Congress that sheds some additional light on the matter:

While recognizing that such sessions were necessary under extraordinary circumstances, proponents of the (20th) Amendment argued that laws made by lame duck sessions were less democratically legitimate because those laws were promulgated by individuals different from those chosen by a popular election immediately preceding the session. In cases where there were changes in the control of Congress or the presidency, significant binding actions--such as the ratification of treaties--may violate the principle of the consent of the governed
.

There have only been 18 lame duck sessions since 1933, out of a possible 38. That is, there have been 38 elections since 1933, and Congress has only met after the election and before the new Congress was seated 18 times. Six of those took place from 1940 to 1954, mostly to pass emergency World War II and Cold War legislation. There were only four lame duck sessions from 1956 to 1994, but eight since then, including the current one.

Several observations flow from this.

One, Lame duck sessions during World War II and the early days of the Cold War could be justified by military necessity. That rationale has mostly not existed since then.

Two, lame duck Congresses are somewhat of a bipartisan phenomenon. Two wrongs never make a right.

Three, this current lame duck Congress has been unusual in the number and type of bills it has passed. There has been nothing like it since the 1940s. The conclusion of the Heritage paper:

The Senate date of treaty ratification cross-checked with the dates of each lame duck session of Congress confirms the general assertion that no major treaty has ever been ratified by the Senate during a lame duck session of Congress. ...

The recent midterm elections created significant ramifications for passing New START during the lame duck session. The ratification of New START by a lame duck Senate would not only ignore the message sent by voters in November but also break a significant precedent, consistent with the principle of consent, maintained by Presidents and Congresses since the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 10, 2010

Let's Be More Like Europe!

It seems a cliche to say it but it's true that Democrats and liberals think we should be more like Europe, with a larger government and more entitlements. And indeed ObamaCare is the culmination of that thinking.

The result of government benefits is that those who receive them start to think of them as something that they have an inviolable right to, which is why I think the liberals termed them "entitlements" in the first place. Once it is established that someone has an absolute right to something, they will not want to give it up no matter what the circumstances.

We're seeing the results of the entitlement mentality most clearly in Europe today. Earlier this year Greeks rioted when their broke government announced salary cuts, pension freezes, a hiring moratorium, and tax hikes. Tough medicine to be sure, but anyone with an ounce of sense should have seen the financial crisis coming a decade ago. France saw a series of urban riots/demonstrations when people took to the streets to protest the announcement to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.

And to top it all off, just yesterday student protesters attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and Camilla:


Photobucket

The London paper The Sun has the story, and follow the link to their site for some pretty awful photos:

THE Duchess of Cornwall was physically attacked through an open car window by a rioting thug in central London, it was claimed today.

Reports say a protester managed to push a stick through an open window of the limousine and jab it into her ribs.

Camilla's frightening experience came as a baying mob surrounded her and Prince Charles as they rode through the protests last night.

And reports today claimed armed officers were just seconds from drawing their guns but the police driver managed to accelerate out of trouble.

Scotland Yard chief Sir Paul Stephenson said this morning that the armed royal protection officers showed "enormous restraint".

Wonderful!

And this AolNews story puts the lie to any claims that the only a few folks were rioting

The premier also shrugged off claims that violence was limited to a small minority of protesters, saying "there were quite a number of people who clearly were there wanting to pursue violence and destroy property."

And what was all the rioting about? A fascist military takeover of the government,? A shutdown of newspapers? And end to trial by jury? Nope:

British Parliament approves tuition hike despite widespread student protests
By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 8:59 PM

LONDON - British lawmakers pushed through a controversial hike in university tuition fees on Thursday, even as tens of thousands of angry students took to the streets of London and across the nation in protest.

The decision ensures that the cap on subsidized university fees will jump from $4,800 to $14,500 a year, infuriating students who have seized on the hikes to launch a wave of protests against the government's historic move to slash the budget deficit through drastic cuts in public spending.

On Thursday, thousands marched in the shadow of Parliament's Big Ben in demonstrations against the measure, chanting slogans aimed in large part against the Liberal Democrats, who, before joining with the Conservatives, had vowed to fight any tuition hikes.

Clusters of protesters set a bonfire and threw pool balls, firecrackers and paint bombs at mounted police, bringing parts of central London to a standstill. At least three protesters were arrested and 19 were injured; eight officers were being treated for injuries.

To be sure, the hikes are steep, no doubt about it. But they're really more the result of having up this off for too many years than anything else. It's like a credit card; you can rack up huge bills each month, only pay the minimum each month, and live fine for awhile. But the longer you put off dealing with that debt the worse it will be when you finally have to face the music.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Over the past two years here in the United States we've been protesting over government plans to expand benefits. Here are some of my photos from the Tea Party rally on September 12, 2009 that I attended:


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket

Here's a crowd shot that I got from a news source, I forget which one

14th and E St NW


I like the United States better. It's an expansion of liberty when government cuts back it's so-called benefits programs, and a reduction of them when government expands.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 8, 2010

Nancy Pelosi Has My Vote for Minority Leader

Incredibly, outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi is going to run for minority leader when the 112th Congress reconvenes next year.

As a good Republican I cheer this decision and wants her to get the position...

Nancy Pelosi

... but if I was a Democrat I'd be despondent.

At least two Democrats, Heath Schuler (NC-10) and Jim Matheson (UT-2) agree. Said Schuler:

"We weren't successful with me as quarterback, so I lost my job," said Shuler, a former Washington Redskins quarterback whose team won four games and lost nine with him as a starter. She's so smart she recognizes that it will be difficult to recruit the candidates she needs to win back the House," added Shuler, a member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition that lost more than two dozen members Tuesday.

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), a moderate, also called for a new direction. "We need to shake things up," he said in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Having made many mistakes over the years, I've gotten to be pretty hardheaded in the candidates I choose to support. In the past I've let my heart overrule my head, and I wasted time working for and cheering on people who didn't have a snowball's chance of winning anything. This year, for example, I saw right from the start that Christine O'Donnell didn't stand a chance, and I wouldn't have wanted her in the Senate anyway. I said this in the comments at a few conservative blogs and took some heat for it, but I didn't back down and was proven right.

Nationally, there are people I love and cheer, but wouldn't want to see run for political office.

I admire Sarah Palin for many things. It was one of the thrills of my life to see her from maybe 40 feet away at a when she came to my home town for a campaign rally a week before the 2008 election. I gave her book, Going Rogue, a good review. And I'd pay money to go see her again at a rally or fundraising event again. But there's no way I want her to run for political office again. If she foolishly runs for president next year, I'll pull out all the stops to prevent her from getting the nomination.

The reason is that her negatives are sky high (negatives, a polling thing). She's terribly controversial, loved by many and hated by many. The Democrats could run a wino off the street and she'd still lose because people would come out of the woodwork just to vote against her. Palin is best just where she is; as opinion shaper on the right, and headliner for rallies.

Ditto for Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is probably one of the smartest people on the plant. He knows his history backward and forward, and he can speak with authority on virtually any subject. Intellectually he runs rings around just about anyone.

But like Palin, his negatives are sky high. Newt is the person you want as a policy adviser, but not as the candidate.

They're what are called "lighting rods" for criticism.

Lightning Rod Strike

In 1995 Oliver North ran for U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket from my home state of Virginia against a weak incumbent Democrat, Chuck Robb. North lost not because anyone liked Robb, but because they didn't want North. I remember the "North Never!" (they went something like that, anyway) bumper stickers.

Back to San Fran Gran Nan

Whether Democrats and liberals (not always the same thing) like Pelosi or not is not relevant. The question they have to ask themselves is "Will she be effective as the minority leader?" Frankly, I can't see how that answer could possibly be "Yes."

The fact is that she is damaged goods, and has become that lightning rod for criticism that is fatal to a political career. She's easily mocked, and is just the face of the Democrat Party that we on the right so want to present to the public in our next campaign.

In 2006 and 2008, my local Congressman, Frank Wolf (R-VA-10) ran against Georgetown professor Judy Feder. Feder was the picture of the angry liberal woman who thought herself smarter than anyone else. She was strident and unlikable. Wolf easily beat her each time, and by slightly more in 2008 than in 2006, if you can believe that.

In an entertaining editorial today, the editors of the Washington Times agree with me that Pelosi is the best choice for the job of minority leader. Following are excerpts:

EDITORIAL: Run, Nancy, run Pelosi gets the Republican vote for House minority leader The Washington Times

After last week's midterm meltdown for Democrats, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she would seek the position of House minority leader in the new Congress. The Washington Times enthusiastically endorses her candidacy.

Mrs. Pelosi will bring the same clarity of vision to the position of minority leader that she did to the speaker's chair. For those voters confused about the state of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Pelosi will reassure them that it doesn't exist. For those who ask if Democrats are interested in responsible fiscal policies to draw down deficits, Mrs. Pelosi will banish any such thoughts. For those wondering whether Democrats in Congress can move further to the left without control of both chambers, Mrs. Pelosi will respond with a resounding "Yes we can."

Mrs. Pelosi is the perfect symbol of strident resistance to the will of the American people that Democrats seem eager to project. She can be counted on to fight to the last trench to defend all of the wretched excesses - or as Democrats stubbornly call them, "accomplishments" - of the rejected 111th Congress. She is fully in tune with the hard-line liberal rump leftover from the previous governing majority and can better give President Obama the opportunity to continue along the path that has seen both his party's fortunes and his job approval ratings fall from historic heights. Mrs. Pelosi brings the outlook, the track record and the public approval ratings to keep Democrats solidly on their current course toward oblivion.
...

Mrs. Pelosi promises more of the same for Democrats, especially with Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, continuing to mismanage the Senate and Mr. Obama digging in his heels at the White House. If recent experience from their midterm shellacking is a guide, this familiar Democrat leadership team will be very good for the new Republican majority. The least popular, most polarizing speaker in memory can bring the same qualities to the role of minority leader and present the American people with painfully clear choices going into the 2012 election. If Nancy Pelosi didn't exist, Republicans would have to invent her.

Fortunately, we don't have to.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 18, 2010

Reagan v Today's Democrats


"Those Voices Don't Speak for the Rest of Us"

Made by the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of House conservatives, this video shows our 40th President as contrasted with today's Democrat leadership. The differences could not be more stark. The Democrats come across as silly and childish, while Reagan demonstrates leadership and command of the issues and our founding principles.

This November the choice is equally clear. The Democrats believe in big-government solutions for everything, which also gave us government run health care and the "stimulus." Republicans stand for responsible reform guided by our free market principles.

As Reagan says in the video, the American people can plan their lives better than "a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital." More, "a government can't control the economy without controlling people, and they know that when it sets out to do that it must use force and coercion to achieve it's purpose."

Reagan's words ring as true today as they did then. Free market principles and individual freedom are the keys to a strong, prosperous, America.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 27, 2010

Shirley Sherrod Affair Summarized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 19, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 21, 2010

Calderon Go Home!

If you don't want to like Arizona's law SB1070, ok don't like it. If you think it violates civil rights, then design your own law that gets rid of illegal aliens.

But don't cheer the President of Mexico while he denounces it on the floor of the U.S. Congress!

It was the Democrats who disgraced themselves by standing and clapping, although a few lefties say some (unnamed) Republicans stood too. More likely though those were student pages standing on the GOP side filling in empty seats since many Republicans didn't attend the speech

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has it right

"It's inappropriate for a head of state to question our laws, especially when the state of Arizona only acted in the best interest of its citizens and with the support of seventy percent of its people," said Hatch in a statement.

Hatch said Arizona was forced to pass the immigration law -- which compels state law enforcement officials to require proper legal residency papers from people they suspect may be in the U.S. illegally -- because of the federal government's failure to stop drug and human smugglers, as well as illegal immigrants, from coming across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rasmussen says that 71 percent of Arizonans support the law, and a Fox News poll shows that

...65 percent of American voters think states should have right to make their own immigration laws and protect their borders "if they believe the federal government has failed to act," while 32 percent disagree. Moreover, a 52 percent majority favors their own state passing a bill similar to Arizona's new immigration law. Some 31 percent would oppose it and another 18 percent is unsure...

The key provisions of Arizona's immigration law receive significant support. Over two-thirds (65 percent) favor allowing local authorities to question anyone who they think may be in the country illegally, while 76 percent favor allowing local officials to detain anyone who cannot prove their immigration status.

The Democrats are on the wrong side of this issue.

On the right side of the issue, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA04) blasted Calderon and the Democrats who cheered (via Sister Toldjah)

Transcript:

M. Speaker:

I rise to take strong exception to the speech of the President of Mexico while in this chamber today.

The Mexican government has made it very clear for many years that it holds American sovereignty in contempt and President Calderons behavior as a guest of the Congress confirms and underscores this attitude.

It is highly inappropriate for the President of Mexico to lecture Americans on American immigration policy, just as it would be for Americans to lecture Mexico on its laws.

It is obvious that President Calderon does not understand the nature of America or the purpose of our immigration law.

Unlike Mexicos immigration law -- which is brutally exclusionary -- the purpose of Americas law is not to keep people out. It is to assure that as people come to the United States, they do so with the intention of becoming Americans and of raising their children as Americans.

Unlike Mexico, our nation embraces immigration and what makes that possible is assimilation.

A century ago President Teddy Roosevelt put it this way. He said:

"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language ... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

That is how we have built one great nation from the people of all the nations of the world.

The largest group of immigrants now comes from Mexico. A recent RAND discovered that during most of the 20th Century, while our immigration laws were actually enforced, assimilation worked and made possible the swift attainment of the American dream for millions of immigrants seeking to escape conditions in Mexico.

That is the broader meaning of our nations motto, e pluribus unum from many people, one people, the American people.

But there is now an element in our political structure that seeks to undermine that concept of E Pluribus Unum. It seeks to hyphenate Americans, to develop linguistic divisions, to assign rights and preferences based on race and ethnicity, and to elevate devotion to foreign ideologies and traditions, while at the same time denigrating American culture, American values and American founding principles.

In order to do so, they know that they have to stop the process of assimilation. In order to do that, they must undermine our immigration laws.

It is an outrage that a foreign head of state would appear in this chamber and actively seek to do so. And it is a disgrace that he would be cheered on from the left wing of the White House and by many Democrats in this Congress.

Arizona has not adopted a new immigration law. All it has done is to enforce existing law that President Obama refuses to enforce. It is hardly a radical policy to suggest that if an officer on a routine traffic stop encounters a driver with no drivers license, no passport, and who doesnt speak English, that maybe that individual might be here illegally.

And to those who say we must reform our immigration laws I reply that we dont need to reform them we need to enforce them. Just as every other government does. Just as Mexico does.

Above all, this is a debate of, by and for the American people. If President Calderon wishes to participate in that debate, I invite him to obey our immigration laws, apply for citizenship, do what 600,000 LEGAL immigrants to our nation are doing right now, learn our history and our customs, and become an American. And then he will have every right to participate in that debate.

Until then, I would politely invite him to have the courtesy while a guest of this Congress to abide by the fundamental rules of diplomacy between civilized nations not to meddle in each others domestic debates.


Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2010

But Is It Constitutional?

All three are disturbing, but the first is the worst.

Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL):

Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI):

Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)


One, not a single one of these congressmen has the foggiest notion of what is actually in the Constitution.

Two, none of them care.

Congressman Phil Hare blatantly says "I Don't Worry About the Constitution'

Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) thinks "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is in the Constitution when it is in the Declaration of Independence

Congressman Frank LoBiondo confuses Article 1 Section 1 with the First Amendment

This is disgraceful. The current attitude is "if we can pass a bill it must be constitutional."

Er, no.

Does The Constitution Matter?

Does the Constitution matter as anything more than a schedule for holding elections? We're all concerned with the Bill of Rights, especially the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, and we talk about them all of the time.

But what about the "welfare clause", which states that

Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Or the "interstate commerce" clause

Article I, Section 8, Clause 3. To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Or, finally, the "necessary and proper" clause

Article I, Section 8, Clause 18. The Congress shall have Power ...To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

For that matter, what about the 9th and 10th Amendments

Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The truth is that to most of our politicians, both Republican and Democrat, none of this matters a whit. They trot out the Eighth Amendment when they want to ban the death penalty, or the Second when they want to defend our gun rights. The First, Fourth, and Fifth get a lot of attention too. Otherwise, a dispassionate observer can be excused for thinking that our government document provides little more than a schedule for holding elections.

This said, it is true that liberals, progressives, Democrats, whatever term you want to use, are the most blatant in their distain for using the Constitution as any sort of guide as to what laws Congress can or cannot pass. It is they who have twisted the interstate commerce clause out of all recognition, and why buy into a theory of a "living constitution" that essentially says "we're going to make it up as we go along."

If liberals want to bring up the Patriot Act or some such, fine, I'll trade you a Patriot Act for your health care legislation. I'll make those trades all day.

Progressives tried and failed to get FDR's Second Bill of Rights incorporated into the Constitution, they just decided to achieve the same set of objectives through legislative fiat and hope that they could get enough sympathetic justices on the bench who would approve. We've seen the results in everything from Roe v Wade to our current health care legislation.

Which brings us to Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Delegate Bob Marshall

Defenders of the Constitution

Many attorney generals around the U.S. (15 by last count) have filed suit against certain provisions in the Democrat health care bill. Since I live in Virginia, I'm going to concentrate there.

Former state senator Ken Cuccinelli was elected Attorney General last November, and wasted no time in setting forth a Constitutionalist agenda. He explained his lawsuit against Obama Care in an article in National Review yesterday:

There are very good reasons that the federal government has never, in the last 221 years, used the Commerce Clause of the Constitution as a vehicle for requiring citizens to purchase goods or services from other citizens.

The first is textual. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution provides that "the Congress shall have Power . . . To regulate Commerce with Foreign Nations, and among the several States." Although there have been disputes about just how far this should reach into commerce that is entirely intrastate, until now, it has been recognized that this constitutional provision deals with regulation of commerce -- that is, with the use of law to impose reason and order on the voluntary commercial actions of citizens, as well as on activities that substantially affect commerce. An individual mandate to purchase health insurance is not regulation in that sense.

Another good reason this has not been done before is that it turns the Commerce Clause into an alternative, off-books funding mechanism. According to the "findings" section of the law itself, the mandate achieves economies of scale, but in reality, it achieves income redistribution. The law caps the amount that insurance companies can charge based on age, and forbids them to exclude those with pre-existing conditions. As such, the young and healthy people the law forces to buy insurance are overcharged for the purpose of subsidizing the old and those with pre-existing conditions.
...

Fortunately, Virginia's governor and legislature acted decisively -- and in a bipartisan fashion -- to adopt Virginia's new anti-mandate law, the Health Care Freedom Act. The law states that in Virginia, citizens cannot be compelled to purchase health insurance against their will. It is in direct conflict with the federal health-care bill, and we have filed a lawsuit to defend it.

AG Cuccinelli discusses his lawsuit and how if Virginia loses it will mean the end of federalism in the United States

Also see this Q & A about the lawsuit on the website of the Attorney General.

Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R-VA-13) is the one who wrote and introduced the legislation AG Cuccinelli referred to above: HB10, Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act, which bans a mandatory federal health insurance mandate. The act was passed by the legislature with large bipartisan supportand signed into law by Governor McDonnell on March 24.

If you actually watch the video you'll learn that HB10 is not about '"nullification," so let's not have any silly comments comparing Bob Marshall to John C Calhoun or some such.

HB10: Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 38.2-3430.1:1 as follows:

§ 38.2-3430.1:1. Health insurance coverage not required.

No resident of this Commonwealth, regardless of whether he has or is eligible for health insurance coverage under any policy or program provided by or through his employer, or a plan sponsored by the Commonwealth or the federal government, shall be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage. No provision of this title shall render a resident of this Commonwealth liable for any penalty, assessment, fee, or fine as a result of his failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage. This section shall not apply to individuals voluntarily applying for coverage under a state-administered program pursuant to Title XIX or Title XXI of the Social Security Act.

The bottom line is that it's not the government's job to provide you with health insurance. And it sure can't force you to buy a policy. Get over it.

We're not going to repeal all of the horrendous Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Care bill through lawsuits alone. In the end we've got to elect true conservatives to both the Congress and White House. But perhaps we can get rid of some of it's more onerous regulations through lawsuits, and at the very least we can get this country talking about the Constitution once again. It is more than a schedule for holding elections, it does limit the power of the federal government, and there is a growing consensus on these matters.


Posted by Tom at 12:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 28, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Oppose ObamaCare!

Being busy, I'm a bit late on this, but since I saved the links it's better late than never.

Taking McCarthyism to a new level, Democrat Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) says that people who oppose ObamaCare are racists who are aiding and abetting terrorism.

Ah yes, win a vote, the other side objects, and you accuse them of bring on violence. Over the past week we've seen all sorts of insane charges from the Democrats about how they've supposedly received all these threats, about how black Democrats have been called the n word, yada yada yada.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is warning that some of his Democratic colleagues are being threatened with violence when they go back to their districts -- and he wants Republicans to stand up and condemn the threats.

The Maryland Democrat said more than 10 House Democrats have reported incidents of threats or other forms of harassment about their support of the highly divisive health insurance overhaul vote. Hoyer emphasized that he didn't have a specific number of threats and that was just an estimate.

TheFederal Bureau of Investigation, Capitol Police and sergeant at arms briefed Democrats behind closed doors today about the incidents of violence -- the most high profile of which have been toward Democratic Reps. Thomas Perriello of Virginia, Steve Driehaus of Ohio and Louise Slaughter of New York.

Hoyer hinted that Republicans should do more to condemn these threats of violence.

Yawn.

Not. Impressed.

Politicians, journalists, high-profile bloggers, radio-talk show hosts and the like get death threats every day. Some are serious, some not so much. All perpetrators should be prosecuted.

But it's pretty obvious that the Democrats are using this to change the subject. Their bill is unpopular and they know it. And this from t he party that never condemned the assassination chic rampant on the left when George W Bush was the target?

Eric Cantor Calls out the Democrats - by Name

Republican Whip Eric Cantor (VA) nails it when he condemned the Democrats for their tactics, saying that "It is reckless to use these incidents as a media vehicle for political gains." What I like is that he denounces Democrats by name, not content is he to just issue the standard blanket statement.

As for the bullet allegedly fired into one of his offices, neither he nor I are hanging our hates on any tit-for-tat argument, so commenters are advised not to try and waste keystrokes on that one, because I'm not falling for it.

Victor Davis Hanson reviews the hypocrisy of how a book and docudrama fantasizing about about assassinating George W Bush are excused but when the Democrats are (allegedly) on the receiving end it's suddenly all serious, and laments that

Like it or not, between 2001 and 2008, the "progressive" community redefined what is acceptable and not acceptable in political and public discourse about their elected officials. Slurs like "Nazi" and "fascist" and "I hate" were no longer the old street-theater derangement of the 1960s, but were elevated to high-society novels, films, political journalism, and vein-bulging outbursts of our elites. If one were to take the word "Bush" and replace it with "Obama" in the work of a Nicholson Baker, or director Gabriel Range, or Garrison Keillor or Jonathan Chait, or in the rhetoric of a Gore or Moore, we would be presently in a national crisis, witnessing summits on the epidemic of "hate speech."

Yup. After eight years of "Bush Lied, People Died!" a zillion references to Bush as the new Hitler by leftist bloggers ("bushitler," chimpy McHitler"), feting Michael Moore and a whole lot else, it's awfully rich for the left to start demanding civility now that their guy is in office.

John Hinderacker wonders "what was that line about the tree of liberty and the blood of tyrants?" and says that the media and Dem focus is on alleged threats against anyone who voted for ObamaCare. These are disgusting scare tactics and McCarthyism pure and simple. And this from the "Bush Lied, People Died!" crowd.

The current threats (assuming they are real, as I assume some of them are) are being played up in the press because the Democrats want to dampen the anger that has erupted over their adoption of a government medicine program through a series of legislative maneuvers that are in some respects unprecedented. It is important for the Democrats and their press minions to understand that there are many millions of Americans who regard Obamacare not just as misguided public policy, but as an illegitimate usurpation of power. I am one of the many millions who are outraged at the Left's attempt to destroy the private health care system that has served my family so well, and who regard Obamacare as illegitimate. ...

In large part, the current focus on threats of violence is aimed at the tea partiers, just as they were accused, apparently falsely, of racism. It is not hard to understand the Democrats' motives; the tea parties are the most vital force, and likely the most popular force, in American politics, so smearing them is mandatory. But anyone who has attended a tea party rally will consider laughable the idea that the movement somehow tends toward violence.

I've been to lots of protests in and around Washington DC; many to counterprotest and observe leftist anti-war groups such as ANSWER, Code Pink, and United for Peace and Justice. I've also been to conservative rallies such as the Gathering of Eagles, the March for Life, and a Tea Party. There are kooks on each side, but the conservative ones are definitely family-friendly where as the leftist ones are just about X rated for profanity, vulgarity, and sexual innuendos. Check out "Rallies and Protests" under "Categories" at right.

Bottom line I don't take the Democrat claims seriously as anything more than an attempt to divert attention from the issue at hand; the massive unpopularity of their health care legislation. Let them rant all they want, we'll defeat them at the polls this November and in 2012.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2010

If The Democrats Lose, They Still Win

The line is that if the Democrats pass their healthcare bill they're doomed in the next election because it's so unpopular. That is correct as far as it goes; I do think the Democrats will lose many seats in Congress this year. I also think it may cost Obama a second term.

So by this way of thinking it is foolish for the Democrats to forge ahead. Much better, it goes, for them to abandon their efforts and start over, crafting something that is truly bipartisan.

But I think the true progressives within the Democrat party are thinking much farther ahead than the next few elections. They see a golden opportunity to permanently change the United States in a way that will work to their advantage. What the progressives aim to do is to fundamentally change the relationship of the American citizen to his or her government. They want to reduce us to dependence in a way never before done. And once they have done that they control the politics, because dependency breeds Democrat voters.

The American people may hate the changes in the short term, and they may even dislike them in the long term, but due to the nature of our government it will never be overturned.

If Republicans and conservatives think they can overturn whatever the Democrats pass they are kidding themselves. Reagan was never able to carry though on his promise to fold the Department of Education back into Health and Human Services (before Carter split off Education it had been the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare). Newt Gingrich and his Congressional majority were never able to end funding for PBS and the arts. If neither of them could achieve these relatively minor things, what makes any of us think that we can overturn Obamacare?

Mark Steyn agrees:

Why is (Obama) doing this? Why let "health" "care" "reform" stagger on like the rotting husk in a low-grade creature feature who refuses to stay dead no matter how many stakes you pound through his chest?

Because it's worth it. Big time. I've been saying in this space for two years that the governmentalization of health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. It redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in fundamental ways that make limited government all but impossible. In most of the rest of the Western world, there are still nominally "conservative" parties, and they even win elections occasionally, but not to any great effect (let's not forget that Jacques Chirac was, in French terms, a "conservative"). The result is a kind of two-party one-party state: Right-of-center parties will once in a while be in office, but never in power, merely presiding over vast left-wing bureaucracies that cruise on regardless. ...

Once the state swells to a certain size, the people available to fill the ever expanding number of government jobs will be statists -- sometimes hard-core Marxist statists, sometimes social-engineering multiculti statists, sometimes fluffily "compassionate" statists, but always statists.
...

A bigtime GOP consultant was on TV crowing that Republicans wanted the Dems to pass Obamacare because it's so unpopular it will guarantee a GOP sweep in November. Okay, then what? You'll roll it back -- like you've rolled back all those other unsustainable entitlements premised on cobwebbed actuarial tables from 80 years ago? Like you've undone the federal Department of Education and of Energy and all the other nickel 'n' dime novelties of even a universally reviled one-term loser like Jimmy Carter? Andrew McCarthy concluded a shrewd analysis of the political realities thus: "Health care is a loser for the Left only if the Right has the steel to undo it. The Left is banking on an absence of steel. Why is that a bad bet?"

It's not. It's a very good bet, and one I'd take. Steyn explains why:

Look at it from the Dems' point of view. You pass Obamacare. You lose the 2010 election, which gives the GOP co-ownership of an awkward couple of years. And you come back in 2012 to find your health-care apparatus is still in place, a fetid behemoth of toxic pustules oozing all over the basement, and, simply through the natural processes of government, already bigger and more expensive and more bureaucratic than it was when you passed it two years earlier. That's a huge prize, and well worth a mid-term timeout.

Even if we push the Democrat return back from 2012 to 2014 or later, it makes no difference. The healthcare apparatus is still in place, and there is more dependency than ever. Democrats simply promise free ice cream for everyone, and the votes line up. Even if they lose, they still win.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

February 25, 2010

The Hypocrisy of the Liberal Call for "Unity"

So we read that Hillary Clinton tells us that we are weaker because we have political fights between Republicans and Democrats:

Clinton: Political fights hurt U.S. image: Wants world to see 'unity and strength'
The Washington Times
By Nicholas Kralev

President Obama's diminished political power as a result of fights between the White House and Congress has damaged both his and the country's image abroad, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday.

Even as she thanked Congress for its bipartisan support for many of the Obama administration's foreign policy goals, Mrs. Clinton said during two Senate committee hearings that recent bickering on domestic issues concerns her and that she hopes "we can figure out a better way to address it."

We hear this line often from Democrats these days. It's a lot of nonsense, and here's why:

It's really the very definition to hear this from the party that for years told us that "Bush Lied, people died!" This from the party whose spokesmen told us that "Bush lied us into war." This from the party that undermined our efforts in the war on terror in general and in Iraq in particular at every turn. This from the party that spent more time complaining about the Patriot Act than about trying to help us defeat the jihadist threat. This from the party whose bloggers regularly referred to our president as "BusHitler," "Chimpy McHitler," and all the rest of it.

And this from the party whose entire leadership attended the opening of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11

The liberals resort to this tactic all the time when they have trouble getting their agenda enacted.

George Will nailed it when he said that

I don't know quite what his complaint is, but, Terry, with metronomic regularity, we go through these moments in Washington where we complain about the government being broken. These moments have one thing in common: The Left is having trouble enacting its agenda. No one when George W. Bush had trouble reforming Social Security said, "Oh, that's terrible - the government's broken."

There's another reason too; those who call for "unity" think that things alike healthcare are a giant math problem, and if only we can get enough experts in the same room together we can solve it. This is false, because it presumes that everyone agrees on the fundamentals.

But we don't. What you have is one side that thinks that government should guarantee health insurance coverage for everyone, and the other thinks that it's primarily the individual's responsibility.

As a conservative, I am not interested in some compromise that will inevitably result in a slow but sure incremental path toward single-payer, or more and more government involvement. History decisively shows that once a program is put into place it grows and grows and benefits, and thus taxes, go nowhere but up.

Obama and other progressives want to set the overall structure of the healthcare bill and throw Republicans a few bones, letting us tweak a percentage here and there or a small amendment or two. This is unacceptable.

The bottom line is there are going to be political differences and fights because we disagree on the fundamentals. Get used to it. And anyway, my reading of history shows that it is false and silly to think that the disagreements are worse today than they were in the past. The best thing is to try and convince the public you are right, and if you win don't push too much too fast or act arrogant in power. Be responsible to the people and implement your agenda one step at a time.

But for today we'll have to listen to Hillary and the liberals complain. Just don't take them seriously.

Posted by Tom at 9:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 21, 2010

"Reconciliation" and the Fraud that is ObamaCare

Jeffrey H. Anderson nails it:

The Obama administration's apparent intention to use the "budget reconciliation" process to try to advance its proposed health-care overhaul has shined the spotlight on why it, and the federal government as a whole, should not control what will soon be one-fifth of our economy. Simply put, the president has repeatedly emphasized three problems that must be addressed, while pursuing a course of action that would exacerbate all three.

Lack of bipartisanship: As President Obama said last month in his State of the Union address, the government can't pass needed reforms "if we don't also reform how we work with one another." His "health-care summit" is supposedly an attempt to bring Republicans and Democrats together. The president has said, "Well I think that what I want to do is to look at the Republican ideas that are out there." "Bipartisanship" has been a theme of nearly all of his recent health-care remarks.

Now, Politico reports that the president, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Harry Reid plan to try to use the "budget reconciliation" process after next week's bipartisan summit to jam through elements of their proposed health-care overhaul over widespread opposition. Politico quotes one Democratic insider as saying, "They are coming out of the summit guns-a-blazing, and they're committed to reconciliation."

"Budget reconciliation" prevents use of the filibuster, a feature of the Senate since the early 19th century. The arcane process is designed to help the Senate pass bills that would balance the budget. President Obama would use it to try to pass portions of a $2.5 trillion health-care overhaul without having to get any Republican (or even all Democratic) votes. This is the new era of bipartisanship?

Political cronyism: Interviewing President Obama before the Super Bowl, Katie Couric asked about "all these special deals that were given to certain senators," which, she said, made the American people "pretty sick to their stomachs." He replied, "They did not help. They frustrate me."

Now, Politico reports that part of why the president wants to use the "budget reconciliation" process is to exempt union workers from the tax on "Cadillac" insurance plans. In other words, Americans would pay a 40-percent tax on health benefits above a certain point -- unless they belong to a union, a core constituent of the Democratic party. This is the remedy for cronyism?

Health costs: The President and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have been highlighting recent increases in insurance premiums. These increases are almost entirely the result of two things: rising hospital and drug costs, which Obamacare would do essentially nothing about; and the poor economy, which causes some healthier people to take the calculated risk of dropping their insurance for the short-term, leaving a mix of unhealthier people in insurance pools and raising average costs accordingly. President Obama is willing to blame the economy for the fact that he will run up more deficit spending in just two years than President Bush did in eight, but he's reluctant to admit that this same economy affects entities run by somebody other than the government.

In any event, both the Congressional Budget Office and the Medicare Chief Actuary have said that, under Obamacare, insurance premiums would be higher than under current law. So, the solution to high premiums is to pass legislation that would raise them?

In each of these ways, the disconnect between cause and effect, problem and solution, rhetoric and reality, is astounding.

Of course, the biggest disconnect is between the Obama administration and the American people. Americans have made it abundantly clear that they don't want Obamacare. President Obama has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't care.

But House and Senate Democrats are unlikely to continue to turn such a deaf ear toward their constituents.

Healthcare will be the Democrat's Waterloo.

Now, my problem with what the Democrats are doing is not so much with "reconciliation" or any other parliamentary maneuver, so liberal commenters are advised not to get their panties in a wad over how Republicans did this or that when they were in power.

My problems are that

1) They are trying to pass an insane bill that bill make the situation in our country much worse in both the short and long terms,

2) Their real objective is to take over and/or control as much of the economy as possible. In other words, de facto socialism, and

3) The will of the people is so obviously against it.

You might say "if you think it'll be their Waterloo they aren't you glad they're doing it?" Of course not, because they'll wreck tremendous damage on the country in the process that will be difficult to undo.

We've got to find a way to stop this freight train before it's too late.


Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 11, 2010

Guide to The Politics of Offensive Statements

In the wake of Senator Harry Reid's "unfortunate comment," Pillage Idiot provides a helpful guide for anyone unable to predict the consequences of public officials who make offensive statements:

Offensive_Statements_Chart2.jpg

click here for larger version

What Harry Reid said:

From Game Change, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, as quoted in The Atlantic

On page 37, a remark, said "privately" by Sen. Harry Reid, about Barack Obama's racial appeal. Though Reid would later say that he was neutral in the presidential race, the truth, the authors write, was that his
encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.

In December of 2002, while at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott said

I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either

Republican Trent Lott was forced to resign as majority leader of the Democrats, after most, though not all, Republicans and conservatives threw him under the bus. President Obama, the "Reverand" Al Sharpton, the the vast majority of liberals have rallied around Democrat Majority Leader Reid.

"Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today," Obama said. "I accepted Harry's apology without question because I've known him for years, I've seen the passionate leadership he's shown on issues of social justice and I know what's in his heart. As far as I am concerned, the book is closed."

Ah yes, well, as long as he's in favor of "social justice" such statements are a simple "unfortunate comment." The ends justify the...racism.

Before we go, Alvin S. Felzenberg asks the relevant question and give the appropriate answer:

Once again, the Democratic party that bought "identity politics" into the public square is about to teach the rest of us a lesson. So long as those who lead it raise taxes on the rest of us to promote social engineering, they can be as brazen as they like in their comments and as hypocritical as they dare in their public and private behavior...

Why should Reid not be allowed to keep his job? After all, his party elevated former Klansman Robert Byrd to the very post Reid now holds only a few years after the West Virginian led a filibuster (the second longest in history) against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Democrats continued to laud Byrd as recently as 2001, the year Byrd used the "N" word in a Fox News Sunday interview with the late Tony Snow. As long as he provides the 60th vote for his party, they will continue throwing bouquets his way.


Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 26, 2009

Edward M Kennedy, 1932 - 2009


Ted Kennedy

Using the justification of "never speak ill of the dead" I'll keep this post short. Love him or hate him, Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (February 22, 1932 - August 25, 2009) was the most important legislator of late 20th century America. He got more legislation passed that has changed our country more, than any other single person.

It is really for this that he is so vilified on the right. During the 2004 election it came out that fellow Massachusetts Senator John Kerry had a more liberal voting record than did Kennedy. This was met with no small amount of surprise, as being more liberal than Kennedy was a pretty touch accomplishment. But the reason we were so surprised is that Kerry had virtually no legislative accomplishments under his belt despite having been in the Senate since 1985.

As for me, I think most of what Ted Kennedy did was very harmful to the United States. His advocates will reply that he "helped" the poor and downtrodden, and in a limited sense he did. But his legislation.... ah but I'm violating the pledge I took at the start so I'll stop.

Politics aside, Kennedy was a Christian and in the end that's all that matters. His family is in my prayers.

Posted by Tom at 7:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2009

Alinsky's Rule 12: Destroy the Individual

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

Hillary Clinton used to complain about "the politics of personal destruction," but the Republicans of the 1990s had nothing on the radicals of today. Other than the occasional observation by Rush that Chelsea Clinton wasn't going to win any beauty contests, she didn't have to worry about her child or extended family.

But these liberals today are something else. For almost eight years they say that George W. Bush is another Hitler, and then whine when anyone compares their healthcare plan to the German plan under the Nazis. We heard one despicable attack on George W. Bush after another, and all the time the media stayed silent. But anyone says anything about their messiah Obama, or puts up an offensive poster, and you'd think the world had come to an end if you watch the liberal news.

Speaking of news, these liberals can't take any dissent. On the left side of broadcast media you have CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. There's a grand total of one on the right, Fox News, and they can't stand the idea that it even exists. Sure, for decades conservatives have lamented liberal bias in the news. But I never saw the sheer hatred toward any network that I see for Fox. They want it off the air, and over at Democrats.org they're actually getting some companies to drop their advertising.

To this day they attack every single member of Sarah Palin's family with apparent impunity from criticism from the media.

We saw how after the defeat of Proposition 8 in California the brown shirts of the "gay rights" movement attacked Mormons, storming their churches and issuing the most vile slanders and attacks.

Carrie Prejean gave one of the most unoffensive and nice answers I've ever heard to a question on gay marriage, yet was subject to the most vile and insane attacks from everyone from hollywood media types to Keith Olbermann.

Even Anderson Cooper, supposedly a "serious" CNN anchor, made "tea bagging" "jokes" with his guests, referring to a gay sex practice too disgusting for me to explain here.

And all of this is considered quite normal for liberals, from what I can tell. Olbermann and Cooper are still employed at their respective networks.

As Sister Toldjah asked last week, "Since when the hell did the MSM ever give a damn about Hitler comparisons?"

Andrew Breitbart nails all this and more in his column today in The Washington Times, which I am reproducing in it's entirety:

George W. Bush-by-proxy syndrome
Andrew Breitbart

There is an extensive body of writing from both sides of the political aisle that has analyzed the extraordinary depths of hatred leveled at former President George W. Bush.

His birth into a wealthy and politically connected family is where a lot of the animus starts. His rejection of his Connecticut roots and adoption of a rugged Texan persona naturally riled his birth-constituency. His disjointed speaking style also alienated many others - especially those who covered him in the Northeastern media. Naturally, some of his initiatives were controversial. His allies say he didn't do enough.

But all presidents make mistakes, pursue unpopular ideas, possess off-putting personality traits and don't do enough to appeal to their core supporters. Something far more insidious was at work in the hatred of our most recent former president.

Now that Mr. Bush is quietly going about his retirement, this strain of rage - the GWB43 virus - has spread like wildfire, finding unsuspecting targets, each granting us greater perspective into what not long ago seemed like a mysterious phenomenon isolated only on our 43rd president.

The first person to catch the virus was Sarah Palin, whose family also was infected, including, unforgivably, her children.

Then it was Joe the Plumber, for asking a question.

Next were the Mormons.

Then it was Rush Limbaugh - who hit back.

Next, tax-day "tea party" attendees were "tea bagged."

Then there was a beauty contestant.

And a Cambridge cop, too.

And now we have town-hall "mobs."

Smile ... you've been "community organized."

When put on the media stage, these individuals and groups have been isolated for destruction for standing in the way of a resurgent modern progressive movement and for challenging its charismatic once-in-a-lifetime standard-bearer, Barack Obama.

This is their time, we've been told. And no one is going to stand in the way.

The origins of manufactured "politics of personal destruction" is Saul Alinsky, the mentor of a young Hillary Rodham, who wrote her 92-page Wellesley College senior thesis on the late Chicago-based "progressive" street agitator titled, "There Is Only the Fight."

Mr. Obama and his Fighting Illini, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, have perfected Mr. Alinsky's techniques as laid out in his guidebook to political warfare, "Rules for Radicals." In plain language, we see how normal, decent and even private citizens become nationally vilified symbols overnight - all in the pursuit of progressive political victory.

"Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)"

With the complicity of the mainstream media and abetted by George Soros' money and netroots nation, Mr. Bush never stood a chance.

But the more the virus spreads, the more we study it and, perhaps, find the cure. The repetitive use of the same technique against anyone who would dare stand up and oppose the progressive movement and especially its leader has exposed the game and rendered its tactics less effective.

In fact, one could make the argument that the Republican Party, usually slow on the uptake, has finally figured it out. There are no major Republican targets out there opposing Mr. Obama and his aggressive agenda. The conservative movement appears leaderless, but perhaps for the best.

Maybe that is the strategy: Standing back and letting the Obama machine flail in its pursuit of its next victim.

A grass-roots movement of average Americans has stood up, making it extremely difficult to isolate and demonize an individual.

Mr. Alinsky noted in "Rule 12" that it is difficult to go after "institutions." And attacking "tea baggers" and "mobs" has only created more resistance and drawn attention to the left's limited playbook. Even Americans expressing their constitutionally protected right to free speech are open game.

Now that many people are Googling the Alinsky rule book and catching up with the way Chicago thugs play their political games, Mr. Obama and the Fighting Illini are going to be forced to create new rules - or double down on the old ones.

Worse yet, as his approval ratings descend rapidly - Rasmussen has him at 47 percent, the lowest of his presidency - angry citizens may be turning the tables on him, using Mr. Alinsky against him.

They won't have to "freeze" and "personalize" him either. He's got 3 1/2 years left with the klieg lights focused on him. And if Mr. Obama can't get the economy rolling and continues to demonize everyday folks for his failures, he will be further isolated from sympathy and even ridiculed.

Yes, it's cruel - and effective.

Ask Mr. Bush, the magnanimous guy who gave the new president a heartfelt hug the day he took office. He knows.

Boy, I wish I could see his famous smirk right about now. I always loved how much they hated that.

The Democrats made a classic error after the last election by overestimating their mandate. A majority of voters wanted the Republicans out, and thought they'd give the Democrats a chance. But they didn't buy into the entire socialist-left Democrat agenda, and they're finding this out the hard way now.

In the end, I think Andrew might be right; the left has overplayed it's hand. The American people are waking up and we're seeing it at the town halls. More, the town halls are showing that liberal-left tactics of intimidation aren't working anymore.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 10, 2009

House Democrats Undermine Their Own at the CIA

For years we heard Democrats whine that those on the right were questioning their patriotism. Maybe this story from today's Washington Times can tell us why:

The politically explosive clash between the CIA and congressional Democrats flared anew Thursday as CIA chief Leon Panetta rejected fresh charges that the spy agency had systematically lied to lawmakers about key administration policies in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Seven Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee in a letter made public Wednesday evening said that Mr. Panetta recently conceded privately that CIA briefers misled lawmakers and demanded he "correct" earlier statements denying information had been concealed from Congress.

The letter built on previous allegations from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that CIA officials had lied to her in 2002 about harsh interrogation methods being used under the George W. Bush administration, allegations Mr. Panetta also forcefully denied.

"Director Panetta stands by his May 15 statement," CIA spokesman George Little said. "This agency and this director believe it is vital to keep the Congress fully and currently informed. Director Panetta's actions back that up."

An intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the letter mischaracterized Mr. Panetta's testimony to the committee in a closed-door June 24 session.

"Panetta didn't say that the agency misled Congress," the official said. "He took decisive steps to inform the oversight committees of something that hadn't been appropriately briefed in the past. He didn't attribute motives to that. He wasn't director at the time.

This is insane. Who exactly do these congressional Democrats consider to be the enemy? al Qaeda or the CIA? At this point I think it's the latter. Not a wonder we're not going to make progress in the war with this bunch in charge. They're more interested in settling old scores than in fighting the jihadists.

Just to remind ourselves, Leon Panetta represented the 16th (the 17th after redistricting) California district in the House of Representatives from 1976 to 1993. He resigned from the House when President Clinton selected him as Director of OMB where he served until 1997. In January President Obama appointed him to head up the CIA.

Panetta seems to be an honest guy, whatever you may think of his politics. I cannot say the same for Nancy Pelosi. Of the seven House Democrats who signed that letter, the only one I'm famiar with is Alcee L. Hastings, a former federal judge who was impeached and removed from office for accepting a $150,000 bribe and all round leftist nutjob.

HotAir has the full letter, which I'm reprinting here

June 26, 2009

The Honorable Leon E. Panetta, Director
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505

Dear Director Panetta,

You recall, no doubt, that on May 15, 2009, you stated the following in a letter to CIA employees:

"Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and values."

Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all Members of Congress, and misled Members for a number of years from 2001 to this week. This is similar to other deceptions of which we are aware from other recent periods.

In light of your testimony, we ask that you publicly correct your statement of May 15, 2009.

Sincerely,

/s/

Anna G. Eshoo
Rush D. Holt
Alcee L. Hastings
John F. Tierny
Mike Thompson
Janice D. Schakowsky
Adam Smith

It will be recalled that this whole thing started last April when out of the blue Speaker Pelosi accused the CIA of misleading her. Asked for proof, she had none to offer. Instead of backing off her foolish charge, she pushed forward, even after it was clear to most people that that she was the one making false charges.

Put another way, she committed an unforced error.

Dr Krauthammer said yesterday that "...it puts the Democrats, who are in charge of the Congress and the executive, at war with their own CIA in wartime." I have to think that most Democrats are holding their heads and wishing this whole thing would just go away. It serves them no purpose and is a distraction from their domestic agenda. Which is who I sort of hope they keep at it.

Some will say that Panetta needs to release detailed records. No. That is exactly what we do not need. Yes yes I'm all for oversight, but what is said in a closed session needs to stay in a closed session. Our enemies are waiting for us to self-destruct over just this sort of squabbling and we need to put a stop to this nonsense and now.

The editors of the Wall Street Journal nail it:

To his credit, Mr. Panetta sees the obvious danger to morale at the agency and its ability to perform its essential job, and is standing up for his troops. But the Democratic attack isn't limited to bad-mouthing America's intelligence professionals. As dangerous is the intelligence authorization bill before Congress.

House Democrats have set out to hobble the CIA and further handcuff the executive branch. Republicans, naturally, were frozen out. At Speaker Pelosi's insistence, gone would be the right of the President to limit disclosure of sensitive information to the so-called Gang of Eight -- the House Speaker and Minority Leader, Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairmen and ranking Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. This authority would pass to Congress. The bill would also expand disclosure requirements for all sorts of intelligence activities.

This is a recipe for more leaks and more compromised CIA operations. Congress claims it needs to better monitor Presidential intelligence decisions. But the real lesson of the last few years is that Congress wants to know about, and often second-guess, intelligence decisions without being responsible for the result. Mrs. Pelosi could have objected to waterboarding but didn't at the time, becoming a critic only when it became a political uproar. Senator Jay Rockefeller could have resisted warrantless wiretaps of al Qaeda but instead wrote a letter and stuck it in a drawer.

Note to the seven Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, and all who support them: George W. Bush is not in the White House.

If these Democrats were so convinced that the CIA was misleading them, then they should have impeached Bush when they controlled Congress from 2006-08. They didn't, and the time has passed. It's time to move on to fight the war against the jihadists.

Previous
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - April 24, 2009
Pelosi Knew About the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques - May 10, 2009
Hoist By Her Own Petard - May 14, 2009

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2009

House and Senate Democrats Diss Both Obama and Liberal Bloggers

Both the House and Senate have passed resolutions regarding the situation in Iran. The House version is much stronger than anything said by President Obama thus far. The text of the Senate resolution is not available yet.

House Resolution 560

Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

The resolution passed 401-1, the only opposing vote being cast by...Ron Paul. Sigh.

On Friday the Senate passed Senate Resolution 193, but as of this writing the text is not available. I'll post it as soon as it is.

What's interesting is that this places House and Senate Democrats squarely in opposition to President Obama...not to mention many liberal bloggers.

Although President Obama's spokesman Gibbs tried to say that the House resolution "echoes Obama's message," I don't see it. Nowhere has the President used the word "condemn" to describe what the Iranian government has done, nor has anything he has said been nearly as strong (see here and here). We do know that he worked to tone down the original resolution, so we know that he's still "sensitive" to offending the mullahs. Wouldn't want to upset his quest for negotiations. But judge for yourself.

Democratic congressman Howard Berman (CA-28) had this to say on the House floor during debate:

Mr. Speaker, every day since Iran's election, the streets of Tehran have been filled with demonstrators, and each day this past week, the number seems to be growing.

Even state-run media in Iran has put the number of demonstrators in Tehran at "hundreds of thousands." One British newspaper reports that there were a million demonstrators in Tehran yesterday.

What do these demonstrators want? Are they simply in favor of the candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi? Or are they making a more profound statement about the Iranian regime?

Nobody knows exactly. We do know one thing, though: The demonstrators feel their intelligence was insulted and their dignity assaulted by the high-handed manner in which the results of the June 12 election were handled. They want justice - this morning, the Supreme Leader offered none.

It is not for us to decide who should run Iran, much less determine the real winner of the June 12th election.

But we must reaffirm our strong belief that the Iranian people have a fundamental right to express their views about the future of their country freely, and without intimidation.

The Iranian regime is clearly embarrassed by the demonstrations and has not shrunk from using violence to stop them. At least eight demonstrators - and quite likely, a number more - have been killed and hundreds have been injured.

The Regime has also tried to ban media coverage of the demonstrations. Foreign journalists are consigned to their homes and offices; several have been expelled from the country.

Cell-phone coverage has been frequently blocked in order to limit communication among the protestors. And the regime has interfered with the Internet and taken down many opposition Web sites.

We cannot stand silent in the face of this assault on human freedom and dignity.

I repeat that we have no interest in interfering in Iran's internal affairs. That era has ended.

This resolution "affirms the universality of individual rights," as well as "the importance of democratic and fair elections." Beyond that, it simply expresses its solidarity with "Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law."

I don't know how many of the demonstrators fall into that category, but I do know that many of them do.

This resolution also condemns the bloody suppression of freedom.

It is not a judgment on who won the Iranian elections. It is an acknowledgement that we cannot remain silent when cherished, universal principles are under attack.

Mr. Speaker, I want to just offer my appreciation to our ranking member and to the gentleman from Indiana for working together on a resolution which puts the House of Representatives on the side of the people of Iran. And with that, I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution.

If you think we shouldn't conduct clandestine operations against the mullahs like Reagan did against the communists in support of Solidarity in Poland, fine. But surely we can agree that we shouldn't be silent, or only say that we are "troubled by the violence," or are "monitoring the situation." Surely we can at least condemn what is going on.

Finally, these resolutions would seem to put many liberal bloggers at odds with Democrats in Congress at well. You don't have to go far on the Internet to see quite hysterical reactions to any suggestion that President Obama is not handling this exactly right. It'll be interesting to see how they spin this.

Posted by Tom at 2:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 14, 2009

Hoist By Her Own Petard

This take down of Nancy Pelosi by Jon Stewart is too good to go unwatched:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Waffle House
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


What's amusing to me is that this whole thing is an unforced error on her part. Hence the title.

It was the Democrats who thought they were so smart and clever when they wanted to institute their "truth commissions," with which they wanted to investigate the Bush Administration. After their victories in 2006, they got on their moral high horse and thought they'd found truth, justice, and the American way. They've gotten nothing but worse since this past election. They thought they'd show how righteous they were and how evil the Bush Administration was, and although it was too late for a Watergate II they thought for sure they'd be able to send a few people to jail, and if they really got lucky the American people would turn on the Republicans in a fashion that would give them FDR 1932 style majorities in Congress.

As I explained earlier this week, the truth is that they were in on this just as much as the Republicans were in the days after 9-11. They too were worried about another attack of spate of attacks and wanted to do everything they could to protect the country. But then the politics of the situation changed and their nutjob leftist base rose up and like a drunk going back to the bottle they submitted to their worst instincts.

Unfortunately for them, the truth has a way of getting out. And as it's become clear that they too thought that Saddam had reams of WMD, they too knew and approved of our use of waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Every time there is a national security emergency our leaders take measures that are later said to have gone too far. Indeed, it is not just our leaders who do this, but those of all nations throughout history. When the emergency is ongoing, the threat appears larger, and "what if's" loom large. Once it is over, it is easy to look back and second guess, as the threat always appears smaller. The difference this time is that the opposition party is seeking criminal sanctions against those who were in power when the crisis appeared to be at it's height.

I use "appeared" for a reason; the threat is hardly over. The left thinks that the whole threat of terrorism was overblown, that it was a one-time event that with low probability of reoccurance. They see it this way because they want to define the threat as narrowly as possible, as coming only from al Qaeda. But as I have demonstrated here a zillion times, the threat is much greater than al Qaeda, and indeed much greater than terrorism alone. We face a jihadist threat from Wahabbists, the Muslim Brotherhood, Khomeinists, and to a lesser extent the Deobandists. A "creeping sharia," coupled with dramatic demographic changes, threaten to overtake the West.

Back To The Story

The whole story is too fast moving and is getting too complicated for me to relay in full here, but here are a few tidbits

Here's some background on some of what Stewart talks about. From yesterday on Fox News:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly was told in February 2003 by her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy, that waterboarding was used on CIA terror detainee Abu Zubaydah, directly contradicting Pelosi's account that she had never been informed of the technique's use.

According to a report, Sheehy attended a briefing with Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., in February 2003 and discussed the CIA's use of waterboarding.

When the aide told Pelosi waterboarding had actually been used on the Al Qaeda terrorist, she didn't object because she was not personally briefed on the matter, an unnamed source confirmed to CNN.

Pelosi then supported a letter drafted by Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and sent to the Bush administration, raising concerns over the technique, the network reported.

What in tarnation difference does it make whether she was the one personally briefed or not? If waterboarding is the humongous outrage that she and other Democrats say it is, then oughtn't she have raised the roof? And she couldn't have objected that much if all she did was "support" a letter sent by someone else.

Further as Michael Goldfarb asks at TWS:

Just so we can get this straight, it's only now that Pelosi has decided the CIA lied to her, years after the controversy began and weeks after this particular controversy began? Or even giving Pelosi the benefit of the doubt about that first briefing, Sheehy still told her just a few months later, in early 2003, that she was lied to, and as minority leader, she did nothing? She didn't look into it, didn't raise it with George Tenet, didn't even write a letter protesting the CIA's conduct? It's ludicrous.

She's only objecting now for political gain. She has to satisfy the Movon.org and Daily Kos crowd.

via The Weekly Standard

MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell: "Speaker Pelosi came out today and essentially when asked if the CIA is lying, she said, 'they mislead us all the time.' Do you agree with that? Does the CIA mislead Congress all the time?"

Senator Joe Lieberman: "No, on that specific point, I totally disagree. You have to have confidence in the CIA. And over the 20 years I've been here, I've been briefed constantly by the CIA and I'd say that they've told me the truth, as they see it."

Wonderful. The leftists in Congress called Petraeus a liar, and now they say that the CIA misleads them "all the time." And they wonder why some question their patriotism.

But Pelosi ought to be careful. As Pete Wehner asks at Commentary Magazine:

Accusing America's intelligence agency of knowingly misleading a Member of Congress, and particularly a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, is quite an explosive charge. She better be able to prove it. And if she is lying -- as Porter Goss, then ranking Republican on the House Committee who later served as C.I.A. Director, seems to believe -- there will be an enormously high price for her to pay.

We're going to see what other Democrats do. Will they defend her or let her hang out to dry? Majority Leader Steny Hoyer waffled himself when confronted.

I'll let Michael Goldfarb at TNS have the last word, since I suspect he's going to be proven right:

The truly scary thing is that Pelosi is only marginally more responsible in this her attempts to goad the CIA. One of the hardest lessons for Republicans over the last eight years was that the CIA would do what it wanted when it wanted. It would leak damaging information as it pleased and to whatever effect it desired. An agency that was in the business of destabilizing foreign governments could easily use those same tricks against its own masters here in DC. Liberals think that Cheney had to gin up all this intelligence for the war in Iraq -- why on earth would he have to do that unless the CIA wouldn't give him what he wanted? Or how about the 2007 NIE, does the left imagine that this document was produced by a bunch of hopped-up neocons at CIA?

If the Democrats think they're going to win a fight against the CIA, we should wish them luck, but there is great irony here. As any Republican in the national security business will tell you, the CIA is not on our side--it's on its own side. These people actually were out to get the Bush administration. Democrats, out of sheer stupidity, are picking a fight they can't win.

Perhaps, but either way I have a feeling this is going to be fun to watch.

Friday Morning Update

And from today's Washington Times

The CIA briefed top Democrats and Republicans on the congressional intelligence committees more than 30 times about enhanced interrogation techniques, according to intelligence sources who said the lawmakers tacitly approved the techniques that some Democrats in Congress now say should land Bush administration officials in jail.

Between 2002 and 2006, the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees "each got complete, benchmark briefings on the program," said one of the intelligence sources who is familiar with the briefings.

"If Congress wanted to kill this program, all it had to do was withhold funding," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the closed-door briefings.

Those who were briefed included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Rep. Jane Harman of California, all Democrats, and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, all Republicans.

This is not exactly how the Democrats thought this would play out.


Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 10, 2009

Pelosi Knew About the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

Last week we saw a rash of stories that pretty much proved that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knew all about the waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques that we were using against terrorists. Both the Washington Post and Washington Times had stories to this effect on Friday. From the Post:

Intelligence officials released documents yesterday saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was briefed in September 2002 about the use of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda suspects, seeming to contradict her repeated statements that she was never told the techniques were actually being used.

In a 10-page memo outlining an almost seven-year history of classified briefings, intelligence officials said that Pelosi and then-Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress briefed on the tactics. Then the ranking member and chairman of the House intelligence committee, respectively, Pelosi and Goss were briefed Sept. 4, 2002, one week before the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The memo, issued to Capitol Hill by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, notes that the Pelosi-Goss briefing covered "EITs including the use of EITs" on Abu Zubaida. EIT is an acronym for enhanced interrogation technique, and Abu Zubaida, whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was one of the earliest valuable al-Qaeda members captured. He also was the first to have the controversial tactic of simulated drowning, or waterboarding, used against him.

She knew. I think most of these Democrats who now act so indignant over our use of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques knew about them all along.

The story in the Times adds that "a classified CIA briefing of Mrs. Pelosi included specific details of the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," or EITs, on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah.

She knew.

Via Jeb Babbin at Human Events, here is the relevant page from the briefing schedule that shows she was briefed on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:

Pelosi Knew

From the Post article linked to above, Pelosi's defense was issued by her spokesman

"As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002. The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used," said Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesman.

From a Friday story on Fox News, Pelosi offers a lame defense that is immediately swatted down:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted Friday that she was briefed only once about the "enhanced" interrogation techniques being used on terrorism suspects and that she was assured by lawyers with the CIA and the Department of Justice that the methods were legal.

Pelosi issued a statement after CIA records released this week showed that Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 on the interrogation methods. The briefings memo appeared to contradict the speaker's claims that she was never told that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation methods were being used.

"We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," Pelosi said on April 23.

The emphasis seems to be on "were used," even though she conceded in a statement released Friday that she was told they would be used.

"As I said in my statement of December 9, 2007: 'I was briefed on interrogation techniques the (Bush) administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal,'" she said.

But even that statement is at odds with the official record of the briefings recorded in the CIA memo dated to Sept. 4, 2002. That memo says Pelosi received a "briefing on EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques), including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities and a description of particular EITs that had been employed."


Another Washington Post story from Saturday goes farther:

A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday.

Pelosi has insisted that she was not directly briefed by Bush administration officials that the practice was being actively employed. But Michael Sheehy, a top Pelosi aide, was present for a classified briefing that included Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, at which agency officials discussed the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida.

A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy. Pelosi herself acknowledged in a December 2007 statement that she was aware that Harman had learned of the waterboarding and had objected in a letter to the CIA's top counsel....

Republicans have accused Pelosi and other Democrats who attended the earliest classified briefings of knowing what CIA operatives were doing and offering their support for the methods, including waterboarding. They argue that Pelosi, who served as the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee until January 2003, objected only after the use of the techniques became public several years later.

Also on Saturday, David Freddoso reported on NRO's The Corner that he

...spoke to a senior Republican aide who feels that the speaker is getting an awfully easy ride on this -- that the briefing of the Speaker's aide clearly demonstrates that she knew what was going on in 2003, even if Pelosi is disputing exactly what was mentioned in the 2002 briefing.

"Look, the claim that a Pelosi staffer was briefed on these techniques but not Pelosi herself is absurd," he said. "That's just not the way the system works. Staff are not briefed on anything a Member wouldn't be briefed on."

She knew. Why does her defense make no sense? Dr Krauthammer nails it:

If you are told about torture that has already occurred, you might justify silence on the grounds that what's done is done and you are simply being used in a post-facto exercise to cover the CIA's rear end. The time to protest torture, if you really are as outraged as you now pretend to be, is when the CIA tells you what it is planning to do "in the future."

What I Think Happened

In the days after 9-11 most Americans thought we would get hit again, and soon. The attack had so taken us by surprise that we realized just how much we didn't know. We can track aircraft and missiles coming at use. With them, you have some idea as to what to expect. Terrorist attacks are not just bolts from the blue, but you don't even know what form it will take. Will the next one be a car bomb? An attempt to breach a dam? A bio-chemical attack? Or another hijacking? There was just no way to tell.

Our political leaders knew that the public would forgive them for one attack, but that would be it. The public never held anyone accountable for 9-11 because they - we - realized that no one could have really predicted it (I'm leaving the 9-11 Truthers whackjobs out of this).

But by the same token political leaders realized that the public would not be forgiving the next time. The would demand to know why stern measures had not been taken to prevent it. And, frankly, in the days after 9-11, any poll would have shown strong support for "enhanced interrogation techniques."

So at the time the Democrats wanted to protect our country and they did what they thought was the right thing to do. They were briefed on and approved the use of stern interrogation techniques. Now, however, they're pretending like they didn't have anything to do with it.

Nancy Pelosi and some of her fellow Democrats are playing the same game with EITs that they did with Iraq; support it when the polls show support for it, oppose it when the polls show support lagging. We're on to the game, though, and aren't going to let them get away with it.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 25, 2009

The Democrat "Truth Commissions"

Yesterday I lambasted President Obama for deciding to allow prosecution of Bush Administration officials who approved harsh interrogation techniques. I also quoted from several news stories that showed that congressional Democrats knew full well years ago what was happening, but for political reasons are choosing to lie about it now.

Today I've got a few additional thoughts on the matter.

If this actually goes forward, Obama will have gone too far, and all in less than 100 days. His 'stimulus' program will set us on the road to long-term economic ruin. Using the economic crisis as an excuse to effectively take over businesses sets us on the road to socialism. Cutting spending for the Navy and Air Force is dangerous. His serial apologies, insults to our country really, while overseas are disgraceful. That he refuses to even use the term "war on terror" is a scandal in and of itself. But these truth commissions, inquiries, whatever you want to call them, put us on the road to becoming a banana republic.

These prosecutions are nothing more than politically motivated witch hunts. Obama is throwing a bone to the kook left. It's not really even about guilt or innocence in any meaningful sense. It's about the criminalization of policy differences.

This is about intimidating any future advisers into only issuing the most bland, politically correct opinions. Anyone who seriously considers anything in an opinion other than the liberal party line risks prosecution. It's an attempt to shut down discussion on certain matters, sort of like what happened recently to Carrie Prejean and the Miss USA pagent.

This is what goes on in a banana republic; the guy who seizes power, or wins an election immediately sets about bringing the losers to trial.

I think the Democrats are also doing this because they think it's politically popular. Kind of like when they supported the invasion of Iraq when that was popular, and then opposed the war when the opinion polls turned south.

As a candidate, and until last week, Obama said that he was against these prosecutions. Apparently he has caved to political pressure. So much for his being a strong leader able to introduce a new type of politics. Whatever happened to "looking to the future?" This seems like concentrating on the past to me. The editors of the Wall Street Journal:

One major concern here is what Mr. Obama's decision to release these memos says about his own political leadership. He claims that one of his goals as President is to restore more comity to our politics, especially concerning national security. He also knows he needs a CIA willing to take risks to keep the country safe. Yet Mr. Obama seems more than willing to indulge the revenge fantasies of the left, as long as its potential victims served a different President. And while he is willing to release classified documents about interrogation techniques, Mr. Obama refuses to release documents that more fully discuss their results.

Apparently civility will have to wait.

All of this also shows the pernicious influence of groups like Movon.org. If they don't want to like Bush Administration policies, fine. What's going on here though is a policy dispute dressed up as criminal acts. This is similar to calls by environmentalists for prosecution of anyone involved in contributing to "global warming," or anti-gun groups or cities suing gun manufactures because their products allegedly violate consumer safety laws.

This makes what Obama and the Democrats are doing just the opposite of what happened to President Clinton. Whether you think his perjury rose to the level of an impeachable offense or not (and it is debatable), it was not a simple policy dispute and it wasn't the popular thing for the Republicans to do (the media at the time warning darkly that they would pay in the next election).

History

If you want to get down to it, it's no different than what any other president has done in times of war. They all do things that are later said to be 'going too far'

President Lincoln suspended habeus corpus three times during the Civil War. Here's one

Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the confederate border state of Maryland (also a slave state) due to the fear that Maryland might secede from the Union. If secession occurred, it would result in Washington DC being completely surrounded by Confederate states.

His action was challenged in the U.S. Circuit Court in Maryland and overturned, but Lincoln ignored the court's ruling. In 1866 (5 years later), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to suspend habeas corpus since the President did not have that power.

Well that sounds pretty serious. Shall we demolish the Lincoln Memorial?

Now revered by almost all Americans, at the time Lincoln was lambasted by critics for what the liberals today call "shredding the Constitution. "

During World War I, Woodrow Wilson's Postmaster General was given the authority to refuse to deliver any publication he deemed seditious, and there was no appeal to his decision. At least seventy-five periodicals were effectively banned when the post office refused to deliver them.

FDR is worshiped by liberals and yet he "interned" some 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent during World War II.

My message here again is that during time of national emergency American leaders all do what seems right at the time. We have never prosecuted any of them. We must not start now.

So these "truth commissions," investigatations, or whatever the Democrats want to call them represent childishness and naivete on an unparalleled level. The only people who will be impressed are the ones who don't really matter; the Europeans, who have refused to help us in Afghanistan and are in the process of surrendering their nations to Islam.

Our enemies, on the other hand, are laughing at us.

They also know that Obama has done nothing, and I mean nothing, to actually fight terrorism, let alone jihadism. This despite that for the past several years the mantra from the left was "Bush has done nothing to make us safer" or "We aren't any safer now than on Sept 10."

Perhaps it's time for Mark Steyn to update the pronouns in what he said a few years ago:

I think when we listen to terrorists talking about the new caliphate, and there are a bunch of guys sitting in the cave, we think they're nuts. When a guy is sitting in the cave listening to (editor of The New York Times) Bill Keller explain proudly why he betrayed America's national security interests, that guy in the cave would rightly conclude that we're the ones that are nuts.

They must think we're nuts right about now.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Changing his position, President Obama has now decided to open the door to prosecution of Bush Administration officials who approved harsh interrogation techniques. From the New York Times on Wednesday:

President Obama left the door open Tuesday to creating a bipartisan commission that would investigate the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and did not rule out action by the Justice Department against those who fashioned the legal rationale for those techniques.

Obama is caving to pressure from his fellow Democrats. On March 4 Marc A. Thiessen reported this on National Review:

In an interview last week with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that she "absolutely" supports the criminal investigation and potential prosecution of Bush officials, stating: "We have to have the facts. . . . We are unhappy about certain things; we anecdotally know about certain things....

The investigative train leaves the station this morning, as Sen. Whitehouse and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy hold the first hearing on Leahy's proposal for a "Truth Commission" to investigate the Bush administration. Leahy presents his commission as a "middle ground" between those "who resist any effort to investigate the misdeeds of the recent past" and those "who say that, regardless of the cost in time, resources, and unity, we must prosecute Bush administration officials to lay down a marker."

I hear they've selected their chief prosecutor, er, "investigator:"

Andrey Januaryevich Vyshinskiy

Andrey Januaryevich Vyshinskiy (Russian: Андре́й Януа́рьевич Выши́нский, Andrej Januar'evič Vyšinskij) (December 10 [O.S. November 28] 1883, Odessa, Imperial Russia -November 22, 1954, New York), was a Russian and Soviet jurist and diplomat. He is mostly known as a state prosecutor of Stalin's show trials. He served as the Soviet Foreign Minister from 1949 to 1953. Vyshinsky was of Polish and Russian descent and spoke some English and excellent French...

In 1935 he became Prosecutor General of the USSR, the legal mastermind of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge. He is widely cited for the principle that "confession of the accused is the queen of evidence". His monograph that justifies this postulate, Theory of Judicial Proofs in Soviet Justice, was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1947. He was the prosecutor at the Moscow Trials of the Great Purge, lashing its defenseless victims with vituperative, sometimes cruelly witty rhetoric.

Democrats are full of moral righteousness these days, imagining themselves to be as pure as the wind driven snow.

They're not. They're in on this too. A Dec 9, 2007 story in the Washington Post is most revealing

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange....

Yet long before "waterboarding" entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.

With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

Well well. They knew all along.

A story this past Thursday in The Washington Times reports much the same thing:

The CIA briefed top Democrats and Republicans on the congressional intelligence committees more than 30 times about enhanced interrogation techniques, according to intelligence sources who said the lawmakers tacitly approved the techniques that some Democrats in Congress now say should land Bush administration officials in jail.

Between 2002 and 2006, the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees "each got complete, benchmark briefings on the program," said one of the intelligence sources who is familiar with the briefings.

"If Congress wanted to kill this program, all it had to do was withhold funding," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the closed-door briefings.

Those who were briefed included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia and Rep. Jane Harman of California, all Democrats, and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, all Republicans.

The Democratic and Republican staff directors for both committees also were briefed, according to the intelligence source and to a declassified memo released Wednesday that detailed some of the Senate committee briefings.

Speaker Pelosi is in full backtrack mode. In a press conference on Thusday she said

"It is not appropriate for me to talk about what happens at briefings. It is very interesting that people are talking so freely. But I can say this: they have been talking about it for a while. At that or any other briefing, and that was the only briefing that I was briefed on in that regard, we were not -- I repeat, we were not -- told that water boarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.

"What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel -- the Office of Legislative Counsel opinions that they could be used, but not that they would. And they further -- further, the point was that if and when they would be used, they would brief Congress at that time, A.

This is hotly disputed by Republicans. As reported today in the Times


Rep. Peter Hoekstra, currently the ranking Republican on the House intelligence panel, described her comments as the "lamest of lame excuses," saying she could have gone to then-Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt to discuss her concerns.

and

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner on Thursday chided Democrats for seeking an investigation of the Bush administration's treatment of captured terror suspects, noting a long list of lawmakers from both parties were briefed about the use of harsh interrogation methods years ago.

"Not a word was raised at the time," said Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, adding that he has seen a partial list of Democrats and Republicans briefed on CIA interrogation techniques as far back as 2002.

"There is nothing here that should surprise them," he said.

Very simply, I think Pelosi is lying through her teeth.

It is all very fine for her to say these things to reporters at a press briefing. If she allows her party to push forward with this, our attorneys will supoena her, get a deposition, and under oath she'll have to tell the truth. She'll be confronted with the records, statements of the CIA officers who briefed them, and the Republicans who were also present.

These Democrats were in on this from the beginning. Now they are trying to pretend that they didn't know.

They are playing to the polls. Their policy is whatever the latest poll or focus group shows. After 9-11 the polls said to be tough, so they were tough. Like everyone else, they were scared of another attack, and pulled out all the stops to prevent it. But not that the memory of that awful day has faded, they look at the polls and they show a public that doesn't like George W Bush, ignoring that it's for reasons other than actions taken fighting the GWOT. So they get ontheir moral high horse and sanctimoniously cry "torture!"

It's all like the Iraq war; they were for it when it was popular, and turned against it when the war went south and support sank in the polls.

They allowed kook groups like Movon.org to exert undue inlfuence over their party, and we are seeing the result; the criminalization of foreign policy differences. This is what banana republics do; the winner puts his defeated opponents in jail.

And the vast right-wing conspiracy, which is waiting for all this to unfold, will be out in full force. We've got the finest legal minds in the country lined up around the block to defend anyone they dare put through their show trials.

Stay tuned. More to come.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 19, 2009

A Pox On All Their Houses

This whole situation with AIG and the bonuses is an absolute disaster. Not because of the bonuses, which are small potatoes, but for where all this is headed. In fact the whole thing disgusts me to the point where this is going to be a pretty short post.

First off, conservatives should not defend AIG or the bonuses. The father of modern American conservatism, William F. Buckley Jr., criticized similar behavior by Viacom a few years ago. When your company is failing you do not pay anyone a bonus for anything. When you take money from the government you do not pay anyone a bonus for anything. I've heard all of the rationalizations and none of them hold water. Can't these guys go without the big bucks for a few quarters?

Most Democrats, of course, are demagoguing the issue for all it's worth, the worst being Barney Frank, a man who ought to be investigated himself. Of the many ironies we now know that Sen. Chris Dodd added the very provisions that made the bonuses possible to the so-called stimulus bill that made the bonuses possible, after first lying about it. Tax-cheat Geithner "admitted that his staff encouraged lawmakers to take out a key provision in last month's stimulus that would have taxed executive compensation in an attempt to discourage companies such as AIG from handing out excessive bonuses while receiving billions of taxpayer dollars."

The reason why no one figured out what was going on is that President Obama insisted that we pass his fantastically huge stimulus bill in record speed before anyone had time to read it. Obama didn't read it. No Democrat in Congress read it. We were told it was so important to pass it to "save the economy," a complete fiction since that was never its real purpose.

To cover themselves the House passed 328-90 a 90% tax on the bonuses. Many in the GOP are going along because, after all, the bonuses were outrageous, and there seems no other solution. Minority Leader Boehner said it right though when he said "Are you kidding me? This is joke. Vote no." He might have added that the whole thing pointed to the folly of bailouts in the first place, but oops it was President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson who pushed us into accepting the first bailout.

Then we have the news that Barack Obama signed a $500,000 deal for a children's propaganda book days before his inaguration. When Gingrich did something similar in 1994 media outcry was so fierce he returned the money. Yes I know, Newt's deal was for $4.5 million, quite a bit more. I don't see that makes a difference. Anyway, you can be assured that there will be no pressure on Obama to give the money back, or to give it to charity since we're in a terrible recession - oh wait that was his line last week. Rather than take charge and get his economic team in order, Obama's way of dealing with the crisis is to waste time on NCAA picks and jet out of town to do the Tonight Show. Good grief.

Where is all this headed? I'll tell you.

The purpose of the left is to place an upper limit on salaries. They simply don't like that some people make a lot of money. Obama said as much during the campaign, and anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear figured it out. Just as they're getting ready to go after charities, they're going after the wealthy. If you didn't follow my links above, the purpose of the stimulus was 1) to move us in the direction of becoming a European-style socialist state, and 2) create a permanent majority bloc of Democrat voters by making as many people dependent on government as possible. Right now it's AIG, tomorrow it'll be other companies.

Not that there's an easy solution to our current situation. It's mostly a banking crisis, and until Obama and his tax-cheat of a Treasury Secretary figure out how to deal with the "toxic assets," as they're called, we're not going to move forward anywhere fast. If they both didn't behave so badly, I'd have more sympathy, since like dealing with Pakistan there is no easy solution. The whole thing was caused by the malfeasance of both parties over the years. No one is except, though since the Democrats are in charge it is right that they get the blame.

Right now we're all entertained by the circus in Washington. Hold on to your seatbelts, because the next few years are going to be a wild ride.

On Another Note

This is somewhat separate from the subject of this post but I can't resist. Remember that 25 box set of 'classic' American movies that Obama gave to Prime Minister Gordon Brown?

Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.

The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words "wrong region" came up on his screen.

It was bad enough that the White House gave a stupid gift like this to the world leader or our most precious ally, especially coming on the heals of returning the bust of Churchill and getting as a gift a penholder carved from the timbers of an anti-slavery ship. Now we learn that in addition to being completely insensitive to protocol and history, they're incompetent at the White House as well.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 20, 2009

Congratulations to President Barack Obama

Congratulations to President Barack Obama.

I'm sure much will happen today that I could criticize, but I'll resist the urge and not do so. Let the Democrats have their day. Barack Obama won the election fair and square, and he and his followers deserve a day alone to celebrate. Tomorrow we'll get on with the business of blogging as usual.

I'm posting this now, before he's officially sworn in, for two reasons. One is simply that I have to run off to work and want to get this up now. Second, I'm sure he'll sign some executive order today that will annoy me greatly, so I want to post this before I change my mind.

Not really. I'd put it up anyway.

Photobucket


And you know, he does look good there standing in front of the Capitol.

Further, it really is a good thing that we can elect a black person to the presidency of the United States. It wasn't that long ago when it seemed like such a thing would never be possible. Peoples and nations can change.

Obviously I wish that black person wasn't Barack Obama. But it is what it is, and we'll all just have to get on with it.

Posted by Tom at 7:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 19, 2009

A History Lesson for Bush Haters Part II

Two of the reasons the left tells us that the war in Iraq is illegal is because it never got the proper UN authorization, and Iraq was a sovereign nation that didn't threaten us.

I disagree with both assertions, but I don't want to argue those points here.

What I want to tell all Bush Haters is that President Clinton also invaded and/or attacked nations without getting authorization from either Congress or the UN, and that posed no threat to us.

Don't believe me?

Haiti

On September 19, 1994, President Clinton launched Operation Uphold Democracy, in which United States forces invaded the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. I'm not going to rehash the entire affair, but suffice it to say that it was done with neither congressional nor United Nations authorization.

And one can hardly say that Haiti posed a threat to the United States.

I supported what we did then and I think it was the right thing now. We restored the duly elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and General Raoul Cédras stepped down even before we went in. It was a relatively easy operation in which we only lost one soldier, and on March 31, 1995 we ended our operation and handed it over to the UN.

No authorization from Congress or the UN. And Haiti hardly posed a threat to the US.

Bosnia and Kosovo

The war in the former Yugoslav republics is god-awful complex, and I didn't follow it in detail at the time. Haiti is bad enough, there's no way I'm going to try and rehash what was going on in the Balkans.

Suffice it to say though that in 1999, President Clinton once again ordered United States forces to attack a sovereign nation(s) without authorization from either Congress or the United Nations. Nobody can say that any of the former Yugoslav republics posed a threat to the United States. We called it Operation Allied Force.

Clinton did it under the aegis of NATO, but nowhere in it's charter does it give itself the right to invade a third country. Talk about how the fighting might "spill over" into other countries, or "don't you remember that World War I started there" was balderdash. Article 5 states that "The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all...." but Milosevic posed no threat to anyone in NATO.

So again, if I wanted to make silly arguments against what Clinton did in Bosnia it would be pretty easy. And all of you who love your

But as with Haiti, I supported what President Clinton did and I think he did the right thing now. No one else was going to deal with the situation, so he stepped up to the plate and took charge of a difficult situation.

The Point

My point, of course, is that throwing out talking-points such as "no UN authorization" or "X was a sovereign nation that posed no threat to us" is is childish and it's usually more complicated.

Of course I know that obviously Iraq is a huge affair in which we have spent much blood and treasure. From this perspective it's not the same as Iraq. But if you're going to make an argument on principal it is the same. If you're going to argue that we can't invade nations that don't pose a threat to us you must oppose Clinton's invasion of Haiti and his attack on Yugoslavia.

Not a Clinton Hater

I didn't vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 or 1996, and indeed have not voted for any Democrat ever. All in all I do not think he was a good president.

But I will say that at times he did the right thing. At times he was a good president. Yesterday I defended when he ordered cruise missiles fired at a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, in a case when the intelligence turned out to be faulty. Other examples of good things are negotiating and signing GATT and NAFTA. He held down federal spending more than either Bush has done, and he signed onto welfare reform (though he had a lot of "help" from Republicans in Congress, who acted a lot more responsibly then than they did under GWB).

So unlike some liberals who don't give George Bush credit for anything, I'm not some wingnut who reflexively criticizes everything the other side does.

That's the lesson for today.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 10, 2009

Congress Stands with Israel

I am proud and pleased to see that the United States Congress has issued strong bipartisan statements of support for Israel in it's current war with Hamas.

On Thursday January 8 the Senate passed Resolution #10. When it appears in Thomas Registry you can read it here. In the meantime, you can read Majority Leader Harry Reid's statement introducing the resolution:

"I rise to voice my strong support of a resolution in support of Israel that I have introduced with (Minority) Leader McConnell, along with an overwhelming number of bipartisan cosponsors. When we pass this resolution, the United States Senate will strengthen our historic bond with the State of Israel by reaffirming Israel's inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza, as well as our support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"I spoke with Prime Minister Olmert last week and again expressed my understanding of and appreciation for the terrible situation that Israel has faced. Hamas has been firing rockets and mortars into Israel, killing and maiming innocent Israeli civilians, for more than eight years.

"I ask my colleagues to imagine if this were happening here in the United States and rocket fire was coming from Vancouver, Canada, into Seattle. Would the United States react? Of course we would. We would have to react to protect our people, and it would be not only our right but our obligation to do so. That is what the Israelis have done.

"Hamas must stop the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. That is the stated objective of the Israelis.

"I acknowledge and appreciate the calls by some for a cease-fire. Certainly we must encourage a peaceful resolution of the conflict. But we must be certain that any cease-fire is sustainable, durable, and enforceable.

"Our resolution reflects these sentiments. It states that:

* The United States Senate stands with Israel at this critical moment and recognizes Israel's right to self-defense;

* Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel;

* Any cease-fire must be durable, enforceable and sustainable;

* The lives of innocent civilians should be protected; and

* We support a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a strong and secure Israeli living in peace with an independent Palestinian state.

"I encourage all of my colleagues to support this critical expression of support for our steadfast ally, the State of Israel."

I certainly don't say this often, but Senator Reid, my hat is off to you.

In the House, Republican Whip Eric Cantor and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer co-wrote an editorial in which they expressed their strong support of Israel which appeared in newspapers across the country. Here are excerpts:


During this difficult war in the Gaza Strip, we stand with Israel. Why? Because we have been to Israel. We have seen Sderot.

In August 2005 and again in 2007, we visited the region of southern Israel that includes this embattled Israeli border town. Taken together, the trips helped us define the historical and military context for Israel's current action in Gaza...

What distinguishes the two sides, however, is their very aim. While Israel targets military combatants, Hamas aims to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. Hamas, after all, is one of the Middle East's most notorious terrorist outfits. Since its inception in 1987, it has worked systematically to fulfill the goal laid out in its charter: the destruction of Israel. During the last Intifada, Hamas claimed credit for 52 suicide bombings that killed 288 Israelis, according to Israeli government figures...

Like most Americans, we identify strongly with Israel's ongoing, elusive quest to achieve peace and security in a dangerous part of the world. We recognize that by arming and training Hamas, Iran has made this latest Israel-Hamas war a key front in its effort to remake the region in its own radical image.

America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana; and just as we assert our right to defend ourselves, Israel has every right to protect its own citizens from the implacable foes on its borders. Support for Israel in her time of need, from both Democrats and Republicans, is not just the logical choice. It is both a strategic and moral imperative.

Would it be that out Congress could think so clearly on other issues.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 26, 2008

Obama to Keep Gates at Defense

It seems to be true. From yesterday's New York Times

President-elect Barack Obama has decided to keep Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in his post, a show of bipartisan continuity in a time of war that will be the first time a Pentagon chief has been carried over from a president of a different party, Democrats close to the transition said Tuesday.

Mr. Obama's advisers were nearing a formal agreement with Mr. Gates to stay on for perhaps a year, the Democrats said, and they expected to announce the decision as early as next week, along with other choices for the national security team.

To which I have this to say to all you lefties who thought Obama stood for change;

BRBRRRHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!!!

So let me get this straight. For the past two years, we have heard from Senator Obama that our military venture in Iraq was a failure, that the surge would not work, and when the violence did go down it wasn't because of the surge or anything our troops did at all, and now he's going to keep as his Secretary of Defense the very man who carried out the surge and has said (I am sure) that it was responsible for the reduction in violence?

Look, for the sake of our nation I'm glad Obama is keeping Robert Gates. I think he's an excellent Secretary of Defense. I think it is a signal that Obama will not precipitously leave Iraq, which would be a very good thing.

But you have to admit that the chutzpah on display by President-elect Obama is breathtaking. His anti-war supporters are surely very disappointed.

Sure, I know that liberals can turn it around and say to me "see, this proves he's not the extreme leftist you said he was." A fair point, though it's far too early to come to that conclusion. But the fact is that Obama ran on a platform of immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and from this history one would have just about thought that he'd appoint Dennis Kucinich to the post, not Robert Gates.

How is the left reacting? I'm not going to do a full survey, but the two diarists at the Daily Kos I found were upset but less than apoplectic. Kos Diarist bugscuffle says

I suppose it's bad news that a neocon warmonger is to remain at the Defense Department. I suppose it's good news that he's not a former member of the Clinton Administration.

Diarist Meteor Blades quotesChris Bowers at OpenLeft as saying that

This should be an open and shut case. If there was one message that Obama ran on loudly, clearly, and indisputably, it is that he was going to bring "change" to Washington, D.C. If Gates were kept on as Secretary of Defense, it apparently would also mean that all of his top advisors would also stay on, and that it all happened because long-time D.C. operatives said it should. Keeping the same guy and all of his advisors at the behest of old establishment types is about as far from change as possible.

Some commenters try and rationalize the decision, others are mad as all get out. No doubt they don't want to give up on their god messiah leader easily.

Jon Soltz, writing at The Huffington Post, likes the pick, saying that

For those who worry that Gates will somehow drag President Obama to the right on Iraq, I think that fear is really unfounded. If the first question one must ask is, "Why is Obama picking Gates?" then the second question has to be "Why does Gates want to stay with Obama?"

It's not because Gates wants to preserve some neo-con view in the administration -- after all, Gates is a Bush I guy, a moderate who sees more eye-to-eye with Brent Scowcroft (an opponent of the war) than Paul Wolfowitz. It's not to preserve the current course, because Gates is smart enough to know that with Hillary Clinton, James Jones, and Barack Obama, staying the course will never win out.

The only reasonable answer is that Gates clearly understands that there will be a new course for our military, that includes redeployment from Iraq, and wants to make it work.

What Soltz even means when he says that "staying the course will never win out" is something of a mystery. Is he referring specifically to Iraq? Anyone who follows this blog knows that our military commanders in Iraq have been talking about a responsible draw down there for months, and that brigades are in fact coming out.

At least they're more honest over at The Nation, where John Nichols, in an article titled "A Secretary of Defense We Can't Believe In," starts off with

Barack Obama in February, 2008: "I don't want to just end the war; I want to end the mindset that got us into war."

Barack Obama in November, 2008: "Never mind."

I think that's more accurate than the rationalizations I've seen elsewhere.

Bill Clinton famously ignored many of his campaign promises, most notably his middle class tax cut, which he reneged on before even taking office. While this and two years of mistakes gained the GOP the Congress, it didn't do us any good in 1996.

On the other hand, Bill Clinton was elected president with a normal campaign. Obama was elected by a cult following who worships his every move. Their expectations are sky-high.

In the end, I think the left will suck this one up. They've invested far too much in Obama to give up this quickly.

Now, if he doesn't close Gitmo that'll be a different story....

My question for now, however, is how could Obama do this after all that he's said about Iraq? Maybe Shelby Steele was right, when he said that

Of of the things that troubles me about Obama's character is that he can get along with anybody. He can articulate a conservative point of view better than many conservatives can. He can be strikingly far left. The problem is not so much that he's going to reveal who he really is, the problem is that he may not be anybody. He may not have strong convictions.

(Follow the link and watch all five segments of Steele's analysis of Obama and the election. It's on par with the best I've seen or read)

Whether Steele is right or not only time will tell. I think what he does with our detention center in Guantanamo will be a telling moment.

Either way, forgive me for chortling a bit here. This post is a bit out of character. Friday I'll be back to my usual geek analysis with a piece on Iraq that you won't want to miss.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 16, 2008

See, I Told You We Were Winning

Reporting from Iraq, Michael Yon tells Glenn Reynolds that

"The was is over and we won"

Lucky for the Democrats Iraq wasn't an issue in the election.

"There's nothing going on. I'm with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I'm with haven't fired their weapons on this tour and they've been here eight months. And the place we're at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there's nothing going on. I've been walking my feet off and haven't seen anything. I've been asking Iraqis, 'do you think the violence will kick up again,' but even the Iraqi journalists are sounding optimistic now and they're usually dour." There's a little bit of violence here and there, but nothing that's a threat to the general situation. Plus, not only the Iraqi Army, but even the National Police are well thought of by the populace. Training from U.S. toops has paid off, he says, in building a rapport.

It turns out that it's even better than that. Reynolds one bit wrong, and Yon emailed in this correction:

"Actually, NONE of them have fired their weapons in combat during this tour, and about half of them are combat veterans from Afghanistan and/or Iraq."

With news like this it's no wonder that my liberal commenters have nothing to say about my Iraq posts.

After all, after Bush announced the surge in December of 2006, rather than support it the Democrats turned into Civil-war era Copperheads, squawking that the war was lost and there was nothing we could do.

But as I reported at the time, those who promoted the surge (General David Petraeus, Sen. John McCain, Dr. Fred Kagan, Gen. Jack Keane (ret), Australian Lt. Col. (Dr) David Kilcullen, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, and many others) said that no, we can do it.

Then, as the surge was implemented, throughout 2007 and into 2008 I reported on our progress through many "Iraq Briefings" and more. It became clear in late 2007 that we were winning, and since then we've done nothing but consolidate our gains.

Let us now review a little history.

First up is an excellent video documenting Senator Obama's pronouncements opposing the surge. Listen to him announce his "Iraq War De-Escallation Act of 2007" on January 30 of that year in which he demands an immediate withdrawal before the surge can take effect. Note also when he says that he believes that sending 20,000 additional troops would be counterproductive:

As late as last January, the Obama campaign was insisting that the surge was not working

Sorry, but although much still remained to be done, by January of 2007 it was clear that the surge was working.

I know, I'm "piling on." After all, Obama has been elected president and we on the right should just learn to deal with it.

Not to worry, I'll cut him a break when he takes office.

But the reason for this post is that I see a President Obama claiming credit for all this. Call me cynical, but I can just see him making big announcements everytime a unit comes home from Iraq, and all the leftie bloggers proclaiming too that it was all due to the wisdom of The One.

We'll know the truth, though, which is that Obama, Biden, and virtually all other Democrats wanted to quit the war back in 2006 if not earlier, and opposed the surge and all that it entailed. Then, months after it was apparent to everyone else that the surge was working and we were winning they denied it and continued to denigrate our effort.

Anyone who has followed the "Iraq Briefings" I've posted on this blog know that we have been so successful that troop withdrawals have in fact been going on for months.

Interestingly, our commanders on the ground tend to be more cautious than reporters like Yon. Last October, Col. Philip Battaglia said what we were "not yet at the tipping point" whereby success could be assured. Battaglia is commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which is part of Multi-National Division - Center, which in turn is headquartered by the 10th Mountain Division, which is the area where Yon reported from.

Still, that we have been winning is evident. Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, Commander of Multi-National Division-Center, and the 10th Mountain Division, reported last July on the incredible changes he'd seen since his last deployment, saying that "it's indisputable that the level of attacks are phenomenally low."

In that same month Col Tom James, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, part of f Multi-National Division - Center, headquartered by the 10th Mountain Division, told us about the confident and capable Iraqi leadership that he'd seen.

As for troop withdrawals, we've seen a lot of that too. Just last week Maj. Gen. Martin Post, Deputy Commanding General, Multi-National Force-West, headquartered by the I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), spoke of how the Marines had reduced their forces by 50% and had turned over all of al-Anbar to Iraqi control. They're closing bases down (including Camp Fallujah!) and the remaining units are in oversight mode only.

Part of Multinational Division-Center, Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), said that his 4,000 man unit will be replaced by two battalions that total 1,800 troops.

To be sure, some commanders are reporting that although their areas are stable now, things could take a turn for the worse if we're not careful.

Col. William Hickman, Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), which is part of Multinational Division-Baghdad and headquartered by the 4th Infantry Divison, said in October that although there has been much progress, "the situation's certainly fragile."

As always, Steve Schippert provides some of the best analysis of Yon's report and what's going on over at The Tank. Don't miss it.

In the end, though, if Obama wants to claim that the drawdown is all due to him, I'll just have to sit back and watch. I just hope that he listens to our commanders and follows their advice on just how fast we should bring them out.

Update

Here are two excellent articles by Peter Wehner in Commentary that are worth your reading

From April of 2008, "Obama's War," in which Wehner traces Obama's evolving position on the war. He's held several. Basically he went from total opposition before it, wondering whether he was wrong after seeing the statue of Saddam toppled, to wanting to send more troops to Iraq, to opposing the surge and finally denying that it was working. In other words,he's been anything but the model of consistency that he's claimed himself to be.

Second is "Liberals and the Surge." In this piece Wehner describes how no matter what the news about how successful the surge was, leading liberals continued their mantra that all was lost and that nothing was or could work. Finally, when it could no longer be denied that violence was way down, they claimed that it was not because of anything our military did or due to any Administration policy.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 8, 2008

A Warning and A Hope

Melanie Phillips knows a thing or two about liberty and how a leader can destroy a nation. In Londonistan, she explained how her country had become a haven for terrorists because of political correctness. In a piece printed at National Review she tells of how Tony Blair

...directly promoted or did nothing to stop the long march through Britain's institutions -- the systematic undermining of the country's fundamental values and traditions, in line with the cultural Marxism strategy of the philosopher Antonin Gramsci. It tore up Britain's (unwritten) constitution, devolving power to Scotland and changing the composition of the upper parliamentary chamber, the House of Lords, destroying the delicate equilibrium of the balance of power.

...set about changing the identity of the country. Promoting the doctrine of multiculturalism, it opened Britain's doors to mass immigration. In the state-controlled schools, teachers no longer saw their role as the transmission of Britain's historic culture, which was "racist"; accordingly, children were not taught the history of their country, but instead a concept of 'citizenship' which was all about changing the values of the country. It undermined marriage, promoting instead "lifestyle choice" by incentivising lone parenthood (official forms no longer refer to husband and wives, merely "partners"). It discouraged prison sentences because criminals were said to be victims of life and jail would make them worse.

Obama has talked about remedying what he sees as the flaws in the U.S. Constitution which promotes only "negative liberties," or freedom from something rather than positive rights to something. Well, through human-rights legislation Britain has exchanged its historic concept of "negative" liberty -- everything is permitted unless it is actively prohibited -- for the 'positive' European idea that only what is codified is to be permitted.

We already have something of a "victim culture" in our country, though nowhere near as bad as in the UK. Look for it to get worse.

More, Obama wants to change the meaning of "rights" to a greater degree than ever before. The way our Constitution is written, rights are certain things that you have because you are a person and the government simply cannot take them away from you. They are "negative" rights, as in you have the right to own firearms and the government cannot ban them.

Like Blair, Obama wants to add to that "positive" rights; a right to a job, a level of income, health insurance, etc. While FDR experimented with this idea, and one might say it was cemented in the minds of many during LBJ's "Great Society" days, it seems that Obama is more audacious than any previous president.

If you don't believe me listen to Obama himself in a very revealing 2001 interview he gave on Chicago Public Radio Station WBEZ FM

Stop the ACLU has a partial transcript.

What is the result of this type of culture? Phillips explains that

...this doctrine holds that the "powerless" can do no wrong while the "powerful" can do no right, injustice is thus institutionalized, and anyone who queries the preferential treatment afforded such groups is vilified as a racist or bigot.

All this constitutes a profoundly illiberal culture in which no dissent is permitted, group is set against group and intimidation is the order of the day. And this also happens to be the culture of ACORN, of the radical groups funded by the Annenberg Challenge and Woods Fund, and the 'educational' or criminal justice ideas of William Ayers, endorsed by Barack Obama.

I think we already see that here in the U.S.

A Hope

The good news is that we on the right are not down and out, but if anything are energized by the election. We knew from the outset that it would be a difficult year. It was the "perfect storm" for the Democrats. Our candidates were flawed, and that it took Sarah Palin to infuse any energy at all into the campaign is revealing.

Bill Whittle, also writing over at NRO, sees the same thing. Amateur historian that he is, he compares our situation to that of the Union in October of 1864. The war was at a stalemate, which meant that the South was winning.

General Phillip Sheridan rallied his troops after their rout at Cedar Creek and led them to victory. His troops had lost a battle, but weren't whipped. All they needed was leadership and direction. "We are going to get a twist on those fellows, men! We are going to lick them out of their boots!"

It has been a source of delight for me these past few days to see nothing but evidence of this, all across our defeated lines. Nowhere have I heard a shred of defeatism or despair. On the contrary. In point of fact, the magnanimity and graciousness I have seen in defeat in so many places on the right tells me that this is an eager and seasoned army, one able to look defeat in the face and own up to the errors in tactics and strategy that got us there. And nowhere do I see a call to abandon our core principles and sue for terms, but rather that our loss was caused precisely by our abandonment of the issues which we hold dear and which have served us so well on battlefields past.

So consider this, my fellows in arms: On Tuesday, the Left -- armed with the most attractive, eloquent, young, hip, and charismatic candidate I have seen with my adult eyes, a candidate shielded by a media so overtly that it can never be such a shield again, who appeared after eight years of a historically unpopular President, in the midst of two undefended wars and at the time of the worst financial crisis since the Depression and whose praises were sung by every movie, television, and musical icon without pause or challenge for 20 months . . . who ran against the oldest nominee in the country's history, against a campaign rent with internal disarray and determined not to attack in the one area where attack could have succeeded, and who was out-spent no less than seven-to-one in a cycle where not a single debate question was unfavorable to his opponent -- that historic victory, that perfect storm of opportunity . . .

Yielded a result of 53 percent.

Folks, we are going to lick these people out of their boots.

And I will do everything I can to make it happen.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 4, 2008

Barack Obama and the Fall of the Democrat Party

If I had lived throughout the latter half of the 20th century, I'd have been a Democrat during most of it. Unlike most conservatives today I admire FDR. I would have liked Eisenhower, I suppose, but found his nuclear weapons policy unacceptable. I like JFK and RFK, and would probably have voted for LBJ because he was a foreign policy hawk and promoted civil rights at a time when such advances were sorely needed. I would have also probably voted for Humphrey in 1968, but that is the last time I can say I would have voted Democrat. With the nomination of George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976, I'd have take a turn towards the GOP. I probably just raised a few conservative eyebrows in this paragraph but so be it.

So here is the current nominee of the Democrat Party

The only, and I mean only, reason Ayers isn't in prison is because the government so screwed up the case that all or most all of the evidence was thrown out. Nobody, not even Ayers himself, disputes his guilt.

Whatever happened to the party of Harry Truman, John F Kennedy, or Henry "Scoop" Jackson? They would be spinning in their graves if they knew what was going on today. Zell Miller is another that I miss. The Democrats have even chased away the last decent member of their ranks, Senator Joe Lieberman.

Even Bill Clinton was a moderate by today's standards, he having famously once been chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC is the voice of moderation in the party, but has now been reduced to a shell of its former self. The "progressives", most notably Barack Obama now shun all of its positions.

Amazing, isn't it, how far the Democrat Party has fallen?

The Democrats are now the party of the crazy anti-war left, who welcome Moveon.org and Michael Moore into their ranks. Although Barack Obama did not start out as part of this movement, he has certainly embraced it.

In 2004 this party nominated John Kerry, a man who returned from Vietnam to betray his country by his participation in the "Winter Soldier" tribunal/investigation, and the disgraceful group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. His testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on April 22, 1971 is positively awful.

And today they've nominated a man who sat at Trinity United Church and listened to a racist kook hatemonger for 20 years and only left when it became politically expedient for him to do so. Say what you want about Sarah Palin's Wasilla Bible Church, there's no comparison. So far I've listened to six sermons from that church, and can find nothing remarkable or out of the ordinary. In fact, they're really quite mainstream and I found them inspirational. So there.

It's also the sheer creepyness of the messianic "Obama worship" that is disturbing. I think that conservatives sometimes go too far with Ronald Reagan, such as when during the primaries the GOP candidates where trying to out-Reagan each other. Commentators fall into this trap too, with Heritage even having a "What Would Reagan Do" section on their website.

Obama's Jimmy Carter foreign policy is grating because it's so naive in irresponsible, but I've already written about that at some length.

Mostly, though, it's Obama's past associations, namely those of Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, that get me. The Tony Rezko stuff, while bad, is the garden-variety corruption. The man should not be the Democrat candidate.

I've covered the Wright stuff, so now let's talk a bit about his association with the unrepentant 60's terrorist William Ayers.

First, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy reminds us in National Review of just who Ayers is and how he is still lying today about what he and his terrorist Weathermen wanted to do:

In (a) Fox interview...Ayers preposterously claimed that he and his fellow Weather Underground terrorists did not really intend to harm any people -- the fact that no one was killed in their 20 or so bombings was, he said, "by design"; they only wanted to cause property damage. ...

First of all, "that moment in the townhouse" he's talking about happened in 1970. Three of his confederates, including his then girlfriend Diana Oughton, were accidentally killed when the explosive they were building to Ayers specifications (Ayers was a bomb designer) went off during construction. As noted in Ayers' Discover the Networks profile, the explosive had been a nail bomb. Back when Ayers was being more honest about his intentions, he admitted that the purpose of that bomb had been to murder United States soldiers
...

In fact, Ayers was a founder of the Weatherman terror group and he defined its purpose as carrying out murder.
...

Now he wants you to think they just wanted to break a few dishes. But in his book Fugitive Days, in which he boasts that he "participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972," he says of the day that he bombed the Pentagon: "Everything was absolutely ideal. ... The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them."

And he wasn't singular. As I noted back in April in this article about Obama's motley collection of radical friends, at the Weatherman "War Council" meeting in 1969, Ayers' fellow terrorist and now-wife, Bernadine Dohrn, famously gushed over the barbaric Manson Family murders of the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and three others: "Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach! Wild!" And as Jonah recalled yesterday, "In appreciation, her Weather Underground cell made a threefingered 'fork' gesture its official salute." They weren't talking about scratching up the wall-paper.

A Weatherman affiliate group which called itself "the Family" colluded with the Black Liberation Army in the 1981 Brinks robbery in which two police officers and an armed guard were murdered. (Obama would like people to believe all this terrorist activity ended in 1969 when he was eight years old. In fact, it continued well into the eighties.) Afterwards, like Ayers and Dohrn, their friend and fellow terrorist Susan Rosenberg became a fugitive.

On November 29, 1984, Rosenberg and a co-conspirator, Timothy Blunk, were finally apprehended in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. At the time, they were actively planning an unspeakable bombing campaign that would have put at risk the lives of countless innocent people. They also possessed twelve assorted guns (including an Uzi 9 mm. semi-automatic rifle and an Ithaca twelve-gauge shotgun with its barrel sawed off), nearly 200 sticks of dynamite, more than 100 sticks of DuPont Trovex (a high explosive), a wide array of blasting agents and caps, batteries, and switches for explosive devices. Arrayed in disguises and offering multiple false identities to arresting officers, the pair also maintained hundreds of false identification documents, including FBI and DEA badges.

When she was sentenced to 58 years' imprisonment in 1985, the only remorse Rosenberg expressed was over the fact that she and Blunk had allowed themselves to be captured rather than fighting it out with the police. Bernadine Dohrn was jailed for contempt when she refused to testify against Rosenberg. Not to worry, though. On his last day in office, the last Democrat president, Bill Clinton, pardoned Rosenberg -- commuting her 58-year sentence to time-served.

These savages wanted to kill massively. That they killed only a few people owes to our luck and their incompetence, not design. They and the Democrat politicians who now befriend and serve them can rationalize that all they want. But those are the facts.

Going to Tom Maguire at Pajamas Media we now look at Obama and Ayers:

Barack Obama and the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers have worked closely together on education reform since 1995, and possibly since 1987. Obama has obfuscated and minimized this association in his public statements and on his website. Why the cover-up? We don't know, since we aren't sure what is being concealed.

It's becoming known as the Annenberg Challenge cover-up and it's become big news since the McCain campaign highlighted it in a press release late Wednesday.
...

This is what we know. Bill Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground, a violent radical student group of the 1960s. His father, Thomas Ayers, was a prominent Chicago business and philanthropic leader who served as an adviser to Mayor Richard J. Daley, father of the current Chicago mayor. Although he is not apologetic about his terrorist past (and had the bad luck to be quoted as saying, in an interview that ran on Sept 11 2001, that "I don't regret setting bombs. ... I feel we didn't do enough."), Bill Ayers has been accepted back into the Chicago political community and has been an informal adviser to the current Mayor Daley on education reform.

But regardless of his cachet in the liberal circles of Chicago politics, presidential candidate Barack Obama has not been eager to explain his own relationship with Bill Ayers. Published reports from February 2008 gave a glimmer of their ties. In 1995 Ayers hosted a fund-raiser for Obama prior to Obama's run for Alice Palmer's seat in the state Senate; they both served on the board of the charitable Woods Fund of Chicago from 1999 to 2002; and Ayers donated $200 to Obama's state Senate campaign. Other researchers and reporters (for example, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times) noted a few joint panel appearances and a favorable review by Obama of a book by Bill Ayers.

But even this was more than Obama was willing to admit. Asked point blank by George Stephanopoulos in the Philadelphia debate preceding the Pennsylvania primary to "explain that relationship for the voters," Obama prevaricated by pretending he scarcely knew Ayers:

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

Lie.

Stanley Kurtz, writing in National Review, explains why

Although the press has been notably lax about pursuing the matter, the full story of the Obama-Ayers relationship calls the truth of Obama's account seriously into question. When Obama made his first run for political office, articles in both the Chicago Defender and the Hyde Park Herald featured among his qualifications his position as chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation where Ayers was a founder and guiding force. Obama assumed the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office, and almost certainly received the job at the behest of Bill Ayers. During Obama's time as Annenberg board chairman, Ayers's own education projects received substantial funding. Indeed, during its first year, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge struggled with significant concerns about possible conflicts of interest. With a writ to aid Chicago's public schools, the Annenberg challenge played a deeply political role in Chicago's education wars, and as Annenberg board chairman, Obama clearly aligned himself with Ayers's radical views on education issues. With Obama heading up the board and Ayers heading up the other key operating body of the Annenberg Challenge, the two would necessarily have had a close working relationship for years (therefore "exchanging ideas on a regular basis"). So when Ayers and Dorhn hosted that kickoff for the first Obama campaign, it was not a random happenstance, but merely further evidence of a close and ongoing political partnership. Of course, all of this clearly contradicts Obama's dismissal of the significance of his relationship with Ayers.

Unbelievable.

But Obama followers see nothing wrong with this. They're either in denial or don't care.

And what is Ayers doing today? Why, He's a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the title of Distinguished Professor.

Which tells you everything you need to know about today's left. The left that makes up the anti-war base of the Democrat Party.

Remember, the only reason Obama has distanced himself from Ayers is the same reason why he distanced himself from Wright; not because he disagrees with them, but because he found it politically inconvenient to remain friends with them. And it's not that Obama agreed with everything Ayers or Wright said or did, that's not the point. The issue is that Obama may not have agreed with everything about them, but was ok enough with them to hang around them. He didn't see them as especially objectionable.

There's nothing to equal any of this on any Republican candidate for president since Watergate, and that happened when Nixon was president, so it's not really the same. The left has nothing like this on John McCain (the Keating five stuff having been thoroughly investigated, and to be sure while he showed "poor judgment it's not like associating with an unrepentant terrorist). They can say what they like about Sarah Palin, most all of it's false and anyway it's all penny-ante stuff compared to this.

Sunday Update

Silly me, I forgot it was racist to bring up Bill Ayers! Or so says Douglass Daniel of the AP.

Shame on you for nominating Barack Obama.

Update

Don't take it from me that Obama knew full well about Ayers, take it from Mark Halperin of Time Magazine (h/t TWS)

Halperin: "Is it fair to say that [Barack Obama] continued to associate with [Bill Ayers] professionally -- and personally on a casual basis -- even after he learned?"

Robert Gibbs: "He continued to serve on a charitable board and an educational grant board with money supplied by Walter Annenberg, a Republican who was an ambassador under Richard Nixon. Yes."

Halperin: "But with the knowledge of Ayers' past?"

Gibbs: "Yes."

Apparently it's ok to associate with unrepentant ex-terrorists as long as you condemn them.

Got it.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 30, 2008

The Creepyness of Obamamania


Update - New video below the fold that's very disturbing.

You just can't make this stuff up.


If I hadn't seen the first one at Andrew Sullivan I would have thought it was a spoof.

The second is a perfect example of what Mark Hemingway calls Manipulated Child Syndrome.

My only question for Obama supporters is, if he's elected president, will we have to call him "Great Leader", or will "Dear Leader" suffice?

Update - New video

Newsbusters says this video is very real and is not a spoof.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2008

Thanks, Scott!

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"[1] and of maintaining a "permanent campaign approach" to governing rather than making the best choices.[2] 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,[3] though he does write that the administration relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war.[4] The book is also critical of the press corps for being too accepting of the administration's propaganda on the Iraq War[2] and of Condoleeza Rice for being "too accommodating" and being very careful about protecting her own reputation.[1]

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.

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

October 14, 2007

"Phony Democrats"

I don't have much to say about the whole Media Matters/Rush Limbaugh situation, other than that Limbaugh is a giant among lilliputians. That said, I rather liked this post by Scott Johnson over at Power Line last week

In the recent past prominent Democratic officeholders have made remarkably insulting and/or counterfactual statements about our soldiers and their leaders. Among the recurring themes are the proposition that our troops are stupid and their leaders are liars. Has anyone compiled these statements? I think they would provide useful context for the phony "phony soldiers" controversy orchestrated by Hillary Matters and executed by HM's dutiful Democratic poodles. I have a few that come to mind this morning.

Harry Reid (on "the surge"):

Now I believe, myself, that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows: that this war is lost, that the surge is not accomplishing anything.

Dick Durbin (on Guantanamo):

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

Hillary Clinton (to General Petraeus):

[T]oday you are testifying about the current status of our policy in Iraq and the prospects of that policy. It is a policy that you have been ordered to implement by the president. And you have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy.

Despite what I view as your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.

John Kerry:
Education -- if you make the most of it and you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.

Charles Schumer (on "the surge"):

[L]et me be clear, the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al Qaeda said to these tribes we have to fight al Qaeda ourselves. It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords took peace here, created a temporary peace here.

Charles Rangel:

If there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

John Murtha (on Haditha):

It's much worse than reported in Time magazine. There was no fire fight. There was no IED that killed these innocent people. Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. And that's what the report is going to tell.

Now, you can imagine the impact this is going to have on those troops for the rest of their lives and for the United States in our war and our effort in trying to win the hearts and minds.

Do you have any additional nominations for consideration? I'll update this post with additional quotes sent in by readers.

UPDATE: Our readers respond. Robert Dodd gives us Edward Kennedy:

Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management.

Kyle Christensen gives us more John Kerry:

And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- of -- the historical customs, religious customs.

Steven Ives gives us Barack Obama:

We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.

As a bonus, Mr. Ives gives us the Hillary Matters link for the Obama quote.

Michael Costello gives us more Harry Reid:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed Thursday that he told liberal bloggers last week that he thinks outgoing Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace is "incompetent."

Ed Morrissey trenchantly reminds us that those whom I refer to as phony Democrats are of course "Real Democrats, unfortunately."

See also Glenn Beck's collection of Inconventent Quotes. Enjoy!

Posted by Tom at 8:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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?
______________Yes______No_____(Don't Know)
Democrats____19%_____62________20
Republicans____5%_____87_________8
Independents___7%____ 76________17

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.

Posted by Tom at 7:33 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

September 22, 2007

The War Against al Qaeda is in Iraq: But the Left is Giving Encouragement to the Enemy

This post by W Thomas Smith Jr on The Corner is so right-on it's worth reprinting in it's entirety

At "The Corner," Victor Davis Hanson considers the fact that:

Although it is taboo to say so, it really is true that Afghan veteran terrorists like al-Masri and Zarqawi did flee from Afghanistan to Iraq where they often ended up dead.

There is no question but that this is true. War is all about finding, fixing, and destroying the enemy; and that often means maneuvering around him, thrusting, feinting, luring, forcing him to turn, withdraw, or perhaps move to a position that he believes is the best ground from which to engage us. When in fact, we have — by virtue of our own positioning — forced the enemy to that ground he wrongly believes is best-suited for him. That is exactly what we have accomplished (among other things) by invading Iraq.

The Left says we are in a quagmire in Iraq. For Heaven's sake, Al Qaeda is in a quagmire. AQ is suffering huge losses in that country, and it is having an enormous impact on their ability to wage war against us elsewhere in the world.

Doesn't mean AQ isn't fighting us elsewhere in the world. They are. But their focus is on Iraq where we and the Iraqi security forces — which by the way are getting stronger all the time — are chewing them to pieces. AQ has to win in Iraq — which they won't — because losing in Iraq would be disastrous for them globally.

No thanks to the gutless, propagandizing Left in this country, who I've now grown beyond the stages of simple intellectual disagreement. I'm now truly angry at them because they've hurt the American military effort in Iraq. They've constantly condemned it: Said it was a "failure," a "disaster," and "lost," even as Anbar was turning around (and we now see the success of Anbar is spreading to other provinces). They've mercilessly ridiculed the commander-in-chief. Accused the senior commander on the ground in Iraq of "betrayal." And attempted to publicly convict the rank-and-file riflemen — of whom Jack Murtha said killed innocent civilians in "cold blood" — prior to any charges being leveled against those riflemen in a case that is still being argued.

In that sense, the Left has stiffened the backbone of the enemy. Made him fight harder than he should have. Made him believe there is hope for his own success at driving us out of Iraq, when the enemy should ALWAYS be made to feel there is no hope of defeating the United States anywhere on earth.

The left just doesn't understand that if we pull out of Iraq without finishing the job it will be seen around the world as a huge victory for al Qaeda and a huge loss for the United States. They'll use it to bolster their numbers, and no country will trust the United States to protect them from anyone.

But I don't think they really care.

Posted by Tom at 9:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2007

Moveon.org Slanders General Petraeus II

So far not a single Democrat Congressman or Senator has denounced the slanderous Moveon.org attack on General Petraeus. I checked the site of my own Democrat Senator, James Webb, and he is completely silent on the matter. He ran as a conservative Democrat. Let's see if that was just hot air or if he does the right thing.

PetraeusNYTad_Moveon_org.jpg

Instead, once again Senator John McCain stands tall in a Congress full of Liliputians

"I remain deeply disappointed by the failure of leading Democrat presidential candidates to personally and publicly denounce the smear tactics used against General Petraeus by MoveOn.org. There is no greater slander to a soldier than an accusation of betrayal to his nation. I do not understand why those seeking to be commander-in-chief have yet to forcefully denounce, in their own words, this McCarthyite attack on our commander. I hope they would reconsider their silence and not let this slander of an exceptional American stand."

Be sure to also read his opening statement before the Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.

Becuase of his stances on immigration and campaign finance I've never thought I could support him for president, but if he keeps this up I'll definately reconsider.

The Washington Times points out that

The Democrats who take MoveOn.org's money are the same ones who cry "my patriotism!" whenever someone observes how weak they are on national security. They're either silent or engage in Mr. Reid's tepid talk in defense of common decency. Democrats dismiss Gen. Petraeus as not being an "independent evaluator" — that's Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California — or accuse him of "carefully manipulating the statistics" — that's Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. Others who cannot summon the boldness to say anything in public praise MoveOn.org's ability to do the dirty work.

If these attacks are not smears on the patriotism of Gen. Petraeus, nothing could be. The left expects its "my patriotism!" indignation to be taken seriously, but and expect others to stand by as the smear is launched. It does not add up.

My response to any leftist who is upset that someone has questioned his patriotism is "fine, we'll stop questionin your patriotism, the moment you stop calling our President and military leaders liars".

And those Democrats who claim that Gen Petraeus has presented misleading information need to put their money where their mouth is. If they truely believe such things, they need to file perjury charges, or recommend that he be brought up on charges and tried in a courts-martial.

After reviewing several of the more offensive statements leading Democrats have made about Petraeus, the Wall Street Journal asks if

(This can) really be the new standard of political rhetoric across the Democratic Party? There was a time when the party's institutional elites, such as the Times, would have pulled it back from reducing politics to all or nothing. They would have blown the whistle on such accusations. Now they are leading the charge.

Under these new terms, public policy is no longer subject to debate, discussion and disagreement over competing views and interpretations. Instead, the opposition is reduced to the status of liar. Now the opposition is not merely wrong, but lacks legitimacy and political standing. The goal here is not to debate, but to destroy.

No doubt that in the 90s many on the right got carried away with their denunciations of President Clinton. I sometimes found myself half-believing in some of it. It's a strong temptation to believe the worst about your political enemies. But after all of the investigations, I was persuaded that yes, Vince Foster really did kill himself in Fort Marcy Park, and that no, the government did not intentially set fire to the Waco compound.

The next time there's a Democrat president I'll have to watch myself, that I don't automatically buy into every bad thing that's said about him...or her. Perhaps in that sense the 90s and today are good lessons for us all.

Previous

Moveon.org Slanders General Petraeus

Posted by Tom at 8:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 9, 2007

Democrats Behaving Disgracefully III

Via Redstate we have Senator Harry Reid joining Senators Durban and Schumer in an unparalleled showing of disgraceful behavior. ABC News reports this

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in his party's weekly radio address today that he expects the Petraeus report to be nothing more than the Bush administration's selective take on the surge.

"Before the report arrives in Congress, it will pass through the White House spin machine, where facts are often ignored or twisted, and intelligence is cherry-picked," said Reid.

On Friday, Reid went so far as to question not only the true source of the report but also the four-star general's honesty.

"He has made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual," Reid said. "I have every belief that this good man will give us what he feels is the right thing to do in his report, but it's not his report anymore. It's Bush's report."

This is doubletalk. If Gen Petraeus is a "good man" he will not deliver a report as his own that he knows is written by the White House and contains false or misleading information. But Harry Reid is saying that he will deliver such a report, one written by the White House and which contains false or misleading information.

Further, Reid called Petraeus a liar when he said that "he has made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual." He can't be much of a "good man" if he has made false statements, can he?

Reid can't have it both ways. Either the general is a liar and a purveyor of false information, or he is a "good man", but it can't be both.

What Reid is doing is obvious; he is at once trying to discredit the report while not appearing to be "anti-military". It won't work.

Here's more of the same doubletalk from Reid, this time from the New York Times (also via Redstate)

“I have every belief that this good man, General Petraeus, will give us what he feels is the right thing to do in this report, that is now not his report,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader. “It’s President Bush’s report. President Bush took final ownership of this when he landed in Anbar Province just a few days ago.”

This would be the same Senator Harry Reid who on January 26, 2007, voted along with 81 other Senators (the other 19 simply didn't vote) to confirm then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus to 4 star rank, and commander of MNF-Iraq.

If we were to give Reid every benefit of the doubt, and conclude that he thought Petraeus was an honorable man in January but has since changed his mind, then he is a dolt.

More likely though Reid was playing politics in January and he is playing politics now. He voted to confirm Petraeus because he thought it the politically expedient thing to do. He now disparages the same man because the nutroots have told him that he has to end the war or else. In other words, the Democrats are so invested in an American defeat that they have to make it happen whether it is or not.

Previous

Democrats Behaving Disgracefully
Democrats Behaving Disgracefully II

Posted by Tom at 8:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 8, 2007

Democrats Behaving Disgracefully II

Continuing the Democrats disgraceful attempt tos slander General Petraeus before he makes his report next week to Congress, Senator Chuck Schumer says that U.S. forces had nothing to do with the dramatic turn-around in Anbar. On the floor of the Senate last Wednesday he said that

And let me be clear: the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the Surge, not because of the Surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from Al Qaeda said to these tribes: We have to fight Al Qaeda ourselves. — Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Congressional Record, 9/5/07, p. S 11090

Schumer was one of 81 Senators who voted to confirm Petraeus last January, but the political winds were blowing another direction back then.

As former Marine W Thomas Smith points out over at NRO (link above)

The violence has gone down in Anbar because of the approach to operating joint U.S.-Iraqi military stations in cleared areas of Anbar, especially where it all began up on the Syrian border following Steel Curtain in 2005. And the surge of forces throughout central Iraq and in the west has most certainly played a role in the success of the Anbar turnaround, though the turnaround did indeed begin before the surge.

Additionally, many of the Sunni tribal leaders were in league with Al Qaeda, but over time began switching sides because (a) they were sick of the civilian-targeting and threat tactics of Al Qaeda, and (b) they knew that the only armed elements in the region who were able to protect them and their families were U.S. forces.

Down the Memory Hole

But Schumer's offense goes farther than just not being honest about what's happening in Anbar. He has tried to have his comments erased from history.

Sweetness and Light caught him. Here again, is what he actually said

And let me be clear: the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the Surge, not because of the Surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from Al Qaeda said to these tribes: We have to fight Al Qaeda ourselves.

And here is how Schumer has it on his website

And let me be clear: the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The lack of protection for these tribes from al Qaeda made it clear to these tribes, “We have to fight al Qaeda ourselves.” It wasn’t that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords had to create a temporary peace here on their own. And that is because there was no one else there protecting them.

Not quite the same, is it?

Here's the video to prove it



You're a clear liar is what you are, Schumer. You changed what you said on your website because on the floor of the Senate you said what you really think and later realized that it didn't look good politically. Everyone cleans up speeches to get rid of the occasional "um" and "ah" or when you transpose words, but this is more than that.

The Washington Times had this to say about Senator Schumer and his fellow Democrats yesterday

The most disgraceful player so far is Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who in speech ridiculed as "desperate" the successful strategy implemented by Gen. Petraeus, which has dramatically reduced violence in Anbar province and saved both American and Iraqi lives. The alliance between the U.S. military and Sunni tribesmen has encouraged the Sunnis to stand against al Qaeda. "Are we placing our faith in the future of Iraq in the hands of some warlords?" asked Mr. Schumer with a sour verbal sneer. "Some tribal leaders who at the moment dislike al Qaeda more than they dislike us? Is this the vaunted clarion cry for democracy in the Middle East that the President announced when he started the build-up in Iraq?... This is a policy of desperation."

Only a poisonous partisan — or someone ignorant of history and geopolitical reality — could say something like that. Using the Schumer standard, FDR and Churchill were wrong to form an alliance with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin because he was an evil man who didn't share our regard for "democracy." The World War II leaders of the West rightly judged that Hitler and the Axis powers posed a greater threat to U.S. interests than Stalin at the time — hence the decision to ally the United States and Britain with the Soviet Communists. No one now pretends that Sunni tribesmen have very much in common with Thomas Jefferson or James Madison. But only fools would take Mr. Schumer's advice to give the back of the hand to the Arab Muslims who are willing to join the fight against our mortal enemy.

Churchill and Roosevelt knew exactly what they were doing when they allied with Stalin. They may not have known the full extent of Stalin's mass murders, but they knew that he was an evil dictator. But as the Times said, they also knew that at the time Hitler was the greater danger. Churchill and Roosevelt where right then, and we are right now. Schumer is just a bitter partisan desperate for political advantage. General Petraeus' report is going to be largely positive and they have bet the farm on an American defeat.

Previous

Democrats Behaving Disgracefully

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 6, 2007

Democrats Behaving Disgracefully

The Democrats are already dismissing General Petraeus' report, and he hasn't even given it yet. From today's Washington Times

Congressional Democrats are trying to undermine U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus' credibility before he delivers a report on the Iraq war next week, saying the general is a mouthpiece for President Bush and his findings can't be trusted.

"The Bush report?" Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said when asked about the upcoming report from Gen. Petraeus, U.S. commander in Iraq.
...

The top Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California — also referred to the general's briefing as the "Bush report."

These Democrats are nauseating. They know Petraeus will have good things to say, and they can't have any of that. Captain Ed has it right, they're trying character assassination on him. What's particularly galling is that most of them, including the Senator Durbin quoted above, voted to confirm him 81 - 0 last January. A few abstained, and one wonders if they did so in order to attack him later.

The charge that President Bush is writing the report, or that it will be "tainted" is utter B.S., and here's why:

From Blackfive

There has been some talk in the press and on the blogs that suggests the White House intends to tamper with -- or simply write -- General Petraeus' assessment to Congress. In a discussion today with a DOD Legislative Affairs expert, we got the truth.

Congress itself mandated by law who will assemble each of the several reports due in September. It also, separately, mandated that General Petraeus be available to testify to them at this time.

Public Law 110-28 specifes that "the President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress."

The law separately requires that: "[T]he United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress."

So, in answer to the question: there is a report, and there is a separate assessment. The law requires the President to prepare the report, and General Petraeus to consult with him on that. The law also requires the General to testify separately before Congress.

There are no political games here: the US military is simply complying with the law as passed by Congress.

It is Congress who passes laws. The same Congress that is now complaining that the president will prepare the report is the same Congress that passed a law saying that "the president...will prepare the report."

A commenter on Captain's Quarters(link above) said it best

The fact is the "face" on this report is Gen. Petraeus. He played the major role in preparing it and he will be delivering it to congress. It represents to a large degree the view of the military on the ground in Iraq. In contrast we have a GAO report which represents the analysis of bureaucrats in the capitol far from Iraq. Now who do Americans trust more: the military? or Congress? ... This is an imbecilic move by the Dems.

Exactly.

In a related note, Senator McCain stood tall during last night's GOP debate. Unfortuantely it was at Governor Romney's expense, but that's how these things are.

ROMNEY: I don't have a time frame that I've announced. What I've indicated is very consistent with what the president is speaking about and what we're hearing from Iraq right now, and that is that the surge is apparently working.
...

MCCAIN: Governor, the surge is working. The surge is working, sir.

ROMNEY: That's just what I said.

MCCAIN: It is working. No, not "apparently"; it's working. It's working because we've got a great general. We've got a good strategy. Anbar province, things have improved.

The Maliki government is not doing the things we want it to do, the police are not functioning the way we want them to do, but we are succeeding.

And the great debate is not whether it's apparently working or not, the great debate is going to take place on the floor of the United States Senate the middle of this month. And it's going to be whether we set a date for withdrawal, which will be a date for
surrender, or whether we will let this surge continue and succeed.

And I can assure you, it's more than apparent, it is working and we have to rally the American people. People in New Hampshire are saddened and frustrated and angry over our failures in Iraq. I share their anger, their frustration and their failure, and I want them home too. But I want them home for the right reasons. I want our troops home with honor. Otherwise, we will face catastrophe and genocide in the region.

When McCain is good, he's the best. And he's right, it is going to be one knock-down drag out debate.

Posted by Tom at 9:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 13, 2007

The Issue of Political Progress in Iraq

Two things are obvious about Iraq.

One, the "surge" (more properly Operation Phantom Thunder and now Phantom Strike) is making good progress, perhaps even better than expected. General Petraeus will likely give a very positive report on military operations in September.

Second, at the national level at least the Iraqis are not making the progress some in the United States they ought to make. Those who are determined to get US troops out of Iraq ASAP regardless of consequences will use this to make their case. Democrat Senators Durban and Casey said as much last week.

As with all such matters, the issue is terribly complicated and there are no easy answers. I'm going to make a case that we ought to stick it out in Iraq but I can see the other side. Some time ago Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said last November of the Iraqis; "We have given them a republic and they do not seem able to keep it." Krauthammer is right about a lot, but I hope he's wrong here.

I'm going to cut to the chase; I think the editors of National Review had it right when they said that

Ultimately, reconciliation between the Sunnis and the Shiites is crucial. But it wasn’t going to happen in the next two months, whether the Iraqi parliament stayed in session or not. General Petraeus’s September report has come to be seen as a final test for Iraq, which makes sense only for Democrats hell-bent on leaving no matter what, and for nervous Republicans seeking a soft exit. We are beginning to see the fruits of a sound counterinsurgency strategy and, in this context, a debate focused on how to get out rather than how to consolidate our gains is shameful, however easy the sound bites are.

Cliff May points out that we are at least partially to blame for the lack of progress at the national level in Iraq

We are at least partly responsible for the Iraqi government's dysfunction. Watching the debates taking place in Washington — hardly the most inspiring example of democracy in action — Iraqis don't know whether we are going to stay to finish the job or abandon them to al-Qaeda terrorists and Iranian-backed death squads.

And as long as Iraqis think we are heading for the exit, what possible incentive do they have to make painful political compromises?

I think he's on to something and l I'll just quote myself on what I said the other day about why I think so

My thought is that we've had Iraq backward all along. We've put political progress ahead of military progress, and we should have done it the other way 'round. We hurried to set up one provisional government after another, draft a constitution, hold elections, etc. Our hope was that by doing these things we could take the "legitimacy" out of the insurgency.

It didn't work.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but we should have done this "surge" back in 2004 or at least 2005, and only when we'd squashed the terrorists worried about the political side.

The reason we got it wrong, I think, is that we have a tendancy to "mirror image" our thinking. We assume that hey, we can all get along without shooting each other, why can't they? We forget that the reality is that there are a lot of extremists over there who will shoot if they can't get their way politically. And before going in we completely underestimated extremism in Iraq. These people figure they can get what they want through violence, so they don't put much stock in what we consider normal political negotiations. Rather, they'll hold out for a better deal through violence.

Extremists will only negotiate in good faith when all violent options have closed; i.e., when the US military has crushed the insurgency.

All this is also why peace between Israel and Hamas or Fatah is a pipe dream. Or Israel and Lebanon. Until these terrorist organizations are destroyed or physically isolated there will never be peace.

David at The Thunder Run made another point to me in an email (which I won't print since it's private) that Iraqis are in fact making progress on the local level, and that this is in reality how most things get done in the US as well. He sees the war being won on the local level, both against al Qaeda and in the US military (primary leutenant colonels) working with local Iraqi leaders. As always he makes a good point and I tend to agree.

The bottom line is that the NRO editors have it right; Petraeus' Sept report is not a "final" report but an interim one, yes the Iraqis do eventually have to come together, but we ought to be talking about how to consolidate and expand on our victories, not how to cut-and-run.

Only time will tell if I'm right or not, but in the meantime Arnaud de Borchgrave throws some cold water on anyone who still looks at the situation in Iraq through rose-colored glasses

Mr. al-Maliki has little contact with his Cabinet ministers. Half are now off the job. The six Sunni ministers who resigned last week — and five independents who walked out this week — concluded the prime minister is not serious about reconciliation and national unity. They say he sees Iran, where he spent a few years in exile during the Saddam Hussein regime, as "more relevant to Iraq's future than the United States." Iran is here to stay as our neighbor, says Mr. al-Maliki's entourage. And Mr. al-Maliki remains close to Muqtada al-Sadr, the fiery young anti-U.S. cleric who heads the 15,000-strong Mahdi Army militia and also has close ties to Tehran.

With electricity down to an hour or two a day in Baghdad last week when temperatures hit a scorching 58 Celsius (134 Fahrenheit), and much of the city without running water, Mr. al-Maliki and his cronies, with the benefit of generators and air-conditioning, seem far removed from the urgent and monumental task of rebuilding the country. They gave their visitors the impression of being overwhelmed by the challenge. They don't want the U.S. military to abandon them, but at the same time wish them gone, a syndrome that borders on paralysis. Meanwhile, parliament gave itself a month off and many members went to European destinations to cool off.

The rest of the article isn't any better. He notes that "Iranian diplomacy has been diligent in laying the groundwork for an Iraqi satellite", and one of my fears is that we win the war only to end up with an Iraq that is no friend to the U.S.

If you'd like more bad news, there was this story in the Washington Post last Tuesday about how the British have been essentially defeated in Basra. The city is now a lawless place, with the Brits reduced to barracading themselves behind a makeshift fortress outside the city.

On the flip side of that story, though, is that the reason the Brits have lost is that they drew down their forces too soon.

Britain sent about 40,000 troops to Iraq -- the second-largest contingent, after that of the United States, at the time of the March 2003 invasion -- and focused its efforts on the south. With few problems from outside terrorists or sectarian violence, the British began withdrawing, and by early 2005 only 9,000 troops remained. British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced further drawdowns early this year before leaving office.

Hello Democrats and wobbly Republicans; we'll get the lawlessness of Basra if we draw down too fast.

The indefatiguable Michael Yon, who has spent a year and a half on the ground in Iraq as an independent journalist, believes that the charge that "there's no political progress" is bogus

False advertising is afoot. I write these words from Indonesia, soaking wet, having just returned from photographing rice paddies in a pouring rain, wearing a Florida Gators shirt. That means there is a green alligator on my chest. While supporting my team, my shirt perpetuates the myth that alligators are green, when in fact they are black when wet, gray when dry.The mantra that “there is no political progress in Iraq” is rapidly becoming the “surge” equivalent of a green alligator: when enough people repeat something that sounds plausible, but also happens to be false, it becomes accepted as fact. The more often it is repeated—and the larger the number of people repeating it—the harder it is to convince anyone of the truth: alligators are not green, and Iraqis are making plenty of political progress.

There may be little progress on political goals crafted in America, to meet American concerns, by politicians who have a cushion of 200 years of democracy. Washington might as well be on the moon. Iraqis don’t respond well to rules imposed from outside their acknowledged authorities, though I have many times seen Iraqi Police and Army of all ranks responding very well to American Marines and soldiers who they have come to respect, and in many cases actually admire and try to emulate. Our military has increasing moral authority in Iraq, but the same cannot be said for our government at home. In fact, it’s in moral deficit because many Iraqis are increasingly frightened we will abandon them to genocide.

Yon gives three reasons why he thinks the "surge" is working, and as I said earlier I think that if we can make the military side work then we have a chance at the political

1. Iraqis are uniting across sectarian lines to drive al Qaeda in all its disguises out of Iraq, and they are empowered by the success they are having, each one creating a ripple effect of active citizenship.

2. The Iraqi Army is much more capable now than they were in 2005. They are not ready to go it alone, but if we keep working, that day will come soon.

3. General Petraeus is running the show. Petraeus may well prove to be to counterinsurgency warfare what Patton was to tank battles with Rommel, or what Churchill was to the Nazis.

If you don't follow any of the other links in this piece, be sure to visit Yon's site. The photos alone are worth the visit.

Lastly are these thoughts from Jim Geraghty at NRO

Stuart Koehl of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS writes in with a good point:

The error being made—on your part as well as by others—is assuming that progress can only be made at the level of the national government. In fact, under the Iraqi constitution, the national government is rather weak, while traditionally real political power has been wielded on the local and regional level. And it is precisely at the local and regional level that we see real progress being made with regard both to power sharing and national reconciliation. Because of the social and constitutional structure of Iraq, political progress cannot be imposed from the top-down, but must percolate from the bottom up. To some extent, the members of the national assembly and the unity government are merely play-acting, posturing for the cameras until such time as a consensus emerges on the local level that will prompt them to act. The success of our counter-insurgency effort on the political front is not measured in the assembly chamber, but in the tribal councils. And there, we are definitely winning.

UPDATE: I should note that I'm hearing a similar vibe from others who have been to Iraq recently — relationships between the local tribal councils are going pretty well, while the national assembly is a mess. "The bottom up strategy is making progress, but the national government is and is going to be a disaster... I think this means we're headed toward a soft partition."

Well, if the Kurds don't declare formal independence, and nobody sponsors al-Qaeda, I say, "hooray, good job everybody, and good luck. We'll be in Kuwait if you need anything. We're outta here."

It might just come down to that.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 9, 2007

The Democrat Line in December

Via NRO, I think that Senators Richard Durbin Bob Casey are floating a trial balloon regarding what the Democrat line in September will be when Gen Petraeus comes to Washington and reports that the surge is making good progress

(though the image here is that of a woman, it quickly goes to Senators Durbin and Casey on CNN)

Note how the CNN anchor seems amazed that Durbin would admit to any military progress at all. It's as if he couldn't quite believe his ears at first.

What's going on here is that the Democrats have learned that the "surge" (more properly Operation Phantom Thunder) is working better than they expected, or as I should say, feared. And I'm not going to go through the evidence here, but all signs point to military success in Iraq, at least right now.

Rep James Clyburn accidentally spoke the truth when he said that it would be a “real big problem for us” if Petraeus’s progress report is good.

Petraeus is not someone they can mock or disparage and get away with it. They know that if they take this tack they'll look stupid and will lose half their party. The nutroots may want to hear that Petraeus is Bush's lapdog, but it won't play with Joe and Jane Average.

What they'll do then is say we should pull out of Iraq because the Iraqis can't get their act together at the federal level.

To a certain extent the Democrats will have a point. Ultimately the Iraqis do have to make political progress. But it's not quite that simple. As the editors of National Review pointed out last week

Ultimately, reconciliation between the Sunnis and the Shiites is crucial. But it wasn’t going to happen in the next two months, whether the Iraqi parliament stayed in session or not. General Petraeus’s September report has come to be seen as a final test for Iraq, which makes sense only for Democrats hell-bent on leaving no matter what, and for nervous Republicans seeking a soft exit. We are beginning to see the fruits of a sound counterinsurgency strategy and, in this context, a debate focused on how to get out rather than how to consolidate our gains is shameful, however easy the sound bites are.

My thought is that we've had Iraq backward all along. We've put political progress ahead of military progress, and we should have done it the other way 'round. We hurried to set up one provisional government after another, draft a constitution, hold elections, etc. Our hope was that by doing these things we could take the "legitimacy" out of the insurgency.

It didn't work.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but we should have done this "surge" back in 2004 or at least 2005, and only when we'd squashed the terrorists worried about the political side.

The reason we got it wrong, I think, is that we have a tendancy to "mirror image" our thinking. We assume that hey, we can all get along without shooting each other, why can't they? We forget that the reality is that there are a lot of extremists over there who will shoot if they can't get their way politically. And before going in we completely underestimated extremism in Iraq. These people figure they can get what they want through violence, so they don't put much stock in what we consider normal political negotiations. Rather, they'll hold out for a better deal through violence.

Extremists will only negotiate in good faith when all violent options have closed; i.e., when the US military has crushed the insurgency.

All this is also why peace between Israel and Hamas or Fatah is a pipe dream. Or Israel and Lebanon. Until these terrorist organizations are destroyed or physically isolated there will never be peace.

David at The Thunder Run made another point to me in an email (which I won't print since it's private) that Iraqis are in fact making progress on the local level, and that this is in reality how most things get done in the US as well. He sees the war being won on the local level, both against al Qaeda and in the US military (primary leutenant colonels) working with local Iraqi leaders. As always he makes a good point and I tend to agree.

The bottom line is that the NRO editors have it right; Petraeus' Sept report is not a "final" report but an interim one, yes the Iraqis do eventually have to come together, but we ought to be talking about how to consolidate and expand on our victories, not how to cut-and-run.

Posted by Tom at 9:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 27, 2007

Dick Durbin Hits a New Low

From today's Washington Times

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat says he knew that the American public was being misled into the Iraq war but remained silent because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee.

"The information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn't believe it," Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Wednesday when talking on the Senate floor about the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002.

"I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn't do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress."

This is astounding. Taking his statement at face value, the man is a coward. He let us go to war without coming out and saying something, even in private to his fellow Democrats?

On a matter this serious you don't sit back and say "gee, I'd like to do something to keep our president from lying about about the cause for a war, but since I'm sworn to secrecy I'll just do nothing."

The decision to go to war is the most serious one a president can make, period.

Senator Durbin is either a liar or a coward. I think he's a liar

Senate Republican staffers tell Kathryn Jean Lopez that other Democrat Senators thought the intelligence said something different

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): “[Saddam] has ignored the mandates of the United Nations, is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.” (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 09/19/02)

SEN. JOHN ROCKFELLER (D-WV): “There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years.” (Sen. John Rockefeller, Congressional Record, 10/10/02, p.S10306)

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D-IN): “Bill, I support the president's efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein. I think he was right on in his speech tonight. The lessons we learned following September 11 were that we can't wait to be attacked again, particularly when it involves weapons of mass destruction. So regrettably, Saddam has not done the right thing, which is to disarm, and we're left with no alternative but to take action.” (Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," 03/17/03)

AND THE CURRENT SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID?

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the President's approaching this in the right fashion.” (CNN's "Inside Politics," 09/18/02)

And Stephen Spruiell points out that

Sen. Durbin’s been saying stuff like this for a few years now. When pressed to name what specifically Durbin saw in classified intel briefings that differed from what the administration was telling the country, a spokesman for Durbin cites one of the key judgments from the Oct. 2002 NIE (declassified on July 18, 2003):

Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotors—as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools—provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. ([The Department of Energy] agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)

Durbin's spokesman argues that the administration, while "factually correct" when it told the press that most agencies believed the tubes were part of a reconstituted nuclear program, was not being totally honest because it omitted the "greater expertise" of the Department of Energy.

Hat tip to Curt at Flopping Aces for the NRO links. Bookmark his blog if you haven't already.

Update

Power Line has links for the above quotes

Posted by Tom at 7:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 14, 2007

And You Shall Have Peace!

Guess what some of the Democrats in Congress have introduced(hat tip TigerHawk)?

H.R. 808: Department of Peace and Nonviolence Act

SEC. 101. ESTABLISHMENT OF DEPARTMENT OF PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE.

(a) Establishment- There is hereby established a Department of Peace and Nonviolence (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the `Department'), which shall--

(1) be a cabinet-level department in the executive branch of the Federal Government; and

(2) be dedicated to peacemaking and the study of conditions that are conducive to both domestic and international peace.

(b) Secretary of Peace and Nonviolence- There shall be at the head of the Department a Secretary of Peace and Nonviolence (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the `Secretary'), who shall be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(c) Mission- The Department shall--

(1) hold peace as an organizing principle, coordinating service to every level of American society;

(2) endeavor to promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights;

(3) strengthen nonmilitary means of peacemaking;

(4) promote the development of human potential;

(5) work to create peace, prevent violence, divert from armed conflict, use field-tested programs, and develop new structures in nonviolent dispute resolution;

(6) take a proactive, strategic approach in the development of policies that promote national and international conflict prevention, nonviolent intervention, mediation, peaceful resolution of conflict, and structured mediation of conflict;

(7) address matters both domestic and international in scope; and

(8) encourage the development of initiatives from local communities, religious groups, and nongovernmental organizations.

SEC. 102. RESPONSIBILITIES AND POWERS.

(a) In General- The Secretary shall--

(1) work proactively and interactively with each branch of the Federal Government on all policy matters relating to conditions of peace;

(2) serve as a delegate to the National Security Council;

(3) call on the intellectual and spiritual wealth of the people of the United States and seek participation in its administration and in its development of policy from private, public, and nongovernmental organizations; and

(4) monitor and analyze causative principles of conflict and make policy recommendations for developing and maintaining peaceful conduct.

(b) Domestic Responsibilities- The Secretary shall--

(1) develop policies that address domestic violence, including spousal abuse, child abuse, and mistreatment of the elderly;

(2) create new policies and incorporate existing programs that reduce drug and alcohol abuse;

(3) develop new policies and incorporate existing policies regarding crime, punishment, and rehabilitation;

(4) develop policies to address violence against animals;

(5) analyze existing policies, employ successful, field-tested programs, and develop new approaches for dealing with the implements of violence, including gun-related violence and the overwhelming presence of handguns;

(6) develop new programs that relate to the societal challenges of school violence, gangs, racial or ethnic violence, violence against gays and lesbians, and police-community relations disputes;

(7) make policy recommendations to the Attorney General regarding civil rights and labor law;

(8) assist in the establishment and funding of community-based violence prevention programs, including violence prevention counseling and peer mediation in schools;

(9) counsel and advocate on behalf of women victimized by violence;

(10) provide for public education programs and counseling strategies concerning hate crimes;

(11) promote racial, religious, and ethnic tolerance;

(12) finance local community initiatives that can draw on neighborhood resources to create peace projects that facilitate the development of conflict resolution at a national level and thereby inform and inspire national policy; and

(13) provide ethical-based and value-based analyses to the Department of Defense.

(c) International Responsibilities- The Secretary shall--

(1) advise the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State on all matters relating to national security, including the protection of human rights and the prevention of, amelioration of, and de-escalation of unarmed and armed international conflict;

(2) provide for the training of all United States personnel who administer postconflict reconstruction and demobilization in war-torn societies;

(3) sponsor country and regional conflict prevention and dispute resolution initiatives, create special task forces, and draw on local, regional, and national expertise to develop plans and programs for addressing the root sources of conflict in troubled areas;

(4) provide for exchanges between the United States and other nations of individuals who endeavor to develop domestic and international peace-based initiatives;

(5) encourage the development of international sister city programs, pairing United States cities with cities around the globe for artistic, cultural, economic, educational, and faith-based exchanges;

(6) administer the training of civilian peacekeepers who participate in multinational nonviolent police forces and support civilian police who participate in peacekeeping;

(7) jointly with the Secretary of the Treasury, strengthen peace enforcement through hiring and training monitors and investigators to help with the enforcement of international arms embargoes;

(8) facilitate the development of peace summits at which parties to a conflict may gather under carefully prepared conditions to promote nonviolent communication and mutually beneficial solutions;

(9) submit to the President recommendations for reductions in weapons of mass destruction, and make annual reports to the President on the sale of arms from the United States to other nations, with analysis of the impact of such sales on the defense of the United States and how such sales affect peace;

(10) in consultation with the Secretary of State, develop strategies for sustainability and management of the distribution of international funds; and

(11) advise the United States Ambassador to the United Nations on matters pertaining to the United Nations Security Council.

(d) Human Security Responsibilities- The Secretary shall address and offer nonviolent conflict resolution strategies to all relevant parties on issues of human security if such security is threatened by conflict, whether such conflict is geographic, religious, ethnic, racial, or class-based in its origin, derives from economic concerns (including trade or maldistribution of wealth), or is initiated through disputes concerning scarcity of natural resources (such as water and energy resources), food, trade, or environmental concerns.

(e) Media-Related Responsibilities- Respecting the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States and the requirement for free and independent media, the Secretary shall--

(1) seek assistance in the design and implementation of nonviolent policies from media professionals;

(2) study the role of the media in the escalation and de-escalation of conflict at domestic and international levels and make findings public; and

(3) make recommendations to professional media organizations in order to provide opportunities to increase media awareness of peace-building initiatives.

(f) Educational Responsibilities- The Secretary shall--

(1) develop a peace education curriculum, which shall include studies of--

(A) the civil rights movement in the United States and throughout the world, with special emphasis on how individual endeavor and involvement have contributed to advancements in peace and justice; and

(B) peace agreements and circumstances in which peaceful intervention has worked to stop conflict;

(2) in cooperation with the Secretary of Education--

(A) commission the development of such curricula and make such curricula available to local school districts to enable the utilization of peace education objectives at all elementary and secondary schools in the United States; and

(B) offer incentives in the form of grants and training to encourage the development of State peace curricula and assist schools in applying for such curricula;

(3) work with educators to equip students to become skilled in achieving peace through reflection, and facilitate instruction in the ways of peaceful conflict resolution;

(4) maintain a site on the Internet for the purposes of soliciting and receiving ideas for the development of peace from the wealth of political, social and cultural diversity;

(5) proactively engage the critical thinking capabilities of grade school, high school, and college students and teachers through the Internet and other media and issue periodic reports concerning submissions;

(6) create and establish a Peace Academy, which shall--

(A) be modeled after the military service academies;

(B) provide a 4-year course of instruction in peace education, after which graduates will be required to serve 5 years in public service in programs dedicated to domestic or international nonviolent conflict resolution; and

(7) provide grants for peace studies departments in colleges and universities throughout the United States.

If I wanted to caricature the left I couldn't do better than this.

The bill goes on but I think you get the point. Go and read the whole thing if you can stand to. You can also find it on THOMAS.

As you might expect, presidential hopeful Rep Dennis Kucinich is one of the sponsors. It's prominently displayed on his Kucinich 2008 website. He says he's got 52 cosponsors.

As things stand now it'll never get out of committee. However, if a Democrat wins the White House in 2008 and they expand their hold in Congress, all bets are off. To be sure, it would still be a long shot, but the left would push hard for it and if groups like Moveon.org expand their influence enough in the Democrat party then anything's possible. They'll at least push for it.

Posted by Tom at 5:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 18, 2007

Copperheads in Congress

copperhead1.gif


I don't suppose there's anyone in their right mind today who couldn't imagine not fighting to free people imprisoned in the hell of slavery, especially when it's happening on your own soil.

And if you're like me, when you were younger and less well-read you had this view of events like the American Revolution, Civil War (from the North's perspective), and World War II as glorious crusades in which "of course" we were all in it together.

But it were the truth. Most history books will tell you that only about 1/3 of the colonists supported independence, another 1/3 were loyal to the crown, and the last 1/3rd just didn't care. Up until Dec 7 1941 up to 80% of Americans wanted nothing to do with aiding the British in any shape way or form. Yet who today could imagine not wanting to fight the Nazis?

We all know, I suppose, that the North stumbled many times in the road to victory. Lincoln went through general after general before he found one who could consistently win. And then after the victories of early 1863, came the losses of later in that year and early 1864.

The Federal Army was unable to fill it's ranks with volunteers and resorted to a draft, which proved so unpopular that riots broke out in New York City over it. Many northern Democrats, disappointed in the way the war was being conducted, decided that it wasn't worth it.

These "peace Democrats" became known as Copperheads. By 1864 they had gained effective control of their party.

There was a presidential election in 1864. From the Democrat Party Platform:


Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity of war-power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States.

Amazing, isn't it? Yet it's true; the "peace Democrats" of 1864 wanted an immediate end to the fighting and a negotiated peace that would undoubtably have left slavery in peace. Today's Democrats want an immediate withdrawal regardless of consequences, which would be a huge victory for the jihadists.

As with the Civil War Copperheads, today's variety think that they have the public behind them. They are convinced that the results of the last election "prove" that the American people want an unconditional withdrawal. But as a poll published in Investor's Business Daily points out, it isn't that simple (hat tip Power Line)

IBD%20poll%20Surrender%20Nuts.gif

From the accompanying editorial

The party of John Murtha shamelessly seeks to defund and defeat U.S. troops on the battlefield and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Congress the terrorists wanted is doing their bidding ...

As we've noted on several occasions, Democratic talk of "redeployment" has encouraged terrorist groups around the world.

Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said before the 2006 vote: "Americans should vote Democratic," adding that "it is time the American people support those who want to take them out of the Iraqi mud." The statement could have come from Murtha, Kerry, Hillary or any number of Democrats.

We find it scary that the Democratic and terrorist game plans are indistinguishable.

I'd say that's about right. I'm reading Walid Phares' Future Jihad, which is the best book I've read on the terrorists period. He lays it out just as IBD says; that one of OBL's objectives was to get us to become divided and fight each other. Critics will say that it's all President Bush's fault, that if only we hadn't invaded Iraq we'd all be in it together.

Hogwash. The left would still object to the Patriot Act and Gitmo. Take Iraq out of it and the right and left still have fundamentally different views of what the war is even about. The right sees it as a war against fundamentalist Islam, and the left sees it as a police action against criminals. But more on that when I review Phares' book.

John Murtha has become the chief Copperhead and his plan for our defeat is in full swing. The Washington Times explained on Friday that

When the House votes today on the resolution denouncing Mr. Bush's plans for additional troops to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Iraq, members should be under no illusions about what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership are trying to do: to make it impossible for American troops to properly do their job in Iraq. In an interview yesterday with MoveCongress.org, a Web site for a coalition of anti-war groups, Mr. Murtha, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, explained that by placing conditions on $93.4 billion in new combat funds, he would make be able to effectively stop the troops in their tracks. "They won't be able to continue. They won't be able to do the deployment. They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work. There's no question in my mind," Mr. Murtha said.

"We will set benchmarks for readiness," a top Democratic leadership aide told the nonpartisan Politico.com Web site, which summarized the Democrats' strategy this way: "If enacted, these provisions would have the effect of limiting the number of troops available for the Bush surge plan, while blunting the GOP charge that Democrats are cutting funding for the troops in Iraq."

No one should be fooled by Murtha's "readyness standards". They're fraudulent and everyone knows it. If you don't believe me listen to what Murtha himself said as quoted by the IBD article

"We're trying to force a redeployment not by taking money away, (but) by redirecting money,"

The Democrats, and some Republicans, don't just think that the Keane-Kagan plan, "A Plan for Success in Iraq", around which the "surge" is based, won't work, they're trying to ensure that it won't . It's shameful enough that they've given our most vicious enemies aid and comfort with their stupid resolutions, now they're trying to pull the rug out from under our troops feet too.

Copperheads, all of them.

Posted by Tom at 9:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 5, 2007

John Edwards Said What?

On Sunday former Senator John Edwards was on Meet the Press with Tim Russert. Russert brought up Edwards' 2002 vote in favor of the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. Edwards now says that he "regrets" that vote.

Russert played of the October 2002 speech that then-Senator Edwards gave to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He gave the speech during the very week that the Senate was debating the war resolution:

Videotape, October 7, 2002)

SEN. EDWARDS: My position is very clear. The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. I’m a co-sponsor of the bipartisan resolution that is presently under consideration in the Senate. Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today, that he’s used them in the past, and that he’s doing everything he can to build more. Every day he gets closer to his long-term goal of nuclear capability.

Edwards was riding the bandwagon. Russert then asked him about that vote

MR. RUSSERT: “ A grave threat to America,” do you still believe that?

SEN. EDWARDS: No.

MR. RUSSERT: Why were you so wrong?

SEN. EDWARDS: For the same reason a lot of people were wrong. You know, we—the intelligence information that we got was wrong. I mean, tragically wrong. On top of that I’d—beyond that, I went back to former Clinton administration officials who gave me sort of independent information about what they believed about what was happening with Saddam’s weapon—weapons programs. They were also wrong. And, based on that, I made the wrong judgment. I, I, I want to go another step, though, because I think this is more than just weapons of mass destruction. I mean, I—at the—I remember vividly what I was thinking about at the time. It was, first, I was convinced he had weapons of mass destruction. That’s turned out to be completely wrong and false. I had internal conflict because I was worried about what George Bush would do. I didn’t have—I didn’t have confidence about him doing the work that needed to be done with the international community, the lead-up to a potential invasion in Iraq. I didn’t know, in fairness, that he would be as incompetent as he’s been in the administration of the war. But I had—there were at least two things going on. It wasn’t just the weapons of mass destruction I was wrong about. It’s become absolutely clear—and I’m very critical of myself for this—become absolutely clear, looking back, that I should not have given this president this authority.

Russert didn't let this go by unchallenged. He brought up General Zinni and Brent Scowcroft, both of whom said that going into Iraq would be a mistake. He also quoted from a National Intelligence Estimate that Edwards saw that questioned the assumption that Iraq had WMD. Edwards gave what amounts to a non-answer

SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm, I did see it. I mean, I, I think it was—there were serious questions about whether—again, we’re looking back. Now we know none of this was true. But, at the time, there were serious questions about any effort to obtain nuclear weapons, which is what that statement just was. All of us believed there was no question that he had chemical and biological weapons, and there was at least some scattered evidence that he was making an effort to get nuclear weapons.

MR. RUSSERT: But it seems as if, as a member of the intelligence committee, you just got it dead wrong, and that you even ignored some caveats and ignored people who were urging caution.

SEN. EDWARDS: Well, I, I, I would—first of all, I don’t want to defend this. Let me be really clear about this. I think anybody who wants to be president of the United States has got to be honest and open, be willing to admit when they’ve done things wrong. One of the things, unfortunately, that’s happened in Iraq is we’ve had a president who was completely unmoving, wouldn’t change course, wouldn’t take any responsibility or admit that he’d made any mistakes. And I think America, in fact the world has paid a huge price for that. So I accept my responsibility. I’m not defending what I did. Because what happened was the information that we got on the intelligence committee was, was relatively consistent with what I was getting from former Clinton administration officials. I told you a few minutes ago I was concerned about giving this president the authority, and I turned out to be wrong about that.

So what of this? On the one hand, I'm tempted to say that yes the President should have admitted mistakes earlier. My more realistic side says that in our political culture he would have received no credit for this whatsoever. In fact, the Dems would likely have just used any such admission for their own political ads. As for the changing course part, I've expressed my frustration with the president several times on this blog (see Iraq under categories at right and scroll down).

What does taking responsibility mean? If he's so bad at making such important decisions he shouldn't be running for president, should he?

Let's continue

MR. RUSSERT: In that same speech I showed earlier, you seemed to embrace, however, a—the Bush vision of what could happen in Iraq. And let’s just watch that and come back and talk about it.

SEN. EDWARDS: Sure.

(Videotape, October 7, 2002)

SEN. EDWARDS: Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight in a multiethnic, complicated society that’s suffered under one repressive regime after another for generations. The Iraqi people deserve and need our help to rebuild their lives and to create a prosperous, thriving, open society. All Iraqis, including Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, deserve to be represented. This is not just a moral imperative. It’s a security imperative. It is in America’s national interest to help build an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors, because a democratic, tolerant and accountable Iraq will be a peaceful regional partner, and such an Iraq could serve as a model for the entire Arab world.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think that was naive?

SEN. EDWARDS: No, I think that had, had Saddam, who’s—had the war in Iraq been executed the way that it should have been executed, I think there would be a much greater likelihood of there being a democratic Iraq. I think we would still see at least some symptoms of what we’re seeing raging on the ground in Iraq right now. But no, I think there was some potential for a democracy in Iraq.

"Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight"

"Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight"

Yes I think we've got that part figured out by now.

But Edwards has joined the cut-and-run crowd. He voted for the war when it was popular, and regrets it now that it's unpopular. He made fine sounding speaches when it seemed expedient to do so but now wants to leave Iraq to it's own devices.

To his everlasting credit, Russert pursued just this line of questioning, pointing out that "many have suggested... that the reason so many Democrats voted for giving the president authority in October of 2002 was a political calculation", and asked if that wasn't the case with him:

SEN. EDWARDS: It’s a—it’s a completely fair question. If I—if I were watching a, a politician under those circumstances, I’d be very cynical about what their motives are, and why, why they did what they did. I can only tell you, in my case, I came to the conclusion, turned out to be wrong, that the president should be given this authority.

I do think it’s important—again, not defensively—but important to point out that I didn’t run the war and neither did the other people in Congress who voted for the war. The president’s the one who made this extraordinary mess. I mean, it’s been mistake after mistake after mistake. But I did cast this vote, and I’m the person responsible for this vote, no one else.

Talk about a guy sweating bullets. Edwards must have hated every second of that interview.

Edwards excuse for now joining the cut-and-run crowd is that in his opinion the war has been run incompetently, that it's been "mistake after mistake after mistake."

I'm not going to debate the Iraq war here, but rather point out the the history-challenged John Edwards that this is how wars usually go. For the winner, that is.

Read about the American Revolution, or our Civil War. Who today could imagine not wanting to fight either - the latter from the North's perspective.

Just to consider the Civil War, we all know it went very poorly for the North the first several years. Lincoln was raked over the coals for his conduct of the war, especially for his perceived attacks on civil rights in pursuit of war goals. At the start of the war he announced that his only goal was to keep the country whole, yet after the battle of Antiedam in Sept of 1862 issued the Emancipation Proclamation, effectively changing his war goals to that of also freeing the slaves. This was hugely controversial at the time, with several some Union troops threatening to mutiny over the matter. By late 1963 the war had proved so unpopular that the Union army was unable to fill its ranks and resorted the the draft. The draft proved so unpopular that riots broke out over it in New York City. For a time Lincoln was convinced that he was going to lose the election of 1864. Northern Democrats, smelling blood, became the cut-and-run party of their day. The Democrat Party's 1864 presidential platform demanded "that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities" and a negotiated peace with the South. If you don't believe me look it up yourself.

To be sure, there were differences. Lincoln fired general after general when they couldn't perform. Would that Bush have done the same.

But what's done is done, and now Edwards wants to abandon the Iraq war that he spoke so passionatly in favor of earlier.

Let's continue on with Russert's inverview and watch Edwards twist a bit more

MR. RUSSERT: Let me bring you back to October 10th of 2004. You were running for vice president, a few weeks before the election...

SEN. EDWARDS: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: ...you were on this program. The war...

SEN. EDWARDS:I remember.

MR. RUSSERT: The war is now a year and a half old, and I asked you about your vote. Let’s watch.

SEN. EDWARDS: Sure.

(Videotape, October 10, 2004)

MR. RUSSERT: If you knew today, and you do know, there is—there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, would you still vote to go to war with Iraq?

SEN. EDWARDS: I would have voted for the resolution, knowing what I know today, because it was the right thing to do to give the president the authority to confront Saddam Hussein.

I think Saddam Hussein was a very serious threat. I stand by that, and that’s why we stand behind our vote on the resolution.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: That’s a year and a half into the war.

SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm. Perfect—that’s a very fair question. I can tell you what happened with me, personally. We got through—I was—at that point, I was in the middle of a very intense campaign, one that I thought was very important for America. When the campaign was over and the election was over, we had a lot going on in my own family. Elizabeth had been diagnosed with breast cancer, we were taking care of her. And for the first time I had time to really think about, number one, what I was going to spend my time doing, and, number two, my vote for this war. And over time, when I reflected on what I thought was going to be necessary going forward, to have some moral foundation to work on issues like poverty and genocide, things that I care deeply about, I could no longer defend this vote. It was pretty simple. And I got to the place I felt like I had to say it and had to say it publicly. And so—what?--a year—a year or so ago I did that.

My prayers go out to his wife. If Sen Edwards is saying that he was so distracted by her illness that he could't think straight then he has no business running for president.

Like so many others he spoke strongly in favor of the war when it seemed popular to do so. Now he takes it all back and "regrets" his vote. Sorry, but anyone who's read the least bit of history knows that wars have their back and forths, and often go badly for the eventual winner. But like the Copperheads that Lincoln had to deal with, when the going get's tough he want's to cut-and-run.

But I can't take this anymore. Follow the link at top and read the rest of the interview if you like, or if you think I'm being unfair to Sen Edwards.

My bottom line is that he has no business even running for the presidency, and would make a terrible one if by some miracle elected.

But if you think all this is bad, you ought to meet Amanda Marcotte, the official blogmaster of the John Edwards for President campaign. She's a real piece of work.

Even More on Edwards' nutcase blogmaster by Karhryn Jean Lopez

Update

Captain Ed looked at the Edwards interview and catches something I missed; that Edwards blames Clinton Administration officials for allegedly lying to him or misleading him as well.

So Edwards is admitting that former Clinton Administration officials gave him the same intelligence information that he got from the Bush White House. In other words, Bush didn't lie or exaggerate.

Hallelujah, a liberal finally speaks some sense, if only by accident.

He may simply be saying all this as a preemptive strike against Hillary. He is, after all, a slip 'n fall trial attorney. But whatever the case, Capt'n Ed says,

All of this results from the lack of political courage by Democrats in Congress. They voted for the war based on the same intelligence that fueled American policy well before George Bush took office. When that intel turned out to be incorrect, or at least out of date, they panicked and tried to shove all the responsibility off onto the Bush administration, calling him and Dick Cheney liars and whipping up anti-war sentiment to cover for their own responsibility in the decision to go to war. In the process, they have made it almost impossible for the White House to exercise any flexibility in the war strategy to ensure a positive outcome from the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Edwards has proven himself to be a craven, whiny opportunist. He's also exposed many of his colleagues as having similar character flaws.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by Tom at 9:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 30, 2007

Webb Watch III: Distorting a Poll

I'm a bit tardy on this one but my weekend was rather eventful. Better late than never.

Once again it looks like Virginia Senator James Webb is all wet.

Giving the Democrat response to the State of the Union Speech on Sept 23, he said that

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military.

It looks like once again Jim Webb has stepped in it.

The poll cited as evidence of this claim is apparently one published in MilitaryCity in December. Both the Washington Times and an editorial in National Review mention the MilitaryCity poll as the source. I searched the Senatory's web site but could find nothing there.

On the surface, what the paper reports looks pretty bad

Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved. The president’s approval rating among the military is only slight ly higher than for the population as a whole. In 2004, when his popularity peaked, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush’s handling of the war. While ap proval of the president’s war lead ership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.

Just as telling, in this year’s poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population today — 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.

However, go down a bit further and you find this:

The mail survey, conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual gauge of active-duty mili tary subscribers to the Military Times newspapers. The results should not be read as representative of the military as a whole; the survey’s respondents are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population.

Oops. Looks like the good Senator didn't read the whole article.

W. Thomas Smith Jr., former US Marine, writing in National Review points out that if morale is as low as the MilitaryCity poll would suggest it is, then reenlistment rates would be low. However, they are higher now than they were before 9-11. In addition, he says, all such polls show is that "soldiers and sailors gripe".

As mentioned above, the poll is very unscientific and thus is not to be trusted. Smith elaborates

...unlike polls conducted among the general populace, independent news polls taken solely among military personnel almost never reflect a consensus of the military, because most military personnel won’t participate. They’re extremely cautious about speaking on or off the record — even anonymously — without permission. The ones who are content and support the decisions of their superiors are often quiet, as are the discontented. But if one is to speak, it is usually the one who is perhaps disgruntled.

Finally, I'll simply point out that anti-war types are in the process of setting up a bunch of new rules regarding when we can use military force, and perhaps more importantly, when troops should be withdrawn.

They think they are being very clever, thinking "ha! a poll shows that the majority of military personnel think we should withdraw from Iraq, we can use this!"

So we'll call this one the "Jim Webb rule", and it goes like this: "Before and during all military operations, polls will be conducted of active-duty military personnel. If a majority do not approve of an operation, it will not be executed. If during execution they do not approve of the tactics or strategy, they will be changed. And if a majority lose confidence in the overall operation, the troops will be withdrawn."

But one day all this will be over. We will have either won or lost in Iraq. Someday a Democrat will be president. But there will still be an anti-war movement, who is going to remember all these little rules. The Democrat in the White House will have to face the real world, and will have to make tough decisions. One day he (or heaven forbid she) will have to order the use of military force.

And all these little rules are going to come back to haunt him.

Previous

Webb Watch II: Knave of the Week
Web Watch I: Insulting the President

Posted by Tom at 9:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 24, 2007

So the anti-war crowd's new line is that they want to win in Afghanistan but not in Iraq.

Sure.

Last night at the State of the Union speech the Democrats didn't stand up when the President called for victory in Iraq.

How long before they won't stand up when there's a call for victory in Afghanistan?

But the anti-war crowd insists that no, they really and truely want to win in Afghanistan. It's just Iraq that they oppose.

And I believe them, too. I believe that right now that short of the International ANSWER/Code Pink left, they do want to win in Afghanistan. I believe that they want to win, as long as it is politically expedient, that is. Because as soon as it isn't, they'll want to cut-and-run there too.

Supporting the war in Afghanistan has become the latest tool to oppose the war in Iraq.

"We support more troops in Afghanistan!", we are cheerfully told.

Sorry, but I ain't buying it.

Iraq is important in a way that Afghanistan will never be. It is the center of the Middle East, where Afghanistan is a sideshow. I'm not going to review the good reasons we had to invade, suffice it to say that a loss there would be devastating to the West.

Defeat in Iraq will embolden the enemy in Afghanistan. It will also lead to a "redeployment" of forces by the jihadists, who will shift their forces from Iraq to Afghanistan. Do the Democrats realize that a pullout from Iraq will lead to increased attacks on our forces in Afghanistan? Are they ready for additional casualties there?

More to the point, are they willing to commit the money and resources necessary to win in Afghanistan? Sure, leaving Iraq will free up money. But my guess it that before it can be "redeployed" to Afghanistan most of the money be eaten up by domestic spending, with the big-spenders in the GOP happily going along with it. How long before they decide that money can be saved by pulling out of Afghanistan too?

Now, as a matter of record, I think that more troops in Afghanistan would be useful. But anyone who's even taken a cursory look at the situation there knows that as with Iraq it's pretty complicated, and solving it is not just a simple matter of sending more troops.

Besides, the issues in Afghanistan are larger than troop numbers. Let's quickly go over a few of the issues that are preventing a complete victory.

This past summer Pakistan signed an agreement with the Taliban essentially ceding control of North Waziristan to them. Two years ago they signed a similar one giving up South Waziristan. Waziristan is in northwest Pakistan and borders Afghanistan. I can't find the link as present, but have read that the Taliban have 20+ bases there, and al Qaeda at least 5.

So we just go in and take them out, right? Not so fast. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf sits precariously atop a government that is full of anti-American and pro-Taliban Islamists, all of whom would like to overthrow him. Fifty years ago, when Pakistan was formed, it's goverment made a de facto agreement with the tribes of their wild northwestern mountainous
regions. This agreement effectively said "you don't bother us and we won't bother you. You don't support people who want to overthrow us and we'll let you govern yourselves."

It worked out fine until the US discovered that Osama bin Laden was probably hiding there, and we asked the Pakistani government to go and get him. They tried to do so, and thus effectively broke the fifty-year old agreement.

The Pakistanis didn't find OBL, and Musharraf was afraid that if he pissed off the tribes and Islamists too much they'd overthrow him. Since his army was being beaten by the tribes who were aided by the Taliban we chased out of Afghanistan, they decided to do the prudent thing and call a truce.

So if we simply flood Waziristan with American troops, we run a serious risk of all hell breaking lose in Pakistan and Musharraf being replaced with a radical Islamic government. Did I mention that Pakistan has nuclear weapons?

My point here: Since the anti-war crowd isn't willing to take risks in Iraq, what makes you think they'll take risks going after the Taliban inside Pakistan?

If this isn't enough for you to digest, there's the fact that we've been betrayed by our NATO "allies". The reason has more to do with changing demographics in Europe than anything else.

If you want one more vexing problem that won't be solved by adding more troops, there's the issue of the poppy fields. The Taliban make a ton of money off the stuff, and getting rid of it isn't easy. Similar to the situation in Central and South America, farmers grow the stuff because they make more money on it than with traditional food crops. Destroy the crops and they'll trade their plow for a gun and come after us. The only way to solve it that I can see is outbid the Taliban or find another more profitable crop for them to grow.

Will the anti-war crowd be willing to spend the money necessary to get rid of the poppy fields? How long before we're told that we need it here at home for a school lunch program?

Bush's Fault, Too

Although I'm sure some readers won't want to believe this, I do go after both sides when I think they are wrong. I make no secret of my distain for the anti-war left, and think that for all our mistakes the neo-cons are mostly right. But I've gone after the President for screwing things up both domestically and in Iraq, and I'm going to do it again.

Here's the bottom line: Bush fooled around for several years, letting Rumsfeld, Abizaid, and Casey continue on with their "light footprint" strategy. It didn't work. Last year saw the bombing of the Mosque/Golden dome and an escallation in sectarian violence. A year ago he should have fired his generals, if not Rumsfeld, and demanded that more troops be sent while he still had the political capital to do so. Now, finally, he's woken up, but at the political 11th hour.

The President gave a great speech last night, clearly and persuasively laying out the case for victory in Iraq. As with a change in war leadership, he should have done this a year ago.

We shouldn't be surprised that he's lost so much support. The American people want to win, but what they hate is a politician that doesn't seem to have the will to win. Now, the truth may be that Bush had the will but simply bought into the "light footprint" strategy, legitimately thinking that it would work. Perception, however, counts, and many Americans perceived that "light footprint" as a lack of will. Now at the final hour he's decided to send more troops, but many are so fed up that they won't give him one last chance.

There's also the fact that there aren't many more to send, because Bush and the GOP congress spent 6 years increasing domestic spending instead of building up the military.

Back to Iraq

The bottom line is that we're there in Iraq and a victory there for the Jihadists would be devastating for both the Middle East and entire Western world. The communist victory in Vietnam emboldened the Soviet Union for another 10 years. Let's not have another round of Carterism, please.

The most immediate effect of a withdrawal would be a slaughter in Iraq, and then an Iranian influenced or controlled Iraq. The Sunni Arab states would be in an uproar, so if you think there's instability now just wait until we pull out. And then, of course, there's the fact that parts of Iraq would become terrorist training centers. All of this would solve nothing, but would rather only mean fighting by American troops at a later date.

At least the Vietnamese didn't come after us here at home. The Jihadists want to convert the world to Islam or destroy us if we refuse. Laugh if you like but it's the truth. So if you think we've lost a lot of people in Iraq so far, we'll lose a lot more later if we don't win now.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2006

Webb Watch II: Knave of the Week

The Washington Times pegs Virginia Senator-elect James Webb as it's Knave of the Week.

Veterans down in Virginia Beach are quite miffed at Mr. Webb right now. The newly elected Democrat had promised to appear at a Veterans' Day event, only to back out the last minute. These things happen, especially for an incoming senator, but with Mr. Webb's petulant explanation, it's no wonder the veterans are angry.

In a letter to the Virginian-Pilot he wrote: "The logistics involved in getting from Northern Virginia to the event and then back again (four hours drive time each way — there was never an offer by the event's organizers to fly me there, or otherwise take care of transportation expenses), would have eaten up an entire weekend." Pity the poor senator-elect, who can't be expected to go anywhere these days without a private jet, and the great tasks he must attend to.

Such as? He continues: "This would have given me no time to prepare for orientation week." Orientation week; yes, one sympathizes. But then couldn't Mr. Webb have prepared in the eight hours of driving time? He concludes, "And quite frankly I am rather perplexed that there would not be a greater understanding of the circumstances that caused me to miss it."

Let's have Navy vet Larry McCauley answer that: "I did something I never did before — voted for a Democrat. He owes us."

For being "perplexed," Mr. Webb is the Knave of the week.

Ditto that.

Previous

Webb Watch I

Update

Here's the story in the Virginia Pilot on the episode.

Posted by Tom at 1:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 30, 2006

Webb Watch I

"Webb Watch" Kind of has a nice ring to it. I have a funny feeling that there may be many more installments ahead.

I wouldn't be writing about Senator-elect Jim Webb except that I live in Virginia. I spent most of my time this campaign season out working for Frank Wolf (R VA-10), but one day did a lit drop for George Allen.

So here's the latest about our Senator-to-be, from the Washington Post (hat tip Power Line)

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Try to be nice to him and he acts like a jerk.

But this isn't the first time he's behaved this way.

Power Line reports that in 1997 he said this about then President Clinton:

"I cannot conjure up an ounce of respect for Bill Clinton when it comes to the military. Every time I see him salute a Marine, it infuriates me. I don't think Bill Clinton cares one iota about what happens in a military unit."

Power Line reminds us that he had no problem in having Bill Clinton come down to Virginia to campaign for him. Yet he once called Clinton's administration "the most corrupt in modern memory".

So he's both an opportunist and rude. Oh but in the same Post article, Senator Shumer assures us that Webb "really has deep convictions." We shall see. He's certainly not off to a godd start.

For Additional Reading

George Will takes down Jim Webb as only a master writer can do. In an editorial titled "
Webb conveys the message of a boor " Will starts off

That was certainly swift. Washington has a way of quickly acculturating people, especially those who are most susceptible to derangement by the derivative dignity of office. But Jim Webb, Democratic senator-elect from Virginia, has become a pompous poseur and an abuser of the English language before actually becoming a senator.

Read the whole thing.

I have a feeling that Jim Webb is going to provide a lot of material over the next six years.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

Inconvenient Quotes IV: Pelosi Then, Pelosi Now

We've all come to accept the fact that most Democrats are completely inconsistent with regard to the war in Iraq; they were for it when it looked good for them polically, now they're against it when they see that it doesn't poll so well.

I've even gathered a few collections of "inconvenient quotes" from prominent Democrats swearing up and down before our March 2003 invasion that they believed that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD, see here, here, here and here.

Now it's time for a new installment. From House Majority Leader John Boehner's office (via NRO)

Pelosi on Iraq: Then vs. Now

June 14, 2006

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called Operation Iraqi Freedom a "war of choice" and a distraction from "the real war on terror." At a "Take Back America" rally yesterday, Pelosi elaborated on her rationale:

PELOSI NOW

"During the debate on the war, I was the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. I saw all the information, all the intelligence. And my statement was that I will not vote for this war because the intelligence does not support the threat being claimed by the administration."

But in fact, during the long debate on whether to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, Pelosi indicated that the intelligence she saw DID support the administration's claim of Saddam Hussein as a "gathering" threat:

PELOSI THEN

"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

During debate to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, Pelosi said:

PELOSI THEN "Yes, he has chemical weapons, he has biological weapons, he is trying to get nuclear weapons." And she told Tim Russert on a November 17, 2002 appearance NBC's Meet the Press, "Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."

But flash forward to the "Take Back America" rally where Pelosi insisted:

PELOSI NOW

"[T]here was never anything in the intelligence that said Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States, never."

So which is it? As the House prepares to debate the war in Iraq and the Global War on Terror, these brazen flip-flops only further underscore Capitol Hill Democrats' lack of seriousness in combating terrorism. When it comes to strengthening national security, the American people have a clear choice between Republicans who want to meet the challenge and Democrats who want to relent and retreat.

The Democrats, of course, claim that they were "misled"

But the reality is that they saw the same intelligence that the President did. Further, what does it say about them that they could be misled by someone that liberals think is as dumb as a stone? And they want us to put them in charge of negotiating with the Iranians?

I don't think so.

Posted by Tom at 9:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 15, 2005

There They Go Again

John Kerry, that is. A few days ago he said that our troops were"terrorizing" Iraqis.

Yesterday he announced that there was a "solid case" for bringing articles of impeachment against President Bush.

Later, a Kerry aid tried to deflect criticism, saying that it was an "Impeachment joke".

Uh huh. I think that he just got caught saying what he really meant. Mamy mainstream Democrats are now so deluded that they actually believe that "Bush lied!" to get us into war with Iraq. They actually think that it was all some sort of plot to... well there are so many variants it's hard to know which is the most current.

Howard Dean tried to take back one of his wilder comments, too, with equally less success, in my opinion.

During an interview on WOAI Radio in San Antonio last week Dean said that we were going to lose in Iraq:

Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

Last Saturday he tried to backtrack, but only dug himself in deeper. (Hat tip NRO)From the DNC website

"We can and have to win the War on Terror."

"We can only win the war -- which we have to win -- if we change our strategy dramatically. ... if we want to win the war on terror we cannot pursue the failed strategy we've pursued..."

"I'm not as worried about the President's credibility as I am about the lives of brave American soldiers giving their lives and coming back wounded."

"We need to redeploy our troops and stop making our troops the target over there."

"We are for the troops. We're going to stand up for these troops. They deserve better support than they are getting."

"Not only do most Democrats, most Republican Senators now believe the 2006 has to be a transition year. ... We want to serve our troops better. We believe they deserve better. We want to serve our people better and we want to win the war on terror. And we want to do it smart because we can't do it the way we're doing it now."

Of course he issues no plan himself, because he doesn't have one.

President Bush, however does, and it is right on the White House web site for anyone who bothers to look. And I suggest that you do, if for no other reason than to see just how detailed it is.

I've noticed that many Democrats have been saying that the plan is not detailed enough. On a theoretical level something can always be "more detailed". But you don't want a national strategy document to start discussing what individual military or civilian unit does what, because that is tactics, not strategy.

Apparently one group that is not looking there is the MSM. CNN tells us that "Fifty-eight percent of those polled said Bush doesn't have a clear plan on Iraq". Maybe if they reported on the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" document mentioned earlier, people would know.

Posted by Tom at 10:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 8, 2005

Is This What John Kerry Meant?

As I related the other day, John Kerry thinks that our troops are terrorizing the Iraqis

Interviewed by Bob Schieffer on CBS' "Face the Nation," Mr. Kerry was talking about what he said was a need to "transfer authority to the Iraqis," when he added: "And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- historical customs, religious customs, whether you like it or not. Iraqis should be doing that."

Maybe this is what he had in mind

iraq1.jpeg

or maybe these


iraq2.jpeg


iraq3.jpeg


iraq5.jpeg

iraq4.jpeg

These photos and more from the Third US Army

And yes, there is more good news coming out of Iraq.

Posted by Tom at 10:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 6, 2005

The Party of Defeat

There's just no more doubt about it.

The Democrats, or most of them anyway, are advocating our defeat in Iraq. Oh, and they say that our troops are terrorizing the Iraqis.

First we had Rep Murtha with his spectacularly irresponsible proposal that we pull our troops out of Iraq immediately, regardless of consequnces. Next he told us that our Army was "broken, worn out".

Then yesterday we had John Kerry tell us that our troops were terrorizing Iraqis. As he put it to Bob Schieffer on CBS'"Face the Nation"

And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the -- historical customs, religious customs, whether you like it or not. Iraqis should be doing that."

Can you imagine if this guy had been elected president?

I can't either. But he might have been, and that's scary.

Now, the most charitable interpretation is that he meant to say that the act of armed soldiers going into civilian homes is frightening to it's inhabitants.

But given his participation in the Winter Soldier nonsense of 1971, its more than probable that he actually thinks our troops are terrorizing Iraqi civilians. Here's how he described our soldiers to Congress on April 22 1971

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

Although no doubt at times some of these things happened, most of what the Winter Soldier investigation "discovered" turned out to be false.

But it Gets Worse

Next up we have none other than the Chairman of the Democratic National Party himself, Howard Dean. During an interview on WOAI Radio in San Antonio the other day gave us his strategy for defeat:

Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democratic Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.

oh, but he's a strategic military genius also. His solution:

"We ought to have a redeployment to Afghanistan of 20,000 troops, we don't have enough troops to do the job there and its a place where we are welcome. And we need a force in the Middle East, not in Iraq but in a friendly neighboring country to fight (terrorist leader Musab) Zarqawi, who came to Iraq after this invasion. We've got to get the target off the backs of American troops."

Dean didn't specify which country the US forces would deploy to....

Uh, maybe because no other country in the region wants to host a large US force? The Saudis had lots of US troops in their country after the Gulf War and all that did was anger the extremists in their midst(another story). No one else is eager to repeat their experience. Murtha, also strategically challenged, offered much the same "solution" in his proposal a few weeks ago.

I suppose I should't condemn the entire Democrat party; after all, a few, like Joe Lieberman, are sensible. And some Republicans are weak-kneed. But when the House Democrat leader, Nancy Pelosi herself, calls for a "rapid withdrawal from Iraq" (regardless of consequences), I'm sorry: The Democrats are the Party of Defeat.

Hat tip Belmont Club for many of the links in this post, but you should be reading that site anyway.

Michelle Malkin also has a roundup of posts about Howard Dean's defeatism.

Wednesday Morning Update

The Washington Times reports this morning that not all Democrats share Dean's view of Iraq:

Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who faces re-election next year, said: "The senator disagrees with Mr. Dean, and he also feels in regard to establishing a timetable for troop withdrawal that is not the way to go. ... At this point, the long-term national security interest are paramount issues, and cutting and running in Iraq is not the solution."

Interesting to me that he uses the term "cutting and running". This has become a term of opprobrium towards anyone who advocates leaving Iraq immediately.

A spokesman for Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, who also faces re-election next year , said: "Senator Nelson believes that victory in Iraq is obtainable through establishing clear and measurable objectives, and he does not support immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops."

I applaud both Nelsons. Some may say that because both are in redish states, they may simply be looking towards their reelection. Maybe so, but if we criticize foolish words we must applaude wise ones.

"Every Democrat I know of in the House of Representatives wants to have success of our policies in Iraq," said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. "They want to see a democracy; they want to see stability."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the war must be won militarily, economically and politically, and added: "We have the ability to win all three."

Neither Hoyer nor Reid are in any danger of being defeated at the polls. Perhaps they realize that Murtha and Dean have gone too far. Let's hope so, because while it is tempting to find advantage when the other party goes off the deep end, it is in the best interests of our country when both parties want to win the war.

But just when you think some Democrats are being reasonable the genuis Charles Schumer weighs in:

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Iraq should be divided into "three autonomous regions."

If you want an instant civil war, Turkish troops in the country, instant condemnation by our allies, and even more interference from Iran, then yes, by all means partition the country.

Analysis

Over the past year or so it's been distressing watching some of the divisions within the GOP. Hagel and McCain have gone out of their way to criticize the president at times. But it seems now that the divisions within the Democrat party are even more pronounced. It is my hope that the more reasonable ones win out. Unfortunately I don't see much hope of this happening. The Democrats are the Party of Defeat and of Michael Moore, and it looks like they will remain that way for some time.

Posted by Tom at 8:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 19, 2005

This is Nuts

Although the House rejected a pullout from Iraq by a vote of 403 - 3, it seems obvious that many on the left want just this. As the world knows, and Al Jazeera is playing up, Congressman John Murtha said that we need to withdraw from Iraq regardless of the consequences:

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

Murtha is a former Marine, which means that his words will be taken seriously by those who ought to know better. I honor his service. I also say that his recommendation is completely irresponsible. There is no contradiction here.

Robert Kagan & William Kristol ask the obvious questions

Rep. Jack Murtha has had a distinguished congressional career. But his outburst last Thursday was breathtakingly irresponsible. Nowhere in his angry and emotional call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq did the Pennsylvania Democrat bother to ask, much less answer, the most serious questions his proposal raises. What would be the likely outcome in Iraq if the United States pulled out? Does Murtha actually believe the Iraqi people could fight the al Qaeda terrorists and Saddam Hussein loyalists by themselves once American forces left? He does not say. In fact, he knows perfectly well that the Iraqi people are not yet capable of defending themselves against the monsters in their midst and that, therefore, a U.S. withdrawal would likely lead to carnage on a scale that would dwarf what is now occurring in Iraq.

Murtha seems to think that his "quick reaction force" coupled with diplomacy will being stability to Iraq. If so, he's either delusional or really just doesn't care.

There are other problems with Murtha's analysis. Kagan and Kristol again:

Murtha, of course, claims that the U.S. occupation is the primary problem in Iraq and that "our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces, and we have become a catalyst for violence." This is nonsense. For many months now, the insurgents have been shifting their attacks away from U.S. and coalition forces and directing them at Iraqis instead. Iraqis now make up the overwhelming majority of casualties resulting from insurgent attacks. This shift is evidence not only of the effectiveness of our protective measures, but also of the growing vitality of the Iraqi political process, which the insurgents, according to their own statements, fear and hate more than the U.S. military presence.

Some worried that the GOP was doing the wrong thing by demanding an up or down vote on whether to withdraw immediately from Iraq. K-Lo at NRO was concerned that the Democrats could "easily frame the whole exercise as Republicans caricaturing sensible concerns about Iraq--and more specifically a mocking of Vietnam vet Marine Jack Murtha." and pointed to an email John Kerry sent to his followers that took that position. Perhaps.

Others, such as Stephen Spruiell thought that "Pushing for a vote on troop withdrawal now is just the right counter to Murtha, that "hawkish Democrat" who has become the media's latest star performer."

As you may suspect, in this case I think Spruiell is closer to the mark.

As it was, I missed it all because once againI was at Walter Reed countering the Pinkos (a few past nights here). After they left several of us went to Monroe House(I think it was called), kind of an outpatient "hotel" on the base/hospital and delivereda variety of things to the troops there, from books/novels, to Christmas cards and candy bars. Anyway, my good deed for the week.

Anyway, it was apparently quite a circus last night:

At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

"He asked me to send Congress a message _ stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message _ that cowards cut and run, Marines never do," Schmidt said. Murtha is a 37-year Marine veteran and ranking Democrat on the defense appropriations subcommittee.

Democrats booed and shouted her down _ causing the House to come to a standstill.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., charged across the chamber's center aisle screaming that Republicans were making uncalled-for personal attacks. "You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!" yelled Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

Democrats gave Murtha a standing ovation as he entered the chamber and took his customary corner seat.

Schmidt shouldn't have read the letter. Murtha is not a personally a coward, he's just completely wrong. The Marine is right in that cutting and running would be cowardly.

By the same token for the Democrats to have given Murtha a standing ovatation shows just where they are regardless of how they voted.

How Has It Come to This?

It was one thing when Michael Moore and International ANSWER were accusing the president of lying about Iraqi WMD. When mainstream Democrats began to pick up the charge, it became clear that Byron York was right, these guys really were in hock to the far left of their party.

But now we are hearing "bring the troops home now" from people like Murtha, who is being lionized by the press, who have tended to ignore his long opposition to the war.

But again, how has it come to this? Some will say that we are at this juncture because Bush et al screwed up the invasion and occupation. No doubt many mistakes were made, especially not immediately holding elections and stopping our first attempt to take Fallujah. But the anti-war crowd's predictions and recommendations have been off-base too(thousands of casualties in the initial invasion, the much-touted "Battle of Baghdad", civil war, mass humanitarian crisis, etc). This criticism is also ahistorical. Even a quick read of the Revolution and Civil War, to say nothing of World War II, show mistake after mistake being made by the eventual victors. Just as the Democrats ran as the "end the war now" party (if you don't believe me read their party platform). They were wrong then and they're wrong now.

Back to the question.

We are at this juncture for a few reasons.

First, President Bush has failed to remake the case for Iraq. He got off track after the election and seemed to think that he didn't need to talk about it anymore. This was a huge mistake. We do have a very positive story to tell about Iraq, as this group of Marines on a media panel said. Despite what some will say, our current strategy seems to be working, slowly but surely.

Second, the president has moved too far away from his conservative base. On issues ranging from out-of-control spending, complete lack of enforcement of our immigration laws, signing of McCain-Feingold (after calling it unconstitutional), to the recent appointment of Harriet Myers, we conservatives have grown more and more upset with the president. We have stuck with him because of foreign policy and the war. It was the appointment of Meiers that brought the discord into the open.

The effects of #2 are twofold. One conservatives are less likely to fight for the president when it matters. Two, the president has no domestic agenda anymore. Reforming social security was admirable, but didn't go through. Ok, so he should have regrouped and made his move elsewhere. But he didn't, and now we are paying the price.

Third, the Democrats in this country seem to have completely lost their minds. Rather than act responsibly, they have embraced the kookiest conspiracy theories and want us to repeat the disaster of Vietnam by pulling out the troops. Oh sure, officially they voted against pullout, but only after the GOP forced their hand. And as Victor Davis Hanson says, it is "intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible" to try and claim, like Senator Jay Rockefeller did the other day, that ""If I knew then what I know now, I would never have supported the war." Where, oh where, is a Harry Truman or "Scoop" Jackson when you really need them?

As Peter Fleming says at my other blog site, Warm 'N Fuzzy Conserva-Puppies, the idea that some would press for a timetable for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq is an absolute disgrace.

We can win this thing people, but only if the president gets his act together, and if the Democrats start acting responsibly. Let's encourage them both to do so.

Posted by Tom at 7:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2005

Undermining the War Effort

(Updated Thursday, see bottom of post)

Bill Clinton just can't keep his mouth shut. The Washington Post reports on his remarks at a forum at the American University of Dubai:

Saddam is gone. It's a good thing, but I don't agree with what was done.

It was a big mistake. The American government made several errors ... one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country.

In case you're hoping this was just a throw-away line, the Post says that the "response drew cheers and a standing ovation at the end of the hour-long session."

Lovely.

Yes, this is just what we need in the middle of a war, an ex-president telling a foreign audience that the biggest and most controversial part of the War on Terror was a mistake.

I was listening to a radio show driving home from work and the host related that the speech was being broadcast all around the Arab world. I've no doubt that if it isn't already it will be soon.

Why was it Wrong?

It was wrong because we have a tradition in this country whereby once a president is out of office he refrains from commenting on his successors. We have this tradition because the words of an ex-president carry a lot of weight. The current president should be free from second-guessing by ex-presidents. It is distracting and unwarranted.

Most ex-presidents have honored this tradition. Jimmy Carter sometimes violates it, but for years he stayed silent, and I give him credit for that.

Why Bill Clinton?

Because he's in love with himself, that's why. He loves the adoration that he gets from cheering crowds. He lives for attention.

Dick Morris has a different theory. I was listening to him on the radio this afternoon (Sean Hannity show), and he said that it was part of the Clinton's strategy to get Hillary elected. Bill would speak from the left, pandering to the anti-war crowd, while Hillary would continue to support the war but say that Bush had made a mess of it. Well, maybe. It sounds a bit Byzantine, but the Clintons are a pretty calculating pair.

Either way, don't look for liberals to denounce Clinton, though this is one think on which I would dearly like to be wrong. If anyone sees comments by prominent Democrats or liberals criticizing Clinton please post them in the comments.

Look, if he'd made these comments to a small audience here at home, then no big deal. But it is simply inappropriate to say such things to a large audience, at home or abroad.

Now, for a real bit of fun, go to Google and type in "clinton iraq 1998" and see what you get (hat tip Bryan Preston, guest blogging for Michelle Malkin).

Update

The New York Post chastises Clinton:

It has long been accepted that former presidents do not publicly criticize their successors, particularly when it comes to foreign policy; certainly the first President Bush held his tongue when it came to judging Clinton's dubious foreign-policy performance.

To be sure, Jimmy Carter violated that pact long ago — but then, he'd been hungrily campaigning for a Nobel Peace Prize, the first requirement of which is a solid record of America-bashing.

(A failed president himself, he was uniquely qualified for that task. Now that he's been given the award, he has a new book to flog.)

As for Clinton — well, his wife is pretty clearly running for president, an unprecedented situation. She's been talking particularly tough on terrorism — but what does it mean?

Look for Bill and Hillary to put together a political tag-team act in the months and years ahead, with Bill playing bad cop in sticking it to the current president while the New York senator adopts a more "statesmanlike" — that is, presidential — approach.

Posted by Tom at 8:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 14, 2005

Busted!

(Updated Thursday, see bottom of post)

The Democrats latest attempt to seize the political high ground is a work of genius: "Let's say that President Bush lied about WMD, and when people ask why we then voted for the war, we'll say that he misled us!"

Except that it's not proving so easy.

Senator Jay Rockefeller tried that with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, and look at what happened. It's unbelieveable:

WALLACE: OK. Senator Rockefeller, the president says that Democratic critics, like you, looked at pre-war intelligence and came to the same conclusion that he did.

In fact, looking back at the speech that you gave in October of 2002 in which you authorized the use of force, you went further than the president ever did. Let's watch:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROCKEFELLER: I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11th that question is increasingly outdated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Now, the president never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?

"imminent threat", eh, Senator?

During the next few questions Rockefeller tried to weasel out of it, saying that because he didn't get to see the Daily Intelligence Briefings, he didn't have all the information. (I'll let you read the entire interview on the Fox site and determine if I've taken this out of context. I read the whole thing and Rockefeller just squirms the entire time.)

Which raises the question: "Well, Senator, if you didn't have all the information why did you vote for the war?!?!?!?"

As Kat points out on her blog The Middle Ground, if we take their statements at face value, the Democrats were either stupid or lazy.

The fact is that the Democrats in Congress received quite enough intelligence for them to conclude that Saddam had WMD.

And noone has shown that the intelligence was manipulated.

But we have more from the good Senator.

WALLACE: Senator Rockefeller, I want to play another clip from your 2002 speech authorizing the use of force, this time specifically on the question of Saddam's nuclear program. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROCKEFELLER: There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years, and he could have it earlier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Now, by that point, Senator, you had read the National Intelligence Estimate, correct?

ROCKEFELLER: In fact, there were only six people in the Senate who did, and I was one of them. I'm sure Pat was another.

WALLACE: OK. But you had read that, and now we've read a declassified...

ROCKEFELLER: But, Chris, let's...

WALLACE: Can I just ask my question, sir?

ROCKEFELLER: Yes.

WALLACE: And then you can answer as you choose. That report indicated there was a disagreement among analysts about the nuclear program. The State Department had a lot more doubts than the CIA did about whether he was pursuing the nuclear program. You never mentioned those doubts. You came to the same conclusion the president did.

ROCKEFELLER: Because that — first of all, that National Intelligence Estimate was not called for by the administration. It was called for by former Senator Bob Graham, who was chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dick Durbin.

We didn't receive it until just a couple of days before we voted. Then we had to go read it and compare it to everything else that we thought we'd learned about intelligence, and I did make that statement. And I did make that vote.

But, Chris, the important thing is that when I started looking at the weapons of mass destruction intelligence along with Pat Roberts, I went down to the floor, and I said I made a mistake. I would have never voted yes if I knew what I know today.

ARRRRUUUGGGHHH!!!

You shouldn't have voted at all if you didn't have time to understand what you were voting on!

And - must I really point this out? - you can only take decisions based on information you have at the time. Is the Senator looking for a time machine?

No, he's looking to avoid responsibility:

WALLACE: But you voted, sir, and aren't you responsible for your vote?

ROCKEFELLER: No. I'm...

WALLACE: You're not?

Unvbelieveable.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

On CBS Senator McCain goes after the Democrats (via Instapundit)

SCHIEFFER: President Bush accused his critics of rewriting history last week.

Sen. McCAIN: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: And in--he said in doing so, the criticisms they were making of his war policy was endangering our troops in Iraq. Do you believe it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy?

Sen. McCAIN: No, I think it's a very legitimate aspect of American life to criticize and to disagree and to debate. But I want to say I think it's a lie to say that the president lied to the American people. I sat on the Robb-Silverman Commission. I saw many, many analysts that came before that committee. I asked every one of them--I said, `Did--were you ever pressured politically or any other way to change your analysis of the situation as you saw?' Every one of them said no.

As Glenn Reynolds points out, Schieffer's question on whether "it is unpatriotic to criticize the Iraq policy" is a strawman.

Inconvenient Quotes from Democrats

Inconvenient to Democrats, that is. They're quite convenient for me.

Best of all, the quotes are impeccably sourced. They come courtesy of one of my favorite talk show hosts, Glenn Beck. Visit his page to see if he is on a station in your area.


"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003 | Source

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002 | Source

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998 | Source

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998 | Source

"We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 1, 1998 | Source

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998 | Source

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton.
- (D) Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others, Oct. 9, 1998 | Source

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998 | Source

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999 | Source

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and th! e means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002 | Source

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002 | Source

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002 | Source

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002 | Source

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 | Source

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002 | Source


As Kat said, if we take the Democrats at their word today, then when evaluating the intelligence before voting in favor of war with Iraq they were either lazy or stupid. Lazy at not insisting on more, or stupid to have let Bush misled them.

Because as every good liberal knows, Bush is a moron. So if he misled them, that makes them... supermorons?

Update I

John McCain has some more tough words for Senators, and anyone, who is calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, or who even want to set a timetable. In and editorial in the New York Post titled "Aiding and Abetting", McCain says that

A date is not an exit strategy. To suggest that it is only encourages our enemies, by indicating that the end to American intervention is near. It alienates our friends, who fear an insurgent victory, and tempts undecideds to join the anti-government ranks.
And to those who disagree,
The sponsors may disagree with my interpretation of their words, saying that 2006 is merely a target, that their legislation is not binding and that it included caveats. But look at the initial response to the Senate's words: a front page Washington Post story titled "Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Drawdown of Troops in Iraq."

Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?

Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?

The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.

So what should our goal be?
We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.
Amen

Now, I've never made it a secret that I disagree with McCain quite a bit. I think his fixation on "soft money" is absurd. And I think many of his criticisms of the war unfounded. But he is on the right side, and let me say that I acknowledge fully that his criticisms are in good faith.

Update II

Christopher Hitchens has a much sharper tongue than John McCain, but as a non-politician this is a luxury he can afford. He goes after those who persist with the "Bush Lied!" or "Bush misled us" mantra:

But then there is the really superb pedantry and literal-mindedness on which the remainder of the case depends. This achieved something close to an apotheosis on the front page of the Washington Post on Nov. 12, where Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus brought complete gravity to bear. Is it true, as the president claimed in his Veterans Day speech, that Congress saw the same intelligence sources before the war, and is it true that independent commissions have concluded that there was no willful misrepresentation? Top form was reached on the inside page:
But in trying to set the record straight, [Bush] asserted: "When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support."

The October 2002 joint resolution authorized the use of force in Iraq, but it did not directly mention the removal of Hussein from power.

A prize, then, for investigative courage, to Milbank and Pincus. They have identified the same problem, though this time upside down, as that which arose from the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act, during the Clinton-Gore administration, in 1998. That legislation—which passed the Senate without a dissenting vote—did expressly call for the removal of Saddam Hussein but did not actually mention the use of direct U.S. military force.

Let us suppose, then, that we can find a senator who voted for the 1998 act to remove Saddam Hussein yet did not anticipate that it might entail the use of force, and who later voted for the 2002 resolution and did not appreciate that the authorization of force would entail the removal of Saddam Hussein! Would this senator kindly stand up and take a bow? He or she embodies all the moral and intellectual force of the anti-war movement. And don't be bashful, ladies and gentlemen of the "shocked, shocked" faction, we already know who you are.

I've never "double Amened" before, but there's a first time for everything.

Posted by Tom at 9:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 3, 2005

Inconvenient Quotes III

Oliver North nails it in his editorial today:

Sadly, the so-called "Loyal Opposition" and much of our mainstream media seem not to have heard. In their efforts to disparage the commander in chief, they denigrate those who serve in harm's way and dishonor the fallen.

The applause at the "Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces" had barely stopped before the left-leaning leadership of the Democrat Party launched a vicious partisan riposte aimed at gaining political advantage at the expense of our troops. The remarkable similarities of their hollow critiques offer evidence of their desperation.

Read the Democrat's latest, if you dare. It's about as bad as you think it will be.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "The president's frequent references to the terrorist attacks of September 11 show the weakness of his arguments. He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of September 11, knowing that there is no connection between September 11 and the war in Iraq."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, apparently forgetting he voted for Operation Iraqi Freedom, offered a parallel response: "The president's numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq, they only served to remind the American people that our most dangerous enemy, namely Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose and al Qaeda remains capable of doing this nation great harm."

He then added, " 'Staying the course,' as the president advocates, is neither sustainable nor likely to lead to the success we all seek."

Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, rushed to the microphones and listed the various countries from which the September 11, 2001, attackers had originated. He then observed breathlessly, "There were no Iraqis."

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Forbes Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, accused Mr. Bush of creating a "third rationale" for the war: "The first, of course, was weapons of mass destruction. The second was democracy. And now tonight, it's to combat the hotbed of terrorism."

"No connection between September 11 and the war in Iraq." "No way forward." "A third rationale." All these statements -- from leaders of the radical political left were not only echoed throughout the Islamic world by Al Jazeera -- they also deny what Mr. Bush has been saying since this war began.

Nine days after the September 11, 2001, attack that murdered nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children on American soil, President Bush said: "Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. ... Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. ... Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. ... The only way to defeat terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows."

Four months later, in his 2002 State of the Union Address, Mr. Bush told the world: "Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears, and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. ... Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch."

On Tuesday evening, President Bush once again enumerated the threats we face, articulated a strategy for victory so our troops can come home, and reaffirmed his resolve: "After September 11, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy. Iraq is the latest battlefield in that war. ... Our mission in Iraq is clear. We're hunting down terrorists. We're helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. ... We are removing a source of violence and instability and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren."

"Loyal opposition", my foot. This has gotten ridiculous. If this party wants to go anywhere they need to get rid of their current batch of losers and start electing people who will help us win this war, not spend their time providing Al-Jazeera with anti-American footage for their broadcasts.

More to the point, these quotes prove that the anti-war crowd is so captured by anti-Bush hatred that they never even listened to him. They had their minds made up from the beginning. And to think they have the gall to try and say that Bush decided from the first day of his presidency to take out Saddam.

But wait, we're not done; next Ollie throws down the gauntlet

The Democratic Party leaders disagree with the president's assessment. It would have been interesting had any of the "reporters" covering these critics asked the question of Mrs. Pelosi or Messrs Reid, Reed and Kerry: "If you don't want to hunt down terrorists in Mosul, Ramadi or Al Qa'im, Iraq -- would you rather we hunted for them in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Providence or Boston?"

The president has consistently presented facts the liberal leaders of the Democratic Party don't like -- but that doesn't change the facts. Though they offer no alternative, they say we cannot "stay the course." Such rhetoric not only encourages our adversaries, it dishonors those who have fallen.

Don't hold your breath for Pelosi, Reed, Kennedy, Durbin, or any of the others to pick it up.

Posted by Tom at 9:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

Two Big Differences

Grover Norquist spoke about the two big differences between the two parties at the GOPUSA conference.

Norquist is usually known for his stand on tax issues, so while we got some handouts on that, his comments centered on ideological differences between conservatives and liberals and the effect that has on intraparty problems and issues.

Difference Number One

This centers on the libertarianism that has become so much a part of the conservative agenda. Many of those on the right "just want to be left alone"; they don't want to force their ideas on other people. For example, gun owners don't insist that everyone else own a gun, they (we) just want to own ours in peace. SUV drivers don't care what anyone else owns, they just don't want the government raising CAFE standards too much.

Me - It will be objected that the Pro-Life and Evangelical Christian lobbies want to impose their views on others. "A woman has a right to do what she wants with her own body" and "keep your religion out of the government" are two standard rallying cries you'll hear (They're too trite to rate the label "argument"). As to the former, there 's more than one body involved, and you don't have the right to kill it. To the latter, no one (well, no serious person) is trying to make Christianity the official religion of the country. But to say that a Christmas display is "imposing religion", or that a public official can't use his or her religion as a guide to public policy is lunacy. If you can't use religion as a guide to decision making, it has no value.

Difference Number Two

The Democratic party today consists of a number of interest groups who are all in competition with each other. No such situation exists within the GOP.

For example, environmentalists and labor leaders are often at odds with each other. The former want a pristine environment regardless of the economic impact, and the latter are concerned with jobs. Remember the Spotted Owl controversy of the late '80s? Conservatives watched with amusement as liberal interest groups went at each other.

No such direct conflict exists on the right. This is not to say that there is ideological uniformity on the right (nor should there be). For example, it is possible to be pro-gun yet "pro-choice", and thus be at odds with pro-life conservatives. But this is incidental, not inherent, in the two positions. There is no inherent reason why fiscal conservatives should find themselves in conflict with religious conservatives, to choose another example.

The reason for this is that the Democrats have become the "takings" party. Their groups want to "take something", or "regulate something". They want law after law after law after law. If they cannot continue to pass these laws, or keep tax rates high, they will wither on the vine. They depend on continued, activist change. Conservative groups face no such challenge, for they just want to be left alone.

The Consequences

The result of these differences is that the liberal coalition is high maintenance, while the conservative one is low maintenance. Norquist's theory (as I understood it) was that this will make the interest groups of Democratic party much harder to manage. The party bosses already have a hard time satisfying the various coalitions, keeping them from each other's throats will become ever more difficult.

More on Norquist's ideas on these subjects can be found here and here.

Me - What we have seen over the past twenty or so years is a trend towards ever more stringent enforcement of ideological orthodoxy among the Democrats, while the GOP is truly the "big tent" party. I plan on writing more extensively on this subject in the future, so check back.

Back to Taxes

It would be impossible to write an article about Grover Norquist without discussing taxes. That would be like writing an article about CBS without mentioning the forged documents Dan Rather unwittingly tried to foist on us.

Norquist's organization is Americans for Tax Reform. On their agenda is enactment of a flat tax and elimination of the IRS. Social Security and Medicare should be totally privatized. The Federal government should be cut in half.

Now, these things are not going to happen. No how, no way.

So it is tempting to write him off as a utopian dreamer. This, however, would be an error.

For the real value and purpose of people like Grover Norquist is that they change the terms of the debate. It is now "acceptable" to talk about flattening out tax rates, whereas thirty years ago this would have gotten you booed off the stage. Reagan was the first to reduce the top income tax rate from it's absurd level of 90% (I believe). That was the start, now the objective is to keep making it flatter and flatter.

For example, Steve Forbes famously ran for president as a single issue candiate on just this issue. I do not believe that he would have been able to do so without the prior efforts of people like Grover Norquist.

If you'd like a philosophical label, you can use the Hegel's dialectical formula of history: Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis

What do I think?

I am personally in support of a flat tax, although I recognize that political realities are such that it will not occur, at least not in our time.

Posted by Tom at 3:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack