Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lawyer's Slaying

NYT reported The execution-style killing of a defense lawyer in the trial of Saddam Hussein and some top associates shocked Iraqi and American officials on Friday and renewed doubts about whether it is possible to hold a fair trial in the midst of a war that has spurred a wave of revenge killings against people linked to Mr. Hussein.

I don't know what the problem is. Someone obviously read Shakespeare, "Henry VI", Part IV: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."
A group of a dozen armed men seized the lawyer, Sadoun al-Janabi, from his Baghdad office at 10 p.m. on Thursday and his body, with two bullet wounds to the head, was found in a rubbish-strewn lot nearby about an hour later, an Iraqi police spokesman said.
Maybe he should have chosen a more respectible profession (or at least been more selective in choosing his clients).
The killing occurred less than 36 hours after Mr. Hussein's trial began on Wednesday, with live television coverage that identified Mr. Janabi by name and showed close-ups of him presenting arguments in the court on behalf of his client, Awad Hamed al-Bander, the former head of the Revolutionary Court under Mr. Hussein.
That is the problem: he was defending a judge.
Some Western human rights advocates who attended Wednesday's court session said that the killing reopened the issue of whether the trial should have been held outside Iraq, a question rights groups have raised ever since American troops toppled Mr. Hussein in April 2003.

"We understand that any trial will need to be accessible to the victims of the crimes, and to those in whose names the crimes were committed," said Richard Dicker, a lawyer who heads the international justice program for Human Rights Watch, based in New York. "But if it proves impossible to conduct a fair trial because of the security conditions, the question arises of relocating the trial elsewhere to allow for a fair proceeding."
Like move it to the Hague? They have not finished with Millosovich, have they? We don't want Saddam to die of old age. Too many Iraqis want to see him swing from the end of a rope.
Many Western legal experts and rights advocates have argued that Mr. Hussein should have been tried before an international court, or in an Iraqi court with a strong international dimension. But the Bush administration and its Iraqi political allies rejected that in favor of an Iraqi tribunal sitting in Baghdad, partly because an international court would not have the option of imposing the death penalty, which many Iraqis believe is the only fit punishment for Mr. Hussein.


Week of Milestones Fails to Reassure Frustrated Iraqis

WaPo reported Thaer Abbas Shammari smiled contentedly and leaned on a table crammed with merchandise outside his Baghdad convenience store on constitution referendum day last weekend, bantering with neighbors, customers and passersby. But when the talk turned to voting, he stood bolt upright. "Look!" he bellowed, lifting his shirt and one pant leg to display neck, stomach and ankle scars that he said were inflicted during 14 years as a political prisoner under Saddam Hussein. When he pointed to a picture of his brother taped to the front door -- a "hero and martyr" executed by the former government for supposedly belonging to an outlawed political party -- it seemed natural to assume that Shammari would march to the polling center 100 yards away and cast his ballot. Not so. "I did not vote or encourage anyone to vote because the government has given us nothing," the 47-year-old shop owner said, grimacing and waving his arms in disgust. "Where are the results?"

This asshole must be a Democrat. I have news for you, Thaer, The purpose of a government is not to give you stuff. The purpose of a government is to let you earn what you are willing to work for. If you want to sit in your store and chat with customers and passersby, then you may, and you can thank the government for the fact that you can do that without terrorists blowing up cars outside your store. And if you want more, get off your rear end and start earning some money.
It's easy to find people like Shammari in today's Iraq. The electricity and water systems are still in shambles 30 months after Hussein was toppled,
They have probably been restored several times by the Americans, but the people tolerate terrorists in their midst that blow up the electric plants and the transmission towers.
unemployment has soared, and gasoline lines stretch for miles in a country with the world's fourth-largest oil reserves. There are kidnappings, assassinations, suicide bombings and sectarian strife. Even many people who did vote in last Saturday's referendum have indicated they are running out of patience.
Then tell them to turn in the people doing the kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide bombings.
The week also brought the opening of Hussein's trial on war crimes charges. While many Iraqis welcomed it as the beginning of a national catharsis, they criticized the government's focus on the trial as a milestone in the country's march to democracy. What matters most, they said, is improvement in the conditions of daily life.

"If I'm able to get fuel . . . it's more useful for us than this theater called the Saddam trial," said Salim Hussein, a taxi driver waiting in a long line for gasoline in Dujail, the scene of a 1982 assassination attempt against Hussein that was followed by 143 executions. Hussein is being tried in those killings.

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Syria Feels Heat Over U.N. Report

WaPo reported Middle East Is Captivated By Findings in Hariri Killing - A day after its release, a U.N. report that implicated senior Syrian officials in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri escalated pressure on the already beleaguered government here and ignited renewed demands that Lebanon's pro-Syrian president step down.

That should be the minimum. What about the leadership in Syria steping down as well.
The publication of the report on the deaths of Hariri and 22 other people in a car bombing in Beirut on Feb. 14 unleashed a reaction seldom seen in the Middle East. The 54-page document was read in its entirety on al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite television network; other stations broadcast hours of coverage Friday on the report and its fallout.
Congratulation to Al Jazerra.
To many people here, its publication marked a turning point in Middle East politics, signaling a looming confrontation with an uncertain outcome. "This is simply the beginning," said Farid El-Khazen, a Lebanese lawmaker and political scientist. "There is little room for maneuver left for the Syrians now. They have to cooperate fully to save themselves from more isolation or they opt for rejection of the report, claiming it is all political. Syria doesn't have a middle-ground option." In Damascus, some Syrian government supporters were unusually open in expressing fear about the repercussions of the inquiry, which President Bush cited Friday in calling on the U.N. Security Council to take action.


Euthanasia in the Big Easy

Chuck Colson wrote in Townhall It turns out that many of the most horrific stories we heard about New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina weren’t true. But there’s one nightmarish story that may turn out to be an exception—a story that should cause anyone who plans on growing old to lose some sleep.

Following Katrina, stories began to circulate about the goings on at Memorial Hospital. These stories depicted an overwhelmed and increasingly desperate staff repeatedly discussing the unthinkable: “euthanizing patients they thought might not survive the ordeal.” Fran Butler, a nurse manager at Memorial, told CNN that her “nurses wanted to know what was the plan.” Were they supposed to put people out of their misery? Dr. Bryant King has told authorities about similar discussions among doctors, adding that he thinks that the matter went beyond mere talk.

And this is not euthanizing people who had clearly stated a wish to die. While it would still be both illegal and immoral to ethanize them (except possibly in Oregon), at least it might have been understandable at some level. But these doctors and nurses were talking about eutanizing people that MIGHT NOT survive being transportated to a place of safety, or for whom that transportation to safety would be too much trouble.
These allegations have prompted Louisiana’s Attorney General to open an investigation into what happened at Memorial Hospital. Were the sick euthanized? While I hope the allegations prove false, I know that the issues they raise are not going away.

That’s because of three undeniable facts: First, our population is aging, and aging populations spend more of their resources on health care than younger ones do. Second, the cost of health care is rising faster than almost any other sector of our economy. And by “cost,” I mean more than dollars and cents. Among the resources required to care for an aging population are the time and efforts of younger people. You can’t care for the sick and elderly simply by throwing money at the problem, at least not if “quality of life” means anything.

The third fact is that in our post-Christian, secular culture, respect for the sanctity of life, especially at its end, has been weakened. The most obvious example, of course, is physician-assisted suicide, but an even greater threat is what’s called “Futile-Care Theory.” As bioethics writer Wesley Smith describes it, this theory gives doctors and hospitals—not patients and their families—“the right to declare which of us have lives worth living and therefore worth treating medically, and which of us do not.”
Some in the right to life movement will disagree with me, but I believe the decision should be totally up to the individual, and should be clearly documented by them in a Living Will, before they become infirm. I don't believe the doctor, the hospital, or the family, should be the ones to say what is worth treating and what is not.
It’s a very short leap from what Smith calls “one of the hottest and most-dangerous topics in contemporary bioethics” to what is alleged to have happened in New Orleans. And why not take lives at their end? If we’re not created in the image of God, in a secular culture, we judge human life by its value to us—what it contributes—not its inherent dignity. These factors are why the President’s Council on Bioethics just issued an important report titled Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in Our Aging Society. The report expresses concern about “the human and moral shape that a mass geriatric society will take.”


How did the Palestinians descend into barbarism?

Bret Stephens wrote in OpinionJournal Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid George Bush a friendly visit Thursday in the Oval Office. At the Rose Garden press conference that followed, Mr. Bush stressed Mr. Abbas's responsibility to "end terror attacks, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, maintain law and order and one day provide security for their own state." Mr. Abbas himself made no mention of the words "terrorism" or "terrorists." But he did demand the release of those he called "prisoners of freedom," now being held in Israeli jails.

If there are any "prisoner of freedom" they should be released, and the terrorists and murders should stay. I don't think any one would have to leave.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict no longer rivets world attention the way it did a few years ago. Still it rolls along, as it has for decades and as it probably will for decades to come. And the reason for this is well-captured by Mr. Abbas's use of the term "prisoners of freedom."

Who are some of these prisoners? One is Ibrahim Ighnamat, a Hamas leader arrested last week by Israel in connection to his role in organizing a March 1997 suicide bombing at the Apropos cafe in Tel Aviv, which killed three and wounded 48. Another is Jamal Tirawi of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: Mr. Tirawi had bullied a 14-year-old boy into becoming a suicide bomber by threatening to denounce him as a "collaborator," which in Palestinian society frequently amounts to a death sentence.
They certainly are not "prisoners of freedom"
And then there is 21-year-old Wafa Samir al-Bis, who was detained in June after the explosives she was carrying failed to detonate at an Israeli checkpoint on the border with Gaza. As Ms. Bis later testified, her target was an Israeli hospital where she had previously been treated--as a humanitarian gesture--for burns suffered in a kitchen accident. "I wanted to kill 20, 50 Jews," she explained at a press conference after her arraignment..
That certainly is not a "prisoner of freedom"
Many explanations have been given to account for the almost matchless barbarism into which Palestinian society has descended in recent years. One is the effect of Israeli occupation and all that has, in recent years, gone with it: the checkpoints, the closures, the petty harassments, the targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders. I witnessed much of this personally when I lived in Israel, and there can be no discounting the embittering effect that a weeks-long, 18-hour daily military curfew has on the ordinary Palestinians living under it.

Yet the checkpoints and curfews are not gratuitous acts of unkindness by Israel, nor are they artifacts of occupation. On the contrary, in the years when Israel was in full control of the territories there were no checkpoints or curfews, and Palestinians could move freely (and find employment) throughout the country. It was only with the start of the peace process in 1993 and the creation of autonomous Palestinian areas under the control of the late Yasser Arafat that terrorism became a commonplace fact of Israeli life. And it was only then that the checkpoints went up and the clampdowns began in earnest.
And the checkpoints and clampdowns were not unreasonable, they were in response to the Intefada
In other words, while Palestinian actions go far to explain Israeli behavior, the reverse doesn't hold. How, then, are the Ighnamats, Tirawis and Bises of Palestinian society to be explained?

Consider a statistic: In the first nine months of 2005 more Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians than by Israelis--219 to 218, according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Interior, although the former figure is probably in truth much higher. In the Gaza Strip, the departure of Israeli troops and settlers has brought anarchy, not freedom. Members of Hamas routinely fight gun battles with members of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas's ruling political party. Just as often, the killing takes place between clans, or hamullas. So-called collaborators are put to the gun by street mobs, their "guilt" sometimes nothing more than being the object of a neighbor's spite. Palestinian social outsiders are also at mortal risk: Honor killings of "loose" women are common, as is the torture and murder of homosexuals.
And this from followers of the "Religion of peace"?????
Atop this culture of violence are the Hamas and Fatah leaders, the hamulla chieftains, the Palestinian Authority's "generals" and "ministers." And standing atop them--theoretically, at least--is the Palestinian president. All were raised in this culture; most have had their uses for violence. For Arafat, those uses were to achieve mastery of his movement, and to harness its energies to his political purpose. Among Palestinians, his popularity owed chiefly to the fact that under his leadership all this violence achieved an astonishing measure of international respectability.

Hence Mr. Abbas's Rose Garden obeisances to the "prisoners of freedom." The Palestinian president leads a society in which dignity and violence have long been entwined, in which the absence of the latter risks the loss of the former. This is not to say that Mr. Abbas himself is a violent man. But his fate as a politician rests in the hands of violent men, and so far he has shown no appetite for confronting them.
He is a coward, and he is afraid of them.
Instead, he has sought to entice groups such as Hamas into a democratic process. As with Hezbollah in Lebanon, they have been happy to get what they can out of politics while refusing to lay down their arms. In doing so, they make a mockery of Mr. Abbas's stated commitment to "one authority, one law and one gun"--that is, to the very idea of a state, and therefore to Mr. Abbas's presidency of it.

Talk to Palestinians, and you will often hear it said, like a mantra, that Palestinian dignity requires Palestinian statehood. This is either a conceit or a lie. Should a Palestinian state ever come into existence in Gaza and the West Bank, it will be a small place, mostly poor, culturally marginal, most of it desert, rock, slums and dust. One can well understand why Arafat, a man of terrible vices but impressive vanities, spurned the offer of it--and why his people cheered wildly when he did. Their dignity has always rested upon their violence, their struggle, their "prisoners of freedom." For Mr. Abbas, the problem is that statehood and dignity are not a package. They are a choice. And if history is any guide, the choice he must make is not one he is likely to survive.


Capitol Hill Blog Row

TimChapman wrote on Townhall Today I joined other bloggers (listed here) at the first ever Capitol Hill Blog Row

Another first in the world of blogging
(almost all of today's posts below are dedicated to the event). The event was organized by the House Republican Conference and when all was said and done we bloggers had the opportunity to talk with 23 members of the Republican caucus.
I wish I had been able to be there.
The members were forthcoming and excited to talk with us. The biggest issue of the day was federal spending.
A very significant matter, IMHO.
Bloggers in attendance peppered lawmakers with questions about growing deficits and runaway spending. To be certain, lawmakers left the event hearing the growing concern in the blogosphere about spending. And conversely, the members who attended all were upbeat about cutting government spending. Representative Phil Gingrey said he agreed with Club for Growth President Pat Toomey's assessment that on the spending issue, the Republican caucus is facing a "defining moment." Congressman Chris Chocola added, "this is a test we cannot afford to fail."Congressman Dan Lungren said that he thinks that the GOP is finally "catching up with the grassroots" on the issue of spending and Congresswoman Katherine Harris said the issue would be crucial in her 2006 Senate bid. Perhaps Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor was one of the most forceful, insisting that Congress was "just finishing up a week where the clear distinction between the parties is clear. We are responding to the public outcry about federal spending; We in the Republican majority have proposed a four point plan to increase the amount of mandatory savings by 50 billion." I asked RSC member Congressman Jeb Hensarling if he thought that Republicans might be able to come up with even more than $50 billion in savings, "there is an opportunity to come up with a bigger number," said the sophomore from Texas. "Most conservatives are committed to the idea of a dollar for dollar offset for Katrina spending.
I hope you can do a better job than the Senate
The money is going to come from either raising taxes, adding debt to our kids, or the federal government will have to tighten its belt so Americans don't have to."
The third is the way to do it.
Indeed, in regards to federal spending, the mood was optimistic and determined. RSC Chairman Mike Pence is convinced that "under the leadership of Speaker Hastert we will be successfull in cutting spending." But Pence cautioned that "challenging days lay ahead," nevertheless, he has never seen as much unity among Republicans as he does today. Other issues were discussed. Congressman Trent Franks led a lively discussion about his feelings regarding Harriet Miers and the next Supreme Court opening. Franks supports Miers, but like many conservatives, is itching for a fight on the next go round.Congressman Joe Wilson, a member of the Armed Services Committee who has two sons who have served in Iraq, noted that "63 percent turnout in the Iraqi elections is extraordinary," and he shared positive stories from Iraq that he had received first hand from his sons. Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his current troubles were also a topic. Congressman Wilson lamented the GOP failure to abolish the GOP House indictment rule that allowed a special prosecutor to take down DeLay without proving he had done anything wrong.
A better alternative, IMHO, would be to shame the Democrats into having such a rule.
Wilson noted that the Democrats have no similar rule in their caucus. Congressman Hensarling also commented on Delay, "Leader DeLay has been critical to everything we’ve done in the House. He is still a leader, perhaps with a lower case l rather than upper case."

All in all this was a great event that I hope the Republican conference does more of. Paging the White House and the guys could learn something from the House side.

Many more members were in attendence than I listed, and all of them were great. Here are the members who took the time to answer our questions: Gohmert (TX-1), Pryce (OH-15), Pence (IN-6), Dreier (CA-26), Brady (TX-8), Kingston (GA-1), Diaz-Balart M. (FL-25), Gingrey (GA-11), Garrett (NJ-05), Blackburn (TN-7), Pearce (NM-2), Chocola (IN-2), Cannon (UT-3), Lungren (CA-3), Kennedy (MN-6), Harris (FL-13), Inglis (SC-4), Franks (AZ-2), Conaway (TX-11), Hensarling (TX-5), Wilson (SC-2), Carter (TX-31), Cantor (VA-7).


Stench Prompted U.S. Troops to Burn Corpses

Time reported There simply wasn't enough room on the rocky hilltop above Gonbaz village in southern Afghanistan for the U.S. platoon and the corpses of the two Taliban fighters. The Taliban men had been killed in a firefight 24 hours earlier, and in the 90 degree heat, their bodies had become an unbearable presence, soldiers who were present have told TIME. Nor was the U.S. Army unit about to leave — the hilltop commanded a strategic view of the village below where other Taliban were suspected to be hiding.

Earlier, Lt. Eric Nelson, the leader of B Company, I-508 platoon leader had sent word down to Gonbaz asking the villagers to pick up the bodies and bury them according to Muslim ritual. But the villagers refused — probably because the dead fighters weren't locals but Pakistanis, surmised one U.S. army officer.

They may not have liked the Pakistanis being there any more than the Americans did.
It was then that Lt. Nelson took the decision that could jeopardize his service career. "We decided to burn the bodies," one soldier recounts, "because they were bloated and they stank."
They probably did not smell that good even when they were alive.
News of this cremation may have remained on these scorching hills of southern Afghanistan, had the gruesome act not been recorded on film by an Australian photojournalist, Stephen Dupont. Instead, when the footage aired on Australian TV on Wednesday, it unleashed world outrage. A Pentagon spokesman described the incident as "repugnant" and said that the army was launching a criminal investigation into the alleged desecration of the corpses, which is in violation of the Geneva Convention on human rights.

Fueling the furor was the fact that the TV report showed that after the bodies were torched, a U.S. Psychological-Operations team descended on Gonbaz in Humvees with their loudspeakers booming: "Taliban, you are cowardly dogs. You are too scared to come down and retrieve the bodies. This just proves you are the lady-boys we always believed you to be."
Actually that should have been come up, since they were on a hilltop.
Muslims traditionally bury their dead, and as one Kabul cleric Mohammed Omar told newsmen, "The burning of these bodies is an offense against Muslims every where. Bodies are burned only in Hell."
Which is where their souls had been for 24 hours.
But as one U.S. officer in Kandahar pointed out, the Taliban and al Qaeda never show any qualms about defiling the bodies of dead Afghan or American soldiers. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, anxious to quell any new wave of protests against the U.S. troops in Afghanistan of the sort that followed allegations of Koran desecration at Guantanamo, publicly condemned the burnings. A statement from the U.S. military command for Afghanistan said, "Under no circumstances does U.S. Central Command condone the desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants."

Sister Toldjah blogged Jason Coleman has an extensive post that gives you the *complete* story along with some, shall we say, 'interesting' tidbits about Stephen DuPont and John Martinkus, the reporters (who were embedded with American troops) who filmed and commented about this story. You won't be surpised once you're done reading it as to why this story ended up getting reported the way it did.


Throw Judy From The Train

ReddHedd blogged In advance of Public Editor Byron Calame's extensive article on the Judy escapade for Sunday's NYTimes, Bill Keller took his own case to the staff of the Times directly today {text is here} It is blunt in some places, and brutal toward Judy in a back-handed way that shows that Keller is fairly unhappy (to put it mildly) about her keeping him in the dark about a lot of things between her and Scooter. Jane's source within the NY Times confirms that the letter was sent out to the entire staff of the Times this afternoon at 2:30 pm. The source also confirms that the issues addressed in Keller's letter have been circulating around the Times all week long, as the staff and management grapple with the fact that Judy was way less than forthcoming with them about her own actions, and her involvement in the mess that Scooter Libby and others within the Administration have gotten themselves into with all of this. Jane's source tells us that "this is as much as you will ever see someone in Bill Keller's position saying that mistakes were made." Keller's letter addresses the broader issue of the Times reporting on WMD issues, and his role in decisionmaking in how the Times would deal with discrepencies in that reporting once he came on board after Howell Raines was ousted from his post in the wake of the Jayson Blair fiasco. He also talks about specifics with Judy Miller Sounds like the bloom is entirely off the rose for Keller, anyway. When asked if Keller would survive this mess, Jane's source was circumspect, saying that Keller had broader support than Raines did when he was asked to step down. The source said that Keller has more good will, more likeability and that "nobody wants to see his head on a pike, at this point."

I dont know whether Keller will survive or not, but I would suspect that the only reason Judy Miller is still there is they are waiting to see what the Grand Jury will do. And its term ends October 28.


Young Singers Spread Racist Hate

ABC News reports Thirteen-year-old twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede have one album out, another on the way, a music video, and lots of fans. They may remind you another famous pair of singers, the Olsen Twins, and the girls say they like that. But unlike the Olsens, who built a media empire on their fun-loving, squeaky-clean image, Lamb and Lynx are cultivating a much darker personna. They are white nationalists and use their talents to preach a message of hate.

ABC News must have a very twisted version of America if they think that these two girls would remind anyone of the Olsen Twins.
"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx.
Then use plenty of sun screen with a high SPF rating when you go outside. But you will still be a white racist, just like Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakahn are black racists.
OTB blogged What, do they think it's plausible that one day they'll wake up and be mexicans?

I have no problem with white supremacists in the same way I have no problem with black supremacists -- like those showcased at the recent Millions More Movement [see Malkin]. Each seem petty and intellectually insignificant.

Yet I guess we all hope that someday people will wake up and recognize that there are so many better reasons to hate your fellow man than his race.

Damien blogged It takes a lot to shock me, but this did it.

Richard TPD blogged Is this sicker than all hell or what? Yeah, give the hateful freaks the freedom to sing their songs, but thank God we all have the freedom to tell them that they do not represent America, and that racism and Nazi symbols are repellent, even if you package them as good old-fashined American entertainment. Sickening.


Iraqi Semper Liberi

Don Surber blogged Iraq came closer to freedom and liberty when its constitution was approved by a direct vote of the people. May the civil war subside and the Shia, Sunni and Kurds learn to live together.

And may the beacon of Democracy shine bright in the Arab World.
Of course, thousands of loyalists were forced from their homes and marched to a foreign country. Tax collectors were tarred and feathered. An open rebellion began along the western frontier over the payment of whiskey taxes. Oh wait. That was our own post-revolution period.
Glad you clarified that. The Muslims don't approve of drinking alcohol.
The Iraq election did raise a few eyebrows. In Fallujah, 99 percent of the voters voted against the constitution. I never thought anyone could outdo Southern West Virginia when it comes to election fraud.
What about Chicago?
The Iraq Constitution has flaws? Well, our own constitution was nothing to brag about when it was ratified. It was dry as the parchment on which it was writ. It merely set up a central government for a loose federation of provinces. That document protected no one. No rights for women, no free speech, no right to bear arms. My God, it allowed slavery. But like Pandora's Box, after all the ills of the world were released, this document offered hope. It allowed amendments. It allowed changes. It allowed, over time, we, the people, to form a more perfect union.

Give the Iraqis a break. It took the United States 144 years to extend "all men are created equal" to women. So don't hand me the guilt trips over the rights of Iraqi women. But why should I, a supporter of the liberation be defensive? I was in the right. The opponents were wrong. No worth one American life? How many Frenchmen died in our revolution?
And wasn't that the last war they fought in?
Americans freed another country. It is what we do. It is how we secure our freedom. Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Weapons of mass destruction? Eh. I never bought it. I wrote about a dozen columns before the war. I did not use that argument once. Iraq's state sponsorship of terrorism, flaunting of U.N. edicts and the tyrant's cruelty to his people were enough for me. After all, we removed Slobodan Milosevic for the third item alone. And he was a far less prolific butcher of his own people. Yes, the loss of life is terrible. But incredibly, war has slowed the slaughter in Iraq.

I cite Molly Ivins, a war opponent, and her apology earlier this year for stating that we had killed more people than Saddam Hussein had. "There have been estimates as high as 1 million civilians killed by Saddam, though most agree on the 300,000 to 400,000 range, making my comparison to 20,000 civilian dead in this war pathetically wrong," Ivins wrote. Which raises the question of why Ivins was, in her words, "waiting for the most conservative estimates (of war deaths) to creep over 20,000"? I shall keep my answer to myself.

The removal of Saddam Hussein ended state-sponsored terrorism in Iraq and Israel. That made the world safer. Sanctions did not stop him. No popular uprising could take root. His death would only lead to one of his psychopathic sons taking over, as has happened in North Korea. The trial of Saddam Hussein helps create the rule of law in the land of the Hammurabi Code.

In light of his crimes, why would anyone continue to insist that we were wrong to remove him and try to establish a democracy in the desert? If I had a say in it, I would have taken over Saudi Arabia, the homeland of that whack job Osama bin Laden. But Iraq was easier: It was armed by the Soviets while the House of Saud purchased American weaponry.

I am happy for the people of Iraq. They seem like decent people. They are climbing out of the rubble of a reign of terror that dates back nearly 50 years. How could anyone say they do not deserve liberty? Montani semper liberi -- Mountaineers are always free. Iraqis are a few steps closer to that reality.


UN office doctored report

Times Online reported The United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged yesterday. The names of the brother of Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, and other members of his inner circle, were dropped from the report that was sent to the Security Council. The confidential changes were revealed by an extraordinary computer gaffe because an electronic version distributed by UN officials on Thursday night allowed recipients to track editing changes.

Oops. The UN can't even falsify a report without getting caught.
The mistaken release of the unedited report added further support to the published conclusion that Syria was behind Mr Hariri’s assassination in a bomb blast on Valentine’s Day in Beirut. The murder of Mr Hariri touched off an international outcry and hastened Syria’s departure from Lebanon in April after a 29-year pervasive military presence. Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, described the report’s findings as “deeply troubling”. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: “It is an unpleasant story which the international community will take very seriously indeed.”
They may even send a strongly worded letter.
But the furore over the doctoring of the report threatened to overshadow its damaging findings. It raised questions about political interference by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary- General, who had promised not to make any changes in the report.
Is this the first time Kofi has promised to do something and not done it, or has promised not to do something, and then done it?

OTB blogged Yesterday, I was briefly worried that the UN might have done something worthwhile, in stark contrast to what I've observed in over two decades of studying international politics. The Times has quickly restored the natural order of the Universe.


Saturday, October 22

This Day In History

  • 1746   John Hamilton, the Royal Governor of New Jersey officially chartered the College of New Jersey. The school is now known as Princeton University.
  • 1797   The first person to jump from a hot air balloon did so over Paris on this day. AndrĂ©-Jacque Garnerin, a Frenchman, accomplished the feat.
  • 1844   On this day, according to those who practiced Millerism, the world was to come to an end. A man named William Miller, religious leader and founder of the Adventist church, started the Millerism movement. Some say his followers got rid of all their earthly possessions and climbed to high places so as to be saved when the world ended.
  • 1915   Some 25,000 women marched in New York City demanding the right to vote.
  • 1942   Britain launched a major offensive against Axis forces at El Alamein in Egypt during World War II.
  • 1946   The United Nations General Assembly convened in New York for the first time, at an auditorium in Flushing Meadow.
  • 1956   An anti-Stalinist revolt began in Hungary.
  • 1973   President Richard M. Nixon agreed to turn White House tape recordings requested by the Watergate special prosecutor over to Judge John J. Sirica.
  • 1987   The U.S. Senate rejected the Supreme Court nomination of Robert H. Bork on a 58-42 vote.
  • 1989   A white man, Charles Stuart, claimed that he and his pregnant wife had both been shot by a black robber in Boston; Carol Stuart and her prematurely delivered baby died. Weeks later, Stuart was implicated in the killings and apparently committed suicide.
  • 1993   Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter became the second player to end the World Series with a home run. His three-run shot in the ninth inning gave Toronto an 8-6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6.
  • 1995   A jury in Houston convicted Yolanda Saldivar of murdering Tejano singing star Selena.
  • 1996   The civil trial of O.J. Simpson opened in Santa Monica, Calif. Simpson was later found liable in the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
  • 1998   Dr. Barnett Slepian, a doctor who performed abortions, was killed at his home in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., when a sniper fired through his kitchen window.
  • 1998   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat signed a land-for-peace agreement at the White House, following nine days of talks at Wye River, Md.
  • 2002   Gunmen seized a crowded Moscow theater, taking hundreds hostage and threatening to kill their hostages unless the Russian army pulled out of Chechnya.
  • 2003   Madame Chiang Kai-shek, widow of the Chinese nationalist leader, died in New York at age 105.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1811   Franz Liszt (composer: The Hungarian Rhapsodies, Les Preludes, Orpheus, Tasso, Faust, Hungarian Fantasy, Sonata in B Minor; died July 31, 1886)
  • 1917   Joan Fontaine (de Havilland) (Academy Award-winning actress)
  • 1920   Timothy Leary (psychologist, professor: Harvard; 1960s icon: promoted the use of LSD in the search of political and spiritual freedom; died May 31, 1996)
  • 1942   Annette Funicello (actress: The Mickey Mouse Club)


Friday, October 21, 2005

DeLay Smile

WaPo reported DeLay Smile May Foil Democrat Campaign Ads - Why is Tom DeLay smiling? After all, he's been indicted. Forced out of his job as House majority leader. And called into court for fingerprinting and a mugshot like a common criminal. Answer: A photo of DeLay grinning from ear to ear doesn't pack quite the punch in a Democratic attack ad as one that looks more like the mugshot of, say, actor Hugh Grant. Note the House of Representatives security pin on DeLay's lapel. He looks in the photo like a proud member of Congress who might just have won the lottery, not one indicted on charges of money laundering. The photo looks like it could have been taken anywhere. And that was just the point.

Democrats nationally are already sounding as if they'll make DeLay the poster boy for bad Republican behavior in next year's elections, when every House seat and a third of those in the Senate are up for grabs. DeLay, an 11-term Texas congressman and former pest exterminator famous for enforcing GOP loyalty, faced a tough reelection campaign even before the indictment. In the 2004 elections, DeLay won 55 percent of the vote, a relatively weak showing for a veteran House leader. His challenger next year is expected to be former Rep. Nick Lampson, who lost his seat in 2004 after he was forced to run in a new district under a redistricting plan pushed by DeLay.

Yahoo News reported Rep.
Tom DeLay appeared in court Friday for the first time since his indictment, but his arraignment on conspiracy and money laundering charges was delayed pending a hearing on his request for a new judge in the politically charged case.... Inside the courtroom, Judge Bob Perkins told defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin that "the best way for me to handle" the request for a new judge would be to defer further proceedings.... In respectful tones, DeGuerin noted that Perkins had donated money to, a liberal organization that he said has been "selling T-shirts with Mr. DeLay's mug shot on it."

"Let me just say I haven't ever seen that T-shirt, number one. Number two, I haven't bought it. Number three, the last time I contributed to MoveOn that I know of was prior to the November election last year, when they were primarily helping Sen. Kerry," responded the judge.

So he did he admits he gave money, and DeGuerin did not say he donated the money recently. And CafePress is selling such shirts, so the only question is "Is" selling them? They certainly are targeting Delay. denied it was selling any such shirts, and issued a statement that said, "DeGuerin has either bad information or lied in court."


Battle over Bridges

I blogged about this earlier, but KTVA reported Alaska's senior senator was the forefront today of a clash of generations and political philosophy. Ted Stevens, a 37-year Senate veteran, told freshman colleague Tom Coburn of Oklahoma that he would resign and "be taken out of here on a stretcher" if the Senate killed funding for two Alaskan bridges.

Stevens called Coburn's measure - quote "an offense, a threat to every person in my state." Coburn's measure would have eliminated some 450 million dollars in federal funds for Alaskan bridges and shift 75 million dollars to a Louisiana bridge damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The measure failed on an 82-to-15 vote.

The dispute temporarily brought the Senate to a halt as Republican and Democratic leaders sought to intercede between Stevens and Coburn. Coburn targeted two Alaskan bridges that were cited by fiscal hawks as the worst examples of unwarranted spending in the massive highway bill signed by the president this year.

This news item is from a TV station in Anchorage Alaska, and it includes a poll "Are you for or against the bridges?" At the time I am posting this they have received 176 votes: 5 votes in favor, and 171 votes against the bridges. I can't guarantee all votes were from Alaskans (in fact I know that one was not, because I voted No)

GOP Bloggers blogged What Exactly is a Republican Senate For? What were the amendments about?

The Coburn amendments would have repealed $500,000 previously authorized for a sculpture park in Seattle, Washington, $200,000 to build an animal shelter in Westerly, RI, and $200,000 to build a parking lot in Omaha, Nebraska, and re-directed the funds to help pay instead for Hurricane Katrina recovery.
If a Republican Senate cannot kill a sculpture park, then we need new Republican Senators who are actually conservatives because this inside-the-Beltway crowd has no idea what federalism or limited government mean. It's so bad that porkmaster Ted Stevens has petulantly threatened to resign from the Senate if the measures passed (good riddance to someone who treats our hard-earned taxes with contempt):
"It's not taxpayer money. It's highway-user money."
Since when does a Republican say funding for pork is "not taxpayer money."
And even if we look at it as highway-user money, why should highway users all over the US pay for a bridge to an island with 50 people on it.
Of course, some Republicans think that anything done in the name of the party is unassailably virtuous, and will squawk that Republicans must be inherently immune from criticism. But why bother having "Republican" Senators if they just spend like Democrats and demonstrate the disdain for taxpayers that is typical of liberals? Oh yes, so they can confirm mediocre Supreme Court nominees who have no record of Constitutional originalism. With this attitude towards taxpayers, the GOP moves further and further from conservatism.



I have not heard that much about it recently but Jonah Goldberg blogged in The Corner on National Review Online about a suggestion from a reader on the perfect Gitmo solution: Make it known that all Gitmo detainees will be housed in minimum security facilities in the home state of any Senator or Representative that calls for its closure....


Everybody's doing it

Betsy's Page blogged Everyone's doing it. Now, Real Clear Politics has a blog.

Betsy is very generous. It does have permalinks and an RSS feed, so I guess it meets the minimum qualifications for a blog, but it does not permit comments or allow trackbacks, which both Betty's blog and my blog do, and IMHO you should have at least one, if not both, before you call it a blog.


Deferential Calculus

Dahlia Lithwick editorialized in NYT Of all the mysteries surrounding President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, possibly the biggest is this: How could a man who got it so right with John Roberts get it so wrong with Ms. Miers?

Maybe he got it right both times.
If the lesson of the Roberts confirmation was to pick someone superbly qualified and watch him whiz through his confirmation, why did President Bush almost deliberately flout that wisdom by nominating an inexperienced crony?
Because the weak willed Republicans in the Senate were not willing to fight for someone the Conservatives would have approved of, so he had to have a stealh candidate, and he did not want to make the mistake his father had, and submitting a stealth candidate that others told him was conservative. He submitted someone he knew for a very long time.
But Chief Justice Roberts and Ms. Miers may have more in common than you think. Both their nominations reflect a deep concern about a too-powerful court and the president's troubling new hostility toward the institution.
I don't agree he is hostile toward the institution, he just wants the USSC to fill the role the Constitution expected it to fill: judge but not legislate.
Consider this: Chief Justice Roberts's judicial philosophy - to the extent he admits to one - is of "modesty." Throughout his public life, an overwhelming jurisprudential concern has been the constraint of judicial power. He made it clear at his hearings and in rulings from the federal bench that the court exists not to act - not even to react - but chiefly to interpret passively. He has defended court-stripping legislation and argued for limiting judicial remedies.... John Roberts was unequivocal, at his hearing last month, that if Congress wants to protect the weak, it must write crystal-clear legislation. He would argue that at the end of the day, it's the court's job not to ensure equity or social justice but rather to narrowly construe the law as written regardless of whether the results are fair.
It is not the Court's job to decide what is fair. That is the Legislature's job, because they are elected by the people. The Court's job is to make sure that laws the Legislature passes are constitutional.


How Bush can get his mojo back

Daniel Henninger wrote in OpinionJournal Herewith, a four-step plan to ensure there will be no talk of ducks for the next 27 months outside the Crawford ranch.

  • Withdraw Harriet, nominate Edith.
    I completely disagree with this. Miers may or may not have been a good nomination, but if he withdraws the nomination there is not a snowball's chance in hell that one of the people the conservatives would have preferred will get through the weak willed Rinos in the Senate. The only chance of getting a strong conservative in when Stevens dies or retires is to stand strong for Miers and get her confirmed.
  • Go to Baghdad - Rally America's GIs and rally the Iraqi people
    The security implications of this are frightening, but I think our military is up to it, and I agree this would be a wonderful idea.
  • Nail the Greenspan succession - naming a Fed chairman who can read the lips that said in the 2004 State of the Union speech: "For the sake of job growth, the tax cuts you passed should be permanent."
    Very good idea
  • Embrace the sequester.
    I agree completely.
    By embracing the across-the-board spending sequester in the House before it disappears, Mr. Bush at a stroke would become the de facto leader of an effort that would sweep away the ill will of a spending record that for now dilutes his legacy.


Ballots over bombs

Rich Tucker wrote in Townhall “Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority made a violent reentry into politics Friday, bombing offices of a political party that urged support for a new U.S.-backed constitution while posting insurgents and tribal fighters at some polling places to ensure that Sunni voters could vote safely Saturday against the proposed charter,” announced The Washington Post on Oct. 15. That very day, Iraqis went to the polls and voted to accept a draft constitution.

Talk about missing the point. “A violent reentry into politics?” The entire point of politics is that it’s nonviolent. Politics is the art of settling disputes peacefully.

I think even WaPo is smart enough to know that. But they want to make everything look bad in Iraq, and obscure as much as they can the stuff that goes good. And this election was so good, that they had to emphasize the negatives.
As an example, consider Washington, D.C. According to the Zogby polling firm, we’re “a closely divided nation.” That’s why “the 2006 elections promise to be a pitched, furious battle.” Of course, they’d be hard-pressed to be tighter or more angrily contested than Ohio 2004 or Florida 2000. And that’s the point. After a divisive election, even when one side insists, “we wuz robbed,” the overwhelming majority of Americans shrug, accept the outcome and move on.
There are a number of frustrated Dems who are incapable of that, even though the name of one of their Hate Tools is
There are extreme political disagreements here on dozens of issues, ranging from Iraq to abortion to Supreme Court nominees. Because of those differences, people shout at each other, call each other names, write angry opinion columns about each other. But we don’t bomb each other’s homes. What the Sunnis were doing with their bombs was attempting -- unsuccessfully -- to prevent the political process.
They shot themselves in the foot when they boycotted the elections in January. This time some of them decided to shoot themselves in the other foot.
Iraq is moving, with surprising speed, toward a future where differences will be settled through politics (words) instead of violence (bombs). As President Bush put it, “Iraqis will decide the future of their country through peaceful elections, not violent insurgency.” Exactly.

“I insisted on voting, even though my neighbors told me it would be dangerous,” 38-year-old Haifa Ahmed Satoor, told The Washington Post. “I don’t want more people killed in the name of Sunni resistance,” he said, explaining why he voted in favor of the draft constitution. “We already lost neighbors. I don’t want to lose relatives.”

Remember that just three years ago, Saddam Hussein was in charge. There was no political process, only violent repression. These days, Iraqis line up to vote peacefully. And one of the benefits of the new political process is on display this week: Saddam’s trial.

As CNN puts it, “The former dictator, along with seven of his followers, will answer questions about a massacre in the small Sunni-Shiite town of Dujail, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, in 1982.” This is one of the lesser crimes Saddam is charged with, of course, but it serves as a good reminder of where Iraq has been, and thus where it’s going. A free people will soon pass judgment on their former dictator.

There was a time in the U.S. when politics -- like football -- wasn’t as genteel, relatively speaking, as today. In 1856, the political debate over slavery turned violent when Rep. Preston Brooks pounded Sen. Charles Sumner repeatedly with a cane.
Brooks was a Democrat from South Carolina, Sumner was an antislavery Republican (see this. On wonders why blacks vote Democratic so much.
His constituents approved of Brooks’ actions -- he was re-elected, and people even sent him new canes. But such an act seems unthinkable today. In much the same way, the Sunni bombs last week are anything but a “reentry into politics.” They’re a flailing attempt to derail a political process that nevertheless moves forward, and will in days to come yield a political outcome that will make such bombings less and less likely in the months and years ahead.

Iraqis have approved a new constitution, which will make the country a beacon of freedom and opportunity in a violent region. No doubt the country’s nervous neighbors -- including dictatorships in Syria and Iran -- would have preferred that violence win out. But it won’t.
And it will spread, which is what they fear the most.
As Iraq’s political future takes shape, many would-be suicide bombers will find their way home to Syria and Iran.


How to tell if you are a democrat

Deb at Elephant in my Coffee wrote This has been on the web for a while, but I just recently ran across it again. It’s funny how somethings don’t change!

I first saw this when scanning EIMC, and I thought it was original, and I just had to blog it. Then I realized it was not something Deb had written, and I almost closed my "Blog This" window, but I saw some entries that just screamed for a comment, so I decided to go ahead with this post.
  1. You’re not sophisticated enough to realize that “liberty” and “socialism” are mutually exclusive concepts.
  2. You believe that Europe (even with its faulty currency, high unemployment, and economic stifling tax rates) is an example if the successful socialism, but ignore China, India, and the former USSR which account for almost 1/2 of the earth’s population.
    I guess it is successful, compared to the others.
  3. You support “choice”, as long as it has nothing to do with where your kids go to school, owning a firearm, deciding where your retirement money goes, or what doctor you go to see.
    Or who deserves your charitable support, or what your kids are taught, or what holiday to celebrate on December 25, or when and how to worship God.
  4. You believe that every vote counts, except those from Republican dominated counties and from the military.
    and votes from dead people or illegal aliens without photo ids count twice.
  5. You believe that children are expensive, but no matter how many children poor people choose to produce the poor are always victims of society and not their own bad choices.
  6. You believe in the communist theory of “redistribution of wealth”, but only if the government redistributes it.
  7. You don’t give much to charity, after all, why should you have to give up necessities like cable TV, cell phones, electronic gadgets, eating out, and air conditioning when there are people who have even more than you do?
  8. You believe the Bill of Rights actually has an amendment declaring the “right to privacy”.
  9. You believe that Social Security is not a risky pyramid scheme.
    And you believe in the Tooth Fairy
  10. You believe oppression comes from business and prosperity comes from government.
  11. You believe that John Ashcroft is a horrible choice for a federal position because he is a religious man, but Joe LIEberman was a great choice for a federal position because he is a religious man.
  12. You don’t understand the basics of “supply and demand”.
  13. You believe that conservatives are racist, but quotas, social promotion, lower expectations, and set asides aren’t.
  14. Your arguments for supporting abortion are religious in nature because you know you’d be blown away if you made it a scientific argument.
    Actually I am not aware of any religious or scientific justification IN FAVOR OF abortion on demand. It just seems to me to be a case of "I want it, because I want to have sex and not worry about the after effects, and some judges were stupid enough to allow it, and I want to keep it.
  15. You believe “workfare” is the same as slavery.
  16. Self-esteem is more important than actually doing anything to earn it.
  17. You believe that Christians have no business being included in the umbrella of diversity.
  18. Even though most Americans choose to eat a poor diet and choose not to exercise, you feel it is still the taxpayer’s responsibility to pay for their medical care.
  19. You believe Big Business is evil because it fills a demand the public is screaming for.
  20. You believe that the Bill Of Rights says “There is a separation of church and state” but not the actual line: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF”.
  21. You believe that Santa decorations should be banned from public schools at Christmas due to religious issues, but don’t believe witch decorations should be banned from public schools at Halloween even though Wicca is a federally recognized religion.
  22. There was no art before federal funding.
  23. You believe that drilling a piece of the enormous Alaskan preserve will be horrible for the environment, but hauling energy inefficient oil tankers from the Middle East (halfway across the planet) won’t have any negative impacts on the environment.
  24. You believe that in a free society doctors should be servants of the state.
  25. You believe that anyone who agrees with you is open minded and believe that anyone who disagrees with you is closed minded.
  26. You believe that the only reason communism hasn’t worked is because the right people haven’t been in charge yet.
  27. You feel that anyone who beats you in an intellectual argument is a bigot.


Friday, October 21

This Day In History

  • 1797   The U.S. Navy frigate Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, was launched in Boston's harbor.
  • 1805   A British fleet commanded by Adm. Horatio Nelson defeated a French and Spanish fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar; Nelson, however, was killed.
  • 1879   After 14 months of experimenting in Menlo Park, NJ, Thomas Alva Edison succeeded in producing a working prototype of the electric, incandescent lamp. It could burn for thirteen and a half hours.
  • 1917   American soldiers first saw action in World War I on the front lines in France.
  • 1944   U.S. troops captured the German city of Aachen during World War II.
  • 1959   The Guggenheim Museum opened to the public in New York.
  • 1966   More than 140 people, mostly children, were killed when a coal waste landslide engulfed a school and several houses in south Wales.
  • 1967   Tens of thousands of Vietnam War protesters marched in Washington, D.C.
  • 1971   President Richard M. Nixon nominated Lewis F. Powell and William H. Rehnquist to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 1975   Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk hit a ball that struck the left field foul pole in Boston's Fenway Park for a home run, giving the Red Sox a 7-6 victory in 12 innings over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 6 of the World Series.
  • 1988   A federal grand jury in New York indicted former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, on charges of fraud and racketeering.
  • 1997   Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind 1997", was declared by "The Guinness Book of Records" to be the biggest-selling single record of all time. In 37 days, the single reached 31.8 million copies sold, eclipsing the previous record held by Bing Crosby’s "White Christmas". The Crosby song sold an estimated 30 million copies worldwide -- in 55 years.
  • 2001   Washington postal worker Thomas L. Morris Jr. died of inhaled anthrax; officials closed two postal facilities and began testing thousands of postal employees.
  • 2002   A car packed with explosives pulled up to a bus in northern Israel during rush hour, igniting a massive fireball that killed 14 people along with two suicide attackers.
  • 2003   Invoking a hastily-passed law, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ordered a feeding tube reinserted into Terry Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman at the center of a bitter right-to-die battle.
  • 2003   The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that Israel tear down a barrier jutting into the West Bank.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1772   Samuel Coleridge (poet: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan; died July 25, 1834)
  • 1833   Alfred Nobel (chemist: invented dynamite; industrialist: revenues from his dynamite factories made Nobel a fortune; philanthropist: his will created the Nobel Prizes, awarded annually for achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace; died Dec 10, 1896)
  • 1956   Carrie Fisher (actress: Star Wars series; daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds)


Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Meeting of the Mouths

Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, Clark Howard and Oliver North are appearing TODAY at Tulsa's Mabee Center, 4:30pm Thursday October 20th. I did not realize this until I saw it on Grett's blog


Fiscal conservatism makes a comeback.

OpinionJournal editorialized It's only taken a decade or so, but suddenly there's momentum in Congress for spending restraint. We'll be watching the fine print, but you can tell Republicans are worried about complaints from conservative voters because for a change they're trying to act, well, like Republicans.

In a first good sign, House leaders are rewriting their Fiscal 2006 budget resolution to increase the amount of "savings" to as much as $50 billion over five years. This is far from onerous, but it is better than the $35 billion Congress passed the first time around.

In another miracle, they are also moving to "deauthorize" 98 federal programs that long ago outlived their usefulness. These include such pork-barrel classics as the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program. A deauthorization doesn't cut any spending, but it does reduce the likelihood that money will be spent on these fiscal dodos in the future. Political symbolism has its uses.

By far the most promising idea is for a spending cut of as much as 3% on every discretionary federal agency, program and department. The case for across-the-board cuts is especially persuasive given the boom times that federal agencies have enjoyed in recent years. As the nearby chart shows, spending for federal education programs is up 99% since 2001; international affairs and foreign aid is up 94%; community development 71%; housing programs 86%, and so on. The inflation rate over the same period was 12.5%.

This "cut," by the way, would only reduce spending from the "baseline" that already includes annual increases for inflation for 2006.
What would really be nice if a cut could mean an actual cut, rather than what we planned to spend.
A 3% sequester, as it's known in Beltway lingo, would save $36 billion in 2006. And because baseline spending levels would be reduced going ahead, the savings would magnify over time--to as much as $500 billion over 10 years. This is without even touching the $1.4 trillion to be spent on Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements. (The programs that would be cut are those that Congress agrees to fund every year; entitlements go up automatically unless Congress rewrites the law.)
Which it should, but won't, do
Democrats are deploring an across-the-board cut as a "mindless buzz saw" that fails to set priorities and hurts the poor. And it would be nice if Congress actually debated priorities. But since the late 1990s, spending has gone up on nearly everything every year. Given Hurricane Katrina and the war on terror, an across-the-board cut is a blunt political instrument whose time has returned.


Rove Told Jury

WaPo reported White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury..... a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.

Did Karl Rove tell you that? If not, then Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig should go to jail, at least until they revealed who told them that, because the proceedings of a Grand Jury are secret, and the only one who can reveal what someone said is the person who testified. The prosecutor cannot tell. Grand jury members cannot tell. Other court officiers present cannot tell. If Karl Rove did not tell Jim VandeHei or Carol D. Leonnig he said what they reported, either they are making something up, or someone has just violated the law.


TV's gloomy take on Iraq

Brent Bozell wrote in Townhall On Saturday, millions of Iraqis walked with determination to the polls to vote for a new constitution. The turnout was high. The violence was down dramatically from the triumphant elections of January.

13 vs 347
But the network found all this boring. On the night before the historic vote, ABC led with bird-flu panic. CBS imagined Karl Rove in a prison jumpsuit. NBC hyped inflation.
All efforts to hurt Bush
They say that news is a man-bites-dog story. In the Middle East, how common is a constitutional referendum? Have they had one in Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Syria? Jordan?
Kuwait? Iran? Qatar? United Arab Emirates? Oman? Yemen?
Until the last few years, the phrase "Arab constitutional democracy" sounded like a pipe dream or an oxymoron. But today, the reporters can only kvetch. NBC's Richard Engel growled online that the new constitution was "a deeply flawed document, peppered with religious slogans, and leaves plenty of room for Shiites and Kurds to govern themselves."
Arabs govern themselves? Isn't this news?
Engel says Iraqis disagree on the constitution, but "with the daily pressures of the insurgency, power cuts and lawlessness, there might not be enough time to start over before this country and the people lose hope -- along with many of their lives." Does Engel wear black everywhere he goes? The news pattern from Iraq has that familiar gloom to it. The process of building a constitutional democracy has been a story made in sessions of boring political blather, in a language Americans can't understand. Bombs blowing people up -- now that's action, great television, it doesn't require an interpreter. That's news.

A massive new study by Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center reviews every Iraq story on the evening news programs of ABC, CBS and NBC from January through September of 2005. That's 1,388 news stories. He titled it "The Bad News Brigade," because 61 percent of the stories were negative or pessimistic, while only 15 percent of the stories were positive or optimistic -- a four-to-one ratio. The trend in coverage has also become increasingly negative during 2005, with pessimistic stories rising to nearly three-fourths of all Iraq news by August and September, with a 10-to-one ratio of negative stories over positive ones.
Distrotion by the MSM increasing as progress is made.


The evil virus upon us

Suzanne Fields wrote in Townhall A magazine cover story about postmodern life on the American college campus depicts three monkeys in cap and gown, covering their ears, eyes and mouth, a parody of the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil caricature. But students at many colleges actually get quite the opposite. They're required to hear, see, speak and study all about evil, as long as it's the evil oppression of everybody in American society. Parents, inoculate yourselves. It may be too late for your children. There's an emphasis on multicultural studies, and few campuses have escaped the disease -- and it's not yet Halloween.

I knew that college campuses were filled with liberals, and that conservatives had to keep their mouths shut to get through, but I had no idea of some of the really inappropriate things that Suzanne indicates are being taught. Read it all for yourself.


My dinner with a Bush-hater

Larry Elder wrote in Townhall "Well, I'm from Seattle, and we hate Bush up there -- " I let it go. " -- and the thing that we hate the most about Bush is that he claims people shouldn't pay taxes." All right, enough. "Excuse me," I said, "can you tell me when the president said, 'People shouldn't pay taxes'?" "He says it all the time," she replied. "So then it should be fairly easy for you to tell me when, or perhaps where, he said it." "Well, it's in his budget." "Do you mean the most recently passed budget," I asked, "the one that calls for spending something like two-and-a-half trillion dollars?" "Yes."

"If the budget calls for that much in spending, where do you suppose the government gets the money?" "What do you mean?" she asked. "Well, you say the president says 'people ought not pay taxes.' If people don't pay taxes, how does the government get the two-and-a-half trillion?" "Oh," she said, "I see what you're saying. Let me clarify. Bush says, 'Rich people should not pay taxes.'" "Oh, really? And when did he say that?" "Well, he implies it -- he's always seeking to cut taxes on the rich."

"Well," I responded, "as a member of the so-called rich, I welcome you to take a look at my 1040. I pay a substantial amount in taxes. And if there's some program or provision that allows 'the rich' to avoid taxes, perhaps I should consider firing my accountant." At this, the others at the table laughed, but not, of course, my debating opponent. "Well, it's obvious," she said. "We see things differently." "We most certainly do, and I think it's pretty much fruitless for us to continue the conversation. But, if you don't mind, I have a brief question for you." "OK," she said.

"Of the top 1 percent of taxpayers, what percentage do they pay of federal income tax revenues?" "What do you mean?" "Assume this is a pie," I said, cupping my hands in a circle. "The top 1 percent contributes what size slice -- by percentage -- of that pie?" "Oh, I see," she said. "Virtually nothing." "Nothing?" "Maybe 1 percent, maybe 2 percent." Later, during the party, several people told her that I hosted a nationally syndicated radio show, and informed her of my "conservative" politics. "I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to anger you." "No, I wasn't angry. I was disappointed that someone could go through the world so incredibly ill-informed." She walked away.

For the record, since my table companion doesn't know or doesn't care, the top 1 percent -- the taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) over $295,495 -- paid, for 2003, 34.27 percent of federal income tax revenues. The top 10 percent (with an AGI over $94,891) paid 65.84 percent, the top half (AGI over $29,019) paid 96.54 percent. The bottom half? They paid 3.46 percent. People should know this. Even if you live in Seattle.

Also that 34.27% went UP with the Bush tax cuts, because the number that pay no taxes increased.


Communist Party Rule Essential to Democracy

NYT reported China issued its first white paper on democracy on Wednesday, but included no initiatives for political change and left little doubt of the Communist Party's determination to maintain its grip on power. The report, "Building of Political Democracy in China," emphasizes the importance of economic development and social stability in establishing a democracy. It says the continued rule of the Communist Party is "the most important and fundamental principle for developing socialist political democracy in China." ....

Say what???
The white paper, issued by the government's State Council, or cabinet, alludes to China's problems without delving deeply into the specifics. "The democratic system is not yet perfect," the report conceded. Later, it added, "there is still a long way to go in China's building of political democracy."
Like perhaps the introduction of democracy?
But, mostly, the tone is self-congratulatory. The report proclaimed that the country's current political system had allowed the Chinese people "to become masters of their own country and society,
But slaves to the Communist Party.
and enjoy extensive democratic rights."
At least those approved by the Communist Party


Journalists Testify in Favor of Shield Law

NYT reported Judith Miller, the reporter for The New York Times who spent 85 days in jail for refusing to identify a confidential source, warned Wednesday that unless Congress passed a national shield law to protect reporters and their sources, "the Alexandria detention facility may have to open an entire new wing to house reporters."

Just because we might have to build more jails should not mean people who violate the law should not have to go to jail.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Miller said more than two dozen reporters had been subpoenaed in the last two years over their confidential sources and faced the possibility of going to jail.
And yet only she did. The others decided to obey the law
While she has put herself in the center of the debate over the bill, having spent the summer in jail for initially refusing to testify in the C.I.A. leak case, her actions, including her decision to testify, appear to have muddled the issue.....Introduced this year by Senator Richard G. Lugar and Representative Mike Pence, both Republicans from Indiana, the bill has just 11 co-sponsors in the Senate and 63 in the House. Neither the House nor the Senate is expected to take it up this year. The bill is also strongly opposed by the Justice Department,
and by me.
which sent a representative to Wednesday's hearing to register the department's many objections.


Myths About Gun Control

John Stossel wrote in RealClearPolitics Guns are dangerous. But myths are dangerous, too. Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people. "Don't tell me this bill will not make a difference," said President Clinton, who signed the Brady Bill into law. Sorry. Even the federal government can't say it has made a difference. The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth.

I wanted to know why the laws weren't working, so I asked the experts. "I'm not going in the store to buy no gun," said one maximum-security inmate in New Jersey. "So, I could care less if they had a background check or not." "There's guns everywhere," said another inmate. "If you got money, you can get a gun." Talking to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals don't obey the law. (That's why we call them "criminals.")

In fact they have been convicted of violating the law. If they have not yet been convicted, we call them politicians.
Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there's money to be made selling something, someone will sell it. A study funded by the Department of Justice confirmed what the prisoners said. Criminals buy their guns illegally and easily. The study found that what felons fear most is not the police or the prison system, but their fellow citizens, who might be armed.
That is absolutely true.
One inmate told me, "When you gonna rob somebody you don't know, it makes it harder because you don't know what to expect out of them."

What if it were legal in America for adults to carry concealed weapons? I put that question to gun-control advocate Rev. Al Sharpton. His eyes opened wide, and he said, "We'd be living in a state of terror!" In fact, it was a trick question. Most states now have "right to carry" laws.
That shows what an idiot Sharpton is.
And their people are not living in a state of terror. Not one of those states reported an upsurge in crime. Why? Because guns are used more than twice as often defensively as criminally. When armed men broke into Susan Gonzalez' house and shot her, she grabbed her husband's gun and started firing. "I figured if I could shoot one of them, even if we both died, someone would know who had been in my home." She killed one of the intruders. She lived. Studies on defensive use of guns find this kind of thing happens at least 700,000 times a year.

And there's another myth, with a special risk of its own. The myth has it that the Supreme Court, in a case called United States v. Miller, interpreted the Second Amendment -- "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" -- as conferring a special privilege on the National Guard, and not as affirming an individual right. In fact, what the court held is only that the right to bear arms doesn't mean Congress can't prohibit certain kinds of guns that aren't necessary for the common defense. Interestingly, federal law still says every able-bodied American man from 17 to 44 is a member of the United States militia.
I did not know that, and I bet the gun control advocates certainly dont know that.
What's the special risk? As Alex Kozinski, a federal appeals judge and an immigrant from Eastern Europe, warned in 2003, "the simple truth -- born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people."
That is certainly true.
"The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do," Judge Kozinski noted. "But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once."


The Coburn Amendment

RedState blogged We're a little behind Glenn and Michelle - but conservatives have a Hill to Die On - the Coburn Amendment to the Transportation, Housing, & Urban Development appropriations bill (HR 3058). Make NO mistake - the establishment Republicans are terrified of this bill. The chutzpah of the little people demanding an end to one of the most immoral acts of Congress - earmarked pork spending - has got some in quite the tizzy. Word is that some are trying to stop the Coburn Amendment from even reaching the floor for a vote.

This amendment will transfer funding from the wasteful pork project, the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, to the repair and reconstruction of the “Twin Spans” bridge in Louisiana.
Actually I would prefer just to see that pork barrel projects like the "Bridge to Nowhere" were just cancelled, but that is probably not politically doable, but certainly the "Twin Spans" bridge is more worthy.
According to published reports, the Alaskan pork project costs $220 million for a 5.9-mile bridge connecting Gravina Island (population 50) to the Alaskan mainland. The cost of the bridge alone would be enough to buy every island resident his own personal Lear jet.
Sounds pretty simple, no? And simply the right thing to do. This is a no-brainer, friends. I'm with the Club For Growth, that's chosen to make this one of their very first "Key Votes" in an effort to reign in that out of control spending. The Amendment is here. Senator Coburn's "Dear Colleague" letter is here. Friends, this is as easy a call as I've ever seen. If Republicans aren't willing to step back from this idiocy in Alaska to fund the needs in Louisiana - they don't deserve anything more than a snicker next time they try to describe themselves as the party of limited government.
To send a message to Senator Frist click here. Oklahoma residents, to send a message to Tom Colburn click here, and to send a message to James Inhofe click here.


I Don't Acknowledge This Court

WaPo reported A defiant Saddam Hussein, at times argumentative, at times jovial,

He does not look argumntative or jovial, he looks depressed.
lectured the chief judge Wednesday on the first day of his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, declaring that he remained president of Iraq and that the proceedings were enemy-inspired and had no legitimacy.

"Who are you? What are you?" he demanded, looking the judge in the eye. "I don't acknowledge this court."
Will you acknowledge the rope, when they hang you?


Thursday, October 20

This Day In History

  • 1803   The U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1873   A Hippodrome was opened in New York City by showman Phineus T. (P.T.) Barnum. The impressive place was the new home of "The Greatest Show on Earth"; the big top of what would be the greatest circus in the land.
  • 1903   A joint commission ruled in favor of the United States in a boundary dispute between Alaska and Canada.
  • 1944   The Yugoslav cities of Belgrade and Dubrovnik were liberated during World War II.
  • 1944   Gen. Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore at Leyte in the Philippines, 2 1/2 years after he'd said, ''I shall return.''
  • 1947   The House Un-American Activities Committee opened hearings into alleged Communist influence in the motion picture industry.
  • 1964   Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States, died at age 90.
  • 1967   Seven men were convicted in Meridian, Miss., of violating the civil rights of three murdered civil rights workers.
  • 1968   Former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
  • 1977   Three members of the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd were killed in the crash of a chartered plane near McComb, Miss.
  • 1989   The Senate convicted U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings of perjury and conspiracy and removed him from office. (The conviction was later overturned and Hastings was elected to Congress.)
  • 1992   In the first World Series game to be played outside the United States, the host Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2.
  • 2000   Egyptian-born Ali Mohamed, a U.S. citizen who'd served in the Army, pleaded guilty in New York to helping plan the deadly U.S. embassy bombings in Africa in 1998 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
  • 2001   Tests found traces of anthrax in a mail-bundling machine at a House office building a few blocks from the Capitol.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1632   Sir Christopher Wren (architect, astronomer, mathematician; died Feb 25, 1723)
  • 1856   James Mann (lawyer; U.S. Congressman: authored the Mann Act aka the White Slave Traffic Act [1910]; died Nov 30, 1922)
  • 1882   Bela Lugosi (Blasko) (actor: Dracula)
  • 1905   Ellery Queen (Frederic Dannay) (author: mystery series [w/Manfred B. Lee]; died Sep 9, 1982)
  • 1911   Will Rogers Jr. (actor: The Story of Will Rogers, Pall Mall Playhouse; TV host: The Pioneers; lecturer; died July 10, 1993)
  • 1913   Grandpa (Louis Marshall) Jones (Country Music Hall of Famer: Hee Haw, Grand Ole Opry; singer: The All-American Boy, T for Texas, Old Rattler, Mountain Dew; died Feb 19, 1998)
  • 1923   Herschel Bernardi (actor: Peter Gunn, Arnie, Love with the Proper Stranger, Irma La Douce; voice: Charlie Tuna TV commercials, The Jetsons characters; died May 9, 1986)
  • 1925   Art Buchwald (Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist [prize for commentary: 1982]; author: While Reagan Slept, Leaving Home)
  • 1928   Dr. Joyce Brothers (Bauer) (psychologist; syndicated columnist; TV contestant: $64,000 Question [1955]; panelist: The Gong Show)
  • 1931   Mickey (Charles) Mantle (‘The Commerce Comet’: Baseball Hall of Famer: NY Yankees [World Series: 1951-1953, 1955-1958, 1960-1964/all-star: 1952-1965, 1967, 1968]; World Series records: most home runs [18], most RBIs [40], most walks [13], most strikeouts [54]; three-time MVP; died Aug 13, 1995)
  • 1935   Jerry Orbach (actor: Tony Award-winning actor: Law and Order)


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Clinton Connections

Mike Allen wrote in Time Conservative conspiracy theorists speculate that the hit ABC drama Commander in Chief--starring Geena Davis as President--doubles as a campaign ad for Hillary Rodham Clinton. And it turns out the show does have Clinton connections. The Senator has been sphinxlike about the show--her office won't even say whether she has watched it. But Capricia Marshall, 41, who as White House social secretary helped Clinton buy everything from hosiery to a house, is a series consultant--and believes it isn't just entertainment.... And if they don't listen to her, there's Steve (Scoop) Cohen. A writer on the show, he was once a communications aide to the former First Lady.

Time admits there were two Clinton staffers working on the show, but I just heard today that two more Clinton staffers were joining the team.

They clearly want to show that a woman president can serve as Commander in Chief. The first two shows had Genna Davis using the armed forces to attack another country. In the third episode she did not invade anyone, but the evil Republican Speaker of the House, who wanted her to resign so he could become President, orchetrate the resignations of members of her cabinet during an official State Dinner.


Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for Three GIs

Yahoo! News reported A judge has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist and a Ukrainian cameraman, a court official said Wednesday. Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the warrant for Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp, all from the U.S. 3rd Infantry, which is based in Fort Stewart, Ga.

If anyone ever wondered why Bush would not let the US join the International Criminal Court, this is a very good example.
Jose Couso, who worked for the Spanish television network Telecinco, died April 8, 2003, after a U.S. army tank crew fired a shell on Hotel Palestine in Baghdad where many journalists were staying to cover the war. Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, a Ukrainian, also was killed..... U.S. officials have insisted that the soldiers believed they were being shot at when they opened fire. Following the Palestine incident, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said a review of the incident found that the use of force was justified.


Rice won't rule out force on Syria, Iran

AP reported Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday refused to rule out the possibility of U.S. troops still serving in Iraq in 10 years or U.S. military force against Syria and Iran. Rice deferred to the decisions of President Bush and military commanders as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pressed her for more specifics on the U.S. strategy in Iraq.

Good for Condi. There is nothing to be gained, and potentially a lot lost, by ruling out any alternative. Why are the Dems so stupid in that area.


Ten RSS Hacks

Steve Rubel with Micro Persuasion wrote Here, for no reason at all, are 10 RSS power user tips that you can use to enhance your life. Some of these you might already know, others you may not.

  1. Build Feeds for Your Favorite Writers
  2. Got a Car? Subscribe to its RSS Feed
  3. Merge Several RSS Feeds Into One, Then Stick it on Your Firefox Bar
  4. Track New Audiobooks with RSS
  5. Find Cool Stuff with a Inbox Feed
  6. Build a Library of Search Feeds in a Heartbeat with
  7. Track Wikipedia Revisions with RSS
  8. Find New Desktop Wallpaper with Flickr
  9. Subscribe to RSS Feeds in Gmail
  10. Take a Break with RSS

Several of these are fantastic.

Weblogs Work blogged One of the first things we do with a new client is help them set up an RSS reader and fill it with relevant reads. What a great moment it is when the lightbulb appears overhead and they realize they can make their favorite Web pages come to them. (Take their info to go, as it were.)

That is exactly why I am so excited with RSS, and with Live Bookmarks in Firefox.