June 30, 2005

Hypocritical Congressmen

From Mark Levin:

How soon some of our liberal friends forget. Among others, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, Chris Dodd, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden and Jay Rockefeller voted for the October 11, 2002 congressional joint resolution authorizing the president, on his discretion, to go to war. Here, in part, is what the resolution said: "Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq: "Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terroist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens; "Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations ... And not a single news person bothered to ask any critics of the president's speech last night how they can square their offense at the president's linking terrorism to the war against Iraq when they did the same exact thing.

Very true. One more thing. While Bush certainly was the primary advocate for the invasion of Iraq, it is important to remember that this is not merely "Bush's war" - Congress, including many members that now claim that we should not have gone to war, voted to give Bush the power to go to war.

Ward Churchill - Advocates Murder

The University of Colorado's Professor Ward Churchill, who previously compared the 9/11 victims to "little Eichman's", now advocates the murder of U.S. officers:

"For those of you who do, as a matter of principle, oppose war in any form, the idea of supporting a conscientious objector who's already been inducted in his combat service in Iraq might have a certain appeal. But let me ask you this: Would you render the same level of support to someone who hadn't conscientiously objected, but rather instead rolled a grenade under their line officer in order to neutralize the combat capacity of their unit? ...Conscientious objection removes a given piece of cannon fodder from the fray. Fragging an officer has a much more impactful effect." - Ward Churchill, Portland, Oregon- 6/23/05

For the video, click here.

I am all for free speech and, quite frankly, I think it is important that idiots like Churchill be allowed to speak their mind. After all, it allows us to find out how deranged someone like this is. This being said, however, I tend to draw the line where a speaker actively advocates murder. The law does not protect speech that incites others into criminal action.
On the way home from work, I was listening to the Bill O'Reilly radio show. I am not a big fan of Bill O'Reilly, but occasionally, there are interesting topics on the show. Anyway, he was discussing whether or not Churchill's comments actually constituted treason. His argument was that advocating killing U.S. soldiers would be treason as it would aid the enemy. Treason, which is a legal term of art, essentially means the act of giving aid or material support to the enemy. It is kind of a stretch, but I guess you could make the argument.
I am having a difficult time understanding how he continues to be employed by a major state university. Aside from the allegations that he faked his claims of indian ancestry and that he plagiarized other writer's works, his outrageous comments have been a rather huge public embarrassment for the university. Aside from merely being insensitive and inflamatory, they tend to destroy any credibility he may have as a serious academic.
More troubling, however, is that people actually attend Ward Churchill's lectures and that there are some people that will pay to hear him talk. He is somewhat popular with the radical left because he is anti-Bush and against the "War on Terror".

June 29, 2005

Putin Takes Patriot Owners Super Bowl Ring

This is funny:

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin walked off with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's diamond-encrusted 2005 Super Bowl ring, but was it a generous gift or a very expensive international misunderstanding? Following a meeting of American business executives and Putin at Konstantinovsky Palace near St. Petersburg on Saturday, Kraft showed the ring to Putin -- who tried it on, put it in his pocket and left, according to Russian news reports. It wasn't clear if Kraft, whose business interests include paper and packaging companies and venture capital investments, intended that Putin keep the ring.

Drunk Zamboni Driver!

This is too funny:

MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- A Morris County employee's Zamboni driving days are on ice. Authorities say John Peragallo was drunk when he drove the four-ton ice-cleaning machine at Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown on Sunday. Police said an employee reported that the machine was speeding and nearly crashing into boards. Police say Peragallo had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12. Persons are legally drunk in New Jersey at 0.08.

The President's Speech on Iraq

You can find a link to the transcript here.

Here are some of my favorite parts:


Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home. The commander in charge of Coalition operations in Iraq — who is also senior commander at this base — General John Vines, put it well the other day. He said: “We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us.”
****
Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other nations. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy, prosperity, and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.
This is, in essence, why I feel that our presence in Iraq is so important. Al Quaeda and other Islamic extremists are committed to the overthrow of western societies and the murder of all infidels (i.e., anyone that is not a Muslim). The attack on 9/11 was not a fluke accident. These extremists have always believed that they are in a perpetual war with infidels. They believe that their god has commanded them to kill all non-believers - whether man, woman or child- and that there is no difference between an infidel soldier or an infidel citizen. Most of the "insurgents" that we are fighting represent foreign fighters that have chosen to fight Americans in Iraq as opposed to within the United States. If they want battle, then fine.... they will have a battle - with the United States Armed Forces. I would rather have our higly trained Armed Forces fight these Islamic extremists in Kabul or Basra than allow them to prey upon innocent civillians in the United States.

Regarding the calls for an immediate withdrawal:
I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send he wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed — and not a day longer.
I would love nothing more than to have this war over and to have our troops home. However, the President is right - it would be a disaster to set a timetable for withdrawal before we win the war or Iraq is ready to fight it on its own...
We have more work to do, and there will be tough moments that test America’s resolve. We are fighting against men with blind hatred — and armed with lethal weapons — who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq — just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail. The terrorists do not understand America. The American people do not falter under threat — and we will not allow our future to be determined by car bombers and assassins.
Overall, it was a good speech. While it doesn't tell us much, if anything, that is new by way of Administration policy, it was probably what was needed. For months, the left wing media and the Democrats have been relentless in their criticism of Administration policy towards Iraq and focus on the suicide bombings. Their strategy is simple. If you want America to withdraw, you make the American public question (a) why you got into the war in the first place and (b) whether the war is worthwhile. The speech reminds us that not all the news coming from Iraq is bad news and that there is a reason we are commited to fighting in Iraq.

Americans Do Not Support An Immediate Withdrawal

The Washington Post references an interesting ABC News poll:

As President Bush prepares to address the nation about Iraq tonight, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that most Americans do not believe the administration's claims that impressive gains are being made against the insurgency, but a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces there for an extended time to stabilize the country. The survey found that only one in eight Americans currently favors an immediate pullout of U.S. forces, while a solid majority continues to agree with Bush that the United States must remain in Iraq until civil order is restored -- a goal that most of those surveyed acknowledge is, at best, several years away.
If you listened to the Democratic politicians, however, you would assume that public opinion has shifted totally against the Iraq war and that the public is demanding an immediate pullout.

June 28, 2005

Iraq - Something to Keep In Mind

An interesting column from the Wall Street Journal

The history of the Vietnam War could repeat itself in Iraq if the Beltway class decides to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Yet we are winning the global war on terror by the only measure of success that matters: Terrorists have not successfully pulled off another attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. We are also succeeding in Iraq and at pressuring much of the Middle East to move toward accepting the antidote to the hate-filled ideology that spawns terrorists: democracy and freedom. Partly our success can be seen by what's not happening in Iraq today. There are no more mass graves being filled. Nor is there a cruel dictator sitting atop one of the world's largest armies and wondering how best to acquire the weapons of mass destruction that might throw back Western forces. We also don't have to worry about Saddam Hussein handing off such weapons to terrorists from his prison cell. With Saddam out of power, an elected provisional government is now working on the nation's constitution. There will be more elections in the near future, including a referendum on the constitution. On the military side of the war, U.S. forces have lost fewer than 2,000 people in more than two years of fighting in Iraq--an outcome that would have been dismissed as utopian before the invasion. Meanwhile our forces are armoring up and developing tactics and weapons to defeat insurgents. Even as the enemy is still pulling off deadly attacks, insurgents are finding Iraqi recruits harder to come by. Many of the "insurgents" aren't Iraqi at all but are terrorists from foreign countries. This is a welcome development--jihadis who head for Baghdad aren't heading to Brooklyn. It can also only go on for so long, especially now as the Iraqi Security Forces are growing in number and in their ability to lead counterinsurgency operations. It's telling that recruits to the ISF and tips on what the insurgents are up to are on the rise--both of which are used by the U.S. military to measure Iraqi resolve.

I have been a supporter of the Iraq War and see no real reason to change my view.
Yes, it is true that there evidently are no "weapons of mass destruction" that have been found in Iraq. WMD's was only one of many factors that Bush cited in making his case for war. Do I think Bush lied? No. In order for his claims that Sadaam had WMD's to have been lies, Bush would have had to know that Sadaam, in fact, had no such WMD's and continued to make claims that he knew were false. Everyone - Republicans, Democrats, France, Germany, Russia, the U.N., etc. -believed that Sadaam had WMD's and that Sadaam was not complying with the U.N. inspection requirements.
At the end of the day, I believe that the United States is better off without Sadaam in power. Sadaam clearly funded terrorists throughout the world (including within the Palestinian territories and the United States - anyone remember the first World Trade Center bombing?). Sadaam was responsible for the deaths of millions and was, by far, one of the greatest threats to stability of the volatile Mideast.
We often hear that things could have been done better in the implementation of the post-war plan (assuming there was one). In all fairness, however, is there really a way that you can plan for a guerilla war against terrorist fighters that live amongst the civillian population, choose not to openly confront our military (except for roadside bombs) and target Iraqi civillians through the use of suicide bombers? I am no Eisenhower or MacArthur, so I will leave that to the military types...
The only way you can defeat the Islamic terrorists is to kill them. In order to do that, the United States needs to seek them out. If the conflict has widened due to an influx of such terrorists in Iraq, then I think that is not necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day, I would rather have our Armed Forces fighting them in Iraq than have the terrorists preying upon our civillians in the streets of New York, Washington D.C. or Omaha.
The news out of Iraq is not always pleasant (no doubt that the anti-American press loves to dwell on the terrorist attacks and not necessarily the successes). Clearly, we have a way to go. However, there is no reason to pull out the white flag and run like many in Washington would love to do... It would only send a signal to the Islamic terrorists that the U.S. does not have the backbone to protect itself or to fight terrorism. It is important to remember that Osama Bin Laden, in fact, often cited the U.S. as being cowardly in his recruiting efforts prior to 9/11 (e.g., Somalia - the minute Clinton ran into resistance, he pulled out).

Analysis of a Freak

I came across this hilarious analysis of the metamorphosis of Michael Jackson's face.

June 27, 2005

Governor Pataki Weighs In On Ground Zero

File this one under FINALLY:

Gov. Pataki drew a line in the sand yesterday, declaring he will tolerate no America-bashing on the sacred soil of Ground Zero. Hours after the Daily News disclosed that a museum set to rise on the site had displayed kooky and anti-American art, the governor said there can be no place where nearly 3,000 innocents died for an institution that attacks the United States and the heroes of 9/11. His voice rising and his resolve steely as he compared the World Trade Center tract to the bloody beaches of Normandy and the black waters of Pearl Harbor, Pataki vowed: “We will not tolerate anything on that site that denigrates America, denigrates New York or freedom or denigrates the sacrifice and courage that the heroes showed on Sept. 11.” He added, “The Daily News did a good service by pointing out some of these things. We do not want that at Ground Zero; I do not want that at Ground Zero and to the extent that I have the power, it’s not going to happen.” At issue are two controversial cultural groups that were picked to occupy a major building at the heart of the site - and have enraged 9/11 family members who say their murdered loved ones are being disrespected. The larger museum, the International Freedom Center, has sparked fears it will focus on acts of U.S. wrongdoing, like slavery and treatment of American Indians, while the Drawing Center, now based in SoHo, was exposed in The News as displaying graphic and vulgar art attacking America’s war on terror. “Sure, there can be debate,” Pataki said when asked if his tough stance jeopardized free-speech rights. “But I don’t want that debate to be occurring at Ground Zero.”
****
Acting after a protest from family members - and word the Drawing Center had displayed art linking President Bush to Osama Bin Laden and portraying terror suspects as victims of American torture - the governor laid down the law to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.: "Contact the cultural institutions on the memorial site. . . and get from them an absolute guarantee that as they proceed, it will be with total respect for the sanctity of that site." This was followed by a simple, stark threat: "I'm hopeful they are able to do that, and if not, then they shouldn't be there." Pataki twice repeated his threat, saying the Freedom and Drawing Centers must respect sacred ground - or else.
I am not advocating censorship. I believe that each and every American has the right to express his or her views on any given subject - no matter how vile, anti-American, or moronic. However, there is no reason that such art should appear at Ground Zero. If you want to compare Bush to Osama Bin Laden or Hitler, then feel free to do so - at your own home, business or museum.

Mark Steyn on the Flag Burning Amendment

Mark Steyn has an interesting column in the Chicago Sun Times on the proposed flag burning amendment:

The House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment on flag burning last week, in the course of which Rep. Randy ''Duke'' Cunningham (Republican of California) made the following argument: ''Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center. Ask them and they will tell you: Pass this amendment." Unlike Congressman Cunningham, I wouldn't presume to speak for those who died atop the World Trade Center. For one thing, citizens of more than 50 foreign countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, were killed on 9/11. Of the remainder, maybe some would be in favor of a flag-burning amendment; and maybe some would think that criminalizing disrespect for national symbols is unworthy of a free society. And maybe others would roll their eyes and say that, granted it's been clear since about October 2001 that the federal legislature has nothing useful to contribute to the war on terror, and its hacks and poseurs prefer to busy themselves with a lot of irrelevant grandstanding with a side order of fries, but they could at least quit dragging us into it. And maybe a few would feel as many of my correspondents did last week about the ridiculous complaints of ''desecration'' of the Quran by U.S. guards at Guantanamo -- that, in the words of one reader, ''it's not possible to 'torture' an inanimate object.'' That alone is a perfectly good reason to object to a law forbidding the "desecration" of the flag. For my own part, I believe that, if someone wishes to burn a flag, he should be free to do so. In the same way, if Democrat senators want to make speeches comparing the U.S. military to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, they should be free to do so. It's always useful to know what people really believe.
Amen.

June 24, 2005

Wishful Thinking or Poor Journalism - You Decide!

From a Washington Post retraction:

A headline and article summary that appeared to indicate that Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist had either retired or died was inadvertently published on washingtonpost.com and through a washingtonpost.com RSS feed on June 23. The headline and summary have been retracted and no longer appear on the site

Democrats - The New Reactionaries?

Charles Krauthammer has an interesting article in today's Washington Post:
What has happened to the Democrats over the past few decades is best captured by the phrase (coined by Kevin Phillips) "reactionary liberalism." Spent of new ideas, they have but one remaining idea: to hang on to the status quo at all costs. This is true across the board. On Social Security, which is facing an impending demographic and fiscal crisis, they have put absolutely nothing on the table. On presidential appointments -- first, judges and now ambassador to the United Nations -- they resort to the classic weapon of southern obstructionism: the filibuster. And on foreign policy, they have nothing to say on the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq or the burgeoning Arab Spring (except the refrain: "Guantanamo").
I think he has a point. Over the past few years, the Democrats are quick to point out the shortcomings or flaws in Bush's policies or, of course, his implementation of those policies. However, the Democrats rarely come up with many alternatives.

Public Relations and War

A great column from Victor David Hansen:

As September 11 faded in our collective memory, Muslim extremists were insidiously but systematically reinvented in our elite presentations as near underprivileged victims, and themselves often adept critics of purported rapacious Western consumerism, oil profiteering, heavy-handed militarism, and spiritual desolation. Extremists who would otherwise be properly seen in the fascistic mold were instead given a weird pass for their quite public and abhorrent hatred of non-believers and homosexuals, and their Neanderthal views of women. Beheadings, the murder of Christians, suicide bombings carried out by children, systematic torture — all this and more paled in comparison to hot and cold temperatures in American jails on Cuba. Suddenly despite our enemies’ long record of murder and carnage, we were in a war not with fascism of the old stamp, but with those who were historical victims of the United States. Thus problems arose of marshalling American public opinion against the supposedly weaker that posited legitimate grievances against Western hegemons. It was no surprise that Sen. Durbin’s infantile rantings would be showcased on al-Jazeera.

****

Contrary to all recent popular wisdom, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but nearing success. It has been costly and at times tragic, but a democracy is in place, accords are being hammered out with Sunni rejectionists, and the democratic reformist mindset is pulsating into Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. This has only been possible because of the courage and efficacy of a much maligned military that, for the lapses of a small minority at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, has been compared to Stalin and Hitler. But once the suicide murdering and bombing from Iraq began to dominate the news, then this administration, for historical reasons largely beyond its own control, had a very small reservoir of good will. The Islamists proved to be more adept in the public relations of winning liberal exemption from criticism than did the administration itself, as one nude Iraqi on film or a crumpled Koran was always deemed far worse than daily beheadings and executions. Indeed, the terrorists were able to morph into downtrodden victims of a bullying, imperialistic America faster than George W. Bush was able to appear a reluctant progressive at war with the Dark Age values of our enemies.

Kelo v. The City of New London

The Wall Street Journal has a very good editorial on the disastrous ruling in Kelo v. the City of New London:


The Supreme Court's "liberal" wing has a reputation in some circles as a guardian of the little guy and a protector of civil liberties. That deserves reconsideration in light of yesterday's decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The Court's four liberals (Justices Stevens, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg) combined with the protean Anthony Kennedy to rule that local governments have more or less unlimited authority to seize homes and businesses. No one disputes that this power of "eminent domain" makes sense in limited circumstances; the Constitution's Fifth Amendment explicitly provides for it. But the plain reading of that Amendment's "takings clause" also appears to require that eminent domain be invoked only when land is required for genuine "public use" such as roads. It further requires that the government pay owners "just compensation" in such cases. The founding fathers added this clause to the Fifth Amendment--which also guarantees "due process" and protects against double jeopardy and self-incrimination--because they understood that there could be no meaningful liberty in a country where the fruits of one's labor are subject to arbitrary government seizure. That protection was immensely diminished by yesterday's 5-4 decision, which effectively erased the requirement that eminent domain be invoked for "public use." The Court said that the city of New London, Connecticut, was justified in evicting a group of plaintiffs led by homeowner Susette Kelo from their properties to make way for private development including a hotel and a Pfizer Corp. office. (Yes, the pharmaceutical Pfizer.) The properties to be seized and destroyed include Victorian homes and small businesses that have been in families for generations.

Prior to the Kelo decision, a government could only take private property by eminent domain if the property was necessary for a "public use" or "public purpose" (for example, the property would be used in order to widen a street or construct a public works project). Following this decision, however, the government may now take private property for use by a private party (for example, the government may acquire the land to convey it to Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or the developer of a new skyscraper, etc.). Essentially, the Supreme Court now views the collection of taxes and economic development as a sufficient public purpose to permit use of the power of eminent domain.
The government is required to pay "just" compensation for the property it condemns by eminent domain. However, the City's appraisers will be very conservative in ascertaining market value. If a property owner doesn't agree with the valuation, then the property owner would have to spend time and money fighting the valuation in court.
Moreover, the government will pay a property's fair market value based on its current use. However, the value of a parcel of land significantly increases if the private developer needs the land to complete an assemblage. Let me assure you that Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Menards, JC Penney et. al. would pay significantly more than the fair market value if it meant they could have the full 20-25 acres they need for a big box development. For example, one of these companies might pay $250,000 for land that would other wise be worth $150,000 for its current use as a home.
This substantially diminishes the concept of property rights. I think this is tremendous overreaching by the Supreme Court that will no doubt lead to abuse by politicians making back room deals with wealthy developers.
George Will sums it up pretty well:
The question answered yesterday was: Can government profit by seizing the property of people of modest means and giving it to wealthy people who can pay more taxes than can be extracted from the original owners? The court answered yes.
I will post more on the decision later (I have to prepare for a conference call). In the meantime, see the following links for further coverage on the decision: Professor Bainbridge, Instapundit, Vodkapundit,

June 23, 2005

"God Wants the Spurs to Win"

From San Antonio News:

A lot of us are doing it, but is it okay.... to pray to God for a San Antonio Spurs' victory in tonight's game seven of the NBA Finals. And will God listen? The Rev. Eddie Bernal, a prominent Catholic theologian and pastor of St. Benedict's Church on the city's east side, says, go for it. "Yes, definitely," he says. "I think it'll be good for the city, I think it'll be something we need, I think a Spurs victory would be good for the country, because the Spurs are men of integrity, and a Spurs victory would send a message that the good guys can win," Father Eddie told 1200 WOAI's Charity McCurdy. Bernal says 'certainly' there are more important things going on in the world, but he says 'God loves us' whenever we pray, and he compares prayer to 'getting a call from a favorite grandson.' But he says a Spurs victory would send a message that God would approve of. "You don't have to be violent, you don't have to break rules, you don't have do all those kinds of things to win. I think God would be very happy about that."


Give me a break... I have never been a very religious person, so maybe I "just don't get it", but why in the world would God care who wins the NBA finals? Is Father Eddie saying that "God takes sides"??? Isn't part of Catholic doctrine that God loves all of his children? If God loves all of his children - even the wayward ones (evidently, Father Eddie thinks the Detroit Pistons are the wayward ones) - then, how could God prefer one over the other?
I have no problem with people praying or being religiously devout. However, I think it is a bit "over the top" to suggest that God plays favorites or that God is a factor in a sporting contest.

The Next Generation of Gaming Has Arrived!!!!

If you are interested in video games or just love gadgets, Video Game Pundit has an excellent post comparing the differences between Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's XBOX 360.

Another Way to Block Social Security Reform!!!

This is not encouraging...:
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Broke and without enough money in the bank to pay its bills after the end of the month, the Florida Democratic Party has now been slapped with a lien by the Internal Revenue Service for failing to pay payroll and Social Security taxes in 2003

Another Medicaid Success Story...Errrr Maybe Not.

This is disturbing:
SAN FRANCISCO -- California taxpayers helped pay for Viagra and other impotence drugs for at least 137 registered sex offenders in the past year, the state Attorney General's office said.An audit found that Medi-Cal the state Medicaid agency that funds some health services programs for California's poor _ spent $2.6 million to provide 5,855 men with Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs, including 137 men who were registered sex offenders, Nathan Barankin, spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer, said Wednesday.

An Interesting Idea for Social Security Reform

The Wall Street Journal discusses an interesting idea for Social Security reform:

The conventional Beltway wisdom says Social Security reform is dead, thanks to near-unanimous Democratic opposition. Well, not so fast. Republican reformers are introducing a new plan to invest Social Security surplus funds into personal accounts that has the potential to shake up the debate. Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint are calling for legislation to bring an immediate halt to the ongoing political raid on the surplus payroll taxes collected by Social Security. Congress now spends that cash on current programs--from cotton subsidies, to defense, to the Dr. Seuss Museum. Every day that Congress fails to act, another $200 million is spent rather than being saved for future retirement. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once called this "thievery," and if corporate America were engaged in this type of accounting fraud Eliot Spitzer would be hauling CEOs to jail. Instead of spending this retirement money, the reformers would allow individual workers to divert every surplus Social Security dollar--from now until the extra cash runs out in 2016--into personal retirement accounts. For the record, we endorsed this idea some months ago, so we're glad to see it gaining steam.

For the past 20 or so years, the federal government has collected $1.67 trillion more in payroll taxes (and accumulated interest) than it has paid out in retirement benefits to senior citizens. But not a penny of this money has been saved for any worker's retirement. The surplus dollars get spent by Congress, and the Social Security system is credited with an IOU from the right hand of the government, the Treasury Department.

This is the point President Bush made earlier this year when he went to West Virginia, opened up the Social Security "vault" as it were, and pulled out stacks of these government IOUs. These are essentially a debt the government owes to itself, and where the money will come from to pay these debts is anyone's guess--though if history is any guide it will be higher taxes. Wherever the money comes from, it can't be from the Social Security "trust fund" because those dollars have already been spent.

Sounds like a great idea... The money, which is being taxed for Social Security, should be used for funding Social Security or, of course, assisting people in saving for their retirement. Yet, Congress has been using these excess taxes to fund its out of control spending...

Democrat's Anti-Semitism Problem

An interesting column from Josh Tobin.

See also this column from Eric Fetterman.

June 22, 2005

Americans Support Treatment at Guantanamo Bay

Rasmussen has some interesting poll results:
June 22, 2005--A Rasmussen Reports survey found that 20% of Americans believe prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been treated unfairly. Seven-out-of-ten adults believe the prisoners are being treated "better than they deserve" (36%) or "about right" (34%).

The survey also found that just 14% agree with people who say that prisoner treatment at Guantanamo Bay is similar to Nazi tactics. Sixty-nine percent disagree with that comparison. This helps explain why Illinois Senator Dick Durbin apologized for making such a comparison.

Partisan differences concerning prisoner treatment are huge. Only 7% of Republicans believe Guantanamo prisoners are treated unfairly. Thirty percent (30%) of Democrats hold that view along with 22% of those not affiliated with either major party.

Forty-five percent (45%) of Republicans say the prisoners are treated better than they deserve. That view is shared by 28% of Democrats.
Good to know that the 24/7 non-stop negative publicity by the Democrats and the left-wing media is not working. At the end of the day, Americans understand exactly who the people are that the U.S. are holding (terrorists, murderers) at Guantanamo Bay and how well they are being treated.

The Democrats had better wisen up... do they want Americans to trust the Democratic Party with our national security or do they want to become known as the party that is more concerned with terrorist rights??? The Alleged abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay is, by no means, a good issue for the Democrats to embrace.

Martin Peretz on Bush and Bolton

Martin Peretz of The New Republic, who has always been one of my favorite writers (although our politics seem to diverge quite often), wrote an interesting article this past week. One of the topics he addressed was advancement of women and minorities in the Bush administration.


I want to say something favorable about Bush again. It is this: He seems to me to have completely transcended the biases of gender and race in his appointments. Oh, he has his prejudices: He wants his appointees to be a certain sort of conservative. But no one can deny that he has broken the glass ceiling for women and blacks and Latinos in the executive and judicial branches. This is an embarrassment for Democrats who, like their present chairman, still attribute bigotry wholesale to Republicans. Well, Bush is a Republican who isn't bigoted: He has put his foreign policy in the hands and head of a female African American. This is not without some risk. Imagine the inner challenge to Saudis and other Arabs who encounter Condoleezza Rice as the plenipotentiary of the most powerful country on earth. You get an inkling of what that might feel like from the Arab saying that "a black face begins a black day." And just look at the proliferation of minorities among generals. These aren't presidential appointees, of course. Many of these decencies are the work of the hated Donald Rumsfeld. Bill Clinton was the first black president, or so Toni Morrison ruled. He even put his post-presidential office in Harlem. But he did not appoint one African American to a truly significant office in the executive branch. Of course, Jesse Jackson did a lot of hustling around the Clinton administration, having been named "Special Envoy of the President and Secretary of State for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa." Clinton did appoint a woman to the big post of secretary of state, and Madeleine Albright did literally chase breathlessly after Yasir Arafat at Camp David, begging him to return to the conference table. Well, dignity she did not have. Let's call her excitability diligence.

One thought, however... In my mind, the most qualified candidate for a job should be the person given the job - regardless of that person's race. Race or ethnic background should be irrelevant. The fact that we have to compare the racial or ethnic make-up of two administrations is somewhat depressing to me. Notwithstanding, it is good to see that Bush has made a considerable effort to seek out qualified minority candidates for places within his administration.
Martin had some thoughts on John Bolton as well:
Which brings me to John Bolton. Whatever his would-be tormentors say, he is hardly being opposed because he's a nasty man or because he delivered a speech not vetted by the State Department or because he played rough with people lower on his totem pole or because he didn't believe some intelligence emanating from the CIA. (This last is actually a sign of his wisdom. The CIA has been peddling feeble and dangerous intelligence for decades.) Bolton's offense is to believe that American democracy has enemies; that words alone will not hinder their weapons; and that the United Nations is an alliance of those too weak-willed to stand up and fight for the good. Bolton believes in the sovereign power of democracies because they are responsive and responsible to their peoples. The United Nations cannot even pretend to embody such legitimacy. Please read on page 29 the immensely impressive essay by Thomas Nagel arguing (with some practical differences) this same principle.
I agree. I think a large amount of the opposition to Bolton is based upon political partisanship and reluctance to admit that the United Nations should be reformed.

Flag Burning Amendment

From Instapundit:

WARS, BUDGETS, CONFIRMATIONS: But there's time to pass a flag-burning amendment. Sigh.


I agree. Nice to know that Congress is keeping its eye on the ball.... (sarcasm intended)

Christopher Hitchens on the Downing Street Memo

Christopher Hitchens, who is by no means a Republican or conservative, has an excellent column at Slate.com regarding the "Downing Street Memo". In essence, he concludes that the current uproar is nothing more than a ludicrous conspiracy theory concocted by some on the left:
I am not one of those who uses the term "conspiracy theory" as an automatic sneer of dismissal. Conspiracies do occur..... But the main Downing Street document does not introduce us to any hidden or arcane or occult knowledge. As Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate last week, it explains no mystery. As protagonist Jim Dixon observes in another context in Lucky Jim, it is remarkable for "its niggling mindlessness, its funereal parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems." On a visit to Washington in the prelude to the Iraq war, some senior British officials formed the strong and correct impression that the Bush administration was bent upon an intervention. Their junior note-taker committed the literary and political solecism of saying that intelligence findings and "facts" were being "fixed" around this policy.

Well, if that doesn't prove it, I don't know what does. We apparently have an administration that can, on the word of a British clerk, "fix" not just findings but also "facts." Never mind for now that the English employ the word "fix" in a slightly different way—a better term might have been "organized."
We have been here before. In an interview with Sam Tanenhaus for Vanity Fair more than two years ago, Paul Wolfowitz allowed that, though there were many reasons to seek the removal of Saddam Hussein, the legal minimum basis for it was to be sought, inside the U.S. government bureaucracy and at the United Nations, in the unenforced resolutions concerning WMD. At the time, this mild observation was also hailed as a full confession of perfidy. I am now forced to wonder: Who is there who does not know that the Bush administration decided after September 2001 to change the balance of power in the region and to enforce the Iraq Liberation Act, passed unanimouslyby the Senate in 1998, which made it overt American policy to change the government of Iraq? This was a fairly open conspiracy, and an open secret. Given that everyone from Hans Blix to Jacques Chirac believed that Saddam was hiding weapons from inspectors, it made legal sense to advance this case under the banner of international law and to treat Saddam "as if" (and how else?) his strategy of concealment and deception were prima facie proof.
Hitchens has a point. Within months after 9/11, Bush declared in his State of the Union speech that he considered Iraq to be a member of the "Axis of Evil" and that the U.S. would continue to confront Iraq and support regime change. If this was some sort of "conspiracy", then someone forgot to tell the Bush administration.

Social Security Gridlock - Where are the Democrats

The Washington Post has a good editorial today on Social Security. While I don't agree, in large part, with some of their characterizations of Bush's tax cuts and private accounts, they make an excellent point - the Democrats need to stop the obstructionism on Social Security Reform:


THE DEMOCRATS are positively giddy over their success in foiling President Bush's Social Security plan. As a political matter, perhaps they have reason to cheer: Polls show Americans dubious about his proposed changes, and the president appears suddenly open to solutions that do not include his signature personal accounts. Yesterday he blessed a plan by Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah) to introduce a Social Security bill that tackles solvency and does not offer personal accounts. (He'll do that in a separate measure.) But after the confetti settles, Democrats need to ask themselves: Now what? Having beaten back private accounts, as it appears they have, is it enough to keep sticking their fingers in their ears while saying "no"?

Certainly Republicans, with their reckless tax cuts and blithe dismissal of deficits, cannot claim the high ground of responsibility. But Democrats have yet to lay any claim to it either, given their resolute negativity on Social Security reform. The only Democratic proposal on the table, from Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida, is a lopsided measure that would address Social Security solvency solely by raising taxes. Responsible proposals from Democratic economists that would blend benefit cuts and tax increases have gotten nowhere with Democratic lawmakers.

*******

Failing to act now will make the problem harder to fix down the road; cuts or tax increases will have to be steeper the longer the problem goes unaddressed. Yes, Medicare is a bigger, thornier problem, but that's a reason to get Social Security done, not to ignore the issue and let it fester.

Democratic lawmakers keep insisting that they take the Social Security problem seriously and want to deal with it. This seems a good time to start.

I pay an extraordinary amount of money in Social Security taxes every year. Yet, you can bet that I will never see a dime out of Social Security when I retire 25-30 years from now.
The Social Security system is not solvent. An aging population, increasing longetivity and increased costs are certainly contributing factors, however, make no mistake - Social Security has been put in jeopardy by politicians of both parties - Republican and Democrat. For years, the U.S. government has collected Social Security taxes. Were these funds ever set aside solely to fund Social Security? No. Rather, the U.S. government has always used it as a slush fund or "petty cash" to cover the costs of Congress' out of control spending. No reserves were set up. There is no "Lockbox". The attitude in Washington has always been - we received $X in taxes this year, so let's enact $X in programs.
Social Security was set up in order to protect those people, who had not been able to save for their retirement. It would seem entirely consistent with this purpose to allow people to invest some of the money currently being paid in Social Security taxes in relatively lower risk investments (I am talking T-Bills, etc.) to save for their retirement and actually receive some return on their investment (after all, Social Security doesn't pay interest).
While Bush's plan may not be best plan, at least it is a proposal. The Democrats need to present an original idea into the discussion. Raising taxes on people that already pay 25-40% of their income in taxes is not the solution. If anything, we can be sure that Washington would only find new uses for the "increased" tax revenue. Democrats should reign in the partisanship and work with Bush to get something done.

Slate's Straw Poll on Howard Dean

Check this out...

Marital Revenge

A British wife's revenge:

Tim Shaw has suffered for his art. During his career as a DJ he has forced pepper into his eyes, given his private parts an electric shock and bobbed for apples in his co-presenter's urine. All of it live on air. But when he started making jokes that he was considering leaving his wife and two children after interviewing the model Jodie Marsh, he went too far. Listening at home to his show on Kerrang 105.2, Hayley Shaw was outraged at her husband's flirting with the model and decided to hit him where it hurt by putting his £25,000 Lotus Esprit Turbo up for sale on eBay. In one of the great acts of marital revenge she offered the black sports car for a price of 50p. "I need to get rid of this car immediately - ideally in the next 3-4 hours before my cheating arsehole husband gets home to find it gone and all his belongings in the street," read the posting on the internet auction site. Unsurprisingly it did not hang around and the buyer, contacted by a local newspaper, asked to remain anonymous. Kerrang 105.2, which is based in Birmingham, said yesterday that Mr Shaw was taking a few days off from his late-night show, Asylum, to talk things over with his wife. Mrs Shaw was still smarting from a stunt in July last year when her husband told listeners that he fantasised about his wife's sister while he was having sex. When Mrs Shaw, then heavily pregnant, rang up tearfully to berate him, he broadcast their conversation.

Durbin Apologizes - FINALLY

Well, about time... From CNN:


Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said he "never intended any disrespect" to U.S. troops with his June 14 comments, for which the minority whip has endured a week of criticism from Republicans and some Democrats. "In the end, I don't want anything in my public career to detract from my love for this country, my respect for those who serve it, and this great Senate," Durbin said in an emotional statement on the Senate floor. "I offer my apologies to those that were offended by my words."

******

But Durbin said Tuesday he had erred by invoking the specter of the Holocaust, which he called "the greatest moral tragedy of our time." "Nothing should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy," Durbin said. "I'm also sorry if anything I said, in any way, cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military."

The apology is, by no means, perfect. It starts off sounding as if he is only sorry that his words were misconstrued or that other people were offended by his statements. However, this, I guess, is progress.

The Dallas Morning News, however, is not impressed:

Hey, we're sorry, too. We're sorry that anything else Mr. Durbin might say about allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay simply cannot be believed, thanks to his way-over-the-top screed. We're sorry that in his haste to score political points against the Bush administration, he chose to squander his credibility by linking U.S. troops to despots who killed millions of innocent people. We're sorry that at this key moment in the war on terror, when democracy demands a full and open debate on all U.S. policies and tactics, he so devalued his own voice and potential contributions. We're sorry that Mr. Durbin woke up this morning still the Senate's assistant minority leader – the second-ranked Democrat – and that it apparently hasn't occurred to fellow Democrats that he should step down from the leadership.

June 21, 2005

Batman Begins - Reviews

June 20, 2005

FBI Official - Durbin Fabricated Description of the Gitmo Memo

It appears that Durbin's statement about an alleged FBI memo was almost a complete fabrication:

One knowledgeable official familiar with the memo cited by Durbin as well as other memos said the FBI agent made no such allegation and that the memo described only someone chained to the floor. Anything beyond that is simply an interpretation, the official said.

Evidently, the part about the severe heat/cold, Christine Aguilera and the prisoner defecating on himself were made up... So he slanders U.S. military men by comparing them to Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin based upon circumstances that never occured. What a jerk.

Clinton on Guantanamo Bay

From CNN - Ex-President Bill Clinton wants Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay to be "closed down or cleaned up":

"Well, it either needs to be closed down or cleaned up," Clinton said when asked whether the camp on Cuba should close. "It's time that there are no more stories coming out of there about people being abused."

My first question to Bill Clinton: If you close down Camp X-Ray, where are the detainees going to be released? Are you just going to send these people - terrorists that have killed or attempted to kill American soldiers and civillians - back home? Many of those we have already released have gone right back to fight our soldiers and plan further terrorist attacks. Is world opinion so important to you that you would risk our national security to score points with Al-Jazeera?
Finally, are you so willing to believe any stories of "abuses" from detainees that you will ignore the investigations of our own armed forces?
Al Quaida was ignored and September 11th was planned during Clinton's tenure. No offense, but his advice on the subject is not exactly too meaningful to me (and I voted for him twice).

The Democrats and Anti-Semitism

Last week in one of my blog entries, I posted a link to a Washington Post story about the Democrat's mock impeachment proceedings. During that proceeding, anti-semitic remarks were made by a "witness" to the proceedings. At the time, no Democrats challenged the "witness", but instead thanked him for providing such insight. At the DNC headquarters, anti-Israel groups passed out anti-Semitic/anti-Israel pamphlets. A disturbing article from the American Thinker:
Jews voted almost 3 to 1 for John Kerry over George Bush in the 2004 election. With Bush having achieved a notable record of support for Israel in his first term, the explanation for this voting pattern would seem to be that Israel mattered less to liberal Jewish voters than abortion rights, the environment, social justice, gay marriage, etc. That is fine, so long as the Democratic Party and its candidates were at least supportive of Israel, and critical of anti-Semitism. But when the Democratic Party sponsors what amounts to a festival full of anti-Semitic hysteria and Israel bashing at its own headquarters, and invites anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists in to address members of their Congressional delegation, then I think that the line of basic support for Israel has been crossed. Arguably, when former President Jimmy Carter invited filmmaker and Israel hater Michael Moore to share his Presidential box at the 2004 Democratic convention, the line had already been crossed. Or maybe it was crossed when the entire Democratic establishment treated Jew-baiter Al Sharpton as a serious Presidential candidate and respected member of the Party in 2004.
Now, there can be little doubt. Democrats, who still have their heads screwed on straight, and retain some sense of decency, like Joe Lieberman, and Steny Hoyer, need to take a long look in the mirror at the unraveling of their Party, and begin to do something about it. Whoever was responsible for allowing the Jew hating conspiracy theorists in the DNC offices to distribute their garbage should be fired. John Conyers should be asked to explain why a known anti-Semite like McGovern was invited to the panel's discussions. Why did no member of Congress attending the Conyers hearing challenge McGovern when he went off on his loopy theories? Not only Barney Frank owes an explanation and an apology to the public for such passivity in the face of evil.

The Israel haters, and anti-Semites believe they have found a comfortable home in the Democratic Party. If American Jews continue to vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats, then they will be casting their votes for a Party which is becoming indifferent to Israel bashing and anti-Semitism, and in the case of Conyers inviting McGovern to speak, even promoting these toxic views. Just a few weeks back, Howard Dean blathered that Republicans were the white Christian party. The events in Washington Thursday suggest that in reality it is Howard Dean's own Democratic Party which is no longer interested in welcoming America's Jews.

Tom Cruise - An Evangelist for Scientology?

From MSNBC - Interesting speculation that Scarlett Johansson backed out of Mission Impossible 3 because Tom Cruise was a bit too pushy in forcing his religious views upon her...

Did Tom Cruise try to recruit Scarlett Johansson to Scientology? The “Lost in Translation” star was expected to co-star with Cruise in “Mission: Impossible III” but was dropped because of “scheduling conflicts.” But it seems that there may have been other conflicts as well. Cruise invited Johansson to a Scientology center where he showed her literature about joining his controversial church, according to a report. “After two hours of proselytizing,” according to RadarMagazine.com, “Cruise opened a door to reveal a second room full of upper-level Scientologists who had been waiting to dine with the pair, at which point the cool-headed ingénue politely excused herself.”
This is disgusting in my opinion. If Tom believes in Scientology, that is great. If he wants to introduce his girlfriends to Scientology and the girlfriends are willing to learn, that is fine. However, if he is now trying to force his beliefs on his co-workers, that is just plain wrong.

William Kristol Comments on Durbin's Non-Apology

William Kristol of the Weekly Standard:


CONSERVATIVES (and, one trusts, many liberals) have been appalled by Sen. Durbin's comparison last Tuesday, on the Senate floor, between "what Americans had done to prisoners in their control" at Guantanamo and what was done by Nazis, Soviets, and Pol Pot. Conservatives (and, one trusts, many liberals) have also been appalled by Sen. Durbin's non-apology last Friday: "I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood." In other words, Sen. Durbin apparently still believes there could be a proper use and understanding of an "historical parallel" between American soldiers and Nazis.

Mark Steyn Takes On Senator Durbin

More from Mark Steyn on Senator Durbin's remarks:

Just for the record, some 15 million to 30 million Soviets died in the gulag; some 6 million Jews died in the Nazi camps; some 2 million Cambodians — one third of the population — died in the killing fields. Nobody's died in Gitmo, not even from having Christina Aguilera played to them excessively loudly. The comparison is deranged, and deeply insulting not just to the U.S. military but to the millions of relatives of those dead Russians, Jews and Cambodians, who, unlike Durbin, know what real atrocities are. Had Durbin said, "Why, these atrocities are so terrible you would almost believe it was an account of the activities of my distinguished colleague Robert C. Byrd's fellow Klansmen," that would have been a little closer to the ballpark but still way out. One measure of a civilized society is that words mean something: "Soviet" and "Nazi" and "Pol Pot" cannot equate to Guantanamo unless you've become utterly unmoored from reality. Spot the odd one out: 1) mass starvation; 2) gas chambers; 3) mountains of skulls; 4) lousy infidel pop music turned up to full volume. One of these is not the same as the others, and Durbin doesn't have the excuse that he's some airhead celeb or an Ivy League professor. He's the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Don't they have an insanity clause?

****

This isn't a Republican vs Democrat thing; it's about senior Democrats who are so over-invested in their hatred of a passing administration that they've signed on to the nuttiest slurs of the lunatic fringe. It would be heartening to think that Durbin will himself now be subjected to some serious torture. Not real torture, of course; I don't mean using Pol Pot techniques and playing the Celine Dion Christmas album really loud to him. But he should at least be made a little uncomfortable over what he's done — in a time of war, make an inflammatory libel against his country's military that has no value whatsoever except to America's enemies. Shame on him, and shame on those fellow senators and Democrats who by their refusal to condemn him endorse his slander.



Check out the article in its entirety.

Jon Stewart and the "Hitler" Card

This is hilarious. Jon Stewart's take on the growing trend to equate one's political opponents as "Hitler" or a "Nazi".

Politicians from both Republican and Democratic circles have employed this rather disgusting metaphor/analogy to further their respective arguments. It must end.

Mark Steyn - The Democrats a/k/a the Terrorist Rights Party

From Mark Steyn:


Judging from the way he’s dug himself in, Dick Durbin, the Number Two Democrat in the US Senate, genuinely believes Gitmo is analogous to Belsen, the gulags and the killing fields. But he crossed a line, from anti-Bush to anti-American, and most Americans have no interest in following him down that path.You can’t claim (as Democrats do, incessantly) to “support our troops” and then dump them in the same category as the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge. In the hermetically sealed echo chamber between the Dem leadership, the mainstream US media, Hollywood, Ivy League “intellectuals” and European sophisticates, the gulag cracks are utterly unexceptional. But, for a political party that keeps losing elections because it has less and less appeal outside a few coastal enclaves, Durbin’s remarks are devastating. The Democrats flopped in 2002 and 2004 because they were seen as incoherent on national security issues. Explicitly branding themselves as the “terrorists’ rights” party is unlikely to improve their chances for 2006.
The entire article is a "must read". I chose this excerpt because Mark Steyn has made a really good point - how exactly does the Gitmo controversy help the Democrats? While it, at first blush, would appear to be a "scandal" for George W. Bush, it really is not. Most Americans, if asked, would prefer that the "torture" (sorry to use scare quotes, but really, as bad as the music is, forcing someone to listen to Christina Aguilera is nothing close to the rack, the thumbscrew, savage beatings, etc.) be much more severe in order to extract any information that will help the war or prevent another 9/11. The average American feels little sympathy for people who came to Guantanamo Bay because they were actively engaged in trying to kill U.S. troops or civillians. We can argue from here to eternity about whether or not Americans should care, however, it does not change the fact that the Democrats must appeal to Americans - not world opinion - for votes every November.
Even if Guantanamo Bay is a "scandal" or "stain" on the Bush presidency, how does that help the Democrats in the future? Bush will not be running for re-election. Vice President Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld will not be running for President. In fact, the most likely Republican nominee for President in 2008 will be someone outside of the administration .
The Democrats should not try to score political points at the expense of our armed forces or America's image in the world. By comparing Guantanamo Bay to Nazi Germany, the Soviet Gulags or the Cambodian Killing Fields, the Democrats, in essence, demonstrate they lack any historical perspective, slander the American soldiers that run Guantanamo Bay, hand enemies of the United States more ammunition to spread anti-Americanism and further demonstrate that they are not, at all, serious about the war against terrorism.

June 18, 2005

Lileks on Durbin and the Democrat's Gitmo obsession

From James Lileks:


As the Durban flap demonstrates: It just never ends. And it won’t. There’s too much political hay to be made undercutting the war, and the consequences be damned. If they want to defeat the war to defeat Bush, well, noted. If they truly believe that the United States is in the same group as the Nazis, the Soviets and Pol Pot, then they’ve shown they have no perspective, no judgment, no sense of nuance, shall we say. And the idea that such comparisons might be picked up in the Middle East and broadcast with glee is irrelevant; they’re parochial to a fault, and care little for anything beyond their reputation and power in Washington.

*****

In any case, I don’t expect what I say here will change minds; if chaining terrorists to the floor and messing with the thermostat is the Gulag, the new Auschwitz, then your head is protected by a thick cap of beliefs that can only be penetrated by, oh, a nail expelled by a suicide bomber’s dynamite belt.

From Kausfiles

This is too funny:

Kf''s editor and the WSJ's James Taranto were on Kudlow this afternoon--transcript here. I came unhinged and called Sen. Durbin an "idiot" for his violation of the Hitler Rule, which holds that a politician must never, ever, compare anything or anyone to Hitler or the Nazis, no matter how apt the comparison. Durbin's comparison was not apt, however. ... Mainly I was worried I'd call him Sen. Durkin.

House Democrats Hold A Mock Impeachment of President Bush

From the Washington Post: The House Democrats hold a "mock impeachment" of President Bush. Anti-semitism and other hilarity ensue:

In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe. They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman." He liked that so much that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other chairmanly phrases, such as "unanimous consent" and "without objection so ordered." The dress-up game looked realistic enough on C-SPAN, so two dozen more Democrats came downstairs to play along. The session was a mock impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war. As luck would have it, all four of the witnesses agreed that President Bush lied to the nation and was guilty of high crimes -- and that a British memo on "fixed" intelligence that surfaced last month was the smoking gun equivalent to the Watergate tapes. Conyers was having so much fun that he ignored aides' entreaties to end the session.

*****

The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration “neocons” so “the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world.” He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation,” McGovern said. “The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic.” Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq’s threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his “candid answer.” At Democratic headquarters, where an overflow crowd watched the hearing on television, activists handed out documents repeating two accusations — that an Israeli company had warning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that there was an “insider trading scam” on 9/11 — that previously has been used to suggest Israel was behind the attacks.

Yeah, this sort of thing really shows that the Democrats have jumped off the deep end. The Democrats have a serious image problem with a large portion of the American public. This will not help. Honestly, it does nothing to establish the Democrat's credibility as serious lawmakers that are focused on the nation's business. Rather, it shows that they are petty, childish and obsessed with lame conspiracy theories.
As a Jew, I am offended that the Democrats keep affiliating themselves with these "activists" with an anti-Israel/anti-semitic agenda. The funny thing is that Jews, by large part, vote Democrat. Yet, clearly, the Democrats have no problem with such remarks or don't have the courage to stand up to these idiots. It would be nice to see the Democrats repudiate or, at the very least, challenge these outlandish anti-semitic conspiracy theories. I will likely be waiting for a very, very long time.
More from James Taranto.

June 17, 2005

Durbin Rebuked on Senate Floor

Senator Durbin is rebuked on the Senate Floor:
The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman yesterday accused Sen. Richard J. Durbin of insulting American soldiers with a "grievous error in judgment" by comparing U.S. treatment of al Qaeda suspects to the crimes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, and demanded that the Senate's No. 2 Democrat apologize. The rebuke followed a similar rebuke by the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who called Mr. Durbin "totally out of line." Republican lawmakers lined up to condemn the remarks as making the war on terror more dangerous for American troops.
Where is the Democrat's outrage? Why were only Republican senators lining up to condemn these remarks? Aren't there any Democrats who have the common decency to acknowledge that Durbin crossed the line? Aren't there any Democrats who will support our troops - you know, the ones that Durbin has accused of hideous war crimes similar to those of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. Politics aside...what is wrong is wrong. I realize that the Democrats think that the alleged "abuses" at Guantanamo Bay may be a way to scandalize President Bush, but if the Democrats had any intelligence, they would be getting in line to criticize Durbin. In November, do they want the American people to associate the Democrats with someone who openly slanders American soldiers? Do the Democrats want to be seen as serious about our national security or terrorist sympathizers concerned more about the well being of captured terrorists than our own citizens and troops?

Mr. Durbin quickly appeared on the Senate floor but offered no apology. He read that part of his speech again. He said he had read earlier from an FBI's agent letter on harsh treatment of suspected terrorists and had compared such treatment to what would be found under the Soviet gulag, Nazis and Pol Pot. "To suggest I'm criticizing American servicemen, I am not," Mr. Durbin said. "I don't know who was responsible for this. But the FBI agent made this report ... I was attributing this form of interrogation to repressive regimes. "Now sadly we have a situation here where some in the right wing media have said that I've been insulting men and women in uniform. Nothing could be further from the truth. I respect men and women in the uniform."

How in the world could he have not been insulting the men and women in uniform? Who exactly did he think were guarding the captured terrorists? Let's see... Camp X-Ray is within a United States military installation in Guantanamo Bay. Camp X-Ray is run by the military. The guards are average soldiers. How stupid does Durbin think the American public is?

If you attribute a form of interrogation, which is practiced by American troops, with the tactics employed by such murderous regimes as Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler, then it would seem to me that you are, in effect, saying that our troops are either war criminals or, at the very least, no better than those soldiers that interrogated prisoners during the reign of terror by Stalin, Pol Pot or Hitler.
Of course, after the denial that he did anything wrong, Durbin then attributes the ensuing uproar to .... yep, that's right, the "right wing media". Listen up Durbin: The "right wing media" did not compare our soldiers to infamous war criminals. While the right wing media may be talking about this 24/7, it does not mean that they should not be... what you said was wrong and unworthy of a member of the United States Senate.
My thought - Durbin needs to act like a man and apologize.

June 16, 2005

ADL to Durbin - APOLOGIZE NOW

The Anti-Defamation League has called on Senator Durbin (D) to apologize for his comparison of American Soldiers to Nazis:
New York, NY, June 16, 2005 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) to repudiate his remarks and apologize to the American people for distorting an important issue, with an inappropriate comparison to Nazi tactics. In a speech on the Senate floor on June 14th on the situation at Guantanamo Bay he likened American treatment of prisoners to what "must have been done by Nazis... that had no concern for human beings."

Following is the text of the letter:

Dear Senator Durbin:

We write to object to your reference to Nazis in the context of the debate on detainees at Guantanamo Bay on the Senate floor earlier this week.

Whatever your views on the treatment of detainees and alleged excesses at the Guantanamo Bay facility, it is inappropriate and insensitive to suggest that actions by American troops in any way resemble actions taken by Nazis in their treatment of prisoners. Suggesting some kind of equivalence between their interrogation tactics demonstrates a profound lack of understanding about the horrors that Hitler and his regime actually perpetrated.

We urge you to repudiate your remarks and apologize to the American people for distorting an important issue with an inappropriate comparison to Nazi tactics. However heated the debate over issues of the day, we would urge you to refrain from using Holocaust imagery in the future.
I second that.

Senator Dick Durbin (D) Compares U.S. Soldiers to Nazis

The following are Senator Dick Durbin's remarks on the Senate floor.

On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. ..... On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

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

The Nazis brutually murdered more than 12 million people- 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children (more than 2/3 of European Jewry) and 6 million others at death camps and mobile killing units. The Nazis practiced bizarre medical experiments on its prisoners (most often leading to the prisoner's death). Pol Pot was responsible for the murder of millions in Asia. Millions of people were murdered or starved to death in the Soviet Gulags.

The Nazis, Pol Pot's Cambodia, and the Soviet Union did not shy away from intense physical torture. Listening to Christina Aguilera music is, by no means, the same as the savage beatings administered by this triumvirate from hell, the murder of loved ones in front of their families, etc.

Not one prisoner has been killed by U.S. troops at Guantanamo Bay. The detainees are given decent food and drink. The detainees are given copies of the Quran and allowed to practice their religious faith.

The "torture" described by Senator Durbin is being administered to obtain information about Al Quaida -you remember who they are Senator? On 9/11/01, they killed over 3,000 of our fellow Americans - innocent civillians (husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who will never see their loved ones again). These people that you sympathize with want to kill all Americans and given the opportunity would gladly recreate 9/11 or worse. It is not like they will gladly tell you the location of Osama Bin Laden's terrorist cell groups voluntarily... if they have to be made "uncomfortable", so be it.

If it means that my family, my friends and my fellow citizens can avoid another 9/11, then I have no problem with the faulty HVAC system at Guantanamo Bay or heaven forbid, the use of loud music. Where is your perspective??? What Senator Durbin said is outright slander of the good people that serve to protect our country. Whose side are you on Senator??
I found this hilarious, yet seemingly accurate new Democratic Motto from Right Wing News:


Mort Kondracke Explores "Deanism"

A great column from Mort Kondracke:

Polls indicate that the public is dissatisfied with the performance of both the Republican-led Congress and President Bush. But the ability of Democrats to capitalize on it is being hampered by rampant Deanism. "Deanism," the trademark behavior of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, is the tendency to attract publicity for name-calling attacks on Republicans while offering almost no positive alternatives for governing.

Dean has been chided by various Democrats for over-the-top statements — that he "hates" Republicans, that they're "evil," that many of them don't work for a living, and that they're "the white Christian party" — but Deanish critiques are common among Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has called Bush a "liar" and a "loser." He apologized for saying "loser," but not for "liar." Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who's shrewdly extended her appeal rightward from the party's liberal base, recently lapsed back into Deanland, charging that "there never has been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda." More than the Nixon administration, whose abuses — burglary, wiretaps and attempted subornation of the FBI — have just been revisited with the unmasking of "Deep Throat"? Sen. Clinton knows better: She once worked for the House Judiciary Committee as it considered Nixon's impeachment. During debate on Bush's judicial nominees, various Democrats accused him of pursuing "absolute power" and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., attacked nominee Janice Rogers Brown by asking "does she want, a theocracy? What does (Brown) want to be nominated for? Dictator? Or grand exalted ruler?"
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Dean claims to be trying to extend the Democratic Party's appeal to red states, but he can't possibly do so by declaring Republicans "evil" and saying that they don't work for a living.
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All this evidence suggests that what the public wants from Washington is action on the issues that concern it most — the economy, gasoline prices and Iraq. Bush has policies and proposals for dealing with the problems, even if the public doesn't necessarily like them. To the extent that Democrats do have alternatives, no one knows about them because they spend so much time going negative, and, going over the top. If there's one thing that turns off independents and moderates, it's negative name-calling. It may work in the thick of a campaign, but Deanism is a turnoff for party-building.
My thoughts exactly

June 15, 2005

The Truth Hurts

From the Washington Times:

President Bush last night ripped the Democratic Party as do-nothing obstructionists bent on derailing his reform agenda, saying that on issue after issue, Democratic leaders in Congress 'stand for nothing except obstruction, and this is not leadership.' At an evening congressional gala at the Washington Convention Center -- which drew $23 million for House and Senate Republican candidates and amounted to the kickoff of the 2006 political campaign season -- the president drew standing ovations from Republican faithful as he hammered Democrats for offering no solutions to the nation's most pressing problems. 'If leaders of the other party have innovative ideas, let's hear them. But if they have no ideas or policies except obstruction, they should step aside and let others lead,' Mr. Bush said to thunderous applause from more than 5,000 supporters. The president, who has spent the past several months seeking consensus on his Social Security reform package and reaching out to Democrats with nonconfrontational rhetoric, said opposition party leaders are pursuing 'the philosophy of the stop sign, the agenda of the roadblock, and our country and our children deserve better.' 'Political parties that choose the path of obstruction will not gain the trust of the American people,' he said at the event dubbed 'the 2005 President's Dinner.' Mr. Bush said political parties can take one of two approaches: 'One approach is to lead, to focus on the people's business, to take on the tough problems, and that is exactly what our party is doing. 'The other approach is to simply do nothing, to delay solutions, obstruct progress, refuse to take responsibility. Members of the other party have worked with us to achieve important reforms on some issues, yet too often, their leadership prefers to block the ideas of others.'

Democrats have filibustered John R. Bolton, Mr. Bush's nominee to become ambassador to the United Nations; blocked his judicial nominees, some for as long as four years; and demanded that he withdraw his idea to create personal Social Security retirement accounts before they will offer their own plan or negotiate in earnest over Republican proposals. Congressional leaders such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada have also blocked the president's energy bill, his medical-liability reform legislation and his plan to extend his tax-relief plan beyond its 2010 expiration date. 'We hear 'no' to making tax relief permanent, we hear 'no' to Social Security reform, we hear 'no' to confirming federal judges, we hear 'no' to a highly qualified U.N. ambassador, we hear 'no' to medical-liability reform. On issue after issue, they stand for nothing except obstruction, and this is not leadership,' he said to resounding applause.


Bush does have a point. If you don't like his policies, then offer another solution to the problem. You don't like private accounts? Fine. Then, tell us how you propose making social security solvent.

The Democrats are allowing the Republicans to dictate the agenda and define the parameters of discussion. Since when did the Democratic Party become the party of the status quo?

Political Discourse Sinks To A New Low

Arnold Schwarzenegger faced a protest during a commencement speech he was giving in Santa Monica (CNN):
SANTA MONICA, California (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to his alma mater turned into an exercise in perseverance when virtually his every word was accompanied by catcalls, howls and piercing whistles from the crowd.
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Inside the stadium, the drone from hundreds of rowdy protesters threatened to drown out the governor's voice at times. Many in the crowd erupted in boos when a police officer pulled down a banner criticizing the estimated $45 million cost of the November 8 special election that Schwarzenegger proposed Monday. The governor is backing three ballot initiatives that call for imposing a cap on state spending, stripping lawmakers of the power to draw their own districts and increasing the time it takes teachers to gain tenure. At times during Schwarzenegger's speech, cheers and boos mingled, and the graduates themselves appeared eager to hear the governor. Many applauded at one point when the noise from the bleachers briefly subsided.
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Schwarzenegger has been feuding for months with groups he calls "special interests" -- teachers, nurses and other public employee unions who accuse him of selling out to big business while shortchanging education, health care and other programs. Those groups have hounded Schwarzenegger at his public appearances. The special election "is a waste of money that you could be using for education, hospital care. He's wasting it on his vanity election," said Sue Cannon, a nurse who was among the crowd outside the stadium.
So, this is what politics in America have come to.... shouting down a commencement speaker at a college graduation. No offense, but commencement should be about the students and not the governor's policies. The governor was not there talking about his plan to revitalize the California economy or deal with the budget crisis. He was talking about his life experiences and his alma mater. So, why start booing him?? The protesters showed absolutely no class and obviously gave little, if any, consideration to the students or their families. See the picture below. The idiot holding up the sign is a college professor...
Is the Governor "selling out to big business". No. The reality is that over the past few years many businesses have been leaving California and the trend is expected to only get worse. Why are they leaving California? Quite frankly, it is because it is too expensive to do business there. Businesses in California face heavy taxes. But, it gets worse. Businesses are subject to stricter workplace regulations and mandatory benefit requirements that dramatically increase the cost of doing business.
Newsflash to the protesters: if the businesses leave, then workers lose jobs and the government loses a substantial amount of its tax base. If workers do not have jobs, then they have absolutely no wages or benefits. If unemployment increases, there is less money for the government to spend on the social welfare policies you fancy.
Is the special election a waste of money or a "vanity election"? No. California is facing a severe budgetary crisis and businesses are fleeing the state as if it were the Titanic. Budget cuts must be made, but unfortunately, the California legislature has its collective head up its ass and is fighting the Governor every step of the way. In order to get his proposals passed and avoid the legislative futility, the Governor is taking the matter to the people.

Christopher Hitchens on Guantanamo Bay

Christopher Hitchens has another excellent article on Slate.com. The following excerpts detail his thoughts on whether the U.S. should even worry about following the Geneva Convention in dealing with al-Qaida.


The forces of al-Qaida and its surrogate organizations are not signatory to the conventions and naturally express contempt for them. They have no battle order or uniform and are represented by no authority with which terms can be negotiated. Nor can they claim, as actual guerrilla movements like the Algerian FLN have done in the past, to be the future representatives of their countries or peoples. In Afghanistan and Iraq, they sought to destroy the electoral process that alone can confer true legitimacy, and they are in many, if not most, cases not even citizens of the countries concerned. Their announced aim is the destruction of all nonbelievers, and their avowed method is indiscriminate and random murder. They are more like pirates, hijackers, or torturers - three categories of people who have in the past been declared outside the protection of any law.

The administration therefore deserves at least some sympathy in its confrontation with an enemy of a new type. I should very much like to know how a Gore administration would have dealt with the hundreds of foreign sadists taken in arms in Afghanistan. I should also like to know how other Western governments, which are privately relieved that the United States assumed responsibility for the last wave, expect to handle the next wave of fundamentalist violence in their own societies. No word on this as yet.

An axiom of the law states that justice is more offended by one innocent person punished than by any number of guilty persons unapprehended. I say frankly that I am not certain of the applicability of this in the present case. Mullah Omar's convoy in Afghanistan was allowed to escape because there was insufficient certainty to justify bombing it. Several detainees released from Guantanamo have reappeared in the Taliban ranks, once again burning and killing and sabotaging. The man whose story of rough interrogation has just been published in Time had planned to board a United Airlines flight and crash it into a skyscraper. I want to know who his friends and contacts were, and so do you, hypocrite lecteur.

Christopher Hitchens then takes Amnesty International to task for comparing Guantanamo to a "gulag":

And now look. I think it is fairly safe to say that not one detainee in Guantanamo is there because of an expression of opinion. (And those whose "opinion" is that all infidels must die are not exactly prisoners of conscience.) Morally neutral on this point, apparently, Amnesty nonetheless finds its voice by describing the prison itself as "the gulag of our times." No need to waste words here: Not everyone in the gulag was a "prisoner of conscience," either. But if an organization that ostensibly protects the rights of prisoners is unaware of the nature of a colossal system of forced labor and arbitrary detention replete with physical torture, starvation, and brutal execution then the moral compass has become disordered beyond repair. This is not even neutrality between the fireman and the fire. It surely expresses a covert sympathy with the aims and objectives of jihad and an overt, if witless and sinister, hatred of the United States. If only this were the only symptom of that tendency.