The Washington Post has an illuminating comment from Democratic House Whip, James Clyburn. Clyburn was saying that, if General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker present a positive report in September that it would divide the Democrats and make it harder for the House Democrats to remain united in trying to legislate an end to the war in Iraq.
Many Democrats have anticipated that, at best, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would present a mixed analysis of the success of the current troop surge strategy, given continued violence in Baghdad. But of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be “a real big problem for us.”
Imagine that. A United States congressman is willing to go on the record saying that, if there is positive news from our armed forces in Iraq that it would be “a real big problem” for the Democrats.
I think he just revealed more than he perhaps wanted to. Draw your own conclusions about why good news from Iraq is bad news for the Democrats.
Snarksmith writes about the dean of American anti-Americans, Noam Chomsky.
It’s become obvious that if the term “anti-American” has any legitimate political definition, it is embodied by the style and substance of Chomsky. His latest essay in Monthly Review is a fair example. Using harsh truths about U.S. foreign policy, his conclusion is that every media-anointed rogue state and enemy of not just our own national interests but of human rights, pluralism and transparency are actually the defiant victims of the One True Hegemon. Some paragraphs do more work than the MIT linguist intended, such as this one:
Saddam may have been despised almost everywhere, but it was only in the United States that a majority of the population were terrified of what he might do to them, tomorrow.
I should think that most Iraqis were similarly terrified, if not more so. Though their opinion only counts when it can it be ranged against the avowed policy of the United States:
It is an astonishing fact that the United States and Britain have had more trouble running Iraq than the Nazis had in occupied Europe, or the Russians in their East European satellites, where the countries were run by local civilians and security forces, with the iron fist poised if anything went wrong but usually in the background. In contrast, the United States has been unable to establish an obedient client regime in Iraq, under far easier conditions.
One admires the use of the word “usually,” which would surely come as a surprise to occupants of the Warsaw Ghetto, Estonians in 1940, and then again in 1941, the Polish dissidents who met their end in Katyn Forest in 1940, Berliners in 1945, Hungarians in 1956, Czechs in 1968, etc. But wait — there’s more in the same vein:
The second responsibility [of an invader] is to obey the will of the population. British and U.S. polls provide sufficient evidence about that. The most recent polls find that 87 percent of Iraqis want a “concrete timeline for US withdrawal,” up from 76 percent in 2005.4 If the reports really mean Iraqis, as they say, that would imply that virtually the entire population of Arab Iraq, where the U.S. and British armies are deployed, wants a firm timetable for withdrawal. I doubt that one would have found comparable figures in occupied Europe under the Nazis, or Eastern Europe under Russian rule.
Thus, sufficient evidence is offered about conditions in present-day Iraq but we are left to educated doubts of Chomsky to determine the sentiments of occupied populations toward fascism and Stalinism. Also, those same polls to which Chomsky alludes are characteristically asked in such a way that the crucial question preceding the pull-out one is this: “Do you think withdrawal of U.S. troops would enhance or diminish Iraqi security?,” the implication being that an American footprint in the country greater provokes the true enemies of civil society: namely, Al Qaeda, sectarian death squads, Baathist revanchists, double-dealing police officers, etc. In what congruent way would, say, occupied France have similarly wished for the withdrawal of the S.S. in 1940? Because the Nazis were, despite their best efforts, doing little to hold the democratic structure of France together, or because they were by design doing everything possible to tear it apart?
If Gen. David Petraeus can’t stabilize Iraq by autumn — or if Americans decide to pull out of Iraq before he gets a fair chance — expect far worse chaos eventually to follow. We will see ethnic cleansing, mass murder of Iraqi reformers, Kurdistan threatened, emerging Turkish-, Iranian-, and Wahhabi-controlled rump states, and al Qaeda emboldened as American military prestige is ruined.
And then what new American Middle East policy would arise from the ashes of Iraq?
Past presidents and statesmen as diverse as Madeleine Albright, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Brent Scowcroft have weighed in with various remedies to our supposed blunders in the Middle East since September 11.
Apparently, Americans are supposed to forget these supposedly brilliant strategists’ dismal records of dealing with Middle East terrorism, Islamic radicalism and murderous dictators. However, their three decades of bipartisan failure helped bring us to the present post-9/11 world.
Read it all.
Michael Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack wrote the following for the New York Times. Pollack was Clinton’s go-to guy on Iraq.
He advocated the invasion of Iraq in his book, The Threatening Storm. Used copies can be had for a penny. It’s a worthy read because it lays out the history of Saddam’s regime and reminds one of the honest debate about Iraq in 2002, before the Dem Cong went political.
VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.
Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.
Another surprise was how well the coalition’s new Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams are working. Wherever we found a fully staffed team, we also found local Iraqi leaders and businessmen cooperating with it to revive the local economy and build new political structures. Although much more needs to be done to create jobs, a new emphasis on microloans and small-scale projects was having some success where the previous aid programs often built white elephants.
Convenience-store owner David Malik earns about as much on a can of Coke as he does on a typical 10-gallon purchase of gas.
Malik’s gross profit on gasoline is roughly 3 cents a gallon after paying for supplies and credit-card fees, but he earns 30 cents on the soft drink.
And when trouble in a faraway oil-producing nation spikes energy prices, his profits here are squeezed even more.
“When oil-company profits go up, my profits go down,” said Malik, 51, who lives in Bellevue and owns seven gas stations in South King County under different major brands.
Even as his costs rise, he tries to keep a lid on gas prices so drivers will stop at his stores instead of the competition’s. Volume is the only way to make this slim-margin business profitable.
Brace yourself, here it comes:
For the average consumer, gas stations are the only visible face of an industry where record profits last year for global companies like Exxon Mobil have sparked countless complaints, government investigations and accusations of price-gouging. On Thursday, Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported some $10.26 billion in quarterly profits — lower than last year but still dwarfing giants in other industries.
Dwarfed in gross profits. Comparisons using gross numbers are almost false. My first house cost less than my last car — so what? The house was purchased with 1976 dollars and the Honda with 2000 dollars.
As if it’s anyone’s business, what are Big Oil’s net profit margins? George Will:
ExxonMobil, which has more than $50 billion of past profits invested in energy development, made 9.8 cents per dollar of sales, much less than the 21.2 cents made by a company selling another fluid that lubricates American life — Coca-Cola.
Two years ago, the tantalizing story of Able Danger came to light as three of its team went public with information on the cutting-edge data-mining program. Coincidentally, as the AD story got fitfully reported over the succeeding months, the New York Times revealed an NSA surveillance plan that monitored communications on suspected terrorist lines and cell phones from points abroad into the US without a wiretap. Now it looks like the two may have more in common than first thought, at least conceptually, and that may prove that Alberto Gonzales told the truth in testimony this week in the Senate:
A fierce dispute within the Bush administration in early 2004 over a National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program was related to concerns about the NSA’s searches of huge computer databases, the New York Times reported today.The agency’s data mining was also linked to a dramatic chain of events in March 2004, including threats of resignation from senior Justice Department officials and an unusual nighttime visit by White House aides to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, the Times reported, citing current and former officials briefed on the program.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, one of the aides who went to the hospital, was questioned closely about that episode during a contentious Senate hearing on Tuesday. Gonzales characterized the internal debate as centering on “other intelligence activities” than the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program, whose existence President Bush confirmed in December 2005.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III contradicted Gonzales, his boss, two days later, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee that the disagreement involved “an NSA program that has been much discussed.” …
The report of a data mining component to the dispute suggests that Gonzales’s testimony could be correct. A group of Senate Democrats, including two who have been privy to classified briefings about the NSA program, called last week for a special prosecutor to consider perjury charges against Gonzales.
The report also provides further evidence that the NSA surveillance operation was far more extensive than has been acknowledged by the Bush administration, which has consistently sought to describe the program in narrow terms and to emphasize that the effort was legal.
This may be good news for Gonzales, but will likely prompt more questions about the NSA’s surveillance program. The AD program got shut down in a hurry before 9/11, in some tellings because it got a little too indiscriminate with its connections between Clinton administration officials and potential enemies, but more likely because of its potential to cross lines separating military intelligence and domestic privacy laws. If the Pentagon’s lawyers got a case of the shakes around AD, the Department of Justice could easily have felt the same way about a similar program centered at the NSA.
In recent weeks, there’s been a giddiness in liberal circles when the subject of the 2008 presidential election comes up. You can feel a buoyancy, an expectation that this will finally — inevitably — be the Democrats’ year.
To many people, it seems self-evident: The war in Iraq has become a debacle, and Al Qaeda has regrouped. President Bush’s approval ratings are dismal (between 26 and 33 percent in various July surveys). The Republican party is imploding, as each month some new species of malcontent — a Christian traditionalist, a tax cutter, a libertarian — gripes that Bush has abandoned “true” conservatism. In Congress, the party has sundered over not just the war but also Bush’s top domestic priorities, most notably immigration reform. And no GOP presidential candidate has emerged, as Bush did in 2000, to unite the rancorous factions, including the ever-important religious right.
Meanwhile, the Democrats, fresh off their 2006 capture of both the House and the Senate, appear stronger than at any time since before 9/11. More voters identify as Democrats than as Republicans. More unexpectedly, as The Wall Street Journal reported on its front page last week, the party’s presidential candidates have raised $100 million more than their GOP rivals. Not for nothing have two of the sharpest political analysts around, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, written a cover story for the liberal magazine The American Prospect asserting that the “emerging Democratic majority” they foresaw in 2002 is finally at hand.
In short, how can the Democrats lose?
Easy. The Republicans possess certain advantages that are too often overlooked, including a built-in edge in the electoral college, Bush’s impending exit from the political picture, and several candidates with potential across-the-board appeal. The Democrats have improved their national fortunes since the 1990s by getting swing voters to return to their fold, but on the Iraq war, the party at times seems to be echoing its Vietnam-era posture on national security, when it lost the nation’s trust on matters of war and peace. Such a course could alienate independent and centrist voters all over again and usher in another four years of Republican rule.
The first myth to dispel is that of Democratic momentum. It’s tempting to regard the Democrats’ 2006 triumphs as rock-hard proof that a new liberal wind is blowing. But as a historical matter, the party that wins the Senate or House in an off-year election has no discernible advantage when seeking the presidency two years later.
Sometimes you just gotta laugh.
Hillary and Obama are tossing mud over which tyrants they’d meet with and when. Obama, pitching himself as a grown up, said he’d meet with any and all, whenever. Hillary pounced on his naivete and said she’d have to know the circumstances first.
Both are advancing the notion that Bush never practices diplomacy, preferring to sulk in his Oval Office if the world doesn’t do his bidding. Sample:
“The times are over when just talking tough or refusing to talk to folks is somehow an emblem of your toughness,” Obama continued.”
Bush has notched quite a few diplomatic victories, more than Bill Clinton by a long shot. Consider:
- Convincing Libya’s nut-case Mohammar Khadafi to give up his nuclear program. This was done without a shot being fired, unless you count the example of Saddam’s downfall that encourged Khadafi to quit when the quitting was good.
- Negotiated an end to the Sudanese civil war that had raged for decades and killed 1.9 million civilians. Remember the “Lost Boys of Sudan?” That was the war that was. The Bush administration efforts resulted in the 2005 peace agreement.
- Negotiated a treaty with North Korea after refusing to meet one-on-one with Kim Jong-il, as John Kerry insisted he do. Instead, Bush worked with five other nations to put pressure on the regime. Time will tell if the deal holds, but for the moment it’s rather cheeky for Democrats to bitch about Bush being unilateral.
- Bush won on Global Warming, though you don’t hear much about it. Such are the anti-capitalist sentiments among the Left who would destroy the US economy just to lower carbon emissions.
From the early days of the Kyoto Protocol, one of the not-so-hidden agendas of the Europeans was to use climate-change agreements to hobble the American economy, so much so that even the Clinton administration felt compelled to push back.
…Bush has firmly rejected hard emissions caps and international tradable-emissions schemes (cap and trade). In his recent remarks, he emphasized that emerging nations such as China and India should be able to set their own emissions goals relative to their economic circumstances, and press above all for technology transfer.
Translation: Any realistic greenhouse-gas-emissions program will have to recognize that developing nations such as China and India must grow. This is true also of the U.S., whose economy continues to expand even as Europe stagnates. At least for the intermediate term, the emissions of such nations will grow too. By proposing to convene the Big 15 emitters under U.S. leadership, Bush threatens to eclipse the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brought us Kyoto. Not bad for a day’s work.
Bush has a strong card to play. For the last several years he has been ridiculed for his emphasis on reducing “emissions intensity” — i.e., the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted per dollar of economic output — and for the United States’ voluntary emissions strategy to lower GHG intensity. Two weeks ago the Department of Energy released preliminary figures showing that U.S. GHG emissions declined by 1.3 percent in 2006 while the economy grew by 3.3. percent.
This is significant: It is the first time U.S. GHG emissions have fallen in a non-recessionary year. In most European nations, GHG emissions went up last year; in fact, the U.S. has improved its energy efficiency faster than Europe over the last six years. By the time Bush leaves office in 2009, U.S. GHG emissions will have risen only about half as much as they did during the Clinton years. China and India could accept a GHG-intensity goal, for it is in their economic interest to improve their energy efficiency in cost-effective ways.
Hillary, as Bill’s co-president, can count the resolution of the conflict in Ireland as a win. But how many died in Ireland’s “troubles” over the years? Nothing like 1.9 million. So, unless you’re a racist who figures Irish lives count more than Sudanese lives, the Sudan treaty is the greater triumph.
As for Israel-Palestinian conflict, Clinton nearly popped a gasket in the waning days of his presidency trying to strike a deal between the two sides. But he got played by Arafat, who was never serious.
Which lead to one of the most humiliating scenes in recent American diplomacy: our Secretary of State, Madeline Albright chasing (literally) Arafat to his car begging him to return to the negotiations. Imagine how that image strenghtened our standing in the mideast.
And they dare to call Bush an amateur. Cheeky, indeed.
Reuters reported that thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to celebrate a victory.
OK, it was a soccer game. But what a game it was in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reported Reuters:
Iraq completed one of sport’s great fairytales by beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the Asian Cup final on Sunday to provide a rare moment for celebration in their war-torn homeland.
The Saudis had been bidding to become the first four-times winners of the tournament but Iraq, riding a wave of global sentiment, upset the hot-favourites for a rare slice of sporting glory.
“This is not just about football … this is more important than that,” Iraq’s Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira told a news conference.
“This has brought great happiness to a whole country. This is not about a team, this is about human beings.”
Look at those faces. Tell me how you can condemn to genocide these people.
Cutting and running and letting al-Qaeda overrun the people of Iraq would be worse than cutting and running and allowing the Republic of Vietnam to be overrun, which resulted in at least 165,000 deaths in concentration — “re-education” — camps for American friends and the slaughter of 2 million people in the killing fields of Cambodia.
Chickenhawk? Better that than a Genocide Accomplice.
Since April, homeowners selling a condo in Los Angeles have had to pay a $150 fee to the city under a 33-year-old affordable-housing ordinance that has never produced a single affordable unit.
Few condominium owners know about the new fee or the arcane law, which gives the city the right of first refusal to buy most condos built after 1974.
Without money to purchase units, the city has always waived its right. But, short on cash, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles voted earlier this year to begin charging condo sellers $150 for the waivers.
“It’s ironic that an ordinance that was well-intended to foster affordable housing in the city actually has new fees now that are raising the cost of housing,” said David Kissinger, director of governmental affairs for the South Bay Association of Realtors.
Ironic, yes. But no shock. Then consider the poor guy who, nine years ago, bought a house that encroached four inches on his neighbor’s turf.
He’s settled that issue with the neighbor, but the city has rules that must be obeyed.
…the city only caught the problem in 1997, nine years after the Duttons moved in. And the problem now has the Duttons in a legal battle against a neighbor and City Hall.
“We moved into this house for nine years, and wham, they whack us with this,” Paul Dutton said in a recent interview. “We have been doing our due diligence by working with the city … and all the way to the City Council, they’re saying, `You’re at fault.’ We’re tired of that.”
In the years since the problem was caught, there has been litigation, countless meetings with city officials and more than $106,000 in lawyers’ fees as the Duttons attempt to make the extension legal.
Their last stop now is the City Council, which has to decide whether to grant the family a zoning variance to allow the room to stand or reject it and potentially open the case to still more litigation.
…”We are a city of law,” Mayor Ara Najarian said during the July10 hearing as he urged the Duttons to start over and rebuild. “Variances should only be granted in the most extreme of circumstances.”
Considering that many LA municipalities forbid their police from enforcing federal immigration laws, this does seem a bit picky.
Fresh after complaining that Bush “politicized” the Department of Justice, the Dem Cong now threaten to block any new Supreme Court nominations by Bush because they don’t like the court’s decisions of late.
Senator Chuckie Schumer (D-Unctuous) complains:
Senators were too quick to accept the nominees’ word that they would respect legal precedents, and “too easily impressed with the charm of Roberts and the erudition of Alito,” Schumer said.
“There is no doubt that we were hoodwinked,” said Schumer, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Hoodwinked on the justices. Hoodwinked on Iraq. What whiners.
It’s about sex, but as a mainstream media story, not as sexy as Abu Ghraib:
The United Nations said on Saturday it had suspended a Moroccan military contingent from its peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire while it investigated allegations of widespread sexual abuse.
U.N. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday the investigation involved Moroccan soldiers having sex with a large number of underage girls in the West African country’s northern rebel stronghold of Bouake.
Toure said the allegations had come to light after the mission ran a campaign against sexual exploitation in which it asked local people to inform it about abuses. It then sent a team to carry out interviews and gather information.
The Cote d’Ivoire mission numbers just over 9,000 uniformed personnel from more than 40 countries. Moroccans make up the bulk of the force in Bouake with some Bangladeshi police, Pakistani engineers and Ghanaian medical personnel.
Time for some honor killings, right?
Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.
I think an old parable explains why the professional subcultures of articulate intellectuals, such as academics in the humanities, artists and journalists, all experience such enormous pressures to conform to the same viewpoint.
In the parable, a king wants to buy some clocks and travels to the Bavarian village were the ten best clockmakers in the world keep their shops all along one street.
As he enters the street all the clocks in all the shops strike 1 o’clock in one massive group chime. The king marvels at the great accuracy of the clockmakers of the village, but a few moments later he hears another group chime. After investigating he finds that all the clocks in 9 of the 10 shops show the same time but that all the clocks in the 10th shop show a different time by several minutes. Puzzled, the king calls all the clockmakers together and ask why the clocks in the 10th shop do not chime at the same time as all the clocks in all the other shops.
The owner of the odd shop out immediately steps forward and says that due to his unusual skill and innovation his clocks keep more accurate time than the clocks of the other shops. The other shop owners protest loudly. The king is at a loss. The town lacks a master town clock or sundial, so he has no means of determining which clocks keep the best time. Confused, he decides not to buy any clocks and leaves town. Angered, the owners of the 9 agreeing shops burn down the shop of the odd man out to prevent such confusion from arising again. Now when someone comes to town, all the clocks will chime at the same instant. Customers will not become confused and everyone will sell more clocks.
The clockmakers destroy the nonconforming clockmaker among them because they know that as a practical matter we judge the accuracy of clocks by consensus. Absolute time does not exist. Essentially, a parliament of clocks votes on the correct time. (Even scientifically, this is true.) By fiat, we say that the clocks that deviate from the consensus time are inaccurate, but logically that need not be so. Different technologies or different levels of care in setting, winding or servicing the clocks could lead to the minority clocks being more accurate. However, if all the clocks agree, then no lay person will have grounds for suspecting that the majority clocks don’t keep accurate time.
As a practical matter, articulate intellectuals face the same problem. They deal in areas in which no means exist for easily or quickly falsifying and testing their ideas. Like the king with the clocks, lay people looking at their work from the outside cannot evaluate the accuracy of their work. No means exist to make an objective measurement that would determine the accuracy of a particular literary criticism. Historians agree that certain events occurred at certain places and times and then argue furiously over the events’ import and consequences. Journalists do the same thing. Various theories in many academic fields knock around for decades before simply fading away, apparently because people grow bored with them.
Read it all.
White House spokesman Tony Snow’s Daily Press briefing is brilliant. It’s interesting to hear him explain basic civics to the press corps.
The other day, I had an argument with someone over the out-sourcing of American jobs. It was his contention that anything that promoted capitalism around the globe was a good thing while I contended that even though capitalism was the best economic system ever invented, if only because it didn’t make the fatal error of idealizing human nature, it had its failings. One of its more obvious flaws is that it encourages corporate executives, for the sake of their own stock portfolios, to sacrifice the jobs of decent, hard-working Americans. Where I come from, profits do not trump patriotism.
My wife has suggested that these executives should have every right to send the jobs to India, the Philippines or even China, just so long as the executives have to move there, too.
In this matter, as in most, it all comes down to whose ox is being gored. Because it’s never the jobs of the executives that are being exiled, the only concern of these bottom-feeders is with their own bottom line.
However, when it comes to pure selfishness, irresponsibility and gall, even these brigands of the boardroom can’t hold a candle to our elected officials. Because these weasels all reside in their own little cocoons, free from want or danger, they share few of the concerns of their constituents.
Al Gore, for example, lectures us about global warming while he, himself, jets all over the country spreading carbon emissions every single time he opens his yap. In the meantime, he and Tipper own several over-sized homes, and I haven’t seen either of them bicycling to the supermarket.
John Edwards sheds crocodile tears over poverty in America while he blows $400 on a trim, and of course, being a limousine liberal, campaigns for higher taxes, which would only serve to further impoverish the middle class.
Ted Kennedy, another member of the economically elite, also urges higher taxes, while he pays at a reduced rate because most of his income comes to him through family trusts. At the same time he pretends to be an ecological warrior, he sees to it that windmills won’t be used to generate electrical power anywhere in his neighborhood, lest they interfere with his scenic view.
Politicians of both parties push for amnesty for illegals while dragging their heels when it comes to erecting a wall between us and Mexico. Could it possibly be that they’re more concerned about offending future voters than they are with our national sovereignty? Might that also be the reason that, almost without exception, the Democrats vying for the presidential nomination oppose making English our official language?
When it comes to concern for the good of the American people versus their own selfish interests, politicians are no better than the Mafia. The main difference is that the dons dress a whole lot better. If you think I exaggerate, why do you think that neither the members of the House nor the Senate showed the slightest interest in following up on Bush’s proposals to save Social Security? Could the reason possibly be that, unlike the rest of us, they don’t have to worry about its solvency because they all have very generous, very secure retirement funds? And why is it that you will so often hear liberal politicians, at the behest of the teachers union, singing the praises of public education when they, themselves, without exception, have their own kids in pricey private schools?
Finally, in case you happened to miss it, a recent poll disclosed that more people could tell you how many days Paris Hilton was going to rot in prison than could identify the vice-president of the United States. My first reaction was one of skepticism. Surely there couldn’t be more Americans who knew that Paris was initially sentenced to spend 47 days in the slammer than knew that old what’s-his-name was just a heart beat from the Oval Office. My next reaction was to wonder in which group President Bush wound up.
A liberal friend recently tut-tutted that “never since the founding of the nation has our Constitution been at such at risk” as under Bush.
Among the emotional and the ignorant, of whom there are many, such canards ossify into truth.
“Oh, more than FDR trying to stack the Supreme Court or FDR seizing Japanese-American citizens and locking them up in camps?” I asked. ”Or Nixon unilaterally freezing wages and prices? Or the Alien and Sedition Acts?”
Wasted words, as always.
Now comes a NYT Op-ed suggesting that stacking the court might a peachy idea, given that the court is no longer reliably liberal.
If the current five-man majority persists in thumbing its nose at popular values, the election of a Democratic president and Congress could provide a corrective. It requires only a majority vote in both houses to add a justice or two. Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative colleagues might do well to bear in mind that the roll call of presidents who have used this option includes not just Roosevelt but also Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Grant.
Take note: liberal positions are “popular values” while conservative positions are “ideological.”
The politics of global warming got very concrete, and oddly difficult, in a meeting with local environmentalists in the coastal town of McClellanville today, where Elizabeth Edwards raised in passing the importance of relying on locally-grown fruit.”We’ve been moving back to ‘buy local,’” Mrs. Edwards said, outlining a trade policy that “acknowledges the carbon footprint” of transporting fruit.”I live in North Carolina. I’ll probably never eat a tangerine again,” she said, speaking of a time when the fruit is reaches the price that it “needs” to be.
Edwards had talked about “sacrifice,” at the meeting, but Elizabeth’s suggestion illustrated just how difficult it is to sell the specifics of sacrifice.
Asked about her comment immediately after the event, John Edwards avoided the question twice, then said he isn’t sure.
“Would I add to the price of food?” he asked. “I’d have to think about that.”
So the candidate who bleeds for the plight of the poor needs to “think about” whether to increase food prices? The poor spend 40% of their income on food.
WalMart saves poor people $$$ with lower food costs, but the Left hates WalMart. No doubt, Edwards would concoct some food subsidy scheme to offset his meddling in the market.
After he thinks about it, that is.
BOSTON — Tamar Lewis runs a makeshift hair salon out of her one-bedroom apartment in Roxbury, a low-income neighborhood here. She’s 24 years old and has been cutting hair since she dropped out of high school in 2002. Until recently, she never had health insurance.
“Good thing I never snipped one of these off,” Ms. Lewis jokes, wiggling 10 fingers. Earlier this month, she signed up for state-subsidized insurance under a new Massachusetts law that aspires to universal coverage. The plan costs her $80 a month.
But it takes a lot more than an insurance card to see a doctor in this state.
On the day Ms. Lewis signed up, she said she called more than two dozen primary-care doctors approved by her insurer looking for a checkup. All of them turned her away.
Her experience stands to be common among the 550,000 people whom Massachusetts hopes to rescue from the ranks of the uninsured. They will be seeking care in a state with a “critical shortage” of primary-care physicians, according to a study by the Massachusetts Medical Society released yesterday, which found that 49% of internists aren’t accepting new patients. Boston’s top three teaching hospitals say that 95% of their 270 doctors in general practice have halted enrollment.
For those residents who can get an appointment with their primary-care doctor, the average wait is more than seven weeks, according to the medical society, a 57% leap from last year’s survey.
THIS plucky pensioner led police on a low-speed chase around Middlesbrough – and then gave officers the slip.
The lukewarm pursuit started after he caused traffic chaos by crawling down the fast lane of a busy dual carriageway.
Police asked the stubborn senior citizen to pull over. But he defiantly cranked his battery-powered mobility scooter up to its top speed – 8mph – and somehow managed to escape their attention.
Engineer, Ian Hardy, from Darlington said he couldn’t believe his eyes as he watched the chase unfold on the A1032 Newport Bridge Approach Road on Monday afternoon.
“It was just incredible,” said Ian, of Darlington, who captured the action on camera. “It was so bizarre. He came along in the outside lane with a queue of traffic behind him and a panda car to his left.
“Most motorists were having a bit of a laugh. It was so strange. You don’t expect something like that on a busy road. It was like a bit of a circus.
A Navy man who got mad when someone mocked him as a “nerd” over the Internet climbed into his car and drove 1,300 miles from Virginia to Texas to teach the other guy a lesson.
When he finally arrived, Tavares burned the guy’s trailer down.
This week, Tavares, 27, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading no contest to arson and admitting he set the blaze.
He better not be so touchy in prison.
Gordon G. Chang takes on NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof:
There may be many magnificent aspects of Bill Clinton’s economic policies, but his strategy for dealing with the mercantilists in Beijing is not one of them. It was he, after all, who decided that China should be permitted to join the World Trade Organization without first reforming its currency regime. The Chinese, once admitted to the global trading body, pegged the renminbi and from July 2005 on have maintained a managed float. As a result, Middle Kingdom manufacturers have obtained an enormous price advantage, which has translated into outsized Chinese trade surpluses against the United States.
These surpluses have, in turn, cost Americans jobs, undermined our manufacturing base, and de-legitimized free trade. President Clinton engaged China before it was willing to embrace the notion of the mutuality of international commerce, and President Bush, for his part, has failed to hold China accountable for predatory trade and currency policies.
I hadn’t seen or heard from Charles in quite some time. Hollywood is a small town so it was unusual for so much time to go by without me seeing him at an audition or some social event. While our relationship could best be described as business friends, we were nevertheless friends and he was on my mind.
I called our mutual friend, Lori, to get his phone number. What she told me knocked me to my knees. Lori confided that she had no idea where Charles was. Charles had been battling an addiction for a number of years and had finally succumbed to the siren call of cocaine. The talented and beautiful man I knew and respected was a full blown junkie! He was living on the streets or in jail. Perhaps he was dead. Lori didn’t know.
The descent into addict hell was quick. In a matter of a few short years, Charles had lost everything: apartment, furnishings, clothes, car, friends, family, along with his dignity and self respect. To support his habit, he was doing what junkies do: stealing, selling his body – whatever he had to do to get that next fix.
Lori had tasted the bile of his addiction. She pulled him out of a crack den, cleaned him up, and enabled him for a year with food and money. She had organized an intervention. She had given all she had. Now the cup is empty. All she has left is faith that somehow his addiction was serving some greater good.
In stunned disbelief I hung up the phone. I looked at my family – my sons, the personification of innocence. As they discover some of the harsh realities of the world, their minds beg for understanding. They ask why. They have not yet understood that life is filled with disappointments. I looked at my wife — the woman that has fought with me, cried with me and loved me through thick and thin.
In an odd way, I was suddenly aware of what it means to be human.
We humans are incredibly resilient. We are also so very frail. In an instant, our spirits can be strengthened or broken. And so often there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. Why does one branch bend with the wind and another break? Why does one man become more determined in the face of heartbreak while others wither? Truly, we endure and survive by the grace of God. Though I am religious, I do not necessarily mean that in a religious way. I am talking about grace in the sense that our own will is sometimes not enough; yet we are hurtled forward by some supernatural force because our lives fill some greater purpose that perhaps only some omnipotent power understands. This does not excuse Charles of his responsibility. No one forced drugs to his lips. My plans for my children do not include drug addiction any more than Charles ever envisioned himself sitting in his own excrement sucking on a crack pipe. But my love and prayers may not be enough to protect them from the world. I surrender them up to grace knowing that all I have is faith.
Like Lori, I must believe that this – even this – must work towards some good that admittedly I cannot see. Perhaps it is as simple as putting those of us that love Charles in touch with how much we treasure our families and friendships, how fleeting is fame and how important it is to love and cherish with all our might. Or it might be something far more complex than this “mind too strewn with petty cares” can comprehend. This much I do know: If this journey is guided only by reason then the path Charles has taken may be foolish, but it cannot be tragic, and I can think of few things more tragic than the waste of such a beautiful life.
Lori tells me that Charles is asleep dreaming that he is awake. Figuratively speaking, I believe Charles is dead. And as death so often does, it has made me appreciate how precious life is.
Big win for good guys in Iraq. It’s depicted in AP’s effort to grasp the resilience of elusive al-Qaeda in Iraq, Down but Not Out. Valiant effort leaves some key details for last, omits others that might aid to understanding:
BAGHDAD — Darkness had fallen across the desert when U.S. soldiers in Humvees noticed two tractor-trailer rigs stopped on a roadway. A closer look revealed 40 to 50 men dressed in white robes and new white running shoes huddled beside the trucks.
Startled by the nine Americans, the men opened fire with AK-47 rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, kicking off a 23-hour gunbattle that killed two Americans.
The fight was a dramatic reminder, U.S. commanders told The Associated Press, of the resilience of al-Qaida in Iraq. The shadowy organization has been run out of some parts of the country yet still has the will, financing and fighters for significant attacks — and not only in Baghdad.
Twelve paragraphs on the remarkable resilience of al-Qaeda later, we learn that this poster-child resilient AQ unit will not fight another day:
When the guns fell silent on the evening of July 1, the American casualties totaled two killed and 15 wounded. They had killed 35 of the enemy and captured seven, according to Lt. Col. Miciotta Johnson, commander of Task Force 1-77, who oversaw the battle.
Barack Obama’s latest pronouncement on Iraq should have shocked the conscience. In an interview with the Associated Press last week, the freshman Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate opined that even preventing genocide is not a sufficient reason to keep American troops in Iraq.
“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now–where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife–which we haven’t done,” Mr. Obama told the AP. “We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea.”
Mr. Obama is engaging in sophistry. By his logic, if America lacks the capacity to intervene everywhere there is ethnic killing, it has no obligation to intervene anywhere–and perhaps an obligation to intervene nowhere. His reasoning elevates consistency into the cardinal virtue, making the perfect the enemy of the good.
Further, he elides the distinction between an act of omission (refraining from intervention in Congo and Darfur) and an act of commission (withdrawing from Iraq). The implication is that although the U.S. has had a military presence in Iraq since 1991, the fate of Iraqis is not America’s problem.
And what about Vietnam after we left?
In his June 1971 debate with fellow swift boat veteran John O’Neill on “The Dick Cavett Show,” the 27-year-old Mr. Kerry said, “There’s absolutely no guarantee that there would be a bloodbath. . . . One has to, obviously, conjecture on this. However, I think the arguments clearly indicate that there probably wouldn’t be. . . . There is no interest on the part of the North Vietnamese to try to massacre the people once people have agreed to withdraw.” Mr. Kerry acknowledged that “there would be certain political assassinations,” but said they would number only “four or five thousand.”
Here is what did happen:
According to a 2001 investigation by the Orange County Register, Hanoi’s communist regime imprisoned a million Vietnamese without charge in “re-education” camps, where an estimated 165,000 perished. “Thousands were abused or tortured: their hands and legs shackled in painful positions for months, their skin slashed by bamboo canes studded with thorns, their veins injected with poisonous chemicals, their spirits broken with stories about relatives being killed,” the Register reported.Laos and Cambodia also fell to communists in 1975. Time magazine reported in 1978 that some 40,000 Laotians had been imprisoned in re-education camps: “The regime’s figures do not include 12,000 unfortunates who have been packed off to Phong Saly. There, no pretense at re-education is made. As one high Pathet Lao official told Australian journalist John Everingham, who himself spent eight days in a Lao prison last year, ‘No one ever returns.’ ” The postwar horrors of Vietnam and Laos paled next to the “killing fields” of Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge undertook an especially vicious revolution. During that regime’s 3 1/2-year rule, at least a million Cambodians, and perhaps as many as two million, died from starvation, disease, overwork or murder. The Vietnamese invaders who toppled the Khmer Rouge in 1979 were liberators, albeit only by comparison.In the aftermath of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. According to the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, between 1975 and 1995 more than 1.4 million Indochinese escaped, nearly 800,000 of them by boat. This does not include “boat people” who died at sea, 10% of the total by some estimates.
Once upon a time, the Democrat Party was the party of idealism. Remember that the next time they gather to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
A male crayfish with larger-than-normal claws typically needs only to flash his menacing weapons to drive opponents away. Now researchers find these critters are frequently bluffing—the enlarged claws often aren’t stronger at all.
These findings raise the question of how often males in the animal kingdom are just bluffing with their natural weaponry.
“Dishonesty during disputes may be far more prevalent that we previously imagined,” said researcher Robbie Wilson, a zoologist at the University of Queensland in Australia.
Omar at Iraq the Model writes about the mistreatment of Iraqi visitors to Jordan.
…recently our Jordanian brothers came up with a truly outrageous practice of discrimination against Iraqis. All disembarking Iraqi passengers now are taken to special passport counters in a hall separated from the rest of airport facilities regardless of the origin of their flights or the airlines they came aboard. Attached to this hall is what Iraqis call “the prison”.
In case you haven’t heard, Iraqi refugees stopped going to Jordan long time ago now because they know they would be turned away.
So the Iraqis I’m talking about are not refugees. Every one of them had a good reason for visiting Jordan; businessmen, official delegations, people who have family members who are residents in Jordan (residency in Jordan requires keeping $100,000 permanently in a bank in Jordan) and others who simply come to that airport in transit — to fly to another destination that is not among the limited destinations of the Iraqi airlines.
There are also people like myself who had to go there to apply for, or receive, a visa to the US, since ironically, the US embassy in Baghdad processes only two types of visas!
Last year, I received an admission offer from a prestigious American university to a master’s degree program in international affairs. It was a project I invested much time, hope and resources in for over a year. The story is long and I won’t bore you with the details.
Long story short, the American embassy in Amman recently notified me that my visa was ready to be stamped. I bought a ticket and got on a plane on my way to Amman confident that the documents I had would grant me access to Jordan for the week I needed…I was wrong.
Read it all.
Nancy Pelosi does not understand that her place is in the House, not the White House.
Seeking to conjure scandal, she and her Dem Cong gang plan to bring contempt charges against Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten, both of whom work or worked in the executive branch. Both ignored subpoenas to appear before the Dem Cong’s inquisition.
“They have disregarded the call of Congress for information about their politicizing the Department of Justice. We can document that. Those are actual facts and we will bring the contempt of Congress forth,” said Pelosi, who spoke with reporters at a San Francisco workshop for people who want to become U.S. citizens.
Lawmakers have increasingly put pressure on the administration to share documents and records — and for officials to testify, under oath, in front of Congress — about why nine U.S. attorneys, including Kevin Ryan in San Francisco, were dismissed from their jobs in December 2006.
Yes, indeed, they have disregarded the “call of Congress” and god bless ‘em for it.
If anyone is threatening the separation of powers, it’s the ankle-biting twits under Nancy’s sway. Consider this:
- Bush fired nine US Attorneys. The jobs are political appointments, making it impossible to politicize them.
- Bill Clinton fired all 93 US Attorneys with barely a squawk from anyone. One of those 93 was hot on his tail for his corruption in Arkansas.
Some folks just don’t understand the separation of powers.
Congress has for months been seeking information about which administration officials were involved in the dismissals of the attorneys. The White House, however, has claimed “executive privilege” for many of those requests, meaning the executive branch is free from oversight of the legislative and judiciary branches of the government in those instances. A House judiciary subcommittee has voted to reject such reasoning.
Notice the scare quotes around executive privilege?
How about this? Suppose Bush demanded that Nancy Pelosi turn over the notes from her private strategy meetings with the Democrat Caucus, the very meetings that have led to this nonsensical investigation. Would Nancy do it? No, she’d tell Bush to pound sand and mind his own business. And she’d be right.
Bush is telling Nancy and her pathetic minions to pound sand. And he is right.
To understand why the luxury tax on cigars is a terrible idea, we need to revisit the history of the luxury tax of the early 1990s–a history that congressional members’ severe amnesia is preventing them from remembering. Class-warfare thinking infected the luxury tax of 1990. Think of the multimillionaire whose wife was wearing a gold-and-diamond necklace and a fur coat. They were getting into their limousine to drive to their 100-foot yacht on which they would spend their weekend. How was it possibly fair that the rich spend so lavishly on such unnecessary items when Joe Six-Pack struggled just to put food on the table? Imposing a luxury tax on those items was a proper way to even things out, to make the rich pay their “fair share” to fund the government programs that helped Joe Six-Pack.
Unfortunately, Congress never bothered to consider that increasing the tax on these items, and thereby increasing the price of those items, might change the behavior of said rich people. (Indeed, many members of Congress stubbornly refuse ever to acknowledge that taxes ever affect behavior.) But said rich people had other ideas. If the price of jewelry, furs and yachts suddenly increased, then maybe purchasing a winter home in Florida seemed like a much better deal. Or maybe those rich people would take a shopping trip to other parts of the world, where the prices of jewelry, furs and yachts were now much more competitive thanks to the U.S. Congress.
And if members of Congress never considered that the luxury tax would discourage rich people from buying luxury items in the U.S., then they surely never considered that such an effect might not be so good for the Joe Six-Packs who worked in the industries producing luxury items. A Joint Economic Committee study later found that 330 jobs in the jewelry industry and 7,600 jobs in the yacht industry were lost thanks to the luxury tax. Perhaps the greatest irony was that in 1991 the federal government paid out over $7 million more in unemployment benefits to those workers than it collected in luxury tax revenues.
I shot these strawberry fields in Ventura, California yesterday around 2:30.
Ventura County produced $366 million in strawberrys in 2006.