Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Realities of War

Check out the Soldier in the Sanbox. My brother in law, Army SSGt Frank Lefler who is stationed in Samarra, Iraq has a chilling post, describing a mission where a gunner on the Humvee in front of him was shot. The soldier will recover, but Frank's reaction is sobering:

I guess when you think about getting into a life threatening situation you sort of think along the lines of heroics or how will you react. Well our reactions were a result of our training, but what you feel while it is all happening is a completely different story. Less than a minute after the shot went off we knew that the wound was likely not life threatening. Not to downplay the wound, the bullet had struck the soldier in the shoulder shattering his bone and causing a lot of damage, but under the hands of the medics shock was probably his worst enemy. As I took up a security position and scanned the horizon for the sniper a million things tried to run through my head at once, only none really succeeded. The only thing I could really think about was the scene unfolding about 4 feet behind me. The medics were working inside the well protected perimeter we had provided, cutting away the wounded soldier’s clothing and armor. Occasionally I glanced back over my shoulder. He was bleeding pretty badly, they had controlled it, but there was way more blood than I had expected or imagined. He was moaning and convulsing slightly as the medics treated his wound and fought to keep him from succumbing to shock. As I looked back towards the horizon I felt a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes, familiar enough, only I hadn’t felt anything quite like this ever before. It wasn’t sadness for the soldier exactly, that was part of it, but really it felt like I was feeling every emotion simultaneously. It was completely overwhelming. As I fought back the emotion and tried to concentrate on security one emotion
surfaced and grew along with the lump in my throat, rage. With every faint moan
and every drop of blood that spilled the feeling grew until it nearly consumed me. I have never felt rage before or real hate for that matter, but I think I know now what it is. I don’t even know exactly if my rage was directed at the sniper or the situation or what… I do know that who ever it was that fired that shot, he is lucky he didn’t show his face. Ultimately, after several tense minutes we finished the job we had come to do and we all packed up and left.

Once back at the FOB it all began to sink in. Knowing that it was sheer chance that had chosen that PFC to be the target at that moment. Understanding that sometimes you really are just a spectator of your own life, and that you can only do what you know to be the right thing and hope for the best. Also knowing now what it means to hate. That to me was the real kicker.

Say a prayer for him and his buddies and for the rest of them--they are ordinary people doing extraorinary things, so that we can live in peace. And if anyone has any question about the nature of their sacrifice, check Christ's words on the topic, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fool of a Tookie

Stanley "Tookie" Williams is on death row in California, having exhausted all appeals, is looking at a visit to the death chamber at San Quentin on December 13, 2005. Unless, of course, Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger decides to spare him. Of course, Williams would be in jail the rest of his life, but it would still be justice, right?

Let's look at the reasons for cutting him some slack. Tookie has become a reformed individual in prison, and has written children's books to discourage gang membership. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for such work. His supporters, mainly actors from the Hollywood elite, such as noted death pentaly opponent Mike Farrell, make clear that he is a "changed man". And the infamous 9th Circuit Court of Appeals indicated that while it is not in their power to grant clemency (a rare exercise of judicial restraint on their part) that Mr. Williams may indeed be a candidate for clemency. Maybe so. And if anyone can think of any other reason which has been offered for clemency, please post a comment on it.

But let's look at reality. He killed four people. He has been suspected of directing gang activity from prison. He continues to hang with the gang members in prison. He co-founded the Crips, a notorious drug-running street gang with nationwide influence that threatens inner-city stability. Worst yet, the ball that he started rolling is something he cannot stop. He created a culture of violence and death. Tookie Williams helped to create an inner city where young men make money by selling drugs and enforcing territory rights to do so by gun battles and drive-by shootings. His efforts have created more drug users by making drugs more available, ruined the lives of victims caught in the crossfire, ruined families, ruined entire neighborhoods, and ruined the stupid youth who join up only to have shortened lives or lives behind bars. And if anyone expects the gang members to abandon their oxymoronic "honor codes" which substitute for real families and the cash that can be made from working in a gang selling drugs, they're nuts. Ship the children's books off to the members. Let's see how well it works.

The Nobel nominations are nothing to consider. The fact alone that Yasir Arafat won one, coupled by the fact that he won it for something that ultimately increased violence should make clear enough that something is askew with the members of the Nobel Committee. It is a political award, not one for objective accomplishments.

And he is loved by the cousin to the Nobel Committee, Hollywood. It even made a movie about him called "Redemption". But there is something just a little intellectually troubling about Tookie's own point of view compared with d those of his supporters. Mike Farrell calls Tookie's crimes "heinous", but celebrity after celebrity fawns over what a changed man he is. But if you ask Tookie, he did nothing wrong. He denies committing the murders for which he was convicted. So now we have a problem. Mike Farrell associates Tookie with crimes he denies committing. But then he calls him a changed man. So if Farrell thinks Tookie is a changed man, how changed can he be if he denies crimes where the evidence pointed squarely at him? On the other hand, if Farrell believes in Tookie's innocence, then what is there to change? There's no question that Tookie was a "bad dude". But being "bad" isn't a crime. Being a gang member is not a crime. The inconsistency of it all is astounding. But I think their preoccupation with their politics has eliminated any possibility that the Hollywood left would be affected by the cognitive dissonance created by the difference between their position and that of Tookie. Their main focus is that he has changed. But forgetting the fact that Tookie denies the murders, that argument also fails.

Longevity is not a reason to spare him. In the Florida or Texas system, appeals must be heard and decided in a short period of time, and barring a commuting of a sentence or reversal of a verdict, the death penalty is often carried out in short order. California, because of glutted court dockets and overburdened public defenders has no such deadlines for death penalty appeals. So one has the opportunity--as the rest of us do--to enjoy the benefits of mellowing with age. If one is executed promptly, there is little time for repentance, as we saw with Timothy McVeigh, who went to death remorseless.

But a jury does not and should never consider future epiphanies when handing down a death sentence. The sentence is about the criminal acts committed, not the fact that the bad guy may think differently about his acts later on. And while it is good for a wrongdoer to change and choose a lawful path, same is not laudable, but rather a minimum expectation of the social contract. And while Williams sees that some of the things he did were evil, it does not bring back his victims who were mercilessly blown apart by his shotgun. And he should not be rewarded for mellowing, which is more of a biological function, not a character change.

There is plenty of room to debate this matter, but Williams has done nothing to show that his life would be any different were he released. Token efforts to discourage gang membership aside, we have a guy who behaves in jail in similar ways as he did on the outside. But a lot of that energy has gone away with youth. And that's not a change, that's a decline.

A jury decided his penalty in 1981. It is time that the Governor of California behave as his predecessor, Gray Davis did. For all of his worthlessness, Davis never commuted a sentence. The jury got it right. Let's not replace their judgment with our own because it might feel good.

Back in the Saddle

A trip with the family to Florida kept me off--as well as a wife who wanted me to ignore world news for a week or so.

A few posts to go today, so enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Zarqawi Works His Poll Numbers

In what is being called a "highly unusual" statement, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi has issued a taped statement saying that he wasn't targeting his fellow Muslims. But then he says that he means to still attack Jordan (last I checked, a place full of Muslims), because they are becoming more western.

The protests last week probably made the Jordanian-born Zarqawi a tad upset, so in an effort to correct his image, he issued a wierd statement intended to apologize--and then incite anger. Calling for the King's head is probably not the kind of thing that will make his fellow Jordanians forgive him.

Zarqawi knows he is in trouble with the populace he seeks to influence. And perhaps it would have been wise for him to remember that the first rule of terror is to scare people, not make them mad. Look how well it has worked for bin Laden.

This was a big mistake, both the bombing and the message. It's a sign of desperation. His popular relevance is waning in Iraq, and I think this indocates that he thinks he's getting closer to being killed or captured. He needs a new front. It appears that Jordan isn't it.

Denothir Cries For Retreat

In Return of the King, the Steward of Gondor, Denothir, gives in to despair and seeks not just his own death, but that of his son, Faromir whom he believes had failed him. Denothir chose to embrace only the worst news, and to take no joy in anything save the destruction of himself, and worst yet, his kingdom. He didn't give himself the opportunity to see the victory that was at hand.

And so goes today's Denothir, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who delivered quite the slap in the face to America's soldiers and quite the confidence boost to terrorists. Pull out in six months and we'll see if the Iraqis sink or swim. Great idea, except that the Iraqis have already requested that we remain for another year as they become more able to interdict the terrorist forces. These are all positive developments, but the job will be complete when the Iraqis can defend themselves from and adequately prevent further terrorist attacks.

Murtha, like Denothir, seems to miss the fact that Iraq, rather than being a quagmire, is on the cusp of being a huge victory. And he forgets that the terrorists are indeed losing. He misses the fact that if we take any needless risks in Iraq, just to please the pathetically and predictably anti-war and opportunistic whiny left, we lose Iraq. And the 2,000-some soldiers who died, those injured, and those whose lives were unceremoniously interrupted for over a year will truly have labored and died in vain. And Iraq will once again become the hub of Middle East terror with Abu Musab al Zarquawi as the leader.

As soon as I heard of this development, my first question was, "what is Murtha getting from Nancy Pelosi?" While she didn't endorse his statement per se, she did everything else to make it happen. I'm not certain what is afoot here, but the Democrats ought to be ashamed for this truly unpatriotic effort to use the bad news only of the war in order to get for themselves political traction at the expense of their own nation and its soldiers.

And it makes me wonder--all arguments aside about prewar intelligence--why many of these people voted for the war. Let's say everything remained the same, except we found weapons of mass destruction. The hard slog we now see, accompanied by the really dishonest reporting of only the worst aspects of this war is where most of Murtha's (and others') complaints arose. Murtha was upset after seeing wounded soldiers, and in an effort to prevent any further casualties, he wants to sound the retreat. So either the left is chicken hearted, or they subscribe to the old Homer Simpson maxim that if anything is hard to do, it's not worth trying. Casualties are a very real and predictable part of war, but the level of casualties in this war is far lower than in any other. But tell that to these leftists who have an unrealistic and frankly ridiculous expectations of our military as it invades and disgorges a terrorist government and then tries to prevent foreign armed, manned and financed terrorist groups from gaining a foothold and undoing all of the work that has been done.

The Vietnam syndrome is very real in the minds of the left. But it plays a little differently than they think: The left, by their statements and actions seem to want Iraq to be the next Vietnam. And these self-proclaimed defenders of human rights are more interested the investing in and defending of individuals who attack civilians by sneaking bombs into their midst than the rights of the people being terrorized and murdered.

Vietnam resulted in a domestic massacre of millions of innocents at the hand of a government imposed by its neighbor to the north, China. And the sight of our military fleeing the embassy in helicopters to boats offshore is one I'd not like to have repeated. But I can't help but think that some of these leftists wouldn't mind seeing American flags burning in Baghdad, with a storming of the Green Zone, and Blackhawk helicopters fleeing the grounds with the last U.S. officials that could be carried rescued aboard.

It is that sight for which the left seems to be aiming. Because such talk ignores the realities of the successes we are achieving, demoralizes our soldiers and the people of Iraq, and encourages the terrorists. And I can't help but think that given their behavior over the past two years that the forces of Islamofascism have no better friend than the Western leftist.

Denothir has lost his nerve. Let us pray that we don't heed his call for retreat. He is welcome to self-immolate in the crypt he has chosen for himself, ignorant of and with disdain for his people's march to victory.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cheney Takes the Fight To The Dems

The Bush Adminsitration is finally getting it. And they have brought the battle over the prewar intelligence in Iraq to the people who are demagoguing it. And in a sign of significant weakness, they send out John Kerry to respond with the usual conclusory allegations that the President is engaging "in the politics of fear and smear."

The White House is on message, but now they need to get on fact. And perhaps it's time that the White House take the suggestion from Tom Bevan andhave Cheney battle it out with Harry Reid in the Senate, making Reid defend his truly inexcusable claims that the Administration lied to get America into Iraq.

So far, we have no evidence of any kind from Reid or anyone else that the President lied. But the Democrats are using the fact that WMDs were not located as an excuse to call the President a liar. Unfortunately, these same Democrats supported the war and inveighed against Saddam for his brutality and for the threat that he posed to world peace when the war seemed popular. And I think they would have stuck with those sentiments if the Iraq war had gone quickly and easily. Instead, they have tried to translate a hard slog into a quagmire, and the "quagmire" into the product of a lying President. It's all for political traction--nothing more.

But as I indicated earlier, it is time for the Administration to have it out with the facts in a very public forum. The Senate debate would be ideal. It would force Harry Reid, for the first time, to offer facts to support his unbelievably serious allegations. And if he can't, or refuses, he will look like the phony he really is.

Bottom line, a war of rhetoric is fine. A display of the facts in trial format is critical to ending this nonsense altogether. Of course, the Sheehans and Mapes of the world will never be convinced by facts that don't agree with their world view, but Americans are just a little smarter than such zealots. And upon the completion of such a trial, the topic will be a closed matter to all but the moonbats.

The Administration needs to ramp this up in such a way. It won't go away and poll numbers won't increase much until they do. And history will judge them if they don't.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Joe Lieberman Gets It

Following on my prior post is this act of bravery by Joe Lieberman (D-CT), courtesy of RealClearPolitics.

I have long believed that Joe Lieberman is a classy guy. Hiss willingness to break ranks with his party to stand for that which he believes takes guts. And he makes a very interesting series of points. Read the whole thing.

Interestingly though, he leaves the remarks on a low note for Carl Levin (D-MI). He calls Levin a patriot. Maybe he thinks he is, but in a later post, I'll take a closer look at that.

Because however patriotic one may think Carl Levin is, his efforts to smear the Bush Administration are known to him to be based in falsehoods (as he signed the Senate Intelligence Committee Report which found the opposite of what he claims today), and which give encouragement to those who want to see our resolve fail.

Joe Lieberman understands the risks of sending signs of division beyond our shores. It's a shame that the rest of his party is so opportunistic that they can't. But who ever accused them of caring about anything else than grabbing power?

Is Bush Back In The Fight?

Developments like this and this make me think that the Administration has had enough knockdowns and is ready to get back into the fight--this time for a win--to defend itself and its policies from Democrats who, while supporting the war in the beginning, are now carping that Bush lied to them. Granted, that is only one front in this current battle, but make no mistake, it is the biggest and most important one to win.

The key to Bush's success in this effort by the Democrats to rewrite history, marked by misleading political posturing and falsely righteous rhetoric by those same Democrats, is that he be active, not responsive--on the offense always, making the Democrats defend with facts the allegations they make. This has to be a systemic plan, not just a few speeches over the next few weeks that die down over the holidays, leaving no marked change in the President's public backing. The entire Administration needs to bring all of its powers to bear upon the Dems for the truly disingenuous effort they are making to weaken America's appearance abroad.

Bush's first shot was important. He is beginning to name names. "Democrats". He is putting a name on what they are doing. Sending the wrong message to our soldiers, to our allies, and worst yet, to the enemy. And he is spending very little time defending what the intelligence really said, noting that he was looking at the same stuff that the Dems got to see. But the battle needs to get more direct, and there is no better way than what Tom Bevan suggests. If Harry Reid wants to attack Dick Cheney--a cowardly effort to target someone based upon a perceived low approval rating--let's use the World's Greatest Deliberative Body to debate the matter. Given the emphatic nature of his declarations of wrongdoing--deliberate manipulation of intelligence, sending U.S. troops to their deaths for oil and all--Harry Reid should certainly be able to shed light where the British, French, Italians, Russians, Jordanians and Egyptians, and the unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee could not. But I hope he has a better ace up his sleeve than the illustrious Ambassador Joseph Wilson, IV. The fact that he has not yet produced a single fact to prove even the least of his claims gives me pause, however.

But a showdown in the Senate would be an excellent move. Cheney would be able to take on Reid in a battle of the facts, forcing Reid to defend his accusations and delivering a very high profile win for the Administration. And with Cheney's handling of the issue, it will add a bit of luster to him as well, putting the whole Scooter Libby thing to the back pages. And that's not the only showdown we need in the Senate.

Samuel Alito fell off the radar screen because he seemed to be an appealing nominee to a significant majority of the Senate. And one dark-horse strategy of which I had heard was that the Dems might let Alito be confirmed quietly. There would be risks to it...there would be some furious Dem supporters--how could the party allow two very conservative judges onto the court in a span of 3 months? But while technically a Bush victory, it would carry no capital with it, allowing the Dems to continue to freely assault on Bush for Iraq, Katrina and other things. Bush would be doing good work, but it would go unnoticed, and just in time for 2006 where appearances of a weak Bush presidency may very well rule, threatening the Republican majority in the Congress.

But Charles Schumer--one clever individual and probably the most savvy member of the Senate Democrat Caucus--latched on to an old memo by Alito which questions the validity of Roe v. Wade. Of one thing you can be certain...if the Dems are at all concerned about the safety of Roe, they will almost certainly attempt a filibuster. And that is yet another boon for the Administration. Because while a quiet confirmation is a technical win for the President, beating an abortion-driven leftist attack on Alito would deliver yet another very conspicuous victory for the President, dealing the Dems a concommitant defeat. The public favors judges who will not supplant their judgment for that of the elected legislatures. And there is something kind of unseemly about a party that respects and defends abortion more than the American soldier or the American family. But if the Dems mount a visible opposition to him because he doesn't pledge to defend Roe with his own blood, but rather dares to suggest that the reasoning upon which it is based is flawed, it will not resonate well. And if they lose on a cloture vote or worse yet, lose the power to filibuster altogether, it will be a very public humiliation.

So it's time for the Administration to keep the Dems busy--not by attacking him, mind you, but rather defending their legitimacy and the really poisonous rhetoric which they have been uttering which demoralizes Americansat home and our soldiers overseas, and gives encouragement to our enemies.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Death of a Demon

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the top wanted man in Iraq, credited with leading the early anti-Iraqi Forces has died.

It seems that he had fallen out of favor as Zarquawi gained prominence, but his passing is not a sad one. He will go down as a lieutenant of a Stalinist dictator and an opponent of the people of Iraq. A short epitaph for a life wasted by evil.

The Mapes Dilemma

Mary Mapes is on the book circuit, promoting her ironically titled tome, Truth and Duty. I've seen a few interviews with her on the topic, and I'll give her this: she is either a great liar, or she actually believes what she is peddling. Which is one of the first rules of the public relations game--believe what you say because it's easy to spot a faker. But in so doing, she breaks that rule's corollary: the stuff you say must be believable to reasonable people.

Mapes, like her partner, Dan Rather, believes the National Guard story with all her heart. And I really believe she does. But I believe that there is a measure of dishonesty behind her position. She knows that her investigation was wanting, and very clearly hedges in her answers, revealing her true position--she is mad at bloggers for exposing the story and CBS for "caving" and then firing her. But let's look at her major points.

The bloggers were full of hate and tore apart her story. The INDC Journal post is instructive. The bloggers disputed the story and produced demonstrative evidence showing that the claims were false. Whether they hated CBS, Rather or Mapes is irrelevant. The point is that they raised some very valid questions about the authenticity of the documents upon which Mapes's and Rather's story was based, leading just about everyone (except Mapes and Rather, that is) to believe that they were forgeries. It wasn't hate, but rather facts that has Mapes upset. She just hates that someone called her bluff.

But in her interviews, the points she raises and how she dodges questions reveals much more than intended by the words used in her answers.

Bill O'Reilly queried her about her political beliefs. It was an artless and embarrassing dodge. She can't recall with which party she is registered to in Texas, claims that her teenage son thinks she's a conservative parent, and that she is conservative on some issues and liberal on others. Thanks for clarifying that you're a liberal!

And then she offered to both O'Reilly and E.D. Hill on Fox & Friends an interesting explanation for how she was able to believe in the documents that eventually cost her her career. She said that the forensic examination played a minor role to what appeared to be an agreement between the substance of the Burkett documents and "other documents". But she never clarified what the "other documents" were, and what the alleged agreements were between them. We've never seen them, and they would be helpful in getting to the bottom of the issue. Point? Bill Burkett provided her all the documents she had. She had nothing else to go on, beyond personal suspicion. Which brings us to authenticity and her motive for not taking seriously some very obvious warning signs that the documents were frauds.

The indicia of fraud is huge. The papers came from Burkett, a man with a huge ax to grind against Bush. He also wanted a bit of notoriety, as he asked to be connected to the Kerry campaign in exchange for turning over the papers. Their chain of custody and sourcing is nonexistent--a big red flag. And the document experts were warning her that they could not vouch for their authenticity, and in fact seemed to raise enough questions to give a reasonable person pause. But as I opined earlier, Mapes is not behaving like a reasonable person.

Mapes believes, in a stunning tautological fallacy that the documents are valid because she believes the story they tell. And she believed the story all the more because of the documents. A pretty intellectually dangerous place for a journalist to stake her credibility. And as Bill O'Reilly gently explained to her, her belief or desire that the documents be authentic does not make them so. She has indicated that she is willing to hear any new evidence about the validity of the documents, but if the expert testimony and other factors that killed the story and her career didn't give her pause, I doubt that anything else will. And so the position she now holds is that it was not her duty to prove the documents' authenticity, but rather the duty of others to disprove them. In other words, she has license to write whatever stories she likes, and it is the job of the stories' victims, after having been slimed, to restore their reputations.

But the notion that a political angle was not present is pure hogwash. Mapes denies that politics entered her calculus, but her actions say otherwise. The warnings about the documents were pretty serious by any journalistic standard, and certainly by the standard that CBS was known to keep as a matter of policy. Which in itself does not kill the story; you just give it some time until something more reliable, or even more damning comes to light. But Mapes didn't have time in early September of 2004.

John Kerry was losing the election. He had spent the past two weeks on the ropes, taking a pummelling on his military career from the Swift Boat Veterans. Kerry's refusal or inability to respond effectively to those attacks (other than sending Max Cleland to Crawford in a pathetic display to ask the President who played no role in it to stop the Swift Boat Veteran ads) had him on the ropes, looking like a phony. Hitting Bush on his Texas Air National Guard service would get Kerry's troubles off of the front page. And if it took another year to vet the story, it would not have anywhere near the political impact as it would before a tight election. Too much history of bias, and so much politically at stake for this not to be seen for the hit job it was intended to be.

But rather than going quietly away, Mapes writes her fairly myopic book in an effort to shift the blame upon her former employer who she thinks should have defended her and upon the bloggers who should never have exposed her story's weaknesses. Instead of being a legitimate part of the public debate, Mapes does not see the fact that she is making herself an object of public ridicule by claiming that she doesn't see in the evidence what the rest of the nation (save Dan Rather) very clearly does.

If she had waited for more credible evidence to advance her story, it could have been a bombshell. But if that happened now, the story remains a dog, forever to be viewed as the product of two journalists known for liberal biases, eager to score a political hit on a President whom they did not favor.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More About Joe Wilson

A commenter left what I found to be a particularly interesting comment below that Paul Vallely is a liar. Delightful. But read the linked post.

It would have helped if the Anon poster actually read the link before citing to it, but facts seem not to matter to this Wilson defender, given the whole "lying neocon sack of s---" comment. The assertions for which the post is offered are little more than lipstick on the pig.

First, nothing coming out of Joe Wilson's mouth can be believed. Nobody should put his statements up against those of anyone else. He is a proven liar. Second, the whole point to the article, grousing only about Vallely's inability to place the time of year of Wilson's mentioning of his wife's employment or the exact number of times (greater than one) that Wilson had done so, actually lends credence to Vallely's claim.

But the points that the link leaves undisputed are Vallely's basic accounts that Joe Wilson described his wife's CIA employment, and that it was done at some time in 2002. Wilson "outed" his wife before the Novak article, and before Rove, Libby, or anyone else would have thought to do it. Whether it happened winter spring or fall is irrelevant, as well as the number of times (greater than one) that he did it.

Taking it from an evidentiary point of view, Wilson is incredible. He was proven either idiot or liar by British and other allied intelligence, by a unanimous bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, and by Patrick Fitzgerald, who declined to prosecute anyone for the alleged outing of his wife. Vallely has no reason to lie, but Wilson is fighting a valiant effort to keep himself relevant. And despite his poor recollection of the exact timing of the discussion with Wilson, the major facts remain the same. It was ok for Wilson to drop his wife's name for his own political gain, but not for the White House to do the same to his detriment.

Stop defending Joe Wilson. He's not worth the effort. And read the pieces you cite. You look as stupid as he does otherwise.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Politics of Truth: How Joe Wilson Lied His Way to Fame

It seems that we have another suspect in the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson. This time, however, it's a name we've heard before. Many times before. And that would be the name of Joe Wilson, IV, her narcissitic, camera preening egomaniac husband. Per Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, Wilson blabbed about his "CIA wife" who worked in the WMD section. And he regularly and openly made note of her status as such.

And there's nothing wrong with that, as he knew he was not committing a crime. Like the shameless self-promoter he is, he was just dropping names. Cheesy, but legal.

The problem starts when he touches off a firestorm about his wife's cover being blown, a serious breach of national security, putting her life in danger, etc. when the White House, in an effort to correct only the first of Mr. Wilson's many knowing misstatements about his voyage to Niger, dispelled the notion that he was sent at the behest of Dick Cheney, but rather at the suggestion of his wife. The White House did it for two major reasons--the first, to avoid the impression that Wilson tried to create, namely that he was someone selected by the Vice President, thereby giving his alleged findings and conclusions an appearance of greater validity--an effort to correct the record. The second was a little more in the way of paybacks and hardball.

Wilson was and remains a troublemaker. He has done nothing but attempt to generate coverage for himself by using any possible angle, delivered with his own form of false righteous indignance, to create harm for the Administration. And in Washington, there is almost always a price for that. So when he claimed to be close to the Administration and an important fellow when he first attacked the "16 words" of the 2003 State of the Union Address, the Administration wanted to make clear that he was a nobody who got a job because his politically connected wife set him up with it.

And so having been caught in an embarrassing lie, he fired back all the harder in a furious rage at the White House for having committed the very same act that he had been doing for at least a year prior to advance his personal stock. But this time, he pretended that it was a crime that had been committed to keep his name above the fold, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and two years of an investigation for an act that the chief accuser knew was not a crime.

And I think it's time that Wilson's name made it again, above the fold. If Wilson was making it known that his wife worked at the CIA, nothing more than anyone at the White House did, and pretended that her cover was blown, causing an investigation and the besmirching of someone's character for his own personal political gain, perhaps it is time that he come before a grand jury of his own.

Is The Bush Administration Packing Up Already?

Well, it's been a great second term. Now it's time to look to 2008 as if it's tomorrow. If you're listening to the Democrats, that is. But given that the Bush Administration offers nothing to counter, who else is there to listen to?

This fall has, without question, been Bush's worst so far, capping off probably his worst year, but it didn't have to be that way. Bush scored a huge victory this January with the Iraqi vote. He won again with the national approval of the constitution. And now, the people are going to vote in their representatives who will govern by their consent, within the bounds of law. And our troops are welcome there, as president Talabani has requested that U.S. troops remain in his nation. Bush scored a number of foreign policy victories, not the least of which was a stand-down of the tension with North Korea, getting the likes of France on board with the war on terror (although recent events may make the urgency of same all the more clear to them), and getting French cooperation in the security council to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear program. He impressed his father and his predecessor into service to help raise cash for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Bush made a successful appointment to the Supreme Court in the form of John Roberts, and has offered another very promising and professionally attractive nominee, Samuel Alito.

But listening to the media, 2005 was about a few things: high gas prices, a poor response to hurricane Katrina, poor little Joe Wilson (and Valerie Plame, of course), big bad Karl Rove and the heretofore unknown Scooter Libby, 2000 troops dead, Harriet Miers, and Bush's sagging approval rate. But who are we kidding, as sure as the sun rises, the media will look for, and if necessary, invent an issue to in any way detract from even the greatest successes of this Administration. It's the Administration's job to do something about it. Bill Kristol adequately describes the problem in the Weekly Standard.

And while Kristol said last week that the Bush Administration seemed to be back in the fight, and that it was time again to purchase Bush stock, Bush seems to have allowed a week of excellent developments collapse.

Yesterday, the White House spent the day in mandatory "ethics" meetings. A well-intentioned effort to be sure, but the way it was handled by the press office and the way it was reported makes it appear that the White House is taking its staff to the woodshed, and lent to the impression that the Democrats and the media have been trying to create, that there are problems with corruption in the Administration. No mention from anyone that the Administration regularly does these kinds of things, and that "ethics" was not the focus, but rather just a refresher on the standard White House policies regarding classified information and its discussion within and without the Administration.

And with respect to internal Administration issues, reports that there now exists a Clinton-Gore style divide between Bush and Cheney, as well as an unrequited issue about whether Karl Rove, the architect of all of Bush's successes, will retain his job create a very real impression that this Administration is broken on the inside.

The aforementioned request by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that U.S. forces remain n Iraq, and that a false timetable for withdrawal not be set to encourage the terrorists went largely unreported. Might it not be important in the President's battle to win this war that he turn the Iraqis against the media and the left who are questioning the validity and effectiveness of our presence in Iraq? A major PR opportunity missed.

Sam Alito's nomination will stall till January, thanks to Arlen Specter who could have, but refused, to push the matter to a vote before the holidays, giving the Democratic Caucus more time to circle the wagons for a stronger opposition to the judge. Bush might have pushed a little harder here, but forgetting the fact that Specter owes his political life to Bush after rescuing him from a very real and nearly successful primary challenge last year, Bush let it go, along with the momentum that the nomination carried with it.

And speaking of unrewarded campaign assistance, Bush went to push Jerry Kilgore's candidacy for governor in Virginia. Kilgore had an uphill battle to begin with, going against an appealing conservative Democrat who was the heir to a largely successful outgoing conservative Democrat. Bush knew well he would be embarrassed if Kilgore lost. He had nothing to gain by advancing this candidacy, and a loss would surely deal the Democrats yet one more thing to cheer about.

I am expecting that the next thing Bush will do to continue the fairly credible perception of Carterian presidential weakness, perhaps he should stage an on-camera meeting in the Oval Office with Cindy Sheehan.

In all reality, we didn't work ourselves to the bone to re-elect him only to have a lackluster second term.

It's time to clear out the communications team. They are responsive, not proactive. They do not seek to control the discussion, but rather defend themselves from it, which is ineffective. We need someone who will tell the press the way things are and who will argue the terms of the debate, and shift it over to the Administration's favor.

Bush needs to reaffirm Rove's presence in a personal way. He needs to dispel rumors that Rove is on his way out, and tell the public that various silly folk have been suggesting that Rove be booted simply because the Democrats accused him of wrongdoing which didn't happen. He needs to affirm that Rove is clean, and a member of the Administration to stay, and that that's all the discussion he'll permit about it.

And then he needs to do the things we elected him to do. The tax cuts need to be made permanent. He needs to fervently push the budget reforms that are now being only lightly discussed in the aftermath of Katrina. Energy policy needs to get back on the radar screen, and yes, he needs to be seen pushing it hard with Dick Cheney. More nuclear power, more investigation into domestic sources of energy, new and improved oil refinery technology. Because energy is fast becoming one of the biggest national security issues of our day.

And speaking of national security, we need the southern wall. Vincente Fox is just as bad a neighbor as Carlos Salinas ever was. But it's not as much about exporting dollars as it is importing drugs and Islamist terrorists. Interestingly, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) indicated that a wall built along the San Diego area border with Mexico was very successful. The influx of illegals and the drug trade was dramatically reduced, and the barrier, intended to be three walls, was left a two, because it two walls seemed successful enough. And people on the other side of the border appreciated the affects of the wall. Residents of Tijuana were pleased, as the gangs that would marshal there moved elsewhere, having been foiled by the wall.

And we need to have regular updates on progress in Iraq and the global war on terror. Iraq will be judged by history to be Bush's biggest mistake or one of the most effective steps ever taken towards a lasting world peace. But for right now, he has let it become defined by the media's false milestone of the number of soldiers dead. This is Bush's strongest issue by far, and he needs to restore his credibility in this regard by taking the issue back over.

It's a lot to do, but a nation did not reelect him just to coast.

And if he fails to do it, we are in for quite a stagnant three years, with a near certain Democrat victory in 2008.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Best War Blog You'll Ever Read

My brother-in-law, Staff Sergeant Frank Lefler (Army), is in Samarra in Iraq. A real paradise. But he's been blogging his experiences. Check out the blog and tell your friends to read it. Especially liberal friends who were giddy about the 2000th soldier. Here's part of his most recent post:

Lately things have been slow around here. Being in a war zone, doing what I do, that is a good thing. It means that for what ever reason the insurgents or AIF (Anti Iraq Fighters/Forces) haven’t been causing too much trouble (knock on wood). So you can see how that is a good thing. There are many theories that circulate about why that is. Originally I thought that it was Ramadan, but that ended a couple of days ago. My personal favorite is that it is too cold. Apparently the principles that drive the AIF don’t stand up to the chill that sets in each night. So perhaps it is the cold weather that is the unlikely hero of late, keeping us soldiers out of harms way. What ever the case is, we’ll take it.

Lately, when I find myself slipping into a funk, I force myself to remember just why it is that I am here. Many think of this war as little more than a political football, using war anecdotes as a conversation piece or as fodder to justify their own, often
narrowly formed, opinions. Well to those of us living it, it is so much more than that. My Dear Wife and I were also talking the other day about how while it has become our plight to endure this separation, there are also so many things to be thankful for. Occasionally we are cut off from using the phones or Internet because someone in this area was killed. It’s called a blackout, designed to give the Army time to notify the families of the fallen through the proper channels without fear that the family will find out via hearsay. While this represents a bit of a confounding situation for the soldiers who are prevented from contacting their families for any reason, it is also a time of reflection and a time to give thanks. Reflecting on the sacrifice that those
soldiers and their families gave and being truly appreciative of it. Not running to some tally board so the grand total KIA can be scrolled across the bottom of a screen or posted as a headline, but really allowing their sacrifice to sink in and affect you. Being over here, separated from my loved ones as we head into the holiday season it is my opinion that I have been privileged with the opportunity to serve and contribute to the cause those men and women died for.

And no, that cause isn’t oil or cronyism and it certainly isn’t to generate revenue for any of our media outlets who capitalize off the sensational aspects of war. I have to believe that it is something much greater than that. It is to afford us and our loved ones and everyone back home the right to celebrate the holidays, and to pursue what ever life we deem worthy of pursuit. It is a moot point to argue over why we got here, the fact of the matter is that we are here, and we have been given a chance to effect a change. All of this must serve to contribute to a greater cause than even the protection of our own interests (a worthy cause in and of itself). I suppose history will be the judge of this war and it’s proponents, but it is my heartfelt opinion that in 50 years time that perhaps the people of Iraq and this region will recognize, as I do, the reason why these men and women gave their lives, like so many before them. For me remembering the dedicated service of our country’s ancestors, including my own lineage having two grandfathers who served a combined 60+ years in defense of our nation and ideals, is what provides me with all the motivation I need.So as you prepare for the festivities of this holiday season try to see beyond the commercials, and the catchy jingles of what ever the “must have” item this year is, and remember the ideals and aspirations that make the season worth celebrating. Give thanks for the freedoms we often take for granted and give respect to those who died to give it to you. I know I will.

Read the whole series of posts. This guy is giving up a year of his life to give you the luxury to do what you want to do.

Big Night - The Stakes

First things first--let's correct a few assumptions about what these elections portend for today. In a word, nothing.

If The Democrats win the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, nothing changes. The big news will be that the corrupt old New Jersey system remains unchanged and in the hands of the inept liberal leadership that has gone on for decades, Virginia remains in largely conservative Democratic hands (would that New Jersey had that same luxury), Michael Bloomberg remains mayor of New York, extending Republican control of that city for over 12 years, a bunch of other big cities retain their Democrat mayors, and a few ballot initiatives stand or fall.

Seats don't change hands.
Virginia--Jerry Kilgore has a real shot a winning in Virginia, and I'd love to see it happen, but it's all about turnout, given that the race could be no closer. Check RealClearPolitics for the stats. Republicans can certainly mobilize voters, but the thing that concerns me is that Virginia was largely a given last year for Bush, so mobilization effort like we saw Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania or Florida--the real tossups--would not have been as big a deal. Certainly they can construct something in a year's time, but I don't know if they saw this being the close finish that it will be. If Kilgore can't get huge turnout in the areas of western and southern Viriginia that he needs, he is indeed doomed.

New Jersey--A state whose voters have made it the armpit it has become. If one word can define New Jersey politics, I'd say that word would be "corrupt". A state Supreme Court that violated election law to allow Lautenberg to run in Torricelli's spot, because Torricelli felt that because of (surprise) corruption charges, Lautenberg had a better shot at winning than he did. Would they have done it for a Republican? A governor whose homosexual relationship led him to compromise a state homeland security position for his lover--as his wife smiled for the cameras at the public revelation. And now a governor's race that has sunk below mudslinging to outright catapulting of feces. Jon Corzine's personal life is a big campaign issue. And while I think one's fidelity to a spouse is a relevant issue in an election (I don't buy the whole compartmentalization argument), as integrity in the marriage has a bearing upon integrity in other areas, Doug Forrester's (R) use of Corzine's ex-wife in a capaign ad to highlight his infidelity was more than just a little tacky. Add to that the revelation that Corzine made a gigantic loan/gift to a mistress who was part of a gigantic labor union in New Jersey, and the stench rises above the acrid smell of the New Jersey smokestacks. The tactic probably actually brought Forrester down with it. Because when you fling feces, you're going to get some on you. But I think the real damage was to Corzine. Per the RealClearPolitics averages, Forrester's attacks have caused real harm to Corzine, but unless you believe that the Farleigh-Dickinson numbers are not outliers, this very damaged Corzine candidacy will likely score the win. Unless of course the smell of a possible victory gets Republican voters out in droves. Unlikely to be certain, but a possibility. That possibility is more likely, I think, than Corzine getting more people than usual out to vote for him. He is an unattractive candidate and won't get more than the normal turnout, and might actually get less, but that's not a big worry for a Democrat in New Jersey. Corzine becomes New Jersey governor, which is fitting, given the Louisiana style corruption that marks that state's government.

And what would an election be without Ohio (as Florida is probably less in vogue)? The Dems are seeking to legally sanction their favorite election tactics, the stuffed ballot box, the fraudulent ballot, and standardless vote tallies. Paul Weyrich has a great explanation of the affects and stakes. Specifically, they seek to create "no excuse" absentee votes, meaning that people are free to use an absentee ballot even if they could probably make it to the polls, thus increasing the use of such ballots and the potential for fraud (anyone remember a guy paid with crack in Ohio last year to illegally procure ballots?). Then there is a provision that would take the duty of election supervision away from the Secretary of State, and turn it over to a band of unaccountable political appointees who will be "the law" when it comes to elections. Sound familiar? And there are a few others that take away powers delegated to officials in the State Constitution. It's all bad. nd it's more of the same from the left. If the voters won't do what they want them to do, the left will then make the voter little more than a detail in a much larger system rigged to work for pink political interests. In short, it's about putting a reliable few in power and marginalizing the voters whom the left do not trust to make decisions for themselves.

But one myth I'd like to dispel is that any election result today has anything to do with George Bush. New Mexico Governor, failed Energy Secretary, asterisk on John Kerry's VP short list, and perpetual campaigner for his own presidency, Bill Richardson, who is as in love with the camera as John McCain, postulated this morning that these elections are referenda on Bush. Which means that he expects the elections to turn out as I do--Democrat victories. It's a standard Democratic mantra: all politics is local when they get trounced, and it's all about a national mandate when they win even a town council position. But folks, this is all local.

And Bill Richardson has a personal reason for saying something so silly. He is running for president in 2008. He'll be an also-ran, but he doesn't see it that way. But if Kaine wins, the Democrats are viewing it as an endorsement of current Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D), who is seen as the anti-Hillary primary candidate for 2008. And if an anti-Hillary trend develops (which it won't), people like Richards who tend to be a bit more conservative have some hope. But there are a few problems with that calculus.

Virginia is a very conservative state. Conservative (or apparently conservative) Democrats win statewide elections there, not those further left like Hillary Clinton. And any Kaine victory-- while possibly an affirmation of Warner's leadership--has nothing to do with decisions to be made in the Democrat primaries of 2008 (after all, Virginia Democrats have consistently run conservatives). And the base in Virginia won't be the one that provides the compass for 2008. And we have 2 years to go before then. But I'll hazard a guess that the Dems aren't going any further towards the center from the nice warm fever swamp where they have pitched their tents for the past five years. Hillary is safe and the moderates will not have nearly her appeal unless her fortunes change dramatically over the next twelve months.

So, tonight is a night for the Dems to celebrate holding some seats, but losing New York to Republicans again. So to put it all in perspective, wins by Kaine and Corzine will will probably benefit the Democrats nationally as much as having Michael Bloomberg as New York Mayor has benefitted the Republicans nationally.

Don't pop the champagne corks too loud.

Monday, November 07, 2005

No More TO

Ok, not much in the way of football talk gets done here, but I'll put in my two cents on the latest expurgation from the NFL.

Terrel Owens, who was Philadelphia's leading wide receiver is no longer. After about a year of nothing but smack talk about his team, stemming from their ability to get to the Super Bowl in his absence (which I woulkd think would humble him rather than stoke his ego) and now comments about Donovan McNabb, who feeds him the ball, then a locker room brawl, Owens is cut.

And good for the Eagles. Granted, McNabb showed that he needed a great receiver like Owens to catch the long passes after yesterday's game, but it's a better thing to offload a total rectum and work a new set of receivers for whom the sky's the limit in potential, rather than a have to suffer with guaranteed scorer whose ego can't fit into his helmet and who destroys team cohesion.

Adios Terell.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Anti-War Protesters - An Oxymoron

If you were surprised when the sun came up this morning, you will be equally surprised by the fact that the Anti-War protesters in Argentina became violent today (thanks to RCP). The logical implications here are staggering. Either they expect all troops home by the end of the protest in order for it to end peacefully, or they planned to get violent all along.

Is there any reason that we can't illegalize anti-war protests? By contrast, the people in the United States who support the war tend to be fairly tame in their demostrations. Note the behavior of the counter-protesters at the "Camp Casey" protests in Crawford, TX this summer. They obeyed the law, didn't argue with the authorities, and were there to send their support to the President and our troops.

Is it possible that pro-war rallies can end up being the key to civil behavior?

In all reality, these are leftists who are largely anti-everything, and violence is simply one tool they use to get attention and to ultimately gain political advantage. See the "Cultural Revolution", Stalin's purges, the killing fields, the Holocaust, Cuba...

These people can more accurately be called anti-freedom protesters. Which gives a little more context to their behavior.

A Few Moments With a Dictator--What Bush Should Say to Chavez

Hugo Chavez thinks that Bush fears him. He even joked that he might want to sneak up on Bush and scare him at the free trade summit in Argentina. Bush's ability to bench over 200 pounds might make the leader of Venezuela think twice, but I digress.

Chavez knows that free trade will sink him. As a socialist, he can reasonably expect that increased trade, and jobs in his nation will have people more interested in the pursuit of their own economic goals rather than the furthering of Chavez's leadership. Not that the people of Venezuela don't already think that, of course, given that Chavez lost the election. Of course, Jimmy Carter endorsed the flawed results, as he never met a jackboot tinpot dictator he didn't like. Digress again, I'm sorry.

But Bush is the best personality to occupy the White House since Ronald Reagan. This is the guy whom Europe hated who visited with European leaders last year, told them what he was going to be doing in the War on Terror, and got them more or less to agree. Bush has a power of persuasion over certain adversaries that rivals no other leader in modern times.

So here is what he should do. Get close to Chavez, and actually welcome him as a friend. Thank him personally for the offers of oil after Hurricane Katrina. Be his buddy. Then take him into a back room and say this:

Hey 'Chevy', how you doing? Look, I know you have to put on a good show, but remember, we folks in the West are all in this together. I know we've both said some stuff that we didn't mean, but look, I'm willing to ignore it because I know you don't really mean any harm. You've got something to sell, we're willing to buy. We're willing to make your country rich. But we don't like it when people play games, and I know you'd rather be be sitting on a wealthy nation than a land of grumpy people who aren't employed.

So here's what we'll do: cut a deal with me, ignore the Chicoms who're trying to woo you, and remember who loves you. And remember, you can't call Hu Jintao a pendejo and expect him to take it as a joke! See, I know you're just kiddin' around. If you don't want to work with us, we have other sellers, who are really afraid that we're going to bring democracy to their doorstep and who are willing to keep my people happy sooner than their own. Either way, I win. But you're my boy, from my neighborhood, and I want to work with you. Sound good? Ok, let's go out and look all happy for the cameras, and we'll keep this just between us.

Of course, it all depends on just how serious Chavez is about being the zealot he claims to be, and I doubt that any deal could be cut with the guy, but if it can be done, I expect Bush to be able to pull it off.

Europe's Crips and Bloods

When we think of France, one usually thinks of Paris, the wine country, and old welcoming European enclaves reflective of times gone by. But for a dose of reality, one may want to add to that pleasant image, one of Islamic slums and civil unrest.

And the population which France allowed to immigrate is now turning on it. Granted, France is possibly one of the most racist and anti-Semeitc societies on earth, just short of the neighbors of Israel. The rioting in France is the result of the deaths of two young men on the run from police who made the inadvisable decision to seek refuge in an electrical substation. And the rioters are young French Muslims whose parents emigrated to France from North Africa and the Middle East.

The problem that France may not be realizing is that it is now having to deal with a youth that is beginning to buy in to the same type of anti-social and destructive pattern as America's inner city youth began to do in the 1980s and then on from gangsta rap. But Europe has much more to fear than America did, because 2 Live Crew has nothing on Osama bL.

Radical Wahabist Islamism is catching among young Muslim youth. Like gangsta rap, it feeds into feelings of economic disadvantage and political powerlessness and redirects energy against Western society which it claims is the genesis of all evil, and against people of any and every other religion as infidels worthy of death. Rather than being a source of spiritual growth as he claims, bin Laden has targeted angry youth in the prime of their rebellious years and packaged a series of revolutionary anarchistic messages around a religious veneer in order to gain a following from young people hungry for some form of power.

And while we saw in the west, inner city youth coalescing in gangs and around the drug trade as a means of getting ahead within the American economic system, Islamist youth are out to actually topple the society that surrounds them.

But years of political correctness which continues to this day, paralyzing a society's right to defend itself from clearly subversive elements operating within it, have left Europe in a very bad position. The left reveres Islamists because their rants have an exotic religious skin about them, their proponents are ethnic minorities, and their economic status is, on its surface, low. Those three factors, among perhaps a few others, prevent the ruling left in Europe from taking any action to stop a movement which makes no secret about its desire to annihilate western civilization. The Europeans presume that their resigned approach will diffuse hostilities. But history shows that such a hands-off approach is just as much, if not more provocative than the open opposition to Islamism as we now see in the United States.

Britain has welcomed Muslims and done nothing to curtail Islamism. It received its reward this past July. And Spain, which did nothing more than send troops to Iraq, was shown that capituation to--not tolerance of--Wahabism is the only stance which will be permitted. These attacks aren't being performed by the elders. These are the young new politically disaffected recruits to the al Qaida army.

And if Europe does not wise up soon, the fires caused by these riots will pale in comparison to the disaster their naivete invited.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Left Picks Apart Alito's Record

When one resorts to picking apart the case of another, it should be a sign to any observer that the "picker" has no really serious opposition to offer. And the same is true for the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

The Democrats are attacking Alito with their most predictable and tiresome weapon: his sensitivity to the impossible demands and hurt feelings of the ever unsatisfied social grievance crowd--liberal minority and disability groups, feminists, and the like. This MSNBC article is part of a very predictable and tiresome line of attack against just about any originalist judge with a long record on the Federal bench. And just to be clear, the article's characterization of the 3rd Circuit as "moderate" is like characterizing the NYT's editorial page in the same way. The 3rd Circuit is fairly activist.

In order to satisfy the left, Alito would have to consistently rule in favor of minorities, women, disabled, and anyone else who claim that unwelcome treatment equals discrimination. In other words, they expect him to uncritically evaluate discrimination cases and to presume that an accusation of discrimination against a member of a suspect class (race, religion and nationality/alienage) is direct proof of it. They want an advocate on the Supreme Court who will just presume that these cases are valid because the left favors these kinds of complaints.

But take a look at Bray v. Marriott, one of the cases cited. Alito, citing the legal standard which Bray, the employee who was not selected for the promotion at issue, had to meet, agreed with the trial court. The standard, quite simply, was that she had to prove that once her employer provided a reasonable explanation for the conduct which Bray claimed was discriminatory (not hiring her when there was someone else in consideration who had roughly similar objective qualifications as she did, and then some apparently sloppy attention to procedural requirements which Marriott had established for hiring) she had to prove that each explanation offered was not credible, or even if the story made some sense, that there was other evidence that the story was simply a pretext for racist behavior.

And Alito agreed with the trial court that she had not. He felt her employer had treated the hiring in a way inconsistent with their procedures and that they really seemed to have no idea what they were doing. He characterized it as unfair, but he made a very important distinction. But unfair or improper treatment of minorities does not trigger anti-discrimination laws. Only treatment that is unfair or improper because the person is a minority. It's a huge distinction which many miss. And to Alito it seemed that that showing had not been made. In fact, the majority did not address that little detail, but rather latched on to what Alito called "loose language" that a witness for Marriott gave which indicated, more than anything else, that he was as disorganized as his hiring process. But as Alito noted, the Plaintiff had to meet the burden of proving that the reasons offered by Marriott for not hiring her were not only weak, but that they were lies, or cover for an established pattern of racist behavior.

Alito's reasoning was that allowing insult to translate into discrimination would open the floodgates for suits by disgruntled employees to make claims of discrimination, forcing employers to defend themselves for alienating an employee who did not happen to be white.

The bottom line to this criticism is that judges are not qualified for the bench unless they find a way to make a discrimination suit fly, strike an abortion restriction, penalize a business owner for not exceeding ADA guidelines, and for not finding a right to gay marriage despite no statutes that allow for it. They cannot think on their own and evaluate a case on the law. They must rewrite the law to permit a desired political outcome.

But this should surprise nobody. And if this collection of chronic old gripes is all the left can wheel out against Alito, he'll be just fine.

The NYT Defames a Fallen Soldier

Michelle Malkin put this story in the news. In a nutshell, the "Grey Lady", increasingly becoming the "Pink Harlot" intercepted the final letter of a fallen soldier in Iraq to his girlfriend--you know, the letter they are supposed to write if they don't come back.

The Times cropped the letter to include only the most helpful passages which indicate that the soldier didn't like war, but omitting the ones that indicate that he believed in what he was doing. In other words, they did to a total stranger and patriot what Cindy Sheehan did to her own son, in order to advance their own anti-war cause.

Despicable to be sure.

This once great paper now uses what remains of its ethos to peddle what is now just a leftist political agenda. And that's fine under two conditions. They need to make clear that they are reporting only leftist propaganda, and they need to ensure that they aren't hurting the innocent, twisting their words and/or slandering their names to do it.

But that would create two problems for the Times' editorial board. Their viewpoints would not be masked as "news", and their paper's circulation would drop. And they can't have either of those, can they?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Harry Reid's Cry of Desperation

It's payback time. Because nobody was indicted for the alleged outing of Valerie Plame, because a successful vote on the Iraq constitution was just held, because the Iraqi Parliament is being voted into office next month, and because Bush is beginning to flex his presidential muscle again and just nominated a very attractive (and conservative) candidate to the Supreme Court, it's time try and stop the momentum.

To wit, Harry Reid orders the Senate into closed session to claim that the intelligence upon which we relied, from British, French, Russian and other reliable sources, including our own, all seemed to indicate that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and had working programs to develop more, was false. Bush lied, people died.

But the Cindy Sheehan approach aside, the fact that Harry Reid chose this time to pull a political stunt like this, at the end of the Plame news cycle which concluded in a dissatisfying manner for him, at the beginning of one for Judge Alito who is receiving very positive reviews (and on the heels of the announcement by the somewhat squishy Mike DeWine that he is firmly behind Alito and that he would vote to trigger the nuclear option if the Dems tried a filibuster), and at the birth of an Iraqi political process that seems to be taking root, is a pregnant admission on his part that he sees the very real possibility that his party is losing traction.

The big problem for him now is Sam Alito, who now threatens to bring the Dems to 0 for 2 on Supreme Court nominees in a three month span. He needs something to take the wind out of the Bush Administration's sails and to stop the so far positive press Alito is receiving.

But this has got to work quickly for him. The effort by Democrats to smear him (thanks to Red State), with what I think is just a little emphasis on his Italian heritage by noting that he failed to convict a mobster in 1988, is not a great start. If this is all they can throw at him, the usual gripes about affirmative action, gender issues, abortion and the like, it's a losing effort. The public has largely come to price this stuff in when hearing the Democrats' criticisms of Republican judicial nominees. And if they can't make anything stick short of their own disfavored political objectives, Alito looks good for confirmation, and the Dems have much to worry about if they try to mount a filibuster.

So all in all a decent week for the Administration so far, and a frankly pitiful cry for attention and relevance by the Senate Minority Leader.

Racism, Democrat Style

Maryland Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steele (R) is taking some heat from from Democrats. The only problem is that the Dems don't like him because he's black and Republican.

And if you think I'm overstating, please take a look at this Washington Times article which shows just how racist Democrats can be.

Calling a man an "Uncle Tom", an Oreo, and then pelting him with them, because he is balck and not a liberal is indeed racism. It is dislike of a man because he is black that is driving the Democrat opposition to Steele, and nothing more.

And that hatred makes sense. If Steele steals away significant black votes from the Democrats in next year's Senate race, the Democrats are indeed in a jam. They'd rather the Republicans keep to tradition by running a pseudo serious candidate for Senate. The fact that the Dems may have a real fight on their hands irritates them. The fact that it is a black Republican giving it to them has them positively furious.

We saw it with Condi Rice. We saw it wane with Colin Powell as it more and more appeared that there was distance between he and the President on key issues.

The left accepts (meaning tolerates, allows, puts up with, etc.) blacks to the extent that they are politically obedient and to the extent that they can deliver votes and funds. But God help the African American who has the audacity and ingratitude to think for themselves and choose to be a conservative. It is this very cruel and cynical, yet "dressed up" racism that has run through the left for years--the expectation that minorities, and especially blacks will be their vassals.

And while nobody is moving about in white robes with crosses burning, and there are no threats of physical harm, the behavior evidenced in the Times article above is of the same despicable variety, motivated by the same shameless hate, and possessed of the same vile elitism that Americans fought against in the 1950s and 60s.

It's a shame that the party that claims to carry the cause of black Americans will only do so if those same Americans know their place.

Joe Wilson's Historical Revision

I'm a little late on this, but I couldn't pass it by. Joe Wilson doesn't get the fact that nobody but the far left takes him seriously, and they only bother with him because of the remaining emotional value his sob story of the claimed exposure of his wife may carry. A story which the public really cares little about, and for which the special prosecutor did not seek indictments. But ignoring the fact that that gripe seems to be bereft of fact, and that his claims about prewar intelligence in Iraq were largely refuted by the Senate Intelligence Committee Report, making him appear more like an opportunistic liar than just the incompetent diplo-fool he was believed to be, he pens this self-righteous column in the Los Angeles Times--"Our 27 Months of Hell". Bring your box of tissues--or a barf bag as necessary.

Ignoring the shrill tone and the Bush lied, people died implications, Joe Wilson has little to be upset about. And if this is hell to him, I'd love to see his idea of heaven. Nobody outside a few people in Washington knew this narcissist before he had the fortune of having his bluff called by the White House. When it came out that it was nepotism through his wife who worked at CIA, not a request by the Vice President as he claimed in all his grandiosity, that got him the job in Niger, (which was the extent of the "outing"), all of a sudden he is propelled in front of cameras and a fawning media.

And then he subjects he and his wife to a Vanity Fair shoot in his Jaguar in front of the White House, shows up at an impeachment hearing held by Rep John Conyers (D-MI) with Cindy Sheehan, and every other appearance with the elite glitterati of Washington. Go all the way through the Slate column linked above. His life has been quite charmed, even if his statements were more than a little inconsistent.

27 months ago the man was unknown. Because he used his wife as a bloody shirt to gain some temporary pathetic traction against the Bush Administration, and then used her as a shield against charges that he had played fast and loose with the truth, he has become a political rock star among the media-left. In short, his wife took the fall, he took the bow. A gentleman indeed.

He can spare the talk of misery, as he willingly subjected himself and his family to media attention and political scrutiny.

It's been the best 27 months of this unpleasant man's life.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Alito's Nomination Needs to Be "Divisive"

George Will has a column that covers just about every rhetorical angle that the Dems are likely to use against Judge Alito.

A few things strike me, though. Will aptly reduces to a few words the judicial philosophy of the Dems by quoting what were most certainly unscripted remarks made by Harry Reid:
When Reid endorsed Scalia for chief justice, he said: "I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are [sic] very hard to dispute." There you have, starkly and ingenuously confessed, the judicial philosophy -- if it can be dignified as such -- of Reid and like-minded Democrats: Regardless of constitutional reasoning that can be annoyingly hard to refute, we care only about results.

This is what "living document" means. A fair reading of the Constitution is not the issue, but rather how the Constitution might be read. They do not intend to use the Constitution as the means to dictate the end, but rather they contort it to match the political outcome they seek. So, to a very significant degree, the Constitution, rather than being "living" is as dead as the men who wrote it, given that politically convenient and legally spurious meanings are disingenuously blue-penciled into it to unlawfully meet policy objectives, working an end run around the Constitutionally-appointed lawmaking bodies who will not pass bills that further the agenda of the left.

Put another way, imagine a football game where one team regularly clobbers another who simply cannot make it past the 50 yard line. The referees, feeling some desire to give the losing side a break, move the losing side's end zone up by 50 yards in the middle of the game, providing an advantage that did not exist before and ignoring the rules upon which gameplay is based in order to create a situation which in their subjective determination is "fair". But just as certain football teams lose for a reason (either from poor performance, outperformance by an opponent, or some combination of both), candidates lose elections for similar reasons. In a battle over ideas, and voters seem to be favoring candidates who will work to reduce tax burdens and regulation on the private sector, who will protect the interests of families, and who will provide for the security of our nation. The values of the left, larger and more intrusive government, higher taxes for income redistribution, relaxed law enforcement, special rights for homosexuals, expanded access to abortion, sexualizing public school curriculums, racial preferences, a weaker defense and an apologetic foreign policy not only are not preferred, they are roundly rejected by voters.

Which is why judicial appointments are vital to the left. If they can't win elections to force their values upon us, they'll have a like-minded judge do it for them in the form of a binding court opinion based upon a novel re-reading of the law, involving no public debate.

But what is more divisive? Unelected judges who supplant the work of the elected representatives of the people and that of the people's executive, or judges who read the law for what it says and apply it to the facts of the cases before them? A government of known powers, or one that can turn on a dime?

Which brings me to Judge Alito. The Democrats don't like him because he filed a partially dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood V. Casey, 947 F. 2d 682 (1991). The issue in the dissent was spousal notification. Under Pennsylvania law, a woman seeking an abortion had to first advise her husband. There was no requirement that he approve, but just that he be on notice, subject to certain exceptions. The Democrats over the past day have demonized him as an abortion opponent, using Casey as their fodder. But read the dissent (courtesy of Patterico). Alito's dissent, for those lefties who actually bothered to read it, actually avoids a discussion about the morality and emotion that surrounds the abortion debate, and centers squarely upon the right of the legislature to create a condition precedent to an abortion to be performed on a married woman. In a remark which seems to encapsulate his approach, Alito writes:
Whether the legislature’s approach represents sound public policy is not a question for us to decide. Our task here is simply to decide whether Section 3209 meets constitutional standards. The first step in this analysis is to determine whether Section 3209 has been shown to create an undue burden under Supreme Court precedent, and for the reasons just explained it seems clear that an undue burden has not been established.
To decipher this from legalese, whether the legislature's abortion notification requirement is morally or ethically acceptable is not a matter for the courts. The only thing the court can consider is whether there was sufficient evidence before the trial court to show that the notification requirement created such a structural impediment to obtaining an abortion as to make it an unconstitutional restriction to abortion access. And if you don't prove your case at the trial level, you lose, regardless of how socially meritorious it may be. If there is not sufficient showing of an undue burden, the court can do nothing.

So given that Alito would not let the courts extend their power beyond what the law permitted to defend abortion, the Democrats immediately oppose him. And that raises a few questions about Alito's detractors.

First, if they didn't read the dissent, their commentary on the Judge's abortion stance is uninformed and has no place in the debate. But second, and more importantly, if they did bother to read it and still make the same claims that Alito's dissent indicates that he would overturn Roe v. Wade, turn back the clock on abortion rights, etc., it dovetails right back into Will's observation that the left believes that proper application of the rule of law is secondary to political outcomes. So when conservatives argue that the rule of law matters more than the outcome, there will indeed be "division".

But the complaints from Democrats that Alito is a divisive nominee should be encouraging for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Democrats define "unity" as agreement with leftism.

And perhaps the debate that is generated from this nomination will reach such topics as the legal validity of Roe v. Wade, the moral validity of abortion, the powers of courts to alter or even formulate law, and the rights of the people to rely upon laws made by a legislature without fear that an activist court will disturb them.

The Democrats don't want a divisive nominee because the ensuing public discussion will cause people to think about how they permit themselves to be governed and the behavior that is permitted in society and from elected and appointed government officials. The Democrats know that they cannot intellectually defend their policies, and must resort to the demagoguery of ad-hominem attacks, threats, straw man arguments, and the like, hoping that their invecta will cause an opponent to back down or an audience to be swayed by an irrelevant and illogical but emotional appeal. But the more people discover about what the Democrats are peddling, the more they will understand that this party stands for little more than the anti-family, anti-religious, and antisocial values of the ACLU, Hollywood, and other members of the elite far left.

So bring it on.