Friday, June 30, 2006

Timetables: The Key to a Temporary Peace

I'll be the first conservative to state it: a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq will indeed promote peace. And by peace, I mean that bombings will taper off over a period of maybe 2-4 months. Anti-Iraqi and native insurgent elements will seem to vanish, and Iraq will indeed appear to have benefitted from a pull out of U.S. troops.

It's like taking a knee in the 4th quarter in a football game. One team, eager to prevent the other from gaining an advantage in the last few minutes of a game will run out the clock and at the last second to snap the ball, will do so, and then the quarterback will take a knee, keeping the clock running, but taking away every hope that the other team has for a last-minute turnover. Because the clock is a powerful substitute to complete effort.

In this situation the insurgents, by their own admission through their now deceased leader, were doing poorly before his death. But in order to have any hope of victory, they must keep pressure on the coalition forces. Failure to do that means that funding and physical support may dry up--nobody wants to support the losing side. But if al Qaida in Iraq has a timetable, it will know that there will come a time when it will be largely unopposed.

There will be a few bombings here and there for effect once a timetable is implemented, but it will taper and eventually expire. But once withdrawal is complete, they will re-emerge, much better rested, better equipped, and ready to make trouble for an Iraqi military that was left to figure out for itself how to combat a determined clandestine terror organization operating and shielding itself among civilians.

And those calling for a pullout will be able to watch from the comfort of their living rooms how the peace that seemed so clear as we pulled out before achieving our goals, so suddenly and so curiously crumbled. A poor way to repay the Americans, Iraqis, British and others who gave their lives for a free and peaceful Iraq.

But that is of little concern to those who have no understanding or appreciation of the very hard work we are doing in that critical nation.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Free Speech Red Herring

The New York Times' recent defenses of its actions in exposing classified information are invoking debates about the power of government, specifically the separation of those powers and the rights of free speech and freedom of the press. I will deal with the separation of powers in my next post, but for now, let's explore the really misunderstood right we have to freedom of speech and of the press.

The First Amendment to our Federal Constitution is possibly the single most important engine for change that we have in this nation. We can say whatever we like about the government and its officials and criticize them to the point of cruelty without fear of any criminal sanction. We have that right because our Founders knew well that freedom to say what one pleased about government was one of the most important tools for keeping the state honest and accountable to the people it served.

And from that right, a rather gigantic private media enterprise has developed, which has never shown much reluctance to be critical of government. And while idea competition and criticism makes life unpleasant for state officials, we have come to accept and expect that same is part of the game for those who choose to involve themselves in government. If you can't stand the heat...

And there is nothing wrong with doing that. Free speech is one of the greatest engines for the generation of ideas that are great and for the rejection of those that aren't, and it is the responsibility of citizens to make their government operate in a proper manner by applying unwelcome pressure. And while political speech is beyond the reach of the state to control or punish, the right to it comes with moral and legal responsibilities as well.

The right carries the responsibility and the social expectation of honesty. It's one thing to make sincerely believed but factually incorrect statements. In that case, one only looks foolish. But it's quite another to deceive. And for a newspaper to pretend that it is being objective and trying to assist the public when its true objective is to play a game of political one-upsmanship against an administration which it opposes at the expense of the safety of the people, that is an abuse of the right. Dishonesty of this nature should obviously carry no criminal sanction of any kind, but it must carry an incalculable social cost with the punishment being ostracism in the form of cancelled subscriptions and denial of access to its reporters among other things. Lying to people about your political objectives, while pretending to be objective is morally reprehensible and inexcusable.

The right also presumes that people will not use their speech to endanger innocent people, as free speech does not include the right to commit acts that imperil others. Just as one cannot scream "fire" in a crowded place to create a gratuitous panic for some laughs, one cannot release state secrets in the middle of a war, regardless of whatever false benevolent objective is used as a justification.

These kinds of things get people killed. In this regard, I certainly agree that things have become harder for terrorists when it comes to the security of their financial activities. But thanks to the New York Times' efforts over the past six months, things have also become safer for terrorists. They know that their accounts are compromised. They will deal in cash. Much harder, much more cumbersome, but now they know how to avoid our scrutiny. They also know that it might be wise to physically move their operation, as transactions already known may lead authorities to their location. And the smart terrorists are the ones that pull off the successful operations that we so want to avoid.

The release of such information as the Times has done is not only immoral, but also cozies up very close to criminal activity, even if it doesn't exactly meet the definition.

So when you hear the defense of freedom of speech and of the press, understand that those freedoms do not mean that acts taken are in any way socially acceptable, honorable, or moral. Mean nothing more than the fact that one can't go to jail for such speech. And I would hope that those of the media-left would remember that respectable journalism means way more than just staying out of jail, and includes a respect for the nation as a whole and forbearance in reporting of matters that are better kept secret.

Which New York Times Do You Believe?

It seems the more journalists talk about their lack of bias, the more they expose the fact that they are biased.

Recall the Rathergate events of September 2004. Dan Rather and Mary Mapes did a story on 60 Minutes II using false documents to allege that the President got preferential treatment in the Texas Air National Guard in order to influence the 2004 presidential election. But when the authenticity of the documents became very clearly doubtful in the following days, Rather ran a number of stories defending the original one and attacking critics of the documents which formed the foundation of his story. But with each defensive segment he ran, a few things became clear. First, he made no serious effort to determine whether the documents were what they appeared to be on first glance. Second, it appeared that Rather rushed the story to air in an effort to harm Bush politically and advance John Kerry's candidacy, given the fact that Rather offered a circular basis for his confidence in the documents--that they were authentic because of his subjective belief in the story they supported. Lastly, Rather appeared confused and unprofessional, given the fact that he could not see past the fact that he was holding recently-created documents.

That said, which New York Times do you believe? This one or this one? The first link was Sunday's attempted justification for releasing the Swift story, where Executive Editor, Bill Keller explained his rationale for releasing the story, stating that he believed it to be in the public interest to know about this program, and to have it properly debated in the open--in other words, we will publicly debate the efficacy of classified programs in specific terms. The Times isn't that stupid, and it is unfortunate that they thought we were as well.

I discussed the matter and indicated that his rather smarmy reasoning belied a desire to take a politically-motivated swipe a the Bush Administration, regardless of the risk to the nation of releasing such information. And despite Keller's ineffective efforts to dispel any notions of partisanship, the second linked article does away with everything he tried to do.

That piece's core admission nicely puts us in tune with the NYT editorial board's mind:

From our side of the news-opinion wall, the Swift story looks like part of an alarming pattern. Ever since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has taken the necessity of heightened vigilance against terrorism and turned it into a rationale for an extraordinarily powerful executive branch, exempt from the normal checks and balances of our system of government. It has created powerful new tools of surveillance and refused, almost as a matter of principle, to use normal procedures that would acknowledge that either Congress or the courts have an oversight role.

The Swift program, like the wiretapping program, has been under way for years with no restrictions except those that the executive branch chooses to impose on itself or, in the case of Swift, that the banks themselves are able to demand. This seems to us very much the sort of thing the other branches of government, and the public, should be nervously aware of. [snip]

The free press has a central place in the Constitution because it can provide information the public needs to make things right again. Even if it runs the risk of being labeled unpatriotic in the process. [italics mine]

The italicized Freudian slip is striking. Despite the fact that the Times gives some passing credit to this program it now renders useless, and notes quite correctly that there were no complaints about it by any aggrieved individuals or organizations, its editorial board wants "to make things right again." And given that they have already very clearly passed on criticism of the program, they raise concerns of separation of powers, public nervousness that ought to be there (but isn't), and "making things right again," it seems equally clear from this op-ed piece that this whole charade was an effort to undercut the Bush Administration.

And while there is nothing wrong with opposing political officials, there is everything wrong with putting people in danger to do it. Which makes the clever but disingenuous ending to the Times' op-ed piece about being "labeled unpatriotic" nothing more than a cheesy piece of self-righteous demagoguery.

So whichever Times you choose to believe, understand that they don't believe the defense that they keep offering, no matter how it's packaged.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The NYT Suicide Bombs Our National Security

We are fairly well acquainted with the term "suicide bomber" in this age of the War on Terror. A suicide bomber is one who, out of hate for others--generally civilians--and in order to destroy them, makes themselves the delivery device for a bomb, killing themselves in the process, feeling that the destruction of others whom they hate was worth their own death. Unfortunately, the New York Times has adopted that same philosophy when it comes to our national security.

Once considered the newspaper of record, the Times has over the past 15 years moved from a respected publication to become little more than an outpost for the distribution of leftist yellow journalism, masquerading as sober reporting inside the cloak of its old reputation. And in the past six months, The Times has made a point of releasing state secrets essential to the maintaining of our security in the war on terror.

They began last December by revealing the fact that NSA was listening in on telephone calls between suspected terrorists and persons in other nations. The Administration asked them not to do it in 2004, before the election, and so they waited a year, only because they knew that John Kerry would have probably been shortsighted enough to take the ACLU stance, just when he was desperately trying to establish some national security credibility in an election that hinged on the issue. So they released it a year later when Bush was attempting a political recovery after the Katrina disaster and other complications.

And when they released it, The Times let the NSA program be cast as a violation of our civil liberties and an indicator, however false, that the Bush Administration had overstepped its boundaries under the Constitution. But in so doing, they allowed terrorists to know how we track them and helped them adapt to our efforts to protect ourselves. Al Qaida had few greater friends than the Grey Lady.

And now again, The Times has released information on yet another classified program which monitors financial transactions and enables them to track accounts of suspected terrorists. The Administration again asked the Times not to report on the matter. But citing their opinion that to do so was "in the public interest", the Editor, Bill Keller decided to release the story anyway, again letting our enemies know that their financial histories were monitored and probably compromised. And Keller's incredible and self-contradictory apologetic (H.T. Hugh Hewitt) sets forth a really silly defense of what was plainly and foreseeably a devastating decision to our national security.

Most revealing is the real core of Keller's argument:
It's not our job to pass judgment on whether this program is legal or effective,but the story cites strong arguments from proponents that this is the case. While some experts familiar with the program have doubts about its legality, which has never been tested in the courts, and while some bank officials worry that a temporary program has taken on an air of permanence, we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financiers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it. That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don't know about it. [emphasis mine]
In a nutshell, it's a great program that catches the bad guys, is not the source of any complaints, and is probably legal, but [snicker] we think that the whole thing ought to be decided in the public square--making the program useless. And if anyone believes this snide rationale as anything but a mask for pure partisan venom, they are simple.

Because more folks than just the Administration demanded that this information not be released. The Chairmen of the 9/11 committee, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton recommended that this not be released. As did Jack Murtha of all people. The argument that Keller offers falls flat.

The only explanation that makes sense in light of all of these facts is that the Times "suicide bombed" this program. Out of pure hate for the Bush Administration, they exposed secrets that protect us and them, but in an effort to cause trouble for the President, (and by all accounts, this is killing the Times, not Bush), they took away a valuable tool in the war on Terror.

Now to the consequences.

This was nothing if not pernicious, so perhaps a prosecution is in order, and Gabriel Schoenfeld offers a great peek into the means of prosecuting the Times, not for leaking, as they didn't do that, but for divulging information in a way that would help enemies. It's an option.

And while would not ordinarily favor prosecution, leaving this just to the court of public opinion, as reporting is almost always a 1st Amendment issue, I can't do that here. The Times' politics got in the way of national security, and they used it to make us less safe as a nation in a very real and measurable way. That needs to come at a price.

The next option is for all but the Ward Churchill left to drop their subscriptions. Stop buying it on the street, don't even give it a second look.

And for that matter, perhaps the White House should revoke their press access, leaving the Times's White House correspondent to sit outside the fence with the rest of us whom they made less safe. Freeze them out, give them nothing, no interviews, and leave them with no sourcing.

And so while Bill Keller may not have considered these things in his snarky little letter, perhaps the degrading of his paper, the shutting out of his reporters and the loss of his readers, and perhaps even his own prosecution may be helping him reevaluate his decision in hindsight.

Too bad. Because the Americans don't like the kind of arrogance that makes these kinds of decisions affecting our safety in order to score a worthless political jab.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Europe and the Crazy Missile Men

I love when George Bush goes to Europe. Because despite all of the mistreatment we get over there from the abundant Euro-Berkeley crowd, Bush has a way of making the Europeans agree with his policies, absent any compromise.

And it happened again yesterday. He got widespread agreement from the European leaders about holding the line on Iran and North Korea. He even got away with giving a non-answer about changing anything at Gitmo by stating that he was awaiting Supreme Court action on the matter, meaning that he will do nothing. And when it came to questions from Euro-media critics that the U.S. was the greatest source of terror in the world, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel came to Bush's defense. And Bush also got the Europeans to agree to hold Iran to a deadline for response to the "incentives" package offered to get it to drop its nuclear program and a hard line on North Korea on missile testing. Bush could not have dreamed for better.

And with that, we move on the game being played by Iran and North Korea.

A few sources have written me about the psychological issues that must be going on in the mind of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs what run that country, but none was so instructive as this piece from fellow blogger and psychoanalyst, Stanley Renshon who opines at his blog "Political Psychology" that Iran is on a quest for dignity, not security. In other words,
The development of missiles capable of hitting Israel, parts of Europe and eventually parts of the United States, coupled with the push to develop nuclear war heads, along with aggressive rhetoric has little to do with dignity and everything to do with threat. The Iranians frame their military quest as a matter of dignity at their own risk with an administration seared by 9/11.
Meaning that in order to be a legitimate player, Iran feels that it needs to be able to threaten the rest of the world. But per this analysis, it seems that what many of us have been thinking about Ahmadinejad may be accurate: he is a neophyte buffoon who wants to grip international power and to do so is playing a very dangerous game whose rules he just does not understand. But he is a less significant problem at this stage.

The real worry is North Korea. And I believe that the North is possessed of much the same psychological needs as described above, but with two distinctions: they may actually have a nuclear device, they actually have flying missiles, and their leader, Kim Jong-Il, rather than being a blustery buffoon, is a paranoid and unstable crackpot.

North Korea is planning a missile launch at some point in the next few days just to show the United States and the rest of the world that it can reach out and touch them. And while the North probably doesn't have anything close to the technology to mate a nuclear warhead to a missile, that's not the point. The point is that they are attempting to reach out and touch someone, and that much simpler things can be put atop that missile that can do significant damage. In any case, if they launch the thing, the Bush Administration would be remiss not to give an appropriate response, in the form of a defensive interception of the missile, or perhaps an offensive hit on the missile launch complex.

The idea of a missile intercept is indeed an exciting one, as it would be the ultimate checkmate to the North's posturing. The matter has been discussed at length (H.T. RealClearPolitics), and it is not at all clear just how effective our missile defense system is. It will almost certainly be up and running in two years, but to launch an intercept to North Korea's test and have it fail would indeed be a humiliation and would reduce its deterrent value. And I do not expect the Bush Administration to risk such an embarrassment if it believes that there is any chance that our defensive system would fail.

But in an interesting offering from an equally interesting source, former Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry suggests a submarine-launched Tomahawk strike against the Taepodong missile launch site in North Korea to destroy the launchpad and thereby, North Korea's ability to launch missiles altogether if they refuse to drain the fuel from the missile and return it to the warehouse. It's certainly an option, and likely one that would generate very little international outrage--the destruction of a couple of acres of an aggressive, nuclear-armed nation's launch pad, making that region of the planet a heck of a lot safer for a time versus an increase of regional tensions that may lead to war and the loss of millions of lives. This from an Administration that paid blackmail to North Korea which caused the very situation we now have, rather than taking the advice ten years ago that it offers only now--but I digress.

Stephen Hadley has dismissed the notion of such a strike, indicating that diplomacy is the route we are choosing. But how serious can the White House be about negotiation with a dictator who already lied to us once?

My fervent prayer is that this Administration is buying time to prepare to squash Kim's regime by insisting on the six party talks, which were doomed to failure from the moment they were conceived. And the same with Iran. It seems that Condoleeza Rice is playing Ahmadinejad's game--offering incentives that are very reasonable but which he cannot accept because they force Iran to abandon their nuclear weapons program--in an effort to force Iran into a corner with many fewer incentives and many more imperatives with most serious consequences for failure to comply. Because to do anything else is to give in to the demands to two of the original members of the Axis of Evil, and to surrender the high ground taken after 9/11.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Senate Immigration Bill is Dead

So says Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics here, and here. And this is something to celebrate. We really didn't need immigration reform. We needed Executive Branch-only action.

Now, to be clear, I do not oppose, and even somewhat favor a guest worker plan. It benefits our economy, and works to the benefit of others who are willing to work for a lower than standard wage because the economies of scale in Mexico make such work quite lucrative for Mexicans. But I doubt that the program that the Senate was crafting was more for Americans than it was for foreign nationals. And it makes little sense to set up a program that would attract vast amounts of immigration before we set in place a means to control access to our border.

The United States already has laws that prohibit unlawful immigration. Until now, though, we have done nothing about it. And it seems that having a real presence on the border is a very real discouragement to illegal immigration. It's what the American people have been wanting, but which politicians, fearful that they may offend or get bad press have avoided. And while such a move may generate flack from the MSM, enforcement of the laws we already have is what Americans have wanted for some time. And perhaps the White House is starting to learn that while the Clintonian paradigm of governing by windsock is certainly ill advised, it is likewise a mistake to ignore polling entirely. Because Americans have been making very clear that they are offended by foreigners who violate our laws by illegal border entries and who compromise our national security by doing so. And they are unwilling to help people who will not first respect our laws.

Which is why the House bill was all about enforcement. The people who are up for reelection every two years have a better feel for the national pulse than those in the Senate who sit for six years. And while the House version does not call for a guest worker program, it does not preclude one either. In a nutshell, the House wanted to make certain that the people's concerns were met now, allowing room for reasonable proposals for handling temporary residents later, without one watering down the other. A longer process to be sure, but one that more likely would handle the problem.

But the Senate version--the one that was the dealbreaker--in an effort to please everyone, seemed almost an apology to illegals for the fact that we wish to limit access to our border and for the fact that their own economy is in a voluntary state of decay. It seems that the authors of the final product tried to say, "We're sorry that life is so difficult for you. Please pull up to the federal trough and we'll slop you along with the rest of the voluntarily dependent." It was the usual Washington nightmare--gifts for all, solutions for none. At least none who are Americans.

And while I can respect the attitude of many Senators in wanting a bill that helps as many people as possible, it got lost in the process of throwing more money and red tape at the problem, aiding foreigners, but not the Americans who want to prevent foreigners from entering the nation to plug into our social welfare system.

And so perhaps the kindest thing that the House of Representatives can do for themselves and the people that all 435 of them will face in the coming year is to kill this bill which the public won't like, which could get said politicians tossed from the House, and which fixes no problem, save those of the people who broke our laws in the first place.

Silence on Butchery, Whining at Guantanamo

This morning reports are that the two missing U.S. soldiers who were kidnapped in Iraq were found dead, and "butchered" before their deaths. Army Pfc. Thomas Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca are good men, and now their families are heartbroken over their loss and the unimaginable torture they experienced before their deaths.

Fox News' E.D. Hill offered an even more graphic description this morning which I have not yet been able to find anywhere posted on the web, but if her account is even close to accurate, it involved the most unimaginable and barbaric acts possible. These men's bodies were destroyed prior to their deaths to the point that they could not be identified.

But what does the anti-war crowd have to offer? Guantanamo Bay. As President Bush sits in Vienna, he is pressured by hand-wringing Europeans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The concern of these Europeans is over not the conditions at the prison, where numerous terrorists captured in the War on Terror are being held, but over the flap that is being made by anti-war groups like Amnesty International and the terrorists themselves who are "unhappy" with the fact that they are being detained, as evidenced by a coordinated suicide two weeks ago by three of them.

And prominent anti-war voices like Jack Murtha, who never met a U.S. soldier in the line of fire whom he wouldn't second-guess, are strangely silent at the news that their own soldiers were kidnapped, torn to pieces and only then murdered by al Qaida in Iraq terrorists.

Where is their outrage?

It's been established unapologetically that Gitmo is not Club Med. It is not a fun place, and the military is making every legitimate effort to extract information from these terrorists about al Qaida. But neither is it a place where terrorists are tortured. They receive three very good meals each day, and have access to genuine spiritual advice. These people, not being members of the military of any established nation-state, but rather illegal, non-national combatants who tend to operate in clandestine fashion, are not entitled to even the most basic courtesies under the Geneva Convention. But they are not short of leftist western advocates from the self-loathing and freedom-embarrassed camp in Europe and the United States.

But the fact that the same voices who scream outrage any time a terrorist's infinitesimal sensibilities with regard to a guard's handling of the Koran are insulted (despite the fact that it's ok when it's the terrorists desecrating the Koran in their cells) offer not a peep of objection when two soldiers are kidnapped, disarmed and put through unimaginable torture before being murdered by anti-civilization terrorists, speaks much of how filthy their characters have become. Because if they are to have any authority on the humanitarian treatment of people, they need to decry torture and pursue to the punishment of ALL torturers, not just those with whom they politically sympathize.

And I would be delighted if these two men suffered only what the terrorists suffer at our hands.

Would that these two young men were treated like the terrorists at Gitmo. Would that they were treated like the al Qaida in Iraq brigands at Abu Ghraib. Would that they were just given three hots, a cot and all the religious catering they could want. Would that they only were threatened by angry dogs. Would that they only were made to stand for hours and made to think that they were going to be electrocuted. Would that they were only stripped naked and forced into some ridiculous cheerleader pyramid.

But they weren't. Their bodies were ripped to shreds while they still lived. They were humiliated in ways that no human being (save for the kind who would do such a thing) deserves. They were our boys.

The silence of Rep. Murtha and Amnesty, in the face of the torture and desecration of those who provide them the freedom to be the fools they are reflects the emptiness of their position and their lack of morality and reveals the fact that their prior cries of outrage were rooted in nothing more than politics rather than honest advocacy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Murtha's Bought Himself A Challenger

Had Jack Murtha only kept his mouth shut, he would have won this November's election with no problem. He would not have been a lightning rod, he would not have generated much in the way of press, and would have remained a fairly conservative Democrat in the minds of voters in Pennsylvania's 12th District.

But in a strategic decision, he chose to betray the United States Military in which he once served, as a means of personal ascent and possibly to cover his own backside. That kind of unpatriotic talk may fly in Alameda (ask Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Boxer), but it won't in PA-12.

That district is way more conservative than the voting trend of the state as a whole. And while the tide tends to favor the incumbent, that's only if the incumbent avoids bombastic behavior, visits constituents at various district functions, and sends home the typical selective list of good things done in Washington to make their constituents happy and proud. And making the national news on a regular basis is a very risky thing unless the coverage is glowing. But it is downright suicidal if the news is of a congressman in a fairly moderate to conservative district turning on men and women in the military in time of war, accusing them of murder, and demanding their pullout, to of all places, Okinawa, when we are actually winning.

And so Murtha's efforts to become a household name have generated for him a serious general election contender in the form of Washington County Commissioner, Diana Irey. Interestingly, Irey doesn't waste much time on her website ripping into Murtha, but rather, spends more time talking about what she offers. Mrs. Irey is a distinguished member of her community and was championed by the likes of former Pennsylvania governor and former Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge. Her ethical standards won her the honor of being the distinguished ethics speaker at Duquesne University in 1998.

And given that admirable ethics have been woefully missing from Pennsylvania-12's Member of Congress, perhaps it's time for a change.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Murtha Embarrasses Himself On "Meet The Press"

Ann Althouse has a marvelous digest of Jack Murtha's completely disasterous performance on Meet the Press on Sunday.

The problem she identifies is Murtha's inability to communicate why he believes what he does about the Iraq War. And his unbelievably inconsistent comments. For example, in one breath he claims that as a result of our efforts in Iraq, there are now 15,00 insurgents there, but he opines just a moment later that he believes that there are but 1,000 insurgents and that if we pull out, the Iraqis will rid their nation of them. He also noted that defending American interests creats enemies. Does he suggest that we not do it in that case? Of course, the suggestion that we redeploy from Iraq to Okinawa, Japan and that our aircraft can still reach Iraq from there was quite rich, and apparently Tim Russert thought so too, based on his comments.

The problem is that the Dems have no suggestions on the Iraq War. And based upon the really embarrassing performance of Murtha, it seems they have no facts either. It's really just a series of mantras, based on 1960s anti-American slogans that this group of aging and clueless baby boomers never got out of their heads and never discovered to be the failures that history proved them to be.

And I'm glad that a guy with so little intellectual heft as Murtha was able to show the emptiness of the Dems' non-position to the nation.

"Abu Musab, Say It Ain't So!"

I caught something remarkable at the end of last week. Democrats began some murmurings that the documents collected by coalition forces in Iraq as they were pursuing Zarqawi to his death, you know, the ones where the enemy in Iraq evaluated their own condition as "gloomy" and where they were devising other plans to spark other conflicts to distract coalition forces from rooting out al Qaida in Iraq, were fakes created by the U.S. I didn't find it remarkable that they did it, of course, just that they did it publicly. And given that Bob Beckel, one of the Democrats' most talented and reasonable defenders had to come out on Friday on John Gibson's show on Fox to defend his party, and was only able to do so on a halfhearted basis (a credit to his intellectual honesty), it shows that the Dem's anti-American antics are starting to turn against them in an election year when they can't afford any setbacks.

I understand a little bit skepticism, and such is a healthy thing. But the Democrats have no basis to believe that the documents are fake. The only thing upon which they can base such an assertion is their own politics: their vociferous opposition to this war and their determination that the War can only exist as a stick to be used against George W. Bush and the Republicans, and a desire to trash anything, no matter how accurate which may harm their ability to use the it against the President. So what that leaves us with is a series of very uncomfortable conclusions about what the Democrats' goals for and views of the Iraq War are.

Nobody likes to lose a critical issue upon which they can campaign, but to express irritation and disappointment when the enemy--a terrorist group that kills our soldiers and beheads defenseless people, and generally engages in acts of brigandage across Iraq--reveals an attitude towards one's own military and nation that needs to be explored and exposed.

If defeat for the enemy means the same thing for the Democrats (and likewise for victory), the viability of Democrats as a political party need to be very seriously reevaluated. Because a thing of this kind goes way beyond raising questions about one's patriotism, which can fairly be presumed to be dead. This borders on treason, because there is no other motivation for disputing the veracity of these documents other than some Democrats wanting to see their own soldiers and country fail so that Democrats can be advanced in their quest for power.

So as I said, I'm not surprised that some noisy Democrats want to disbelieve that al Qaida in Iraq is collapsing under the weight of our military's efforts to isolate and destroy them, just surprised that a party so power-hungry and absent any morality would be so obtuse as to let their disappointment in the failure of a terrorist organization to be publicly known when airing their anti-American attitudes can cost them dearly in an election year where they had hoped to make gains.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Congressional Debate Over Iraq Speaks of Rovian Strategy

It's never a particularly kind thing to dangle a juicy piece of meat in front of a dog. Because the dog is an animal and a creature of instinct he will probably be unable to pull himself away from the treat he believes will be his, and he will probably ignore everything else, because just about every dog thinks with his stomach.

And what we are now seeing in Congress, where the Republicans are forcing a vote on a non-binding resolution praising our troops, associating Iraq with the global war on terror, and refusing to set some artificial date for withdrawal is an equally cruel act. It forces the Democrats into a real position, off of the false dichotomy of supporting our troops but not their mission, and forces then to address Iraq in the wake of several weeks of major successes, and all in an election year when they hoped to use the same issue against Republicans in order to gain a majority in Congress.

But this is not an isolated act. This is classic Karl Rove preparing at the very least to hold Congressional losses to a minimum, prevent losses altogether and possibly even to gain more ground in November like he did in 2002.

It is a settled issue that the Bush presidency stands or falls on the success of the war and the peace in Iraq. And given the reports of the past week, the terrorist elements have been dealt a death blow with the killing of Zarqawi and subsequent raids staged on his associates based upon information he had with him. Bush's new media team, led by the apparently more than capable Tony Snow have been able to play it all to the President's advantage, bringing his approval ratings to about 40%, proving that the public ties Bush to Iraq, as they ought.

But the successes of the past week put the Democrats in a tough position: they must acknowledge them for the successes that the Iraqi government considers them to be, thus alienating their base, find some hybrid position that acknowledges them as victories but then retreats to the tried and failed mantras of the 2004 election about Iraq being a distraction, a lie, etc. making them sound stupid, or the unabashed leftist position which regards the death of Zarqawi as a stunt. In any case, the last two positions open them to the accusation that they are not serious about terror or national security, but only crank politics and personal bitterness.

It's hard to quantify what the results will be, but the Republicans have nothing to lose by this.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"The Gloomy Present Situation"

Much to the disappointment to the left, that was al Qaida in Iraq's assessment of their status immediately prior to the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the 452 raids conducted since his death based upon information that Zarqawi had with him when he was killed.

The documents detail a situation where the insurgents were dealing with increasingly limited options due to problems with arrests of key personnel, discovery of weapons caches, internal divisions and restricted access to hard currency, among other things, as a result of coalition efforts.

The documents also revealed plans to set the Shiites against the Americans and to spark a shooting war between Iran and the U.S. in order to shift the focus off of the al Qaida operations.

The bottom line is that they detailed an organization that was becoming increasingly desperate in the face of U.S., British and Iraqi pressure. And while this doesn't end our business of cleanign up the security situation in Iraq, it marks what is likely a fatal blow to the coordinated terrorist effort. Cells will begin to act independently, and without the external support they need, they will begin making stupid mistakes. They'll be caught, killed, and they will lead us to more of their warrens.

And so with almost 1,000 insurgents captured or killed in the past seven days, along with the capture of all of the weapons, money and information that they carried with them, I can only imagine that week brought few improvements for the terrorists.

And just to make clear to friends on the left: the enemy thought we were winning when you didn't. So now that we're winning, do you want to bail?

Progress in Iraq as Viewed By the Cranky Left

Peter Daou over at the Huffington Post offers this really embarrassing post about the way Bush addressed a reporter at yesterday's Rose Garden event. To be clear, the embarrassment is to himself and the "Post".

The President has had a banner few weeks. Karl Rove is cleared in the ridiculous Plame case. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is introduced to the Reaper, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, Bush makes a surprise visit to Iraq and meets with the new Prime Minister, and the fruits of Zarqawi's strike leads to 452 raids against terrorist elements across Iraq that have apparently brought al Qaida in Iraq to a point of desperation. The very things we had been hoping for in Iraq are finally happening. Bush's promise of determination and perseverance in that nation are beginning to pay off.

But all the left can focus on is a jovial and unintentionally politically incorrect comment which the President made yesterday to a reporter who was wearing sunglasses and posing questions to the President. Little did the President know that the reporter needed the sunglasses because of a serious vision problem. But the only people who seem to care are various liberal reporters. And if this is the kind of thing that they find worth reporting, coequal with the content of that conference, the media and the left have completely missed the boat.

Thankfully, the American people have not.

Iraq Death Toll and the Popping of Media Champagne Corks

I can now report that the 2,500th U.S. soldier has died in the Iraq War. And I can also report that 2499th American soldier died immediately before him. Both terrible losses, both of equal significance to their families and their nation, both people who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the protection of American interests, the protection of freedom for the people of Iraq and the enhancement of global stability. We should offer prayers for their souls, we should offer prayers for the comfort of their families and we should pray that the Iraqi military is soon able to defend the nation and prevent terrorist takeover in our absence, and eventually squash the filthy remnants of al Qaida Wahabism from Iraq. And we should not recognize one over another simply because of the order of their deaths.

But most unfortunately, this soldier's blood and name will be yet another excuse for the media to once again wonder aloud whether reaching this round figure means that we need to reevaluate our commitment in Iraq. And so in an effort to inaugurate the next Cindy Sheehan, the media will run to the door of that soldier's family, praying that they will blame their son's death on George W. Bush, denounce the war, the awful Bush Administration, and blame him for all that is wrong in Iraq. Because the media and the Democratic leaders very badly want what we are doing in Iraq to fail.

It's quite simple, really. They never got over Vietnam. It was a war we were winning. But because the media reported nothing but the blood, deaths, costs, pain, hardship and destruction our soldiers faced, and the suffering of the Vietnamese at the hands of our soldiers (thanks to the efforts of folks like John Kerry), the work to prevent a communist takeover was in vain. But the media didn't think that Sino-Russian Communism was that bad a thing--they believed that we were. And so the media and the Communists got what they wanted. And their baby-boomer successors have retained their loathing of the United States Armed Forces and their work, content to let anti-Americanism reign as their philosophy of choice.

They seem to harbor this belief, which they will not openly voice, that 9/11 took place in response to something awful that the United States did. But the problem that terrorists have with us is not our military, not our foreign policy, not our prosperity and not our culture, while all of those make fine excuses. Their real objection is to our existence--just like with Israel.

But the media and their brethren on the Democrat far left are still so hopelessly trapped in 1960s and 1970s politics--35-40 years later--and still hepped up on the vitriolic hatred and viciousness of their now discredited cause that they miss the threat that our enemies pose and the motivation for their opposition to us.

And so they will use what ought to be an un-numbered, solemn, and private occasion for one family and attempt to run it up their own shameless flagpole for their own political purposes.

And I find it remarkably ironic that these leftists, who detest those who voluntarily fight and die to preserve their right to be the wingnut fools they are, value our soldiers only after their deaths, when they become a number of some political utility.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Feeling the Pain of the Gitmo Prisoners

I really don't know why I have to bother with this post. But because--once again--the terror-loving crybabies on the left feel the pain of terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and are troubled by their suicides, it is important to understand what prison is supposed to be all about.

The people at Guantanamo Bay are there for a few major reasons. They are in a place where they cannot be sprung by their buddies as would be the case were they penned up in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or any other place where a Wahabist might be able to reach. The prison is safe from attacks. The prisoners, are people who, like hungry jackals in their cages, are eager to resume their life of terrorizing western civilians and effecting 9/11 style attacks. They belong in a place from which escape is more or less impossible. And they are in that place in order to provide information about known terror operations and methods.

But the whiny voices of the far left are once again feeling sorry for people who want to slit their throats. A few lawyers playing psychiatrists claim that there is a "stench of despair" and "hopelessness" pervading Gitmo. I have no doubt of that. But let's take a step back and in true Kindergarten style, we will repeat this truth until we actually believe it: "These are prisoners who want to kill us. Prison isn't supposed to be happy." Repeat as often as necessary until it makes sense to you.

Prisons are bad, bad places. They are places of despair. It's why I was pleased with the life sentence for Moussaoui. His prison experience would be bleak. But setting aside for just a moment the conditions reported at Gitmo and the really undeservedly kind and deferential treatment that these prisoners receive there, it is not the purpose of a prison to be uplifting or to restore energy to the miscreant's soul. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Prisons are supposed to be places that detain dangerous individuals, and give them time to consider the wages of their criminal behavior. And there is nothing pleasant about such a humility lesson for the arrogant terrorists who live there. But a delegation of U.S Congressmen visited and found it to be a decent place. And most recently, a group of Afghans, whose nationals are also held there, likewise found the place to be a humane. The reason? Because the conditions are so much better at Gitmo than the conditions these terrorists would face were they repatriated.

These terror prisoners tend not to like repatriation. And while some Saudis have kicked up quite a bit of dust about the suicides of these prisoners, the prisoners know better than to wish for a return to their homeland. Because dictatorships like the Saudis, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, and others really hate terrorists. Not for the same reasons we do, of course, but because terrorists hate them as much as they hate the U.S. , and they forbear against nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia and others because those nations finance them just enough to make it not worth their while to topple those states--just yet. But they are a destabilizing force, and no dictator likes to have his people organized against him. So the treatment these people can expect is real torture. No, not readings of Harry Potter, sleep deprivation, loud music, uncomfortable positions, being forced to lay in their own excrement, etc., although I'm certain that those modalities are not excluded from the average dictatorial regime's torture handbook. I'm talking killing someone slowly. Destroying them little by little in a physical sense by means that I don't even want to consider. That's what "home" means for these people.

But what I found interesting is that one of these suicides was by a man who may have been on his way back home to Saudi Arabia. And as I said above, home is not all that happy a place when you are a terrorist. Torture is almost a certainty.

So I don't buy this bunk about the fact that Guantanamo Bay is not a "happy prison". I'll concede that it's not. It need not strive to be that either. And the idea that these people are hopeless and despairing really strikes no chord of sadness for me. They are killers. They want to harm people who want nothing from them. And the fact that they have been stripped of their freedom and are sad about it was a choice they had before they joined al Qaida.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Murtha's Ethical Past and Present

Much is made by the media and the Democrats about Jack Murtha's heroic service in Vietnam, and his newfound and allegedly principled anti-war stance. Yesterday, I dealt with some of the likely motivations behind Murtha's recent fiery denunciations of the Iraq War, our soldier's morale and then his knee jerk accusations that our soldiers had murdered civilians in Haditha. Today, an astute reader, Lauren, provides a link whose sourcing from whom I liberally borrow, which may shed further light into the Congressman's motives for his posturing--as it appears that ethical problems may have caused him to generate a smokescreen.

Murtha's family ties to lobbying interests are now under investigation in the House after the 2005 appropriations bill, partially authored by Murtha, granted at least $9.5 million to at least four clients of a lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, where a former Murtha staffer and Murtha's own brother, Robert "Kit" Murtha are principals. And it matters because Murtha is the ranking member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, in prime position to dole out pork to individuals in the defense industry who have the right connections.

The first signs of trouble for Murtha came this time last year with this L.A. Times article copiously detailing KSA clients, their contacts with Murtha, and awards to them with Murtha's prints on them. And given that he believed that he was looking at the convening of an ethics probe per this article (which goes into further detail about Rep. Murtha's colorful ethical past), Murtha apparently decided to avoid an embarrassment, and work a very effective PR end-run in November by adopting a bombastic leftist stance on the Iraq war that made him wildly popular with the media. Politically clever and morally reprehensible, and were that the sum of Murtha's problems, it would be enough to disqualify him from opining as to the morality of the Iraq War. But we're not even close to being done, as Murtha's hands are unclean at least as far back as 1980.

Murtha was one of the several Members of Congress whose name became associated with the Abscam scandal. Abscam was an FBI sting which caught several Members of Congress and one Senator accepting bribes in a sting operation. Murtha was one of those targeted by the sting. And while he escaped prosecution, his refusal of bribe money was quite equivocal. In the FBI video that the CNS article links, Murtha can be heard saying "I'm not interested. I'm sorry--at this point." Then the CNS article notes that Murtha further states on a portion of the tape not provided that, "You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't."

For those who aren't too clear on this, the right response when offered a bribe is an unambiguous refusal, not a wishy-washy response. The next thing is to walk out and pick up the phone to the FBI and report what just took place, which he also appears not to have done. But Murtha escaped prosecution and was cleared of House Ethics Committee punishment chiefly because of the work of former Rep. Don Bailey (D-PA) whom Murtha later faced and defeated in a primary challenge caused by redistricting.

Bailey declared himself to be Murtha's savior on the House Ethics Committee in 1980. But in 2002, Bailey wrote a letter to Murtha and then published it after Murtha's surrogates accused him of lying when Bailey revealed to a third party a few disclosures Murtha had made to him years before surrounding Absam and other ethical shortcomings. The bottom line of the letter is that Murtha admitted to Bailey (after Bailey defended him in the Ethics Committee) that he did not escape prosecution for Abscam because there was a belief in his innocence, but because he agreed to cooperate with the FBI. Further, Bailey implies that Murtha did not immediately and voluntarily report the bribe attempt to the FBI. But the major thrust of the letter deals with Murtha's award of two Purple Hearts. And Bailey claims that, based on Murtha's admissions to him, that the Hearts were improperly awarded.

The letter details a conversation where Murtha, in a moment of humility and relief after fearing for his legal and professional posterior, had a get-real moment with Bailey, admitting that at least one of his two purple hearts was undeserved, and that he went through improper channels to get them. That's a pretty heavy charge to level against someone, but very easy when the charge comes in the form of an admission in a very emotional expression of honesty.

Forgetting for just a moment that this calls into question Murtha's integrity, this account of allegedly unearned Purple Hearts strikes at the very heart of that which makes him most valuable to the Democrats--his record as a decorated veteran.

Bailey's motivation to lie is missing. Murtha was not a lightning rod in 2002. Further Bailey seems interested in clearing the air and the record after Murtha called him a liar (about Murtha's own record) rather than Bailey covering his own rear. These men were once friends. And it makes much more sense that Bailey is offering a sobering account of Murtha's ethical failures than Murtha being wrongly accused. And if Bailey is lying, then Murtha should not hesitate to produce every last document supporting the award of those Purple Hearts. Failing to do it, he is stripped of his political usefulness to the Democrats, left as just one more angry anti-war crank trying to generate some selfish political momentum and a smokescreen to minimize or avoid altogether publicity and damage from an embarrassing ethics inquiry.

So we have a man with a checkered ethical past. Most unfortunately, such a thing is not a rare find in Washington. But what I find most astounding is that this man, with an ongoing record of ethical troubles, puts himself on the front page of every national newspaper, using a military career with decorations of questionable merit as his platform, and inveighed against what he claims is someone else's dishonesty and failures. It speaks of breathtaking arrogance, stupidity, or a disturbing lack of shame as he looks upon his own anything-but-admirable record of professional misdeeds.

And if Murtha's war opposition and disgraceful accusations toward our soldiers were indeed done to put himself in a Majority Leader position and to squelch news of an ethics probe, as I believe they were, and if the claims which I mention here are as accurate as Don Bailey and CNS report, Rep. Murtha has much in the way of apologizing to do as he cleans out his office, dismissed for moral and ethical unfitness to hold it, capped off by a betrayal of American soldiers in harm's way in order to cover himself and get ahead within his party.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Murtha Tries to Get Ahead By Selling out Soldiers

Everybody loves Jack Murtha (D-PA)--that is if everyone dislikes the military and wishes to talk them down and leave Iraq immediately.

I have not been kind or gentle to Murtha, given the fact that he has not been kind to our soldiers. When he cries for retreat from Iraq, which was the topic of a House vote where he was humiliated, and describes them as "broken" and "worn out" I have very little sympathy for him. My brother-in-law is over there in Samarra, one of the least happy places in that nation, and reports nothing of the sort that Murtha does. And most recently, when Marines were accused of effecting My Lai in Haditha, Iraq, Murtha was quick to accuse them of "murder" of civilians and covering it up without bothering to consider the other side. In all respects, Murtha is no longer pro-military, given that he has turned his mind over to the far left wing of his party, and has bought into the notion that U.S. forces are the problem, not the solution.

But now we may know why Murtha has come unhinged: he wants to be in the leadership of an unhinged party.

Murtha announced that if the Dems retake the House this fall, that he will run for Majority leader with Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) running for speaker. And so it makes one wonder if Murtha's eagerness to use his authority as a retired high-ranking military official to rip American soldiers who are risking their lives in Iraq is part of his greater plan to advance his own political fortunes. That kind of message resonates with most Democrat voters, and it certainly put him on the front pages. It also made a few of us wonder if he was coming unglued, but this development puts it all in a very sensible logical context.

Put simply, he had to use his influence to talk down the war and then directly trash U.S. soldiers as murderers and general troublemakers. And for taking such a huge risk, I hope voters deliver for Murtha a marvelously high political price for the unjustifiable and immoral lengths he has gone to promote himself.

But that aside, the chilling combination of Pelosi-Murtha could prove to be something of a boon for Republicans to run on in tight races, which would follow much the same effect as a Hillary Clinton candidacy for president.

Certain candidates, while interesting to their base, often do more to energize the other side's voters and to elect their opponent by their very presence in a race. The aforementioned Sen. Clinton could be one such candidate. Howard Dean might have been another, had he won the nomination in 2004.

But this move is a serious political miscalculation. Americans are generally not thrilled with the developments in Iraq, and being a society expectant of instant results, the hard slog that is Iraq no longer produces the shock and awe that we saw in its first days. But to simplistically assume that dissatisfaction with Iraq will translate into the disgust for the military that many Democrats today hold is a mistake with potentially devastating results for their party. Putting a San Francisco leftist as their leading candidate for Speaker and an opportunistic military turncoat as Majority Leader, gives the Republicans the free gist of being able to declare that they need not accuse the Dems of being anti-family, anti-military and anti-American, but that Americans need only listen to the Dems themselves to discover it.

And while I didn't expect the Dems to retake either house of Congress this year, a move like this is bound to assure it if the Republicans play it right.

And perhaps the voters in Murtha's district might want to consider the moral and ethical character of the person they are sending to Congress, because much like former Congressman, now jailbird, Duke Cunningham, Murtha voluntarily traded his status as a war hero for that of an American disgrace in order to benefit himself. Because what Murtha has done over the past 7 months is to kill our soldiers morale, scandalize them without any investigation--and now he intends to use their empty helmets as his own political stepping stones.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Moonbats Have Their Say on Zarqawi

It seems to the moonbat Democrat crowd that even clear successes in Iraq are only so much silliness. Michael Berg, the father of Nick Berg, the contractor captured and beheaded by Zarqawi believes that Zarqawi's death will only cause more trouble in Iraq. Of course, in the interests of full disclosure, Mr. Berg is a Green Party candidate for Congress in Delaware, and apparently never met an anti-American cause he didn't like. Pete Stark (D-CA) and advocate for the "Department of Peace" (why hadn't anyone thought of that before????), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) find this to be nothing more than a distraction.

From what, you ask?

Well, it's a distraction from all of the bad news that the far left needs reported on Iraq, as well as a positive for Bush in the Iraq War. And if you ask these two wingnuts, they believe that it is morally wrong for Iraq to be about anything other than civilian deaths (deliberately caused by the Gestapo U.S. soldiers, of course) Abu Ghraib, deaths of U.S. soldiers (because the jackboot U.S. soldiers are all of a sudden a concern to these worthless people once they are statistics that can be used against the President), mistreatment of terrorists, Halliburton, and any other minuses you can think of.

So if any question remains in your mind about what the far left is all about, let this erase all questions from your mind.

Death of a Murderer--Successor a Foreigner

I suppose the first question to enter the mind of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was, "Where the heck are the virgins, and who the heck is this guy poking me with a pitchfork?" He is dead, the result of tips from courageous locals, good planning by Iraqis and Americans, and an excellent execution by two pilots dropping the ordinance that allowed the terrorist to directly learn God's real feelings about his life's work.

Even better is the fact that Fox News is now reporting that Zarqawi was alive, conscious, and aware of the fact that he had fallen into Iraqi/U.S. hands just before he died of the injuries caused by the bombing, given the fact that he tried to roll off the gurney in a hopeless attempt at escape. And there is something very satisfying about that. He didn't die oblivious to his plight. He died knowing that he was captured.

A few points though. The strike couldn't have happened but for Iraqis who turned Zarqawi in. Meaning that the terrorist movement in Iraq is not a grass roots thing, but rather something imposed upon the people which survives because the locals are too afraid of reprisals to turn them in. It also shows that the Iraqis are in this fight for themselves. They have tired of jackboot politics and thugishness. They have tasted freedom and they want more of it.

Also, these terrorists are not rationalists, but rather are a group of zealots. Their business is not the kind that allows them to eventually close up shop and put up their feet at a Mediterranean resort when they get tired of it all. They will be hunted men for the rest of their lives, and therefore have no motivation to stop, slow down, relax, or let up in any way, as doing so means the end of all for which they have worked. So the loss of their leader will likely not bring them to immediate ruin, and there will be more in the way of violence in Iraq until this movement and all of its directors are extirpated.

And the new successor to Zarqawi is believed to be Abu Al-Masri, an Egyptian--further lending to the inconvenient appearance that the U.S. is trumpeting--that this is a foreign-based, foreign-imposed effort to put down the Iraqi people under a Wahabist government who desperately need to force their will on the Iraqi people if their cause is to have any practical hope of surviving.

But the value of the death of Zarqawi cannot be understated either.

Put simply, the world is a better place without him. Iraq is a better nation without him. And replacing the effectiveness of his leadership in maintaining terror operations will not be easy for al-Qaida. It will be quite the task for his successor to continue his work with the same cohesiveness and operational effectiveness. But the political value of his death is immense. And absent a superior leader to replace him, the movement will likely lose steam.

So in that regard, yesterday was likely the beginning of the end of this insurgency. Much like D-Day was not the end of World War II, but rather the begin of its decline, this is much the same. There is more fighting to come. Things will still seem nasty--as not even the final day of war is bloodless or pleasant--but this is the path to peace. It began with the death of that devil.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

As Goes Lieberman, So Go the Democrats

There are few things more revealing about intraparty struggles than primary challenges to incumbents and the really ugly battles that are peculiar to those races. Such unwelcome things bring very little benefit to the party. They are rarely successful, and most often result in an incumbent with few resources and less energy heading into a general election. They provide a general election opponent with free and early bad press on the incumbent and they are the hammer that the other party can use to show that the sitting politician is out of touch, not just with the voters but with his own insular gang.

And such is the lot of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) who may be engaged in the primary battle of his life. Nobody has ever accused Lieberman of being a Kennedy socialist nor a Kerry secularist. He is a moderate politician who is guided by and remains true to his Jewish faith. Lieberman often holds attitudes different than those of his own party mainly because he lets facts, not mantras determine his course. In just about every way, he is an independent-minded and fair individual. Having been called "the conscience of the Senate", Lieberman brings to the table a certain set of qualities that transcend the usual political sniping that characterizes Washington.

But the primary battle now before him results from the fact that he supported and continues to support the Iraq war because, upon invesigation, he believes that we are there on a good mission and that that mission must be accomplished. The left, of course, cannot tolerate any across the aisle cooperation--unless it's the Republicans capitulating to them, so as punishment, they are trying to decapitate Lieberman.

And if they are successful, they will set a course for their party's implosion.

Lieberman's opponent, Ned Lamont is a fairly radical guy who is adored by this crowd. Beating Lieberman would send the very obvious message that the Dems are not interested in reasonable people, but rather far leftists as their elected members. But it would also have the effect of turning the party in such an obviously and publicly leftward direction that Americans would begin to realize that the party is so completely out of touch with America that it can no longer be trusted with handling the business of the American people.

It is nothing new that the Democrats are the party of the far left, just that they are more open about it. And dogmatic openness that unseats a very respected, ethical and honorable member of the U.S. Senate because he chose to remain true to what he believes is right, rather than remaining obedient to the Reid-Pelosi-Dean drumbeat will be just the kind of thing that over a few years time clues Americans into the fact that today's Democrats are promoting the same brand of ideas that we fought and defeated in the Cold War.

Senate Misses the Boat on Illegal Immigration

There are two bills moving through the Houses of Congress to address the now critical illegal immigration problem. There's the House bill which seems to be taking an incremental approach. The first step is enforcement. We stop the flow of illegals and prosecute those who prospectively choose to violate our laws. Guest workers, paths to citizenship, and other things which are indeed important, still come second. Our laws are our laws.

The Senate bill is a little different. And if it could only be cast as amnesty, it wouldn't be so bad. But the Senate bill tries to please everyone--presuming that "everyone" means all illegal immigrants and every liberal group who believes that these people need to be rewarded for being lawbreakers. And while initially well-intentioned, it promises to be a windfall of welfare to people because they of their status as lawbreakers. But if you don't believe me, listen to the words of the bill's biggest sponsor, Ted Kennedy:

"We can build miles of fences, but the fact remains that immigrants will still come because employers need workers and immigrants want jobs," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who fought for a guest-worker program. "It's far better for American jobs and wages to have a practical, common-sense policy of legal immigration, than to continue leaving millions of immigrants underground and underpaid."
Besides the willing misunderstanding of illegal immigration that this comment reflects, it also should signal to all Americans that the Senate really has no clue as to how to solve this problem. By Kennedy's reckoning, we'll ignore enforcement because they're going to break the law anyway. But more to the point, the guest worker plan that Kennedy is promoting is a new welfare program in disguise.

But this immigration dilemma will not be resolved by the standard Democrat answer of creating yet another wasteful spending program that does nothing more than promote state dependence for subsistence. In such a way, we would be worsening the lot of those who came here for a better life, not improving it and we would be worsening things for Americans by shackling them to the problems of foreigners, simply because those foreigners have the ability to bring their problems to our doorstep.

First, it creates a need for larger government and thereby government spending to administer the program. Then, it requires more in the way of direct federal handouts that are certain to go across the border, rather than being spent here. Third, it creates the obvious disincentive to work which is why a guest worker program is under consideration in the first place. But most obviously and ominously, it is a handout for foreign nationals whose government is and has historically been too incompetent, corrupt, and lazy to care for them. And if anyone thinks that we can abolish such a misbegotten entitlement program once its failure becomes apparent, they are foolish. There has never yet been any entitlement program which has been enacted that has ever been repealed.

The point of furthering a guest worker program is not that it benefits others. It's because it promises to ultimately benefit Americans. These workers really do confer a nice benefit to our economy. They are willing to accept lower wages for certain jobs because the economies of scale between the U.S. and Mexico make the wage worthwhile. And those low wages keep producer costs and thereby consumer prices down. Everybody wins.

But Kennedy's offering, rather than addressing guest workers, promises to worsen the very problem which sparked the immigration debate in the first place. Because for every hard working illegal, there are just as many who cross the border to have babies and live off of welfare and to traffic in drugs. It feeds the thing we are trying to stop

Somewhere along the way, the Senate bill, in trying to create a guest worker program, got lost among tried-and-failed socialist policies of the 1960s. And it needs to be shredded in the conference committee. It doesn't solve the problem of illegal immigration--it promises to reward it and create an even bigger burden to Americans, conferring them no benefit in return.

The House bill, however, solves the problem that most concerns Americans--that of stemming the tide of the illegal immigration. And while it doesn't address the guest worker issue, it limits the problem of border access, allowing us then to deal with the illegals we have. And perhaps it is better to view the problem in that way. Because while we do not want to create a new entitlement program and give out favors to illegals who are in this nation and contributing, we don't want to clobber them either.

But that issue is for tomorrow, and perhaps the House is on to something. They may be holding the belief that if we don't get serious about border security now, we won't in the future, and we will tend towards the same harmful feel-good efforts into which the Senate has bought. And so in an effort to avoid a mediocre omnibus immigration package, perhaps it is best if we focus on the details one at a time.

Once we can prevent new crossings, we can address these other issues in a meaningful and logical way.

But it's never a bad place to start with the respect of our own laws, as our prosperity does not translate into a duty to fix Mexico's unwillingness to take care of its own people. And we should not be so obtuse as to think that the easy answer of throwing money at the problem will work for this most serious of matters.