October 30, 2005

a distinct and disturbing pattern of behavior...

A reader sends:

Unfortunately (or perhaps a blessing) the NYT op-ed pages are now by subscription only, so there is no easy way to link. But get a load of this claim they make for the Federal indictment. [link]
Supporters of Mr. Libby, known as Scooter, have attempted to describe the Wilson case as, at worse, a matter of casual gossip by Washington insiders about the wife of a man in the news. But the indictment does not describe a situation in which people accidentally outed someone they did not know was a covert officer. It describes a distinct and disturbing pattern of behavior among very high-ranking officials, including Mr. Libby and Vice President Dick Cheney, who knew that they were dealing with a covert officer and used their access to classified information in a public relations campaign over the rapidly disintegrating justifications for war with Iraq.
This is totally false. Here is the Fitzgerald quote:

Q: Did Libby know whether Valerie Wilson's identity was covert?
A: ...We have not made any allegation that Libby knowingly/intentionally outed a covert agent.

Actually, we do have a "a distinct and disturbing pattern of behavior among very high-ranking officials." But they are officials at the CIA and the major newsmedia, who collaborate closely in leaking and publishing classified information in order to undercut the elected government of the US. Or in Wilson's case, leaking lies that were the exact opposite of classified info! I bet this Times story never got around to mentioning that we now know that Wilson was a total liar, and that we know from the 9/11 Report that he reported to the CIA that Iraq probably did try to buy Uranium from Niger. The exact opposite of what Wilson wrote in his famous NYT Op-Ed, which is a large part of the "Bush lied" lie.

The CIA and the NYT are on the other side, in the war we are in. The are engaged in a campaign of disinformation and leaks of classified information, to undercut and sabotage our country in time of war. The word for that is treason..

Posted by John Weidner at 5:36 PM

October 29, 2005

If we lead, then others will follow...

In another WoT update, (from a few weeks back, which I missed) TM Lutas links to this StrategyPage report:

October 7, 2005: Arab troops are joining in the war on terror. Aside from conducting operations on their own soil (essentially “regime protection” missions), there are indications that some Arab countries have done more than just verbally support U.S., NATO, and Coalition forces. Apparently small contingents of special operations (commandoes) personnel (usually platoons or companies of 50 –150 troops) from a number of Arab states, have seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and perhaps elsewhere. In addition, a number of Arab countries have contributed troops and technical personnel to support the training of Iraqi military and security forces, and some have even opened their own military training camps to Iraqi personnel.

These activities benefit the countries involved in a number of ways. For one thing, they cement ties with the US and the emergent governments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the commitments provide valuable training and experience for their own armed forces, which may prove useful for domestic internal security purposes.

News about these activities is not being widely disseminated, mainly because public opinion in many Arab countries is still pro-terrorist.

You could kind of look at this as "insider trading." People in the know are picking up shares in COALITION and selling PRO-TERROR, the global reactionary conglomerate that owns al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the fake anti-war movement...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:36 AM


I just made a teensy little donation to Bill Rogio, and would strongly urge you to do the same...

Reading his blog, The Fourth Rail, has been the only way to see the fight in Iraq as a whole picture, and not just occasional unconnected scraps of information. The so-called major news media have failed utterly to do this. (It's easy to see why. The big picture shows their side is losing. Just noting where al Qa'im and Qusaybah [or Husaybah] are on the map clearly indicates that the situation for the NYT Coalition is dire.) He has been performing a major public service.

Now Bill has an opportunity to go to Iraq himself, as a reporter. And that takes a lot of dough. But it's the chance of a lifetime, and I only wish it were me going. I'll go there vicariously through him...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:03 AM

October 28, 2005

"Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark..."

Just in case you thought I was "over the top" when I suggested that Left was "going to party" when the Iraq death toll reached 2,000, you should check out all the candid photos taken by Zombie and houston.indymedia. Such smiles.

And Michelle Malkin has the goods on an NYT 2,000-deaths story, including a quote from the last letter of a Marine corporal. He sounds like another poor grunt who is sad to have to die meaninglessly in bushhitler's Mekong Delta.....except the NYT cut out the rest of the paragraph, which reads:

I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

The NYT is on the other side.

And check out this, from Israpundit. The NYT did something that's almost unheard of--they criticized a Palestinian!!. But someone behind the Kremlin walls quickly deleted the item...

They are on the other side.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:40 PM

Kindred spirits...

One of the positive things about the Miers mess is discovering a few kindred souls in Bloggistan. Mike's America writes:

...Many of us, who do represent the broader base of the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement (you know, the voters you need to WIN an election) would be justified in taking our marbles home and letting the right whiners of the Barabas wing carry the battle this time. But that's not likely to happen since the real base understands it's mature obligation and loyalty to Party, President and nation transcends narrow sectarian interests...

Loyalty to the Republican Party is very important. As William Rusher said, it is the bottle that holds the conservative wine. Neither the bottle nor the wine is much use without the other. I always think, at times like this, of Teddy Roosevelt and Cabot Lodge sticking with the party when all their Progressive reforming friends were jumping ship rather than campaign for Blaine. In the long run they were the ones who could make reforms, and the others have been forgotten.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:16 AM

Effective alternaives do NOT exist...

Wretchard writes, in a post on the prodigious corruption that resulted from the Iraq sanctions regime:

...The fundamental argument against international military action is the supposition that effective alternatives exist to contain rogue states and tyrants. But what if it does not? The Volcker Report essentially describes the history of the decade-long diplomatic battle to proscribe the movements of Saddam Hussein following the Gulf War. It is an account of the unmitigated defeat of the "international community" at the hands of Saddam; not only a defeat but a rout and a surrender. And although the surrender had already taken place, the world was told categorically by the capitulators themselves that they were fighting and winning the good fight against the forces of lawlessness. The problem with September 11 was not that it happened, but that it happened where it could not be ignored; this fact was the virtual third aircraft that crashed into Manhattan that day, striking somewhere in the vicinity of Turtle Bay...

It is possible the most important long-term result of the War on Terror will be the discrediting of the "International Community," the UN, and "International Law." (There are, of course, real international laws which we have voluntarily entered into by vote of the Senate. I'm referring here to the sort that grow in the dark like mushrooms upon beds of leftish manure, and then are simply "declared" to exist whenever another string is needed to tie down the American Gulliver.)

The key point of the Bush Doctrine is that sovereignty rests on democratic legitimacy. The obvious application is to tyrants who seize control of a country, support terrorist attacks, and then say, "Nyah nyah, can't touch me. Treaty of Westphalia, ha ha ha." (And then all the lefty loons pretending to be "peace activists" echo: "Nyah nyah nyah, can't touch our guy Saddam. He's in the safe-box.") BUT, the same objection could be made to the "International Community." And will be.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 AM

October 27, 2005

Orient pearl fit for a queen, Will I give thy love to win...


I am this fountain's god. Below.
My waters to a river grow,
and 'twixt two banks with osiers set,
That only prosper in the wet.
Through the meadows do they glide,
Wheeling still on every side,
Sometimes winding round about,
To find the evenest channel out.
and if thou wilt go with me
Leaving mortal company,
In the cool streams shalt thou lie,
Free from harm as well as I:
I will give thee for thy food
No fish that useth in the mud;
But trout and pike, that love to swim
Where the gravel from the brim
Through the pure streams may be seen:
Orient pearl fit for a queen
Will I give thy love to win,
And a shell to keep them in;
Not a fish in all my brook,
That shall disobey thy look,
But when thou wilt come sliding by,
And from thy white hand take a fly
And to make thee understand
How I can my waves command,
They shall bubble whilst I sing,
Sweeter than the silver string.
Do not fear to put thy feet
Naked in the river sweet;
Think not leech, nor newt, or toad,
will bite thy foot when thou hast trod;
Nor let the water rising high
As thou wad'st in, make thee cry
And sob; but ever live with me,
And not a wave shall trouble thee
--John Fletcher
Posted by John Weidner at 9:31 AM

Too bad...

Charlene and I are very sorry that Harriet Miers has had to withdraw. We both think she would have made a fine justice. But she's a good soldier, and the controversy was hurting the party. Hugh Hewitt writes:

I think Ms. Miers has been unfairly treated by many who have for years urged fair treatment of judicial nominees.

She deserves great thanks for her significant service to the country. She and the president deserved much better from his allies.

amen. It occurs to me that if the President nominated my wife for the Federal bench, the same objections of a lack of a paper-trail would be made about her. And I would say. "I know her. She's going to be great!" But no one would believe me. "Cronyism" you know. ...So I guess now only judges and professors can be nominated to the Supreme Court...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:28 AM

October 26, 2005

No act of appeasement would change their plans of murder...

PowerLine suggests we not be "distracted by the minutiae of the day," (which have been getting me in a tizzy lately) and focus on the big issue...for which this great speech by the President to the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' Group is good medicine...a small piece...

...No acts of ours involves the rage of killers. And no concessions, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans of murder. On the contrary; they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory...

...Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It's not justified. With every random bombing and every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves. In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny to liberation, to national elections, to the ratification of a constitution -- in the space of two and a half years.

There's always a temptation, in the middle of a long struggle, to seek the quiet life, to escape the duties and problems of the world, to hope the enemy grows weary of fanaticism and tired of murder. That would be a pleasant world -- but it isn't the world in which we live. The enemy is never tired, never sated, never content with yesterday's brutality. This enemy considers every retreat of the civilized world as an invitation to greater violence. In Iraq, there is no peace without victory -- and we will keep our nerve and we will win that victory...

And here's another thing I found just now, at a moment when I was feeling disgusted with The President for his revoking of his suspension of Davis-Bacon in the Katrina area, this, by Soxblog:

...This line brought me back to an essay I had written on Neville Chamberlain a little over a year ago. I observed that no one really remembers whether Chamberlain had magnificent economic policies, whether he treated women and minorities in an enlightened manner, or even whether he had a lot of good photo-ops when natural disasters struck the U.K.

No, all history remembers about Chamberlain is that he booted the big one. He didn’t realize the danger that Hitler posed, or was unwilling to confront that danger in a forceful manner. As a consequence, tens of millions perished...

"He booted the big one." Exactly. I've read a ton of history books. And diving into history is like putting some fractal image under magnification. You move closer, and the seemingly solid object is seen to be divided into many smaller objects. And if you magnify one of those spots, you see that it in turn is made of many smaller ones...and on and on.

But that doesn't mean that the big picture doesn't exist! And that it is not important, though it can seem impossible to discern when you are down among all the little bits.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:14 PM

October 25, 2005

They stand on Freedom's Wall...and they do NOT want to be USED for propaganda...

Instapundit quoted from this piece, by J.D. Johannes, so you've probably already seen it, but it's worth noting again...

...Numbers 2,000, 1,999 and 1,997 also strapped up every day to stand on a wall many in America are willing let crumble. And to those who would let that wall crumble, they are just numbers.

They are not men of action and conviction, to the anti-war faction, they are merely numbers of sufficient quotient to send a press releases and hold press events.

I asked Marines all across Al Anbar province two questions:
1. If something goes bad and you die here. What would you think of people who used your death to protest the war.
2. After being here, and knowing what you know, would you still join the Marines/volunteer for this deployment?

The answers were invariably the same.

They did not want their death to be used as a prop and they would make the same decision all over again. These young Lance Corporals and Non-Commissioned Officers volunteered to join the Marines, many with the intent of coming to Iraq. And while few would say they like war, they all recognize the necessity of it.

The Marines and soldiers who fight in Iraq are not numbers, but the media and certain groups are treating them as if they were. Number 2,000 was a national treasure, just as number 1,435 was and number 2,038 will be. For what is the value of a man who will fight a war for others who despise him?

But for those who are willing to take action, there would be no wall at all hold back evil and those men and women on the wall deserve more than a number.

Hey, fake pacifists, how about a vigil for these guys in the coffins in the picture? There's a nice round number: 8,000. Thats 8,000 Kurds from the 1983 massacre of the Kurdish tribe of Mullah Mustafa Barzan. (A tiny part of the total of Kurds killed by Saddam.)

Coffins of Kurdish dead
So when do they get a candle-light vigil? Ha ha, silly of me, the answer, of course, is never. There's no anti-Bush propaganda coins to be made off of Kurds, so they get no notice.

Posted by John Weidner at 3:34 PM

The practitioner's view...

More of the vrai from Hugh:

...Over at Powerline, the various posts and points of view on the nomination are an excellent example of how practioners are approaching the debate, which like the posts at Hedgehog and Beldar, are markedly different from those of pure pundits who have not sat first chair through lengthy trials, argued complicated motions on short notice, fenced through endless depositions or negotiated a huge partnership through an annual points redistribution...

I've seen a lot of this stuff, as a spectator to the career of Mrs Random Jottings. So, just like Hugh, I find the views of those bloggers who are practitioners much more compelling. That someone who has been managing partner in a big firm could be considered in any way a second-rater is pure lunacy...

...The modern, large law firm is such a very different beast than it was when the last big firm partner joined the court --a date and name for which I can't even figure out. The appreciation for the skills set that a senior partner and indeed a managing partner brings to the table is very impressive and also very obscure outside of the world of American Lawyer. One reason I believe Miers will do well in the hearings is this background, where daily she had to guide ego-driven, powerful and talented lawyers to a common goal....

Exactly. And being White House Staff Secretary is in much the same league. If you know anything about that job, you know that success (and, even better, quiet success) is a big deal.

...I have been waiting to see if some disgruntled former partner was going to launch a salvo at Miers, but have not yet found such an item, which is very surprising given the opportunities for imagined grievances in large firms...

Yes! Or even absurdly small firms. That's the elephant that hasn't, so far, barked in the night.

(By the way, if you need some savvy legal advice, drop me an e-mail, and I may be able to get you a blogospheric discount, at least for an initial consultation, with the Random Jottings House Counsel...)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:41 AM

October 24, 2005

I kept clicking on Hugh, knowing something was coming...

Hugh Hewitt has a great post up on Miers. I was going to quote stuff, but really, one ought to just read it. But I will quote this sentence, which can stand on its own:

...I do not believe that reliability in decision-making is a sound basis for selection of a nominee for the same reason I don’t believe in close questioning of nominees on specific issues likely to come before the SCOTUS: The rule of law depends on the legitimate belief that the justices and judges are not indifferent to argument....

That should be obvious, and that it has to be said at all is a measure of the terrible harm done to our system by the activist judges who have invented various laws that Democrats could not get past the voters.

"Are not indifferent to argument..." That's what we want from a judge. My good wife puts motions before judges all the time, and I have never once in more than 20 years heard her express a hope for a judge who was predisposed in favor of her case. But smart judges who can grasp her arguments and rule fairly--those she prizes above rubies. (Metaphorically speaking, I mean; real rubies might have unpredictable effects on her levelheadedness...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 PM

Practical advice for Cindy....

Cindy what's-her-name is going to "tie" herself to the White House. The Madison Freedom Fighter writes;

...Here is some practical advice for Cindy Sheehan and her supporters to stifle terrorist attacks against US troops in Iraq and save lives:

Why don't you chain themselves to the
Syrian Embassy and demand that they stop insurgents from crossing into Iraq? Syrian insurgents are crossing the boarder daily with little resistance from the Syrian government. If they would stop these criminals from illegally crossing into Iraq, hundreds of soldiers may still be alive today. Demand a meeting with Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the US and tell him to crack down on illegal boarder crossings.

Why don't you chain themselves to the
Iranian Embassy (technically the Interests Section of Iran, as this country does not have an official embassy in the US) and demand that they stop giving weapons to terrorists in Southern Iraq? There are clear links between Iran and technologically advanced explosives that are being used to terrorize Iraqi civilians and American Soldiers alike. You can set up a meeting and demand they stop killing US Soldiers by providing advanced shape explosive charges to terrorists...

When you read something like that, you see how utterly fraudulent the so-called "anti-war" movement is. They would never in a million years protest against Syria or Iran and their sponsorship of terrorists. And they don't want to save (American) lives; they've got all those plans in place for the big happy 2,000 day...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:41 AM

October 22, 2005

Right wing bloggers tear off own heads, throw them across room

(The title is a joke; if you are in with the in-crowd you will get it...UPDATE: I've been asked to explain the joke. The title is Andrea's, see here. She's the best writer around, but would never stoop to mud-slinging and controversy)

NZ Bear is polling bloggers on the Miers nomination...He writes:

...I will implement some code this weekend to search for the phrases above, and generate a running list of bloggers for, against, and neutral on the nomination. This will be much more interesting than a standard online poll, as it will ensure "one-blog-one-vote", and avoid the usual ballot-stuffing silliness of online surveys...

So, I'll put in my phrase: I support the Miers nomination. (results here.)

Some reasons: (and I may add more later)

  1. She has Executive Branch experience helping fight the War on Terror. Our courts are fronts in the War. Outfits like the ACLU are fighting on the other side, using the courts to hinder our war fighting. Ivory-tower legal-scholar types might fall for their clever clap-trap; Harriet Miers won't.
  2. She has experience defending businesses. She will have little sympathy for the myriad attacks they endure.
  3. She has practical experience as a lawyer. The sort of people George Will favors have probably never filed a lawsuit, or defended against one. There should be at least one chief who has actually been an Injun, and taken some scalps...
  4. I believe in favoritism. An effective leader, like Bush, will accumulate a following of talented people and keep promoting them. That's good. (And labeling that "cronyism" is an egregious misuse of the English language!)
  5. Miers is in sync with the President. I think a lot of the conservative criticism is actually criticism of Bush, not Miers. But I am mostly in agreement with him, so I have no problem with a loyalist nominee.
  6. It's the President's job to choose which battles to fight. He only has the political capital to fight a limited number of them. A lot of the criticism is really about wanting a big fight right now over judges. "I'll hold your coat while you go fight" is what they are saying. Phooey.
  7. The troops who will actually fight are 55 GOP Senators. That David Frum or Jonah G are feeling pugnacious is irrelevant; it is the combativeness of the 55 that matters. If the general doesn't feel his troops are ready for a fight, he may know something!
  8. She's a regular gal. I'm pretty sure she's far more in tune with ordinary Americans, and especially ordinary Republicans, than the whippersnappers at National Review. She IS an ordinary American, which is worth a lot of points to me. (Most people who vote conservative/Republican have never heard of National Review, and wouldn't like it if they encountered it.) I'm with the Beoetians here, and not the clever-Johnny Athenians...

* UPDATE: Don't miss Grenfull Hunt's answer to George Will's column. And also Big Lizard's. I think the phrase "tears off own head, throws across room" was just made for Mr Will's column...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:00 PM

Time for a whing-ding....

Apparently the leftizoids are planning to PARTY when American deaths in Iraq hit 2,000.

This is filthy in so many ways one is almost at a loss...

But number one, this is a big fat message to the terrorists begging them to kill Americans. And promising them propaganda support as a reward. And since we know that the arhabi are waging a media war, and do things like time attacks to get on the US news broadcasts, we can say that the American Friends Service Committee has just purchased the guaranteed deaths of some of our our soldiers. The next time you see some smoldering wreckage in Baghdad, remember that it was instigated by "pacifists."

And of course the only reason these frauds get to play at being fake-pacifist fake-leftist anti-Americans is that they are protected by the might of the US military. If they were ever grabbed by terrorists and were about to have their heads sawed off, they would sing a different tune. Like, "Why isn't George Bush protecting us? Where's the Marines?"

You only find "pacifists" in parts of the world where they are protected by tough men wielding deadly force. And when the hippie vegetarian Goddess-worshiper hears the chainsaw-murderer sawing into her house late at night, you can bet she calls the police, and feels damn glad when they show up with shotguns in hand. (And are willing to risk their lives to protect her even after they see the "Free Mumia" poster.)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM

It's hard, having my state represented by a moron...

David Gelernter writes some good words:

...We often hear from Democrats that President Bush's policy in Iraq makes no sense. But how can it make sense to the Barbara Boxers of Congress if they can't understand the explanation?

Rice was defending the administration's conduct of the war when Boxer objected. The administration, Boxer noted (correctly), has changed focus on Iraq. We went to war mainly on account of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism, she said. But WMD turned out to be a hoax on the whole world, and nowadays we are told that our Iraq mission is gigantic. We plan for a freed Iraq to inspire and stabilize the entire Middle East and to promote democracy everywhere. What kind of bait-and-switch is the administration playing with the American people?

Rice answered that this is the way the world works. For example, we did not go into World War II to build a democratic Germany…. Here Boxer interrupted. World War II, she told Rice curtly, has nothing to do with Iraq. Boxer had lost relatives in the Holocaust. No one had to tell her about World War II.

But Rice's analogy was exactly right. And by the way, using the Holocaust as a bat to beat political enemies over the head is demeaning to Jews and to human dignity. Having lost relatives in the Holocaust does not, in any case, confer expertise in U.S. history.

Democracies rarely declare war to improve the world, as Rice could have explained had she had the chance. They fight to protect themselves, sometimes to fulfill treaty obligations. But once a war is underway, free peoples tend to think things over deeply. Casualties concentrate the mind. We refuse to let our soldiers die for too little. America at war has lifted its sights again and again from danger, self-interest and self-defense to a larger, nobler goal. Same story, war after war. Iraq fits perfectly....

That's a good point about the Holocaust. Especially, it should not even be mentioned by cold-hearted people who think that projects to liberate people from genocide and concentration camps should be put on the back-burner indefinitely.

Actually, I myself feel pretty confident that among the goals of the war was always to start the transformation of the Middle East, at least to some. To neocons, and to people like me, who all along have responded to those who snivel that we might "destabilize the region" by answering "YES! That's the plan!" WMD's in the hands of killers were always a valid reason for war (and still are, and even a bluff should be met with instant forceful attack) but they were also an excuse to bring around the cold-hearted fearful creatures who couldn't even dream of making the world a better place.

But the "larger, nobler goal" has come to the fore, as it has so often in our history. And only those with shriveled souls can't feel its appeal...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:36 AM

October 21, 2005

I read the papers, I know all that's happening...

Daniel McKivergan posts:

The speech delivered yesterday by Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, got a lot of press attention. But while all these reports highlighted the negative remarks he made about the Bush White House, they didn't mention Wilkerson's other seemingly newsworthy comments...

Well you see, there's the news what's fit to print, and the news what's not.

News has a purpose. Have you ever encountered the bios or memoirs of journalists, and--I don't mean old-timers, you understand, but Baby-Boom or later--and they say why they went to journalism school? They always say that they went to journalism school--old timers didn't even go to J school, they just went out and started reporting things--they always say that they wanted to make the world a better place!

And to do that, you can't report all the news. Some of it is bad, harmful. The little people don't understand that, and it's important to spare them information that might cause bad thoughts. It's such a problem, that the same sort of people who drink tap water and drive Fords can also vote. The harm they do is enormous; just look around at what a mess the world has become since 1980.

But journalists can make a difference. They can edit the world, so it becomes comprehensible, a coherent narrative, pruned of extraneous misinformation and...well, look at me, I'm just rambling on and on. You folks don't need this, you are part of the intelligentsia. You can just click on the link and see what it was obviously necessary to edit out of the news reports...

(Thanks to GOPinion)
Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 PM

October 20, 2005

good news

It looks like Roche is going to license other drug companies to produce Tamiflu.

Sounds like a smart move. If demand keeps going up, they will make a lot of money from the licensing fees. And, should the worst-case scenario occur, they won't spend the next 50 years being known as the company whose selfishness killed millions of people...

(Thanks to PowerLineNews)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:55 PM

In trial every day...

Beldar has a great post, with fascinating anecdotes, on the question of trial experience in the Miers nomination...

...Thus, I can tell you this with great confidence, even without knowing whether Ms. Miers would or would not meet my highly subjective standards for being a "real trial lawyer": JPod's [John Podhoretz's] assumption — "If Miers has spent her career helping people and corporations avoid courtrooms, that doesn't suggest she has any judicial legal skills whatsoever" — is badly wrong. His insistence that settled cases are "beside the point" means that he's never understood how litigation actually works, and that's why all those "billions" of lawyers are emailing him! It's the sort of thing that only someone very inexperienced in the American civil justice system could say....

The only way that lawyers who handle litigation can "help people and corporations avoid courtrooms" is by being fully prepared to go into courtrooms, and projecting to the other side their readiness and capability to do so...

This is something I can confirm. As you know, Mrs Random Jottings is a lawer. She's a skilled litigator, and takes cases to trial...and wins. However the great majority of her cases never get to trial; they are settled out-of-court.

But I can tell you, since I'm often her sounding-board, that actually she tries all of them! Every move is made with an eye on an eventual trial, and on how the other side is going to think about their chances in that trial. And as the pre-trial maneuverings go on, sometimes for years, the amount each party is willing to settle for keeps changing. If a witness looks good in deposition, or if a motion to exclude some morsel of evidence wins, then everyones calculations change...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:41 AM

#194: Who does he think is spending all the money?

P. Krugman


In The Big Squeeze (10/20/05) Paul Krugman faces economic reality with his usual left-wing partisan edge. Also, as usual, he can’t quite get his square left-wing peg to fit the circle of facts. The issue he discusses in this column is globalization; it’s impact on US labor and what, if anything, should be done about what he sees as the erosion of America’s working middle class. His basic sentiments are as put this way:

“There was a time when the American economy offered lots of good jobs - jobs that didn't make workers rich but did give them middle-class incomes. The best of these good jobs were at America's great manufacturing companies, especially in the auto industry”.
And the basic problem is stated this way:
“But it has been a generation since most American workers could count on sharing in the nation's economic growth. America is a much richer country than it was 30 years ago, but since the early 1970's the hourly wage of the typical worker has barely kept up with inflation”.
The sentiment is head-in-the-sand drivel and Krugman’s statement of the basic problem is incorrect. The US economy is not stagnant; it’s dynamic and innovating. And contrary to popular belief the US is not losing it’s manufacturing base. The US share of manufacturing output (on a value added basis) remains the highest in the world and is not in decline. What has declined is manufacturing employment–we’re making more stuff with fewer workers.

Earth to Krugman: This is called progress, aka higher productivity

And the way American labor will adjust to this progress in the same manner it always has–since the invention of the lathe. Skills will be upgraded and the jobs shed by manufacturing will be shifted into higher value added enterprises. It’s happening as we speak.

Krugman would have us believe that since the 1970s inflation-adjusted National Income has tripled but the “typical” worker is no better off than 30 years ago. This is nonsense. Has he never been to a booming mall, or crowded car dealership, or waited for a table in a popular restaurant? Who does he think is spending all the money? Maybe he thinks the typical worker is a migrant farm worker or checkout clerk at Best Buy. But wait. There’s actual evidence. Here are two charts from the web site of Krugman’s buddy, Brad DeLong. The top chart shows the share of domestic income going for wages and salaries excluding employer contributions to pensions and health care; the lower chart includes these contributions. Either way, Krugman is wrong. Even a 6 percent smaller share (top chart) of a pie that’s tripled since the 70s represents substantial progress.

De Long chart

So, having conjured up a problem that does not exist and a labor market adjustment that is routinely resolving itself, how does Krugman get out of this pickle? Incredibly, he concludes by telling us that “denial is not an option” and that “something must be done.” What a guy!

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 10:10 AM

Step in the right direction...

This is a very good step. The Great Lesson of the Twentieth Century (well, actually, there were several lessons, but this one is not unimportant) is that "defined-benefit" plans of all sorts are time-bombs waiting to explode...
New York Times. WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - The Bush administration approved a sweeping Medicaid plan for Florida on Wednesday that limits spending for many of the 2.2 million beneficiaries there and gives private health plans new freedom to limit benefits.

The Florida program, likely to be a model for many other states, shifts from the traditional Medicaid "defined benefit" plan to a "defined contribution" plan, under which the state sets a ceiling on spending for each recipient....

...Under the waiver, Florida will establish "a maximum per year benefit limit" for each recipient and fundamentally change its role. The state will largely be a buyer rather than a manager of health care.

In an interview, Alan M. Levine, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, estimated that no more than 5 percent of Medicaid recipients would hit their annual limits. At that point, Mr. Levine said, "the health plan will still be responsible for providing services to the consumer, but the state's reimbursement would be limited to that amount."

Asked whether the beneficiary would be responsible for paying costs beyond the limit, he said: "That can happen today. There are arbitrary limits and caps embedded in the state Medicaid program, limits on home health services, doctors' visits, prescription drugs."

For each beneficiary, Florida will pay a monthly premium to a private plan. Insurance plans will be allowed to limit "the amount, duration and scope" of services in ways that current law does not permit....(Thanks to Orrin)
I mentioned here that I judge the Bush Administration on somewhat different criteria than many conservatives... "But the metric I'm watching is the Ownership Society (and the war of course)..." This article is an example of what I'm looking for. It's a big step in the right direction. There's a lot of choice involved, and opportunities for people to take personal responsibility. And it gets government out of the business of micro-managing health care...
...The Florida program includes these features, approved Wednesday by the federal government:

¶If a recipient does not choose a private plan, the person will be automatically enrolled in one that the state selects.

¶Medicaid recipients can "opt out" of Medicaid altogether and receive subsidies to help pay the employee's share of the premium for employer-sponsored health insurance. Those beneficiaries will have to pay co-payments and deductibles like other employees in the same plan, even if the charges exceed normal Medicaid limits.

¶The state will deposit money into individual accounts for recipients who enroll in programs to help lose weight, stop smoking and lead healthier lives.

¶Florida and the federal government will establish a pool of money providing up to $1 billion a year to help hospitals and other health care providers who treat large numbers of uninsured people.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Leavitt, Christina Pearson, said the decision on the Florida plan was not influenced by the fact that Governor Bush is the president's brother. Federal officials are prepared to approve similar innovative solutions from other states, Ms. Pearson said.

Medicaid provides health insurance to more than 50 million low-income people. The states and federal government jointly finance it.
Posted by John Weidner at 9:12 AM

October 19, 2005

"We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves"

"America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish. We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves -- safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life." ---President Bush's West Point Speech
Our friend Andrew commented on my post Men of Munich:
If guilt-by-doing-nothing-to-stop-it (call it Burkean guilt) is a new standard you wish to employ, we must blame the Conservatives and the Republican party for Milosevic’s tyrannical reign. Let’s not forget that Humanitarian intervention was a hallmark of the Clinton years, and has not been one of the Bush years...

In point of fact the “Bush Doctrine” you mention has nothing at all to do with humanitarianism, it’s one of preemptive warfare. We can debate the rightness or wrongness of that doctrine and that principle, but let us never forget what it is. The Bush Doctrine is one which explicitly puts American interests first, and any humanitarian considerations are merely incidental...
As for "guilt-by-doing-nothing-to-stop-it," I said that the whole world is complicit--in lots of things. The normal habit throughout history has been to ignore problems "elsewhere." And the modern trend has been, gradually and painfully, to start getting involved in various ways in helping others. This movement is not the preserve of any one faction, and you can point to good and bad in both parties. (However, there are no Republicans who would, if they could push a magic button, put Milosovic back in power. And there are a ton of lefties who seemingly WOULD undo the campaign to liberate Iraq if they could.)

BUT, far from having nothing to do with humanitarianism, the Bush Doctrine is the second-most important humanitarian project of our times, because it links the privileges of sovereignty with democratic legitimacy. And democracy is the best guarantor of human rights, and the best way to lift people out of the stagnant swamps that require humanitarian aid. The Bush Doctrine in effect says that the days when the world will tolerate tyranny are numbered. And that, in the long run will have far more humanitarian effect than a trillion food parcels dropped from helicopters.
And putting America's interests first is the third-most important humanitarian project we can support. Why? Because America's strength is the greatest hope for world freedom and prosperity, and because even our "selfish" interventions in the world are almost invariably accompanied by humanitarian and freedom-promoting efforts of a size and efficacy no other nation or group can match. And because we are the best teachers of democracy and capitalism (as witness the dismal results of putting the UN and Europeans in charge of democracy in the former Yugoslavia) and our people teach by example and encouragement even when their mission is not explicitly for that purpose. And because our selfish interests are in fact exactly the things that the world needs. Peace, profits, increasing trade, increasing freedom, scientific progress--all are things that help America and also help everybody else.

And the fourth-most important component of effective humanitarianism today is [sorry Dems, but I'll have some compliments for you at the end of this essay] keeping Republicans in power in Washington. That is because the Republican Party has become the main home of idealists and dreamers who hope to transform the world for the better. One Republican faction you've heard about are the "neocons," who are passionate Wilsonians, and press always for the spreading of democracy. But even more important are the "theocons," whose idealism is religious-based--they are especially important because they are in charge. Bush and Rice are in this group. And the "Hamiltonians" who press for increased trade and the interests of business will probably do the most good of all. The Dem's increasing hostility to free-trade should by itself disqualify them from office.

In recent decades Republicans have been much more effective at promoting democracy and freedom. For instance the Reagan and Bush1 administrations were stunningly successful, not just in the humanitarian triumph (in the long run) of bringing down the Soviet Union, but also in supporting the cause of democracy in Latin America and the Philippines, which went from regions characterized by dictators to areas where dictators are rare. (I bet Andrew doesn't hear any of that in his classes.) and while Mr Clinton deserves credit for intervention in Yugoslavia, his achievements are dwarfed by the liberation of 50 million people from tyrannies far worse then Milosovic's, and by the stunning recent elections we have seen. And by the many peaceful pro-democracy revolutions we are now seeing around the globe.

You are probably wondering why I started with second-most important, and forgot to list the most important humanitarian project of our times. Fuzzy-headed of me. The most important item is capitalism, because all the other good things come on the heels of prosperity. It's only when people reach a certain level of personal prosperity that they even start to think of helping others, and sharing some of their own with the needy. And more importantly, even better than humanitarian help is having people become secure enough that they don't even need help. Which is becoming true now for much of the world, with the world's percentage of non-poor growing steadily. Many places that used to feature famines now worry because their people are earning too much, and low-wage jobs are fleeing elsewhere! India is now a place that gives foreign aid to other countries! Astonishing, and it's the result of their beginning to dump socialist economics in favor of free enterprise, capitalism. While the prodigious amounts of "aid" India used to receive probably made its poverty worse, by propping-up failed socialist policies.

By the way, if we zoom our historical viewer out a bit, to see all of the 20th Century, then perhaps the key contribution to humanitariansm to be seen was accomplished by DEMOCRATS! This was the invention of nuclear weapons. The result was the immediate end of global wars, and also of all wars between Great Powers. The resultant spread of peace to much of the globe is the basis of the prosperity we now hope to extend to other places. And the unfortunate Cold War had the very positive side-effect of forcing the US to become the Global Cop, which sheltered the growth of Globalization and widespread capitalism. Actually, we are probably now at the end of wars between nation states. The conflicts that still happen are all within countries, and pretty much only within failed nations.
Posted by John Weidner at 6:38 PM

Men of Munich...

Gsood point from the Belmont Club...

...There may be valid technical criticisms of Saddam's coming trial. But attitudes toward the trial are colored by the extent to which parties feel themselves philosophically in the dock with him. Some in the direct sense, as his accomplices; others as his hirelings; still others implicated indirectly as the Men of Munich were, the enablers of evil by omission. For too many Saddam's trial must never be the day of judgment....
The whole world is somewhat complicit...and the incredible thing is that there are plenty of sick and twisted appeasers who wish Saddam were still in power, who would retroactively stop the liberation campaign if they could go back in time and do so. And would fight to prevent the liberation of the even more cruelly-treated people of North Korea. That they rely partly on the old "Treaty of Westphalia" arguments, saying we have no business interfering with a "soverign nation," highlights what a vast advance in human history the Bush Doctrine is. Thank you God for this President!

And, scary thought, if a handful of Supreme Court justices had not stopped the hijacking of the election process in Florida, Al Gore would have been President in 2001, and Saddam's brutal minions would still be torturing and murdering tens-of-thousands of people every year, and the mass graves of hundreds-of-thousands would still lie undisturbed beneath the sands. Liberalism = death.
Mass graves in Iraq
But hey, we would surely have taken a strong symbolic stand against Global Warming! That's much more important than the sufferings of a few distant foreigners. they are probably polluters anyway, and Gaia would want them snuffed.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:04 AM

Jack-boots in Ottawa...

Mr Peparium, on listening to classical music from nearby Canada...

..."Due to labor difficulties, the CBC is not broadcasting it's usual programming..."

In other words, they were just playing a loop of music to fill up the ether. And then I realized that I had never enjoyed the CBC so much.

After all, because of "labor disputes" I was being spared the finicky, over-precise commentaries on new recordings of rare piano suites by guys with names like Vladimir Gryquipschtick. I was being spared news breaks that managed to sound anti-American in a detched, holier-than-thou way, even when they were just reporting the weather over Labrador. And that girl who had the Alternative Music show later at night, who I once heard growl into the microphone something about "Playing music that the government doesn't want you to hear" was nowhere to be heard. Odd, that, considering that it was the government that was paying her salary. Odder still trying to think of Ottowa as the epicenter of some jack-booted regime that supresses Alternative Music. They're much more likely to supress Motherhood and Christmas...

Charlene listens to KDFC a lot, and says they are always strictly neutral. Which, here in the SF Bay Area, is GREAT!

That bit about the Alternative Music girl is funny, and a good example of how the Left has become a cargo cult, re-enacting empty rituals. I wonder if that labor dispute featured denunciations of capitalism and "the bosses"...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:04 AM

October 18, 2005

Catchphrase du Jour...

I sure get bored with the way journalists have to reduce every "type" of story to a formula.

At the moment I'm peeved at the many Avian Flu stories that use the "is it time to panic?" phrase. Like this one: As the deadly bird flu makes its appearance in Europe, should we stay calm or start panicking?

I suppose they are just being cute, but obviously panicking is stupid, whatever the danger...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:08 PM

October 17, 2005

Chemical Ali might do well as a prof

This article in Asia Times, by a Professor Mark Levine on the new Iraq constitution is a good example of why, whenever you hear the words "Professor of Middle Eastern Studies," you should reach for your revolver...
* Update: John Byrnes has more on this guy here

...But viewed from the perspective of the Middle East's recent history, particularly the failed negotiating strategies behind the collapse of the Oslo peace process...
The only relevance of Oslo here is that appeasing terrorists is suicidal stupidity...and if that's not exactly what he wants, I'll eat my hat.
...Saturday's referendum will likely neither end the insurgency nor bring the country closer to significant democratic development.
It IS significant democratic development, which is why this guy doesn't like it. And no one has ever claimed that it will magically end the Ba'athist terror attacks...But I'm guessing this is the "beginning of the end" for his Sunni fantasies.

The original draft of the constitution did set important benchmarks for democracy and personal freedom for Iraqis. It even concludes with a statement on environmental protection that Americans should envy...
Don't EVER let lefties write a constitution. A constitution is the framework of government, within which legislators can make laws. It is the job of legislatures to write environmental laws. To put such things in a constitution is an attempt to avoid democracy, EU style. Bad move by Iraq, but probably something they can work around.
But these advances are overshadowed by what the constitution left out. Specifically, there are no references to three issues that are of primary concern to most Arab, and especially Sunni Iraqis: a prohibition on the long-term presence of foreign - read American - troops in the country; ...
Probably should read "of primary concern to most Professors of Middle Eastern Studies." But really, why should this item be in a constitution? If the government of Iraq tells foreign forces to leave, they will leave. (And if they won't leave, a line in the constitution won't make them go.) But maybe Iraq will decide it wants a few Americans to stick around. It didn't hurt Germany.
...a firm statement emphasizing Iraqi control of production and distribution of the country's oil resources;
Why? Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. Wicked oil companies, versus virtuous government-controlled oil. Totally stupid. Actually, control of oil by government is probably the biggest danger to Iraqi democracy. Any government with oil resources doesn't need to pay attention to those tiresome tax-payers and voters. It's no accident that oil states are so often corrupt and dictatorial. (And one hears that some of that corruption includes baksheesh to certain "professors.")
...and a commitment to rebuilding the social infrastructure that was devastated by the invasion and subsequent wholesale privatization of the country's economy under US auspices.
Iraq's infrastructure was destroyed by neglect under Saddam, as anybody paying attention knows. But to lefty profs, Saddam's Iraq was a socialist paradise where the trains ran on time. All the problems are the fault of America. Plus even more dreadful, of "privatization." (Of which there has actually been little.) But again, what does this have to do with a constitution? If Iraq flourishes, infrastructure will be rebuilt. If not, then not. Nobody will say, "Sorry, can't fill potholes--it's not in the Constitution."
However, I wonder if his reference to "social infrastructure" means something I'm not aware of? Could it be some leftsh
code-word? Like "social justice," which seems to mean something very different from justice?
For most every Arab Iraqi the withdrawal of all American and other foreign troops is the sine qua non for ending the insurgency.
Bullshit. The "insurgency" is an attempt to restore Ba'athist/Sunni tyranny. Withdrawal of foreign troops would be the signal for the terrorists to go for the kill.
That the constitutional negotiators couldn't include any prohibition of foreign troops, or deal straightforwardly with the other two core issues, demonstrates the continuing and largely deleterious power of the US in the country's internal affairs.
Nah, it means they know how to write a constitution...And that "internal affairs" bit--I'd be willing to bet money he thought Saddam's internal affairs should not be infected with the "deleterious power of the US" either.
Posted by John Weidner at 6:59 PM

Grit, bravery, restraint...

You may have already seen this quote, but GOPVixen just nails it...

...The liberals are upset today. They discovered once again the Iraqi people agree with Bush: That their freedom is worth fighting and dying for. And they proved it by risking death to make a statement. They proved it by creating a remarkable Constitution in ten months -- when it took us years.

The Iraqi people are our allies in the War on Terror. And judging by their grit, restraint in the face of violence for a bigger cause, and bravery, we are lucky to have them.

Sorry, liberals, no Civil War here. Move on. Nothing to see. Maybe elsewhere you can propagandize on behalf of mass murderers to hurt the Bush administration, but not in Iraq. Not in Iraq....

The Iraqi people agree with Bush. And they DISAGREE with liberals, who in a thousand-and-one ways tell us that freedom is NOT worth fighting and dying for. Liberalism is the path to death, to laying down and dying rather than believing in a future worth fighting for.

Liberals and also "realists." I think of the people who keep repeating like a mantra that we should have kept the old Iraqi army in existence. But that army was a corrupt dysfunctional Ba'athist institution. To say that is another way of saying that the hard dangerous job of building freedom and democracy is not worth doing. (It's a mark of their intellectual bankruptcy that they never bother to try to refute the arguments against keeping the old army, but just act as if their position were already agreed upon. Something that will be harder to do as it becomes apparent that the new army is becoming something admirable. Also, the old army had many proud and honorable members even though it was broken as an institution. Where are they? In the new army, many of them, As those who read RJ have heard.)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:10 AM

October 16, 2005

Latest madness..

Dafydd writes on the latest craziness in the crazy "indictment" of Tom DeLay:

...I wanted to link to an article about this latest Keystone Kops escapade, but amazingly enough, at this point, I cannot find a single article about this absurdity -- not even on FoxNews.com. Since they actually had video of the incident as it unfolded and discussion with the attorneys right after they came out of the courthouse, I would find it hard to believe it never occurred; but in the mad world of the MSM, even being caught on videotape doesn't mean something really exists: it only exists when one of the media news managers decides it exists. Perhaps I hallucinated the entire thing.

Here we have a story that even the MSM agrees is important: the indictment of the second most powerful man in the House of Representatives. And five years after Ronnie Earle began hounding DeLay, three years after the alleged crime of "money laundering" occurred, at least a year after the D.A.'s office began investigating this particular transaction, and eleven days after
obtaining the new, improved indictment from the third grand jury to investigate, we discover that the District Attorney's office doesn't even have the critical piece of evidence that underpins their entire case.

But evidently, that's just not news.

Sad to say, except for those of you who watched Brit Hume last night, "you read it here first."

What makes me grit my teeth is that, to millions of people, it will be a "fact" that Republicans are corrupt, with the phony political indictment of the House Majority Leader as leading "evidence" of rottenness. A lie our vile "press" is happy to spread.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:28 PM

Io triumphe, io triumphe; stronger than the scumbags...

Two good quotes for a historic event...

...The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.
      --President George W Bush, Speech at the UN, September 12, 2002
(Thanks to OJ)
And this e-mail from a Marine, posted by Hugh Hewitt...
The fact that there wasn�t a major mass casualty of voters, SBVIED in polling centers or assassinations conducted that the foaming mouth reporters could get in the middle of just reinforces how far the Iraqi forces have come and how they are getting stronger than the scumbags. Reporter�s countrywide saturated the area days prior to the elections to hopefully catch the US forces failing. Well to damn bad it didn�t happen so pound sand! You be the judge on just how much coverage there is of the actual elections on the news tomorrow. My bet is that there won�t be much beside some BS doubters or what if this or what if that negative crap on. I know that if there were an unsuccessful election, it would have been nothing but �Breaking News� shots about how we failed. It�s a good day to be an American, stand tall America we helped a country get on its feet today. Semper Fi-Capt B
"It's a good day to be an American." Yes.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:05 AM

Educational progress...

The appeasers want to stop the WoT, and certain hawks want to go faster, complaining that Bush has betrayed us because Syria and other terror-supporting countries weren't flattened two years ago...Group one is guilty of suicidal folly, and group two is displaying immaturity...Fortunately, neither is running the circus. Syria's turn is coming.

NYT: ....But other officials, who say they got their information in the field or by talking to Special Operations commanders, say that as American efforts to cut off the flow of fighters have intensified, the operations have spilled over the border - sometimes by accident, sometimes by design.

Some current and former officials add that the United States military is considering plans to conduct special operations inside Syria, using small covert teams for cross-border intelligence gathering.

>The broadening military effort along the border has intensified as the Iraqi constitutional referendum scheduled for Saturday approaches, and as frustration mounts in the Bush administration and among senior American commanders over their inability to prevent foreign radical Islamists from engaging in suicide bombings and other deadly terrorist acts inside Iraq....

It's called incrementalism. Slow and steady progress. It's what grownups do.
Times of London....THE Bush Administration has offered Syria’s beleaguered President a “Gaddafi deal” to end his regime’s isolation if Damascus agrees to a long list of painful concessions.

According to senior American and Arab officials, an offer has been relayed to President Assad that could enable him to avoid the looming threat of international sanctions against his country....(links thanks to Orrin)

I'm guessing that the pressure on Syria will soon include enthusiastic incursions by Iraqi units. That will be very cool. And will be a pay-off for the long slow process of educating Iraq, and holding things together while they learn to hate terrorists. Some people claim there was some better "plan," that would have produced a trouble-free occupation of Iraq if only the incompetent Bush Administration had followed it. I think that's malarky, and the Ba'athist terror campaign was going to happen no matter what. (For one thing, they were going to get encouragement from our vile press and lefties no matter what America did.) And I've spent a lifetime hearing every ill blamed by somebody on America. It's a habit with a lot of people.

But the pace of events is deliberately slow, because Iraqi democracy is intended to be an educational experience for the Arab world, and education takes time and patience. I predict that Iraqi poll workers will be helping out with Syrian elections in the not too distant future. But of course they need to get a few elections under their belts first.

It will take time for Iraqis to realize they are allied with the forces of freedom, in a worldwide war against terrorism/leftism. But things like this will drive the lesson home....
American comforts iraqi boy at suicide bombing
Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Alan D. Monyelle / U.S. Navy / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images
Army Capt. Daniel Hall comforts an Iraqi boy after a suicide car bomb attack in Tal Afar, Iraq, on Tuesday.
Army Times 10/14/05

Posted by John Weidner at 8:45 AM

October 15, 2005

Election a test for the critics...

Looks like the Iraq election is going well, with only a few scattered terrorist attacks. Which is good evidence that the Iraqi forces are becoming truly effective. As is the fact that US commanders only asked for an extra 2,000 American troops, as opposed to 12,000 last January.

Let me guess; we won't be seeing a lot of headlines that read IRAQ ELECTION TRIUMPH!

OpinionJournal:...The other big danger is that U.S. media and political pessimism will further erode American public support for the war. The attitude among some can only be described as defeatist. When General Casey and other Defense officials testified recently before the Senate Armed Services Committee, their measured reports were drowned out by criticism and gloom.

In response to one such riff from Senator Hillary Clinton, General Casey put it this way: "Your comments on the insurgency, on the levels of violence, I recognize that that is what it appears, but that is what the terrorists and insurgents are trying to convey. They're trying to convey that they are winning, and they're doing it by murdering innocent Iraqis. . . .

"And it's a tough situation. But that's what a terror campaign is all about. And this is about political will. And as I said in my opening statement, they are attacking ours and the will of the Iraqi people. They're not winning in Iraq, and they will only win here if we lose our will."...

Senaotor Clinton is on the other side. It is easy to find evidence of strong progress if you WANT to. Democrats don't want to.

This election, if it is the triumph that it is starting to look like, will be a good test of those who oppose the Iraq Campaign but claim they are patriotic Americans who "support the troops" and just want to save us from an un-winnable quagmire. If they are telling the truth, then they should be happy that things are going well. The "criticism and gloom" people, like Clinton, should be happy. The "pacifists" should be happy that (so far) there isn't much violence...

And if they are, as some of us skeptics suggest, actually on the side of the terrorists, then we will get sullen silence, or, if pressed, grudging admission of success followed by changing the subject, or focusing on some particular problem--there are always problems--as if it is the real story, and as if the stunning fact of an Arab country voting for a democratic constitution is no big deal...

We'll see, won't we...

Iraqi poll workers prepare a voting station in Basra Atef Hassan/Reuters. From slideshow at this NYT article

I liked this picture because of the glowing light, and because it's refreshing to see walls in Iraq that don't need a coat of paint. And also because I just remembered a line from a great British WWII memoir, by someone who had to fight around where this picture was taken: "The Persian Gulf is the a--hole of the world, and Basra is sixty miles up it." If there is hope for Basra, there is hope for all of us...

(And yes, I am perfectly aware of the problems they are having in Basra. But democracy is a process, not an event. Iraqi democracy will be ugly and flawed, by our standards, for a long time.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:44 AM

October 14, 2005

Word note...

It's a minor matter, but I just don't see it. Taranto today criticizes Matthew Scully's defense of Miers, specifically this:

...If four years observing the woman is any guide, the answer is she was probably doing something useful...

Taranto writes:

...First of all, there's something odd and disrespectful about Scully's references to Miers, who is a serious professional even if she doesn't belong on the Supreme Court, as "the woman." It's not quite as bad as "that woman," but it rankles nonetheless...

I think it's crazy. If I wrote something like: "If four years observing the man is any guide, he's honest," would that be disrespectful? I don't see how. So why can't one mention a woman that way?

I think Taranto's also wrong in his cronyism point; it looks to me like Scully is not saying that Bolton's nomination was cronyism, but that Bill Kristol was exhibiting a kind of "cronyism" when he wanted his personal friend Bolton defended to the utmost, but now sneers at the President for nominating a friend.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:46 AM


In case you are tempted to believe the AP story which implies that the President's video conference with soldiers in Iraq was phony, Jason van Steenwyk, who is both a journalist and a soldier, pours scorn on it in a knowledgeable way. (Thanks to InstaPundit)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:26 AM

"but zero from Democrats"

Major E, returned from Iraq, e-mails PowerLine, including the reaction to his offer to give talks on what he's seen....

....What has struck me the most is how starved people are to know what is really going on over there. So many are quite grateful to hear a different perspective than the one that bombards them daily. Having watched the biased reporting since the beginning of the conflict, I was not surprised to discover that people want a more balanced perspective, even if the intensity is stronger than I expected.

What has been surprising, though, and a bit disappointing, is that there has been a distinct split between the interest level of partisan political groups. I contacted county leadership for both Democrats and Republicans, along with non-partisan church and civic groups, and have received numerous requests from churches, non-partisan groups, and Republican organizations -- but zero from Democrats, despite following up with them several times....

They are being smart. If any lefties are reading this, you don't want to know! Trust me Comrade, you don't want to know the truth. It will spoil your breakfast latte, finding out that you have built your hopes and politics on a heap of lies. And it will take the glow off the next anti-war vigil, knowing that the people who actually know what''s going on consider you to be dupes and fools and "useful idiots."

Wretchard once wrote a splendid post, which I should find and quote. It was about how the Left used to have a disciplined and ruthless core of communists, and all the liberal fellow-travellers, hippies, pacifists, vegetarians and conspiracy-theorists were at the periphery, and were exploited as "useful fools." (And were oh-so-dead once the Revolution happened.) But now the core is gone, and the drooling screwballs ARE the Left.

And, bitter irony, the Western Left is now the "useful idiots," exploited by Islamists who despise every "progressive" cause there is.


Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

October 13, 2005

The appeasers are toast...


The Iraqi election is day-after-tomorrow, and it doesn't look good for anti-democracy pro-terrorist investors, folks. Shares of NYT, alZark, HoDean, Sddm, Peaceniki, Progresso, and alKay are plunging on the Random Jottings Exchange, as panicked investors try to save a few pennies on the dollar.

Trading has been halted in Qogmar, PulOwt, and GenCapit.

Iraqis with new Constitution

Najaf residents get copies of the draft charter up for a vote on Saturday.
Photo Credit: By Ali Abu Shish -- Reuters
Related Article: Iraq's Shiite Hub Awaits Its Day, page A01

Posted by John Weidner at 5:34 PM


Thanks to Michelle, for reminding us that this is the anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole. I hope, I devoutly hope, that as the good guys hunt and kill arhabi around the globe, they are collecting some scalps for the men who died on the Cole.

USS Cole on recovery ship
USS Cole on a Norwegian recovery ship. [link]

The Cole was named for Sergeant Darrell Samuel Cole, USMC. He enlisted on August 21, 1941, and was trained as a bugler. When war came, he repeatedly requested a combat assignment, but was refused because there was a shortage of buglers. But when the fighting started, he would jump in anyway -- he fought at Guadalcanal, Roi-Namur (Kwajalein), Saipan, and Iwo Jima, where he was killed, earning the Medal of Honor.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:56 AM

Tip: Don't wear your Magen David to the peace march...

Nick Cohen, in the New Statesman...

...Be careful, I said. Saddam Hussein's Iraq has spewed out predatory armies and corpses for decades. If you're going to advocate a policy that would keep a fascist dictator in power, you should at least talk to his victims, whose number included socialists, communists and liberals - good people, rather like you.

Next day I looked at my e-mails. There were rather a lot of them. The first was a fan letter from Ann Leslie, the Daily Mail's chief foreign correspondent, who had seen the barbarism of Ba'athism close up. Her cheery note ended with a warning: “You’re not going to believe the anti-Semitism that is about to hit you.” “Don’t be silly, Ann,” I replied. “There’s no racism on the left.” I worked my way through the rest of the e-mails. I couldn’t believe the anti-Semitism that hit me.

I learned it was one thing being called “Cohen” if you went along with liberal orthodoxy, quite another when you pointed out liberal betrayals. Your argument could not be debated on its merits. There had to be a malign motive. You had to support Ariel Sharon. You had to be in the pay of “international” media moguls or neoconservatives. You had to have bad blood. You had to be a Jew.

My first reaction was so ignoble I blush when I think of it. I typed out a reply that read, “but there hasn’t been a Jewish member of my family for 100 years”. I sounded like a German begging a Gestapo officer to see the mistake in the paperwork. Mercifully, I hit the “delete” button before sending....

One sees these "wake up" articles by liberals fairly often. "Mugged by reality," eh Nick? Will he change? Will he rummage his beliefs, and scrutinize the fact that he's allied with Saddam, and find something rotten in Denmark? Will he go back to first principles?

My guess, no. To stay a liberal this long, you have to be very good at ignoring or papering-over ugly realities. Most of the people who are capable of change already did so. They are called neocons.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 AM

October 12, 2005

Unto the Fourth Generation..

Marc Danziger, the Armed Liberal, who I think highly of, critiques his fellow Dems for always discussing policies, without expressing the principles behind them. He writes:

....Talk first about principles. Create a manifesto. Something vaguely like this:
First and foremost, the American principles of liberty, equality, freedom as have really not been enjoyed as well in any other place or time.

In the context of those principles, and not in lieu of them - there are other principles that defend the weak against the strong, the poor against the rich, the few against the many.
Those principles ought to be foremost. They should be coherent, clear, and compelling. Those are - in my belief - the "liberal manifesto."
Then talk about how they get devolved into policy, and how - in dialog with supporters and opponents, in the messy, chaotic wonderful process that was created for us by our Founders, and which we intend to keep up and hand down to our children, we intend to create policies that meet those principles.

Let the policies emerge. Let leaders emerge who understand the principles, and can guide the creation of understandable, useful, workable policies.....

He's got a good question to chew on, but, as one who thinks often about conservative principles, I don't think his are useful answers. Things like "defend the weak against the strong" are too general to yield any policies. We conservatives think we are defending the few or the weak when we defend, say, the Boy Scouts against the cynical attacks of leftists wishing to destroy traditional values under the cloak of gay rights. Or when we defend gun owners against confiscatory governments hostile to individual strength and confidence.

His principles are too vague, but more importantly, they aren't basic principles. There are other principles underlying them. For instance, "defend the poor against the rich" begs the question of whether Mr Danziger believes that the rich are oppressing the poor? Does he believe that their interests are opposed? Does he believe the rich stole their wealth from the poor? Does he believe that wealth should be "shared?" Does he believe it is less wrong for a poor person to steal from a rich one than vice versa? Would he like the poor to become rich? Does he believe this whole matter is within the purview of government? If so, to what extent?

If your "principle" can be used by either party, then it's not basic, nor useful. We conservatives think we are defending the poor against the rich when we wish to give poor people school choice, to free them from the tyranny of bloated bureaucracies failed schools and corrupt teacher's unions.

I think he needs to dig a bit deeper. And I think the idea that policies should flow from principles, while true, is a bit misleading. Above all, a principle should tell you how to understand what's going on around you. The world has changed drastically since I was young, but my conservative principles are a guide to make sense of of things that might be bewildering. For instance, the Rights of Englishmen are near the roots of my philosophy, and would give me guidance if England sank beneath the sea (which, spiritually, it seems to be doing) and I were exiled to Mars. And, as I've blogged, I think many liberals are flapping about crazily, because they can't handle change, without the compass that principles give you.

Marc says something else that's interesting:

...Personally, I'm interested in some "4th Generation" social policies; ones that veer away from command and control, and from heavy-handed intrusion into people's lives - and still meet the principles I set out; they help the weak, the poor, the few. What would a welfare program run along Special Forces lines look like?....

That's intriguing. So what might such a program look like? The Special Forces push authority down to small units and individuals. They demand initiative and responsibility. They encourage experimentation and rule-breaking.

So who are the individuals here? The Poor! (I guess one could imagine a "4th Generation welfare program" that kept the poor dependent and out-of-the-loop, but that's too crazy for me to get my head around.) We will have to expect them to take a lot of responsibility in achieving the mission. And to do that we have to break their "old army" ways of waiting passively to be told what to do. Perhaps welfare might be for a limited time, so all will know that they will have to soon take care of themselves.

Also, the Special Forces value morale and character and spirit more than big guns. The spiritual condition of our troops will be paramount. Philosophies which consider individuals expendable in the interests of society must be avoided in favor of those that value every person. Wasn't there one that says that men are made in the image of God? Something like that? Sounds good for our purposes.

And what are the small units? First, I'd say, is the family. The cohesion and viability of the family should be of prime importance, and the trends and ideas that tend to break it apart should be resisted to the utmost. The family might be equivalent to the squad, with churches and community groups the equivalent of platoons. We should probably take resources from the big bureaucracies, and give them to the platoons and companies, with a lot of freedom to chose how to best use them....

Well golly gee, whack me with an ugly-stick and call me Newt! Haven't we heard this sort of cackle somewhere before? Marc, you may just be heading off on a path you don't anticipate...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 PM

Hell Hole of the Third World...

I wonder if any of the fraudulent bozos who wept fraudulent tears over abu Ghraib, and wrote 10,000 news stories about it, give any attention to this?

.....Describing them as "dungeons", he said: "It is incredible that people are imprisoned in such conditions, without ventilation and without natural light. I have never seen a worse prison." Mr Gil-Robles, 60, an academic lawyer and Spain's former national ombudsman, spent 16 days in France last month inspecting prisons, detention centres and mental hospitals.

In a meeting last week with Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister, he said he was astonished that such "squalid and inhumane conditions" should exist at the Palais de Justice, the vast complex that houses the supreme court of appeal and criminal courts.

The palais is situated on the beautiful L'île de la Cité, a few hundred yards from Notre Dame cathedral. But in its "dépôt", human rights organisations have uncovered evidence of prisoners, mainly illegal immigrants, going without food, drink and lavatory paper as they huddle together for warmth. There have been numerous violent attacks and cases of detainees mutilating themselves and smearing their blood on the walls.

"You are drowned in the middle of all of those excluded from society and also the mad and the ill," said 55-year-old Farouk, a former prisoner....[

Of course not. Only America and Israel are bad guys. And this isn't the first time I've read of brutal conditions for prisoners in France. Truth is, if you are arrested as a terror suspect, you should BEG to be sent to Gitmo, and not turned over to some Third World country like France. Or BEG to be sent to abu Ghraib (as it now is, not as it was under Saddam, of course).

Ooops, I forgot. There is that little matter of hundreds of prisoners having been killed or maimed at abu Ghraib. But those killings are OK! There's nothing wrong with them, because they are done by the "Freedom Fighters" (who have attacked the prison frequently with mortars and rockets). And if you are naive and think there's something wrong with this slaughter, just ask your neighborhood "pacifist" or "anti-war" activist. They will set you straight.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:10 PM

Cracker Barrel Philosophers

I have, as you know, done a number of posts on the risk of Avian Flu. And now, belatedly, it's getting serious attention from government and the press.

And one of the reactions I'm now noticing is from the type of people you might call "cracker-barrel philosophers," who are slapping their knees and saying, "Yew can't believe them big-gummint types. They're always tryin' to skeer us, 'cause there's a lot of money in to be made in this."

First of all, this isn't a "government" scare. It's been forced on government by people in science and Public Health who have been screaming about it for several years, and getting precious little attention from government.

And because a source has been wrong in the past doesn't mean they are always wrong. Stopped clock, and all that. (Even Democrats criticizing Bush are bound to be right sometimes, even though they have disgraced and discredited themselves with lies and by blaming him promiscuously for every ill and happenstance, and gloating when things go wrong.)

And in the case of disaster warnings, it's the nature of the things that there will be many false alarms. Same with warnings of terrorist attacks. In fact the people who issue such warnings soon become gun-shy, because they know they will be criticized and mocked if the problem doesn't happen, and people will ignore the next warning.

Secundus, it's good if people are making a lot of money off of Flu preparations. We used to have many more providers of vaccines, but most gave up the business, tired of lawsuits and low profits. (If you find yourself in a Flu pandemic, and want someone to lynch, consider stringing up the vile animals of the "Plaintiffs' Bar," or maybe their patron saint, Ralph Nader.) What we ought to be doing is offering a sort of "X-Prize" of a billion dollars to whoever finds a fast way to produce vaccines. Instead, if there IS a vaccine available during a pandemic, I have no doubt we will hear loud calls to restrict the obscene profits of the wicked drug companies, who are getting rich while the poor suffer. [Example #378 of how "Liberalism" kills.]

Tertius, The "philosophers" like to say things like,"I'll just wash my hands and drink orange juice and eat healthy, and I'll be OK." Even if this saves you from flu (unlikely) it's not enough, because many of the preparations we should all be making, for any possible disaster, involve being ready for interruption of food or water supplies, or electric power. And the person who doesn't prepare, far from being a strong individualist, might end up like those wretched Katrina folks, part of a hapless rabble waiting for the National Guard convoys...which may not come. Waiting for government to save them. They remind me of the staunch individualists who resist those obtrusive government regulations about wearing motorcycle helmets. Which would be fine, except that one knows that when they end up paralyzed, they will be complaining that government doesn't do enough to take care of the handicapped.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:11 AM

October 11, 2005

Confirmation: For.

Paul Deignan is collecting blogger positions on the Harriet Miers nomination.

I've blogged about the nomination here here here here and here. I think she should be confirmed, and strongly suspect that us conservatives will end up liking her a lot.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:42 PM

Pretty funny...

John Podhoretz writes in The Corner:

BONO AND SANTORUM [John Podhoretz]
Watch as the heads of the editors of Kurt Loder, Rolling Stone, the Utne Reader, Spin, Vibe and the Hollywood geniuses at the Huffington Post simultaneously explode like in
Scanners once they hear the news that rock god Bono is raising money for "man on dog" critic Santorum. Oh, the expression of humorless outrage from Andrew Sullivan, culminating in a demand that Bono withdraw from the concert, condemn torture and put money in his tip jar!

If Andrew is outraged, I'm for it, whatever it is...

Update: Apparently this is a hoax...
Posted by John Weidner at 6:09 PM

Sanity returning?

Jay Nordlinger writes:

....I must tell you, however, that I am rather calmed down now. A little optimistic. Maybe Miers’ll be all right. Maybe our initial reactions are overblown. And maybe some of the most thunderous conservative commentary has been a little insulting — to Bush and to Miers. Wrongly insulting.

I was very much comforted by a talk I had with a federal-judge friend. I thought he would be mortified, as so many of us have been. And I was shocked to find that he was delighted with the choice — and thought the general conservative criticism was bunk.

Since sociology — the awful matter of class — has played a role in the Miers brouhaha, I might give you this judge’s credentials: He went to the very fanciest schools in the country (starting with prep school). He was a partner at just about the fanciest firm in the country. And he was a federal judge pretty early. In other words, he is at the top of the elite heap.

And he thinks Miers is superbly qualified — loves her background, loves what she has done. Loves what he thinks he knows about her character, and her work habits. Thinks she would be terrific on the Court. “The Supreme Court is packed with former Court of Appeals judges,” he said. “We don’t need any more. And, you know? They’re not necessarily all that impressive, trust me.” He went on to describe one of the judges presumed to have been on the president’s short list as “frightening”: frightening as in, not too swift....
Posted by John Weidner at 4:11 PM

Fear can be useful...

A doctor argues in the LAT that getting people frightened over the threat of Avian Flu is a bad idea. [Thanks to Betsy Newmark] I think he doesn't have a grasp of how to match danger against probability...and of course that's always a tricky problem, because there are many low-probability high-danger scenarios in life, most of which will not happen. Dr Siegal writes:

...Fear is a warning system intended to alert us to impending danger. The bird flu, though a potential large-scale danger, is not impending.

This is very misleading. It's like taking the high likelihood that a big quake will hit San Francisco in the next 50 years and saying: "an earthquake is not impending." It's not something we can say is or is not "impending" (at our present state of knowledge)--it could happen tomorrow or not at all

The facts are these: The current H5N1 avian influenza virus has not mutated into a form that can easily infect humans, and the 60 people in the world who have died of this bird flu have done so not because this bug is on the road to mutation but because millions of birds throughout Asia have been infected, and the more birds that have it, the more likely that an occasional human bird handler will be infected.

The actual mutation feared is something that could take less than a minute. There isn't any such thing as "being on the road to mutation." This is similar to the mistake of flipping a coin and getting "heads" ten times in a row, and then thinking your next flip just has to be "tails." Each flip of the coin has the same probability, no matter what happened in the past.

Most human influenzas begin as bird flus, but many bird flus never change to a form that can harm us. Though flu pandemics occur on the average of three times per century, and we are clearly overdue (the last was in 1968), there is absolutely no indication that the transformation to mass human killer is about to happen. The threat is theoretical. Unfortunately, the attention it has received makes it feel like something terrible is inevitable.

EVERY threat that hasn't yet happened is "theoretical." It's silly to imply that this makes the threat less. And again, the mutation isn't something that "gives an indication that it is about to happen."

Why the overreaction? For one thing, direct comparisons to the Spanish flu of 1918, a scourge that killed more than 50 million people worldwide, has alarmed the public unnecessarily. In fact, there are many scenarios in which the current bird flu won't mutate into a form as deadly as the 1918 virus.

Of course there are. But the number of scenarios doesn't change or help us gauge the probability of any one scenario.

And even if we accept the Spanish flu scenario, health conditions in 1918 were far worse in most of the world than they are now. Many people lived in squalor; 17 million influenza deaths occurred in India, versus about half a million deaths in the U.S. There were no flu vaccinations, no antiviral drugs, and containment by isolating infected individuals wasn't effective, largely because of poor information and poor compliance.

Many people still live in squalor, and population density is now much greater. Flu vaccine won't be available for at least 6 months after the new virus appears, and there are questions about the efficacy of anti-viral drugs. Containment is unlikely to work, because Flu is more infectious than almost any disease.

Today's media reach could be a useful tool to aid compliance. Of course, the concern that air travel can spread viral infections faster may be valid, but infected migratory birds were sufficient in 1918.

Siegal has an anti-fear ax to grind, (he's pushing his book on the subject) and here he's talking nonsense. There is NO QUESTION that air travel can spread flu faster, and the 1918 flu was a Human Flu (of Avian origin) and spread from human to human.

Unfortunately, public health alarms are sounded too often and too soon. SARS was broadcast as a new global killer to which we had zero immunity, and yet it petered out long before it killed a single person in the United States.

That SARS petered out has no relevance to the POTENTIAL danger it posed. A Flu might fizzle out, or mutate into a less dangerous form. Or might not. That doesn't change its POTENTIAL danger, which is what we need to deal with. Siegal is basicaly saying that, because we didn't have an earthquake this year, the likelihood of an earthquake has decreased. That's idiocy. And the fear of SARS galvanized the efforts to contain it, and possible saved us from disaster.

SARS was something to be taken seriously, but the real lessons of SARS, smallpox, West Nile virus, anthrax and mad cow disease weren't learned by our leaders — that potential health threats are more effectively examined in the laboratory than at a news conference.

Bullshit. The political impetus that puts money in the laboratory stems from the scary news conference. And in many flu scenarios the laboratory work is irrelevant, and the preparations that ordinary people should make are vital. And will be stimulated by fear.

With bird flu, scientists have been working on the structure of the viruses in an attempt to protect us. Studies published in the journals Nature and Science over the last six years have given scientists a road map with which to track the current bird flu and alert health officials if it mutates further.

Again, a mutation could change things instantly.

It is reasonable to try to control the bird flu while it remains in the bird population. There is great value in improving our emergency health response system and upgrading our vaccine-making capacity. Government subsidies in these areas could make the public safer.

And they may not. But government has been very slow to prepare, and now that fear is growing, it is starting to move. Fear is USEFUL. It would be better if we all acted like wise philosophers, but we don't. And anyway, here we have a supposedly wise professor, who seems to know nothing of the rules of probability.

But, right now, there is no value in scaring the public with Hitchcockian bird flu scenarios. The public must be kept in the loop, but potential threats should be put into context. The worst case is not the only case.

What "context?" We don't really know. There are many many scenarios where I play golf in the rain, and have a good time. And one scenario where I get struck by lightning. So, not to worry, right? The worst case is not the only case, right?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 AM

October 10, 2005

Hear, hear...

Against the Government's position, I can see no purpose in disputing that our helping to overthrow Saddam Hussein has inflamed Islamist totalitarian groups. Why deny what we should take pride in?
Oliver Kamm, via Samizdata
Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 PM

October 9, 2005

today's joke

How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light-bulb?

None. Each light-bulb holds the seeds of its own revolution
Posted by John Weidner at 11:14 PM

Tip #284

Here's some inside dope on why quicksand is hard to get out of, and how to do it....

Thanks to Zannah

Posted by John Weidner at 9:03 PM

In the case of Miers v. Chattering Classes...

Dennis the Peasant has a good point about Miers. Actually several, but this one, about polling, makes sense...[ooops, that sounded wrong. They ALL make sense, I just liked this one]

...Ok, I feel better now. That said, where is this screed leading?

Right here: The biggest problem with the main stream media and the political blogosphere is that is lacks any sense of proportion. And because neither do, very often that lack of proportion helps doom it to irrelevancy with those who are not amongst the Chattering Classes. Such will be the case in the case of
Miers v. Chattering Classes.

Being full of themselves, both the main streamers and the bloggers missed the fact that something told Harry Reid and George Bush that, whatever their respective bases may want, what the majority of the citizenry do not want at this time is a big, nasty, bitter, partisan fight. That something is almost certainly polling.

Evidently those outside the Chattering Classes have decided that between Iraq, Katrina, and $60 oil, they’d prefer to see their elected officials focus on something other than trying to figure out where Harriet Miers is a closet lesbian who’s soft on abortion.

Go figure.

Expect to see everyone from George Will to Kevin Drum to draw a yawn from the masses. Expect to see Miers confirmed with roughly 65 votes.
Posted by John Weidner at 4:22 PM

If you don't trust Bush, trust Rove...

NixGuy makes a good point:

...Rove however...does not stand for elections, but let’s assume that he wishes to remain a voice of power and influence within Republican circles. It would be suicide for him to be seen as the one who sold out the conservatives in the one matter that they cared about.

It is hard to believe that Rove, the boy genius, the master strategist, did not understand what conservatives wanted from Bush’s nominees and what would happen if they didn’t get it.

It is easy to believe that Rove understands that an overt fight is not a good idea right now with a wishy-washy republican senate that would not face down a filibuster. So he finds a rock-solid conservative, that is immune to criticism and immune to growing in office, and that the Democrats will not fight him over, (because they really don’t want the fight either). So it’s a win-win-win-lose where everyone gets what they want.

Conservative base gets a good judge (highly likely to be more consistently conservative than Roberts).

Bush satisfies the conservative base without spending political capital in the Senate (what little he has). The Republican senate avoids a fight they might lose (if the filibuster was used).

The Democratic senate avoids a fight that they might win, but would’ve been pyrrhic.

The Democratic base loses ultimately as they should.

Bottom line, if you don’t trust Bush, trust Rove, he has a lot more to lose if Miers turns out to be a liberal. Like the death of his career...

One thing you can usually bet on, is that if a person makes a big mistake, they won't make the same mistake again. And probably the second-biggest mistake of the Bushes (and they are a close family, and a mistake by one affects them all) was putting David Souter on the Court. So, whatever mistake Bush might make now, another Souter isn't going to be it. The people who say "We don't know that Miers might not be a Souter" are wasting their oxygen.

It's the way life is, that it's your mistakes that are remembered. But along with Souter one ought always to mention a nominee with far fewer "qualifications" than he (or Miers). Bush 41 also plucked Clarence Thomas from obscurity, and put him on the Court...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:48 AM

October 8, 2005

Awesome...Just awesome

One of the Blue Angels

It's Fleet Week here, and our friend Pam had her delightful annual party on her rooftop patio overlooking the bay, to watch the Blue Angels. They were, as always, stunning. Splendid. Awesome.

And as always, it's difficult to get good pictures of them with my digital camera. It's probably hard with any camera. Either they are dots against a blue sky, or they are close....but close they are moving so fast, you hear a roar and then KER-BLAM! They go right over our heads and then they are gone...

The Blue Angels against the Golden Gate Bridge
You want peace, talk to these guys. We call it Pax Americana. It's the only option available;
don't bother asking the hippies.

There's a bit more below...

Blue Angels
I would not want to watch these fellows perform if I were one of America's enemies...

We and our friends watch the Blue Angels
That's Charlene in pink, with Will behind her. The others are our friends
in the Thorpe family; Kathryn, Karina Payne, and their Grandmother Madeline Doran.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:52 PM

Envelope please...

Wretchard says, with tongue-in-cheek, something true...

....It is tempting to thank all those who have made this [the "insurgency's" being led to use brutal tactics that are now backfiring on them] possible, beginning with those who believed that playing up the insurgency's gruesome work on the front pages would project the 'helplessness' of America and contrast it's impotence with the puissance of Abu Musab Zarqawis 'freedom fighters'. Mention should go to everyone who argued that 'insurgent losses did not matter'; that body counts were irrelevant when following the development of an insurgency.

Finally, a special award should be given to everyone who ignored the buildup of Iraqi forces and the establishment of an Iraqi State as being futile and beyond the wit and capability of the US; who believed even recently that only 1 of 3 Iraqi battalions in existence were fighting the insurgency, when in fact there were 100. Perhaps the downside of the insurgency's 'media-combined arms' campaign was that it not only fooled some of the public, but it misled themselves as well....

It's pleasing to note how our enemies make the same mistake over and over. It's been pointed out that the media's "cocooning" of Democrats actually hurts them, by keeping them ignorant of how election campaigns are really going. And while the terrorists have gained enormous advantages by their symbiosis with Western media and "activists," they are also "cocooned," and suffer from not being told the truth.

I suspect we are moving towards a tipping point, when it suddenly becomes obvious that we are winning in Iraq, and the Democrats and the Gasping Media have been telling us a bunch of lies. It will be very educational. I doubt however that most people will be sophisticated enough to realize that the media, Democrats and the "anti-war" activists have been encouraging the terrorists to slaughter civilians, rewarding their evil deeds.

But it's true. So keep in mind, if you see a "reporter" or a "peace activist," that you are probably seeing someone with the blood of little children dripping from their hands.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:36 AM

Speaking as an oil tycoon...

Duane D. Freese at TechCentralStation dissects the economic ignorance of Bill O'Reilly, who blames high gas prices on "gouging" by oil companies, who should give up part of their profits. I won't repeat Duane's arguments, but here's one point he makes to keep in mind...

...Think about it. Who owns oil companies? It isn't just the John D. Rockefellers or oil sheiks anymore. It's also investors with money in mutual funds and pension funds and retired people. Consider that CalPers, the giant public employee retirement system, had such a presence in energy giant Shell last year that it pressured the company for an independent audit of reserves...

Charlene and I own shares of a mutual fund that specializes in energy stocks. We own the greedy oil companies!

And speaking as an oil tycoon, I would like to mention that there are times when oil prices FALL (hopefully after we've moved into a different Fidelity Fund) and oil companies that have purchased high-priced oil futures, or invested in high-cost oil fields, or ramped-up exploration and drilling....get killed. SO, Mr O'Reilly, would you say that we should be able to increase our profit margins then, to help cover those losses? Hmmm?

Of course these populist types never want it to go both ways. When profits are high, then companies are stealing from the little guy. But when losses occur, they never care that the little guys are "stealing" from the companies. Both ideas are silly; over the long run, and if competition is unhindered, oil companies make the amount of profit necessary, and no more.

And it IS necessary. Profit is just one of the costs of a business. It's the cost of capital. It is a necessary cost, just like labor and materials are costs. Peter Drucker pointed this out long ago (Here's a re-print of a 1975 article, thanks to Alan) Every business has capital investment. Even a kid's lemonade stand has a table and a pitcher tied up for a period of time. Even in the Soviet Union there were profits, because the state enterprises kept part of what they took in to pay for buildings, equipment, etc. In fact, their profit-margins were much higher than in the West, because they used their capital less efficiently!

Reading that was one of the ah-ha! moments of my youth. As was Drucker's point that America is now a socialist country, because the majority of shares in its big businesses are owned by pension funds and mutual funds, which are the investment instruments of ordinary folk, not the rich.

Once you know that stuff, the lefties who ascribe all ills to profits are seen for the drooling idiots they are.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:38 AM

October 7, 2005

unfair criticism...

There's a type of criticism of Harriet Miers I'm seeing that is really bugging me. These examples are from Virginia Postrel:

...Sure going to Harvard law probably gets you invited to some nice cocktail parties, but apparently being a part of the Texas good ole' boy and gal system gets you nominated to the Supreme Court...[link]

...Harriet Miers has spent her life in Dallas, and done extremely well in its connections-oriented legal culture--so well that one of her Dallas friends has now nominated her to the Supreme Court... [

Suppose I ran a big organization, and I played golf with Virginia Postrel every week. And out of the blue I gave her an important job. You would be justified in assuming this was cronyism.

BUT, if Virginia worked for me for ten years, held important jobs and was considered a top team member, and I then gave her a big promotion...it would NOT be reasonable (unless you had some specific evidence) to suggest that she only got the job out of friendship, or because she was in the "old-boys and gals network."

How do you run an top-notch organization? You find good people, give them responsibility, promote them, encourage them, etc. You favor them. And you don't promote others just because they had credentials, or seniority, or popularity.

Bush has been very successful, both as Governor and President. Just think back to the "accomplishments" of Clinton and Carter if you don't believe it. Or read the list here. (And, contrary to legend, his oil companies were successful--at least in finding oil. The problem was the oil-price collapse in the mid 80's.) And his ball team was successful. You don't do that by promoting the incompetent, or people who are just friends.

Actually, I think the Miers flap is just an excuse for a lot of conservatives to vent the frustration they feel with Bush. Fact is, he's a bit a of a revolutionary, and he's taking us in directions neither liberals nor conservatives expected to go.

I became a strong Bush supporter because I think that the conservatism I grew up with was at an impasse, and desperately needed a new path. (Liberalism, it is hardly necessary to add, is a failure, in fact a maggot-riven corpse, and needn't be considered by serious people.) To oversimplify, the problem is, government is NOT going to shrink, or become less active. America is very democratic, and we Americans think of government as being ours. Our shiny exciting toy that can do all kinds of neat stuff. No party that wants to put the toy back in the box is going to be in power long.

SO, what's the way out? How can we avoid an ever-increasing dependence on government which will destroy our souls as it has in Europe? Well, how about making the toy into an educational toy? That's what the Ownership Society is all about. Keeping the government programs, but giving people a stake, and responsibility for their stake. Making them owners of their Social Security or their health insurance...with decisions to make, and consequences, and less dependence on decisions by bureaucrats.

But one thing I'm discovering, with some dismay, is that many conservatives can't deal with the idea. Can't even really think about it, or critique it. If you try to discuss it, they just cover their ears and say MedicaireMedicaireMedicaireMedicaire...I've long since got used to the fact that liberals can't discuss new ideas, but it's a bit of a shock to see conservatives react that way.

Anyway, if you think I'm a reflexive Bush supporter, who will put up with anything Karl beams into my brain, you are not quite right. But the metric I'm watching is the Ownership Society (and the war of course). Not whether Janice Rogers Brown is nominated to the Supreme Court. (Though that would be a hoot.)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:47 PM

#193: "forgets himself and becomes an economist again"

P. Krugman


Sometimes Paul Krugman forgets himself and becomes an economist again. It doesn't happen often, but we have always noted this odd transformation when it does occur. In A Pig in a Jacket (10/06/05), he drops partisanship, at least temporarily, and assesses our energy problems thusly:

"Now, much of the public believes that corporate evildoers with close ties to the administration are conspiring to drive

Just in case you think I've gone soft on the energy industry, let me say that claims that we're having a crisis because environmentalists wouldn't let oil companies do their job are equally bogus. When you hear someone talk about how no refineries were built for 25 years, remember that until recently, oil companies weren't interested in building refineries, because they had excess capacity and profit margins were thin.

In fact, the current crisis is nobody's fault, except Mother Nature's. Both Katrina and Rita were stronger hurricanes when they plowed through offshore oil and gas fields than when they made landfall. And because damaged refineries and other energy facilities are competing for a limited number of repair crews, it's taking a long time to get those facilities back up and running."

OOOkay. Sounds like the energy industry is responding to incentives exactly as they should. It's not Cheney or Halliburton or cronyism, but market forces that carry the day. He didn't say it, of course, but the rapid recovery of gulf operations is due heavily to the unsung private sector. Krugman ends up making a perfunctory swipe at energy dependence and global warming and a vague appeal to non-price energy conservation. But the damage is done. Krugman has struck a blow for free enterprise. We predict he will soon come to his “senses” and begin trashing Bush energy policies for being non-green and industry dependent.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:48 PM

"Immediately denounced.." What worms they are.

Here's a snippet from the Washington Times article on Bush's speech:

....The president's speech was immediately denounced by Democrats. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts said it was "foolish for the president to brag openly about disrupting al Qaeda plots to attack us. His 'bring it on' attitude hasn't worked, and such statements can only goad al Qaeda into trying harder."...[Thanks to Orrin]

Can you imagine, can you even imagine Republicans instantly denouncing President Roosevelt for speaking defiance to the Nazis or the Japanese? "It was foolish for the president to brag openly about winning the Battle of Midway. His 'bring it on' attitude hasn't worked. Such statements can only goad Tojo into trying harder."

Those who side against their country in time of war deserve the lowest circle of Hell. And those, like Kennedy, who do so merely for short-term political gain, and without any principles, deserve to have a new circle of hell dug beneath the sub-bsement.

Perhaps the new circle could be modeled on some terrorist hell-hole. And when the secret police are dragging them off to be tortured and killed, their tiny brains may start to re-think their distaste for wicked fascist America. And the fatuous fools who called what happened at abu Ghraib "torture" might re-think their definitions as they being eaten alive by dogs or dissolved in acid, as the Ba'athists they support used to do. (They still do torture people, as we keep finding in places like Falluja, but now in more low-tech ways. Perhaps Cindy Sheehan should praise the inventive ingenuity of her "Freedom Fighters," who can support her cause even when reduced to humble tools like car batteries and whips.)

Posted by John Weidner at 10:26 AM

No bully-pulpit...

John at PowerLine writes:

...I haven't seen a report on how many people watched Bush's speech; in fact, I'm only assuming that it was broadcast by someone. My guess is that very few either saw it or will read it in its entirety. Instead, the overwhelming majority depend on what they read about Bush's speech in the newspapers or hear on television news reports. Those articles and reports, with hardly any exceptions, will be carefully framed to minimize the speech's impact.

People used to talk about the Presidency as a "bully pulpit," but I think one lesson of the Bush years is that the President's ability to communicate effectively with the American people, outside of the context of an election campaign, is limited. The real "bully pulpit" belongs to the mainstream press, which is just about unanimously devoted to undermining the President's effort to communicate with, and thereby lead, the American people

That's the problem with the complaint by various war-supporters that the President should be doing more to build support for the war. He's just given a major speech, an excellent speech well worth reading, but our domestic Ba'athists have an almost complete block on the word getting out. I don't watch TV, but I hear the radio news now and then, and I can imagine the microscopic sound-bite to which this important speech was reduced...

But be comforted. The Saddam-supporting Bush-haters have once again picked a loser. We are WINNING. The terrorists and their Western supporters are LOSING. Those who follow the war via the Internet (including in a minor war Random Jottings) have access to the truth. Pieces like Michael Yon's, that I recently blogged about, are not only telling a different story than the lying news-media, they are full of fascinating clues. For instance they way the Americans can tease Colonel Eid...Or the way a relieving unit is able to take over the area without any hesitation.

And sooner or later the fact that we are winning will sink in with the public, and the lying critics will be discredited.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:17 AM

October 6, 2005

Nine minutes....

My daughter would be pleased if you would be so good as to go here, where you can see the first nine minutes of Serenity. Then she feels you will surely feel compelled to see the film.

It's important, you see, that the movie be popular. There MUST be a sequel....She wants MORE!

Posted by John Weidner at 11:16 PM

Annoys law profs....Heh

Jim Miller finds things to like in Harriet Mier's record...

....First, she has a degree in mathematics. That tells me that she can think in statistical terms, something essential for understanding the consequences of many policy choices. That's not something you would learn in most law schools, or in the typical pre-law major.

Excellent, I didn't know that...It's shocking how many people have no feel for statistics and numbers, and are suckers for nonsense (such as the 100,000 killed in Iraq malarky)

Second, she has a history of personal good works and charitable contributions. I am much more comfortable with those who do good with their own time and money.

Yes. Much preferable to those who spend the taxpayers money, and then claim to be more virtuous than stingy capitalists...

Third, she has experience as both an elected official and as an appointed official.....Roberts may be better at describing a dozen legal precedents, but Miers may be better at understanding the consequences of a decision.

Indeed...We ought to give judges and congresscritters sabbaticals to work in private sector businesses or serve in the war...

Finally, she seems to annoy, at least mildly, most law professors. Why do I find that a plus? Because law professors are drawn, quite naturally, to interesting judges who write interesting opinions. But I think most citizens share my preference for boring judges who write boring opinions....

Amen. No penumbras, no ectoplasms, no Belgian waffles...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:31 PM


Michael Yon's latest is a must-read. Both our people and the Iraqi forces are doing great things in Mosul. (One might have guessed it, just from the dog what didn't bark in the night--our vile news media haven't been talking much about Mosul lately, so you just know the news must be good). In fact, the Iraqi units, police and army, far from running from trouble, are aggressively attacking any arhabi they can locate. And Iraqi morale is high, partly because the Iraqi officers are out in front in the fights, and most of the leaders have been wounded at least once...

...I expected to get blown up during every meeting with Colonel Eid. One day I accompanied Deuce Four soldiers to 4-West and Colonel Eid was wearing new bandages from an attack that had just killed his driver. Eid was back at duty, talking of how Americans shot him during the first Gulf War. Luckily, he had survived. I was sitting in the meeting when American soldiers spoke to Eid about the particular mortar crew they wanted 4-West to eliminate. Eid said he would try to get the mortar crew, and sure enough, his men killed them.

So, we headed to the sheep market.

Colonel Eid certainly didn’t need the sheep—he often fed us tasty meals of chicken or duck—but it was an important gesture of respect from commander to commander. In some ways, the delivery of the gift was more important than the gift itself.

The Iraqis have great pride. If an Iraqi colonel thought someone was patronizing him with trivial gifts, not only would he be insulted, he might also think the American was feeble-minded. But when the Iraqi commander respects the gift-giver, and the sincerity of the gift is not in question, the gesture by which it’s given takes on greater meaning. Kurilla and his officers never just delivered the sheep and said, “Thanks, here’s a sheep.” The delivery was always a spectacle.

One time, the soldiers arrived at COP Eagle to deliver a sheep to the commander, LTC Ali Gharza, only to find him sleeping. So Kurilla told the Iraqi guards to be quiet, and he snuck the stinking sheep into the commander’s room, shutting the door behind it. When the Iraqi commander jumped from bed in a state of confusion, Kurilla and his men burst in and everyone got a hearty laugh. Another time, Kurilla took a sheep and plopped it right on Colonel Eid’s desk....

Read it...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:26 PM

Good news for the SF Bay Area...

The sudden and mysterious firing of popular and funny Melanie Morgan from the KSFO Morning show, has been reversed...

She writes:

I expect to return to the airwaves tomorrow morning.

And what was especially gratifying is how quickly listeners from all around the country and especially here in the Bay Area reacted to the news of my 'demise.' Hundreds and hundreds of phone calls, e-mail by the thousands. Faxes too numerous to count.

That plus several job offers makes me feel pretty terrific.

I was saddened that the senior management at ABC chose such a drastic solution to what was essentially a done deal.

But the momentary madness is over, and I am safely ensconced behind the microphone for the next two-and-a-half years.

And that's a good thing, I've got a lot more jujitsu moves to practice on the left-wing whackos around the country."Melanie Morgan at DC demonstration

All humor, as you probably already know, is conservative...

Posted by John Weidner at 11:47 AM

stupid haberdasher not qualified to be President...

Michael Ledeen on Miers...

.....But the main point--which I made about Katrina and other things--is for all of us, namely that there is no prize for being wrong first. I am not impressed that everyone has an opinion. In fact, most of the time it is a mistake to have an opinion early on. Does anyone in the general rant know much of anythng about Miers as an intellect? About her core beliefs, if indeed she has any? I don't think so. She may be a drooling idiot, or a scintillating mind and personality, or just a boring mediocrity. Who knows? We don't, at least not yet. But we will. When we know, we're entitled to lecture one another, but not yet. Take it easy. I'm old enough to remember people screaming that the stupid haberdasher, Harry Truman, wasn't qualified to be president--surely George Will, on his current performance, would have agreed--and the same sort of people were thrilled that a real Harvard intellect, surrounded by other great Harvard intellects, had defeated the wretched Nixon for the presidency.

Take the basic Neapolitan advice: if you feel an irresistible urge to work, lie down and rest a bit. It will pass. The mark of a cultured person is the length of time between stimulus and response. We all need to learn to pause. NOT to have an instant opinion....

The problem with the Miers nomination is that many conservatives are hungry for a fight. Republicans control the White House and Congress, and yet we have these baffling, frustrating obstacles whenever we try to do anything. It's sort of like fighting against guerilla tactics; we wish the enemy would come out for a stand-up fight, instead of ambushing and running.

It's maddening when Bush, to change metaphors, keeps moving the ball forward a few yards at a time, rather than throwing a long pass for a touchdown. But we forget, and he can't forget, the real war. The threats we worried about after 9/11 are still very alive. Terrorist nukes are still a possibility, though I think we have reduced the danger. Even more of a concern is the long view. If we give up early, if the Middle East remains a cesspit of poverty and despotism, then new terror organizations will surely arise.

And the pressure to call off the war before it's won is unrelenting and insidious. And one of the fronts is the American court system. It's no accident that groups like the ACLU are always trying to limit what we can do to stop terrorists. They claim to be concerned about civil rights, but that is a lie. If the government were locking up Christians or Republicans, we wouldn't hear anything from them.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:15 AM

October 5, 2005

courgeous stand against corruption...

It's come out that Ronnie Earle shopped his charges to three Grand Juries, before he could get one to indict Tom Delay. (Thanks to OJ)

Gee, I'm so glad he finally found one with the spine to stand up to those jack-booted Republican fascists!

By the way, the Random Jottings House Counsel took a look at the indictment, and she was, um, what's le mot de jour... ah, yes, underwhelmed...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:36 PM

The Paper Formerly Called The Paper Of Record...

I'm to busy to really blog, but here's something I liked. Dean writes, on the NYT:

....Their opinion columnists, with one or two brave exceptions, are shallow idiots. Their science reporting is steeped in political correctness. The old-school PC spin on every story involving weighty public matters is laughable. The way they treat red state America as a sort of bizarre alien specimen is painful. Their war reporting is hopelessly stuck in the Vietnam era. Indeed, what does it say about them that to get a positive story published on our troops' postive efforts and accomplishments in Iraq, someone at the Times had to sneak it into the sports section?

It all to me points to something rotton to the core of what we've come to call liberalism today. I'm not ashamed of the world liberal, it's not a dirty word and I'm proud to apply it to myself in many, many contexts. But the broad political movement known as "liberalism," epitomized by the worldview common to the New York Times, has become paint-by-numbers, predictable, kneejerk, pompous, and shallow. The great liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill once said of the conservatives of his day that they were people who didn't have ideas so much as irritable mental gestures that vaguely sought to resemble ideas. I can think of no better description than the worldview epitomized by the folks running the ship at the
New York Times.....

The absurdity that liberalism and the the NYT has become is encapsulated in the fact that they recently appointed a reporter to "cover" conservatives. What a joke! This is a conservative country with a conservative President, and they belatedly decide that one person might be spared to take notice of the phenomenon? And of course they didn't actually hire a conservative to report on conservatives; no, that would be just too too extreme. Sort of like chosing a Samoan to study the Samoans, instead of Margaret Mead.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:44 AM

October 4, 2005

My rebuttal to Hawkins...

John Hawkins asks:

Knowing what we know today, why should conservatives trust George Bush after the terrible judgement he has shown on so many issues?

Why? How about because of the great job he has done on many issues. I'll list some after I deal with Hawkins' specifics...

It goes without saying that Bush is worse than Lyndon Johnson in the big spending department. In his entire time in the White House, he has never even vetoed a single pork laden bill. Then there's the enormous Medicare prescription drug benefit which will create a massive expansion of government and add a trillion dollars to the debt next 15 years.

The drug benefit was probably going to happen no matter what--the political pressure was too strong. But with it we got HSA's, which liberals have been blocking for decades. They will be an important component of the Ownership Society. And we got private-sector competition built in to the drug benefit, which is already causing projected costs to fall.

We also can't forget the anti-First Amendment, McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill which Bush signed into law or Bush's position on illegal immigration which has alienated a large chunk of the party.

I don't like either one. (But without Bush we might have the AUTHOR of McCain-Feingold in the WH!)

Since his election in 2004, Bush has spent months senselessly flogging Social Security when almost everyone acknowledges it isn't going anywhere.

Bush's SS reforms are probably the boldest conservative initiative in modern times. Reagan could only dream of making such a proposal. Just to have it seriously debated is a miracle, and for Hawkins to stand aside and sneer is stupid. And I bet it isn't really dead.

Even on the war in Iraq, an area where many conservatives agree wholeheartedly with his policies, it has been frustrating to watch Bush twiddling his thumbs instead of making a real effort to buck up public support for the war.

Bush is fighting and WINNING the war! For that alone he deserves our trust and support. And the winning, as it becomes apparent, is what is going to bring public support. Not more speeches that the media will ignore anyway.

Now, to top it all off, Bush has picked a minimally qualified crony without solid conservative credentials for the Supreme Court because...why exactly? He knows her, she has been nice to him, and that makes her the best person to fill one of the most crucial jobs in the country?

Rubbish. She's only "unqualified" in the "distinguished legal scholar" sense. But we don't need one of those; the Constitution isn't an inscrutable document. She's smart, she's an originalist and a pro-life Christian, and she's been very successful at a variety of jobs. She will do us proud.

You can try to put a good face on this decision if you like, but the very fact that so many conservatives are ripping into Bush over the Miers nomination -- in and of itself -- means she was a terrible selection even if Miers is really to the right of Clarence Thomas.

Phooey. Popular doesn't mean right.
Let me list a few of the ways Bush has shown splendid judgement and got results...
  • Restored dignity to White House. No more scandals, pardon-selling, or frat-boy antics.
  • 3 major tax cuts--result, economic recovery. All economic indicators trending strongly upward. The rich are paying a higher percentage of taxes than when Bush elected.
  • Faith-based initiatives. Decisively attacked the notion that "separation of church and state" should mean atheist government.
  • NCLB, which is now starting to have real positive effects as public schools are forced to meet standards. Putting Federal weight behind teaching of Phonics. Vouchers for DC, and for Katrina victims.
  • Suspended Davis-Bacon in Katrina area (which is the size of Grt Britain.)
  • forced "merit" hiring and promotion onto a big chunk of the Fed bureaucracy. Made it much easier for private firms to bid for work now done by Civil Service.
  • Many free trade agreements, which get almost no notice, though everyone screamed about the (now ended) Steel Tariffs.
  • Stopped Fed funding for new lines of embryonic stem cells; a strong symbolic victory for the Culture of Life. INCREASED funding for stem cell research.
  • HSA's are now a reality, after being blocked for decades by Dems.
  • Work begun on Missile Defense. Outdated Cold-War Missile Defense treaty ended.
  • Ended the hypocrisy of "supporting" the Kyoto Treaty, which was rejected by the Senate 95-0 during Clinton's time.
  • Rejected ICC.
  • Two of the worst tyrannies in the world overthrown...50 million liberated. No domestic terror attacks since 9/11. Many successful attacks on Al Qaeda and other terror groups, and their funding. Iraq Campaign has utterly transformed WOT, as Islamist groups are forced to react to OUR move, forced to fight us where we have our best forces. Also, Iran now has US forces on both sides.
  • Bush doctrine. Revising the outdated "Treaty of Westphalia" and establishing the principle that national sovereignty is dependent on democratic legitimacy.
  • Willing to FIGHT. Able to stick with the decision when all the weak sisters are whimpering and caving.
  • PSI & Caspian Guard. Libya out of the WMD game. Syria out of Lebanon. Democratic stirrings all across the Islamic world.
  • Supporting tort reform
  • Refused to deal with Arafat.
  • Openly said we will defend Taiwan
  • First president ever to have a VP doing real work in the administration--in fact the Cheney's are a whole amazing family of conservatives working for us.
  • Defeated two ghastly Democrat candidates. Saved us from at least one ghastly First Lady. Saved us from having John McCain as Republican candidate in 2000!! [Thank you, God!]
  • Gave us a smart bookish First Lady we can be proud of.
  • Campaigns not only to get himself re-elected but also to help other Republican candidates.
  • Nominated many excellent appellate judges. (How soon we forget)
Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 AM

Favoritism is the secret of efficiency...

I really liked Beldar's rebuttal to Prof. Barnett's Op-Ed, Cronyism: Alexander Hamilton Wouldn't Approve of Justice Harriet Miers...

....Alexander Hamilton was not against friendship, he was against incompetence and incompetents being promoted due to friendship. Hamilton himself was both George Washington's friend and his military and then political protégé, the "son Washington never had" and also his most effective cabinet secretary.

It certainly seems to me that Prof. Barnett is using the facts that Ms. Miers comes from a practicing lawyer's background, and that she's become a trusted friend while serving capably as Counsel for the Governor of Texas and the President of the United States, as his sole bases for arguing against her nomination. I believe the nicest term for that is "snotty." It's an unbecoming attitude, and this essay is just not up to his usual high standards of reasoning and writing. There may be persuasive reasons for opposing the Miers nomination, but I don't think these reasons are them.....

In the famous words of Admiral Fisher: "Favoritism is the secret of efficiency."

I read somewhere that it is not uncommon for a politician to become successful at state-level by building a great team. And then, upon being elected President, he takes the team to Washington, and the state government sort of falls apart...(I'm not, by the way, happy about the appointment of Julie Myers to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, but that's not because she's a Bush "crony." She will probably do just fine in carrying on Bush's policies, but those policies are just what I object to.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 AM

October 3, 2005

WORD NOTE: "arhabi"

There's been some confusion (by people who seem to want to be confused) about the designation 'fully capable" as applied to Iraqi units. "Fully capable" is in fact a very rigorous US standard. Major K explains more in this post...[Thanks to Greyhawk)

...As I write this, two sectors of Baghdad are controlled by Iraqi Army Brigades (4000-5000) assisted by a platoon-sized (30-40) MiTT [US Military Transition Team]. The number of Iraqi Battalions operating with only a small MiTT adviser group as I described is in the dozens, and that is only here in the Baghdad area. I assume it is the same or better in other, quieter areas of the country.

Are they fully capable by US standards? Perhaps not. The military forces of most of the rest of the world do not meet that standard. Are they operational and hunting down arhabi every day? - You Betcha!

My question was, what are "arhabi??" A quick Google found that Major K had already provided a definition:

It is pronounced: ahr-HAH-bee. It is the Iraqi arabic word for terrorist. 2LT C. does not like it because "it just doesn't sing. I learned this word from our interpreters and use it often. I never use mujahedin or jihadi, because they imply a measure of respect due an actual warrior. After all, both of those terms mean "holy warrior." This distinction is also very important to the Iraqis. They have told me repeatedly that these guys are cowards who will not even stand and fight. They kill innocent people, and bomb indiscriminately. They have been their own worst enemy in the public relations department. Even though 2LT C. likes to refer to them using the A-word, (describing a posterior extremity) he would like to find something more catchy. I am content to use arhabi. It lets the locals know exactly who we are after, and what this really is about - not oil, not religion, but security and the hope for a better future.

Sounds like a good word to add to our vocabulary...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:49 PM

She's been in the war...

Hugh Hewitt has some good points about Miers. My first reaction to her was to be, as they say, underwhelmed. BUT...

...The Chief Justice's [Executive Branch] experience did not, however, include GWOT experience, and it is here that Miers has a decisive advantage. Consider that none of the Justices, not even the new Chief, has seen the battlefield in the GWOT from the perspective or with the depth of knowledge as has the soon to be Justice Miers. The Counsel to the President has seen it all, and knows what the President knows, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Joint Chiefs and the Attorney General.

I suspect that the President thinks first and foremost about the GWOT each morning, and that this choice for SCOTUS brings to that bench another Article II inclined justice with the sort of experience that no one inside the Court will have.

If there is another opening, we will get the Attorney General, and for the first time in I don't know how long, there will be a block of Article II enthusiasts within the preserve of Article III. If we get two more, a Justice Luttig or McConnell will rise.

The president is a poker player in a long game. He's decided to take a sure win with a good sized pot. I trust him. So should his supporters....

....The Miers nomination is turning into a Rorschach test dividing conservatives into the camp that understands governing for the long term and those that are so emotionally fragile or contingent in their allegiance that anything they (1)don't understand or (2) disappoints in any way becomes an occasion for panic and declarations of irreparable injury....

This is VERY important. We are at war, and in 4th Generation Warfare, the battlefield is everywhere. In fact the decisive battles are probably the ones we are fighting here in the USA. The soldiers of this war are not just muscular young men with machine guns, they can also be sedentary people manning desks...either defending freedom's wall at the White House, or aiding Osama at the New York Times.

The terrorists can never defeat us in combat, but their supporters here are working tirelessly to advance their cause and undermine our will to fight. When Hugh writes that Miers "has seen the battlefield in the GWOT," it's not just a metaphor. It is literally true.

And it's important to remember that the President has a limited fund of political capital. He can't do everything he would like. Capital saved by a relatively easy fight over Miers is capital available for fighting America's enemies, both at home and abroad...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:05 PM

October 2, 2005

Some up, some down...

This is a time of many changes, and it's fascinating to watch how people react. One of the changes is the apparent decline of nations that were in the top tier when I was young. Germany, France--all of Western Europe really--are moribund, and incapable of doing anything positive on the world stage. At the same time other countries are on the rise.

I would love to be able to peer into the minds of all those who have been complaining that the Bush Administration is "neglecting and alienating our allies." I suspect that a lot of what motivates them is deep fear of change.

What the administration is really doing is cultivating tomorrow's allies, and allowing the no-longer-useful ones to slip into senescence or opposition without pulling us with them.

Number one on the list of new allies is India. Growing in wealth and military power, democratic, inheritor of many Anglosphere values and strengths, positioned perfectly in the midst of the the most important regions of the War on Terror, India is the friend we most need to cultivate

US and Indian troops vollyball
Anupam Nath / AP Photo. U.S. and Indian soldiers play volleyball
during a break from training during a joint exercise at the Indian
military's Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in
Vairengte, India, on Sunday, 9/25/05
From Army Times Frontline Photos

Times of India:...India's largest-ever naval exercise with any country will kick off on Sunday when Indian and American aircraft carriers, destroyers, guided-missile frigates, fighter and surveillance aircraft undertake combat manoeuvres in the north-west Arabian Sea.

The sheer scale of this 10-day Indo-US exercise, "Malabar-05", can be gauged from the fact that it will involve almost 10,000 officers and sailors from the two nations.

"This will be the first time that aircraft carriers and fighters from the two navies will exercise together. It will be our largest exercise with a foreign Navy to build interoperability," said assistant chief of naval staff (information warfare and operations) Rear Admiral D K Joshi...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:14 PM

October surprise...

This looks like good news to me...

By Nancy A. Youssef, Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The two strongest opponents of Iraq's proposed new constitution said this week that they wouldn't campaign against it aggressively, making it likely that voters will approve the constitution in an Oct. 15 referendum.

Passage would be a victory for the Bush administration's Iraq policy, but it's unclear whether the document will produce a stable Iraqi government with broad public support or further alienate the country's Sunni Muslim Arab minority.

Rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's representatives said that while he's not thrilled about the constitution, he likely wouldn't encourage his followers to oppose it.

Hazem al-Araji, a senior al-Sadr aide, said that al-Sadr has formed a committee to review the document and that once he hears from them he'll make a final decision.

"But for now, his opinion is neutral," al-Araji said.

The largest Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that although it has encouraged its supporters to vote down the document, its efforts are focused on the December election for a new National Assembly.

"There are powers that will make sure this bad constitution passes," said Ala'a al-Maki, a party spokesman. "We are focusing more on ensuring the Sunnis participate in the next election."....[Thanks to

A couple of thoughts. One: The people who say the Bush Administration is tottering on its last legs...you are toast once again. You are SO toast! Ha ha ha.

Two: I confidently predict that leftists and "Democrats" will NOT be happy about yet another triumph for democracy in Iraq. They didn't like the last one, and they will like this even less...

You can see the line they are going to take in the quote above. "...but it's unclear whether the document will produce a stable Iraqi government with broad public support or further alienate the country's Sunni Muslim Arab minority..." In other words, if part of the 20% who are Sunni Arab are not happy, then the government doesn't have "broad public support," and is a failure. Talk about moving the goal posts out into the parking lot...

Every summer since 2001, we've heard that the administration is adrift and ineffective. And every year in September or October it comes back strong. I'm guessing the timing of the Iraq election will tie in nicely with some other Bush moves. Probably the nomination of a strong conservative to the Supreme Court.

The Democrat/media suicide attacks against the nominee and the terrorist suicide attacks against the Iraqi constitution will both be bloody but pointless; both groups will fail because they are trying to beat something with nothing...

* Update: Harriet Miers? That don't sound too exciting to me. Oh well.
Posted by John Weidner at 12:51 PM

Setting the tone...

Tigerhawk's report on General Petraeus' talk at Princeton is very worth reading...You will learn a lot from it. [Thanks to InstaPundit]

...Finally, Anne-Marie Slaughter asked the Abu Ghraib question – “what can we do, going forward, to acknowledge what we have to acknowledge but also to restore the values that we stand for in others eyes?”

Patraeus said that Abu Ghraib had been very damaging, but that there has been “an enormous change in the detainee operations piece... One of the lessons is that the most important job of a commander or leader is the setting of a tone. That sounds very simplistic, but in combat setting the right tone is hugely important.” I think we have gone back and looked very, very hard the tone we are setting. We have 29 operations lawyers
[Good God. - ed.]. Patraeus described a recent "very minor" incident, and "we brought in the lawyers, brought in the imams," to discuss it openly and resolve it. And we are doing things that seem unimportant to us, but which are very meaningful to Iraqis. One of the imams asked us to install clocks in the prison so that the prisoners would know when to pray, so we put in clocks.

“How do we portray our sincere desire to help? It is very challenging, because the other side is enormously skilled in information operations. In Fallujah, by the way, there were two broadcasting stations in addition to the car bomb factories and the arms caches. The enemy is very sophisticated."....

It is indicative of how utterly fraudulent and dishonest the Abu Ghraib critics were, and are, that they have not the slightest interest in noticing what's being done differently now. They all dribbled faux tears and claimed they were "ashamed of America." OK turkeys, how about taking a turn at being "proud of America?" No, that part never happens.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 AM

October 1, 2005

"when you see good things happening all the time..."

I liked this article, Reservist Says Protesters are Breaking Faith.

...But it doesn't work that way, says Vold. "I try not to take it personally. The reason I'm a Marine is to ensure this is a free country. But I don't think the protesters know the effect they're having on the soldiers. You're always tired, cold or hot, homesick. The last thing you need is a sense that people back home say your mission is doomed, when you see good things happening all the time."

Vold adds that antiwar rhetoric sometimes implicitly portrays soldiers as dupes on a fool's errand. "We volunteered to go to Iraq. The guys over there, who know the situation best, are re-enlisting in great numbers. Most of the guys I served with think this is the best thing America has done in our careers."

How did the Sheehan protest play in Iraq? Yesterday, I asked Vold's friend, Lt. Col. James MacVarish, an adviser to Iraqi troops in Fallujah. He told me in an e-mail that the Iraqis he works with believe such protests and the press they generate "play directly to the strengths of our mutual enemy." Iraqis "are absolutely astounded," he adds, "that we 'allow' that to continue." A few days ago, he had to give his Iraqi colleagues an hourlong civics lesson on freedom of the press.

MacVarish says that the terrorists can't win militarily. So their strategy is to make the U.S. and Iraqi people "bleed a little every day." They hope that the resulting media attention will turn the tide of American opinion against the war, and make the political cost of sustaining it too high. "The more play the press gives Cindy Sheehan," MacVarish concludes, "the better the terrorists' chances are of ultimately succeeding here."....

I suppose we must allow the press and the protesters the freedom to support terrorists. But they don't deserve that freedom. Our soldiers are fighting in Iraq to protect us, just as much as if they were right in your town shooting al Qaeda killers. Congress has committed our troops to battle, and all who support the Constitution have the duty to support our forces also.

Debate? Of course one can debate. But from within the context of warm-hearted support of those who risk their lives to defend us. The hate-filled attacks of the Sheehanites are nothing of the sort. And the cynical manipulation of the "news" by the Gasping Media, purging all the good news and serving as publicity agents for terror-bombers--that's nothing but treason.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:57 PM