Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama as Marley

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

- Marley's Ghost addressing Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, 1843

On Tuesday morning, Obama held a press conference in order to stop the bleeding caused by his pastor’s, Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s, racist and anti-American screed broadcast live to the nation from the National Press Club on Monday. Because Obama was not honest with the public, the bleeding will continue and portends to be fatal. It need not have been.

Many people have said that Obama needs to distance himself from the racist Reverend Jeremiah Wright. But much like Marley's ghost, Obama has, of his own free will, been creating a chain attaching himself to Rev. Wright. After near twenty years of close association, that chain is so long and ponderous that it cannot simply be cut with a bald repudiation - despite what the editorial board of the NYT posited in the wake of Obama's news conference. That poses a problem for Obama that is quickly becoming, if not already, insurmountable.

If Obama had chosen to be honest and fully forthcoming at any point up through his news conference on Tuesday, a transcript of which is here, Obama could have innoculated himself from much of the negatives of his relationship with Rev. Wright and his membership in Trinity United. He would still have stood a realistic chance in his bid for the presidency. Instead, in an amazing display of hubris, Obama has taken the opposite path. He is being dishonest with the public, attempting to hide his past rather than address it.

Reverend Wright’s several public appearances over the weekend brought into stark relief both the seriousness of Wright’s negatives for the Obama candidacy - particularly in November's general election - and the disingenuousness of Obama’s attempts to paint these negatives as unimportant. The issue of Rev. Wright and Obama’s relationship is a core issue of Obama’s candidacy. It goes directly to Obama’s character, judgment, beliefs and, because of the way Obama has handled this issue, his veracity. Obama admitted as much Sunday, in an interview with Fox News. But he could not have framed this issue any more clearly than he did inadvertently in the Tuesday morning press conference:

. . . When I go to church it's not for spectacle. It's to pray and to find -- to find a stronger sense of faith. It's not to posture politically. It's not -- you know, it's not to hear things that violate my core beliefs.

So what does his twenty years of membership in Trinity United tell us of his core beliefs? We are still not sure, as, in between angry denunciations of the outrageous, now fully in context comments Rev. Wright made before the National Press Club, Obama at his press conference was being incredibly disingenuos about the black liberation theology of his Church and the nature of the sermons to which he has been privy.

John Perazzo wrote an exceptional article in February, before Rev. Wright’s name became a household word, explaining the origins and doctrine of black liberation theology. But for the religious overlay, it is a theology that espouses a world view that is marxist in its purest form, both in term of economics and by interpreting all events within the rubric of blacks as permanent victims of oppression occurring at the hands of whites. It is a gospel and a world view out of touch with reality and one that is completely at odds with the persona Obama has painted to the public in an effort to win the presidency.

Obama was asked at his press conference about the nature of black liberation theology and why he chose a church that practiced that philosophy. Obama’s response was rambling and disingenuous rising to the level of an outright falsehood. Obama's initial response was redolent of a seasoned lawyer defending a guilty client - in this case, himself. He claimed that, despite twenty years at Trinity United, he had no idea about the nature of black liberation theology:

“Well, first of all, in terms of liberation theology, I'm not a theologian. So I think to some theologians, there might be some well-worked-out theory of what constitutes liberation theology versus non-liberation-theology.”

To describe that response as disingenuous is an understatement. But then he rose to unambiguous falsehood when equated Wright's black liberation theology to the "social gospel" of Martin Luther King. This does not stand up to the least bit of scrutiny. Black liberation theology was just being born in the crucible of the Sandanista's communist revolution in Nicaragua at about the time MLK was assassinated. It did not originate out of MLK's sermons or philosophy. More importantly, as to substance, MLK was explicit that his goals for blacks were equality with whites and full integration of blacks into the mainstream of society. And he stated his goals with incredible eloquence:

. . . And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today! . . .

See his speech here.

The black liberation theology of Rev. Wright could not be more different than MLK’s “social gospel”. Black liberaton theology is centered on placing the blame for all the ills of black society on the white oppressors. It does not seek equality, it seeks a reckoning of the historical balance sheet. And wholly opposed to MLK’s soul stirring plea for an integrated nation of equals, Rev. Wright’s black liberation theology promotes separatism and makes an explicit call for its members to reject white middle class society. For Obama to equate Rev. Wright to MLK in an effort to diffuse the issue and halt any further inquiry is an outright falsehood.

But Obama, in his Fox interview on Sunday, actually went one further. He equated the vile anti-American fantasies and diatribes of Rev. Wright to MLK’s 1967 Riverside speech criticizing America’s involvement in Vietnam. Again, this does not hold up to the slightest inquiry. MLK’s criticism of American policy did not “damn America” for genocidal acts against blacks. It was a factually based criticism of why MLK saw the war as wrong. And indeed, the facts that formed the foundation of his criticism are well documented in the Pentagon Papers. That is a far cry from the fantastical claims of Rev. Wright, a man who does not argue a rational point of view, but rather paints a fantasy of evil white society at war against blacks and the world at large. In short, the differences between MLK and Rev. Wright are, dare I say it, as clear as black and white.

And that brings us to the core of the Obama approach to all of this. Despite what we know about Rev. Wright, despite what we know about black liberation theology that animated Trinity United long before Obama became a member, and despite Obama writing that “white greed runs a world in need” in his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama claims that he heard nothing in the pews over twenty years in the nature of the racism and vile anti-Americanism that forms the core of Rev. Wright's black liberation theology.

During the course of me attending that church, I had not heard those kinds of statements being made or those kinds of views being promoted. And I did not vet my pastor before I decided to run for the presidency. I was a member of the church.

It is simply unbelievable on the facts we know. It is completely counterintuitive. And Obama’s sarcastic remark about not “vetting” his pastor is an insult to our intelligence after he spent twenty years in the pews. His denial assures that this issue will not go away. Moreover, given the absolute nature of his denial, this was Obama's "I did not have sex with that preacher" moment. Future revelations regarding what he knew and when he knew it will utterly destroy his credibility and, with it, likely his bid for the presidency.

All of this is unfortunate in the sense that by his very candidacy, he could have made a difference for America on racial issue. He in fact could have led the nation on a true discussion of racism in our society - and I am not refering to the self serving pablum of his Philadelphia speech. Given the robust victimhood culture and grievance politics of the left, such a discussion is sorely needed.

With Obama’s unique background and given the reality that our country’s history is stained with racism and slavery, I think the vast majority of Americans, including conservatives, might have accepted a mea culpa from Obama. Were I to write that speech for Obama, it would be along the lines of what I have written below. I do not know if it is accurate, but I suspect that it might be:

As a young man, I was attracted to Rev. Wright by his dynamic presence, his message of hope, and indeed, his message of black liberation theology. That message combined an admirable belief in Jesus with a dream of hope for bettering the world that so captured my imagination that it still remains at the heart of my motivations today. Unfortunately, Rev. Wright's preaching also contained a message of racism and separatism that grew out of the black experience of the 50’s and 60’s.

I long ago separated the wheat from the chaff at Trinity United. I embraced the belief in Jesus as my savior and am eternally indebted to Rev. Wright gifting to me an unshakable belief in the audacity of hope. In those respects, he gave my life a meaning and a direction that have animated me since.

But the point where I agreed with the other aspects of Rev. Wright’s ministry ended within the first years of my joining Trinity United. I was able to recognize that our society has moved beyond Rev. Wright’s racial perspective and, indeed, have staked my entire political life and philosophy on promoting the opposite message. All the facts of my life in the public realm and in the private realm support that.

There are many good things about Rev. Wright that, indeed, have kept me close to him over the years. But his message of racism and his portrayal of a white government at war with blacks were not among them. I stayed in the Church and close to Rev. Wright wholly in spite of those things.

Many will say this reflects on my judgment. I would like to think it reflects far more on my loyalty and sense of duty to a kind, if flawed man to whom I am so indebted. And while I mean that with utter sincerity, I also speak with utter sincerity when I say that, in retrospect, I wish that had I been forceful over the years with Rev. Wright in expressing to him that his message, to the extent it contained a racist message, was wrong. At first I kept silent in the pews simply out of fear of offending Rev. Wright. As I aged and matured, I made the error of just keeping silent in the pews. I do hope that you will understand and forgive me for that error.

Unfortunately, even if the above is correct, we have seen repeatedly that Obama accepts no personal responsibility when he thinks that he can skate by. Obama lacks the necessary foresight, the intellectual honesty and the intestinal fortitude to make such a mea culpa. And indeed, the time frame in which he could do it and survive politically is likely passed. To attempt a mea culpa when future revelations come out will be interpreted as hypocritical political expediency and unlikely to salvage his bid for the presidency. Like Marley's ghost, Obama has doomed himself to walk the earth under the weight of the chain he built, link by link to Rev. Wright, over a period of twenty years. And he has securely tethered the chain to himself with buckles formed of hubris.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Watcher's Council Nominations

Each week, the members of the Watcher's Council nominate one of their own posts and a second from outside the Council for consideration by other council members in a contest for best post. The Watcher publishes the results each Friday morning. The Watcher also has a process for anyone who would like to submit one of their posts for consideration as part of the weekly contest. You can find out more about that here. This week's nominations are:

1. Done With Mirrors - Past Is Never Past
This is a difficult post to sum up in a line or two. It weaves together strains of economics, history and politics in an interesting post.

2. Joshuapundit - The Company One Keeps
JP takes note of the rogues gallary of supporters attaching themselves - and mosly soliticited by - Obama. As JP notes, Obama is trying to cultivate their support while, at the same time, telling us all that we have no right to evaluate him by the company he keeps.

3. Rhymes With Right - Oppressive Speech Regulation
RWR looks at how campaign finance laws are being used as a cudgel to limit the free speech of average Americans.

4. Wolf Howling - Outfoxed By Obama & The Twelve Unasked Questions
I am so tired of Obama getting a pass from the press, including Fox, I've typed out the questions for the reporters on the issues of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and the dissonance between Obama's unifying message and his long embrace of a racist as spiritual mentor.

5. Soccer Dad - Throwing Bashar a Lifeline
Syria presents a clear and present threat to Israel. All of its actions indicate that Syria, at present, has no interest in peace with Israel. The Golan Heights is militarily strategic terrain that controls northern Israel. So what possible motivation does Israeli PM Olmert have in offering up the Golan Heights for a peace deal that will likely not be worth the paper it is printed upon. To the contrary, Israel should annex the Golan Heights.

6. Bookworm Room - An Article About Islam Most Amazing for What It Doesn't Say
BW is not surprised that Berkley is holding a conference to whitewash radical Islam, but she is surprised that even the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the whitewash without any challenge. It is funny that the Islamists trace Islamaphobia only from the time of the Spanish Inquisition. If they are looking for historical roots, perhaps the fact that Islam, between 700 A.D. and the Inquistion, expanded by the sword at a rate never matched before or since possibly should have been included in the list. As perhaps the destruction of churches in Jerusalem, including the Church of the Holy Sephulcre, at the hands of the Caliph. And let us not forget the Barabary Pirates. Somehow, I doubt they made it into the chronology either.

7. The Colossus of Rhodey - Moral Relativism Reaches a New Low
The left is unmoored from reality. In their fantasy world, the U.S. is a font of evil, while all other nations of whatever stripe are the moral equal or superior. CoR is upset with one particularly egrigous example of this sub-species of humanity.

8, The Glittering Eye - Rising Food Prices
A very good post from GE examines the myriad of factors that have gone into causing the current meteoric rise in food prices. It is far more than just biofuels.

9. Cheat Seeking Missiles - Obama's Exxon Valdez
CSM compare the steady drip of damage being done to Obama by public exposure to Rev. Wright with the steady drip of bad news arising out of the Exon Valdez disaster. I concur in CSM's assessment of how Obama will try to handle it.

10. The Education Wonks - Teacher Arrested Not Once, But Twice!
Ed Wonk ponders the most recent case of a female paedophile in a Florida school and wonders whether what can be done to stop this reoccuring problem.

11. Hillbilly White Trash - Wright's Revenge
Mr. Trash has an exceptional post on the motivations of Rev. Wright and how they fit into the reality of today's America.

12. Right Wing Nut House - The Total Witlessness of Obama Apologists
This is an exceptional article not so much slapping Obama apologists as much as eviscerating them. There is an irony here that transcends mere poetry. It is the irony that the left are being exposed for all their moral and ethical failings and their total lack of intellectual honesty by the campaign of the penultimate left wing candidate. It makes one wonder if life is not merely the projection of Karl Rove's dreams.

Non-council links:

1. An Anatomy of SurrenderCity Journal

2. Obama. Wright. Farrakhan. Cone.Ace of Spades HQ

3. Affirmative Action AbortionsBalkinization

4. Standing Up for Their CultureBrits At Their Best

5. Rushing to Blame IsraelIsraellycool

6. SyrianaCommentary

7. ID (the Other Kind): Beginning of the Death of the Democratic Party?

Big Lizards
Political Maneuver in CounterinsurgencySmall Wars Journal

9. Obama's Eagleton AffairThe American Spectator

10. "A Triumph of Postmodern Politics"Dr. Sanity

11. Chevy Bill Ayers: A Classic Ride for Limousine LiberalsThe People's Cube

12. The Obama AestheticAmerican Thinker

13. Choose Your Identity Group Carefully, Kids!Classical Values

14. Multiculturalism Breeds Cultural ApartheidDodgeblogium


This Is Not The Politics Of Fear

Any use by the right of the image of 9-11 or bin Laden - or any discussion of the terrorist threat - is decried as an unfair attack by the left. Wanting to keep the spotlight off their own fatal weaknesses, they label these issues as the "politics of fear." If that is the "politics of fear," I wonder then, how should we label the type of politics we see evinced in the latest DNC ad?

Howard Dean is running an ad taking McCain's statement that we could stay in Iraq for 100 years and running it wholly out of context. That is simply the banal intellectual dishonesty that we have come to expect from today's Democrats. But the ad below also contains footage of an al Qaeda suicide bomb and footage of our soldiers in 2004 being attacked by a road side bomb. The footage does not show if our soldiers were injured, but given that they were on a foot patrol and given their reaction to the blast, it certainly gives that perception. It is precisely what one would expect to see in an al Qaeda propaganda film - and given its nature, it may well have originated from precisely that source.

We are in a war. Our Democrats have tied their hopes, their dreams, and their very perception of America on labeling that war a defeat. That such an attitude is acceptable is evidence of the decayed and degraded state of the left who, in their Marxian world view, see America as evil.

Their use of footage of an al Qaeda suicide bombing is particularly ironic. This is precisely the type of image that would bring an immediate charge of "politics of fear" were the right to use that same footage to explain why we absolutely must succeed in Iraq. But the left feels free to use it to make an argument that we should just give up. Its not only an intellectual double standard, it is craven and immoral.

But exponentially worse is using footage of our troops being bombed. That is so far beyond the pale, so repugnant, so unpatriotic, and so enamored of defeat as to be abhorent. It shows a complete lack of any respect for our soldiers and their families. Only a person bereft of any principles and recognizing no value greater than achieving partisan political gain could be so twisted as to find such footage acceptable for any reason, let alone an ad advocating that we surrender to the craven bastards who set off that bomb.

So I ask again, if any mention of terrorism is the politics of fear, than what is using footage of successful al Qaeda suicide attacks and footage of our soldiers being bombed while on a foot patrol in Iraq? The politics of treason, perhaps?


Monday, April 28, 2008

How About Some Context?

Reverend Jeremiah Wright had two significant engagements over the past few days. He was interviewed by PBS resident far left personality, Bill Moyers, in a puff ball interview that saw Moyers do his best to redeem Wright. But then today, speaking before the National Press Club, it was Jeremiah Wright unglued in all of his racist, anti-American glory. We will have to await for Obama to provide the context.

In 2006 and before, Obama couldn't say enough about his preacher and mentor of twenty years, Rev. Wright. But once Rev. Wright's virulent racism and anti-Americanism became common knowledge, Obama has been trying his best to claim that what we have heard of Rev. Wright was a rare anamoly, taken out of context by the media and not central to the message Obama embraced for twenty years with his attendace and wallet. That canard just become much harder to make with a straight face, compliments of Rev. Wright today. This from Dana Milibank's blog at the Washington Post:

Speaking before an audience that included Marion Barry, Cornel West, Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam official Jamil Muhammad, Wright praised Louis Farrakhan, defended the view that Zionism is racism, accused the United States of terrorism, repeated his view that the government created the AIDS virus to cause the genocide of racial minorities, stood by other past remarks ("God damn America") and held himself out as a spokesman for the black church in America.

. . . Wright suggested that Obama was insincere in distancing himself from his pastor. "He didn't distance himself," Wright announced. "He had to distance himself, because he's a politician, from what the media was saying I had said, which was anti-American."

Explaining further, Wright said friends had written to him and said, "We both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected." The minister continued: "Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls."

Wright also argued, at least four times over the course of the hour, that he was speaking not for himself but for the black church.

"This is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright," the minister said. "It is an attack on the black church." He positioned himself as a mainstream voice of African American religious traditions. "Why am I speaking out now?" he asked. "If you think I'm going to let you talk about my mama and her religious tradition, and my daddy and his religious tradition and my grandma, you got another thing coming."

That significantly complicates Obama's job as he contemplates how to extinguish Wright's latest incendiary device. Now, he needs to do more than express disagreement with his former pastor's view; he needs to refute his former pastor's suggestion that Obama privately agrees with him.

Wright seemed aggrieved that his inflammatory quotations were out of the full "context" of his sermons -- yet he repeated many of the same accusations in the context of a half-hour Q&A session this morning.

His claim that the September 11 attacks mean "America's chickens are coming home to roost"?

Wright defended it: "Jesus said, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic divisive principles."

His views on Farrakhan and Israel? "Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. He was talking about the same thing United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter's being vilified for and Bishop Tutu's being vilified for. And everybody wants to paint me as if I'm anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago. He is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century; that's what I think about him. . . . Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery, and he didn't make me this color."

He denounced those who "can worship God on Sunday morning, wearing a black clergy robe, and kill others on Sunday evening, wearing a white Klan robe." He praised the communist Sandinista regime of Nicaragua. He renewed his belief that the government created AIDS as a means of genocide against people of color ("I believe our government is capable of doing anything").

And he vigorously renewed demands for an apology for slavery: "Britain has apologized to Africans. But this country's leaders have refused to apologize. So until that apology comes, I'm not going to keep stepping on your foot and asking you, does this hurt, do you forgive me for stepping on your foot, if I'm still stepping on your foot. . . .

Read the entire article.

Update from Wretchard at the Belmont Club:

Maybe James Lewis is onto something when he argues that the "moment of truth for the Left has arrived" because the ideology espoused by Jeremiah Wright and his enthusiastic audience is more a product of the Left's idea mill than anything else. You'll find equivalent versions of the Wright ideology for Latinos, Indians, gays, lesbians and environmentalists. Wright is part of a product line. A small part.

And that's why Obama's associations with people like Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, in conjunction with Jeremiah Wright are more significant than they appear at first glance. They imply a loyalty to the parent brand, the Left, more than to its special product line for black people.

Below are the videos of Rev. Wright's entire appearance today at the National Press Club.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6


The Supreme Cout Upholds Law Requiring Photo I.D. For Voting

(Updated)In one of its major decisions, the Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board to uphold Indiana's law mandating a photo i.d. for voting. This marks a milestone in protecting the integrity of the democratic process.

The Indiana law at issue in the above case was an effort by the state to combat voter fraud. As has been the case in every state where such laws have been passed, the far left took exception and asked the law be declared unconstitutional. Apparently, the far left views voter fraud as a constitutional right. The opponents didn't help their case before the Supreme Court when one of the individuals they highlighted to show an undue burder in fact was committing voter fraud.

As the court looked at the issue:

The only kind of voter fraud that [the Indiana law] addresses is in-person voter impersonation at polling places. The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history. Moreover, petitioners argue that provisions of the Indiana Criminal Code punishing such conduct as a felony provide adequate protection against the risk that such conduct will occur in the future. It remains true, however, that flagrant examples of such fraud in other parts of the country have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists, that occasional examples have surfaced in recent years, and that Indiana’s own experience with fraudulent voting in the 2003 Democratic primary for East Chicago Mayor — though perpetrated using absentee ballots and not in-person fraud— demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.

The Court went on to give several examples of voter fraud, with the most colorful being in a footnote, recounting the days of Boss Tweed in post Civil War New York:

One infamous example is the New York City elections of 1868. William (Boss) Tweed set about solidifying and consolidating his control of the city. One local tough who worked for Boss Tweed, “Big Tim” Sullivan, insisted that his “repeaters” (individuals paid to vote multiple times) have whiskers:

“‘When you’ve voted ’em with their whiskers on, you take ’em to a barber and scrape off the chin fringe. Then you vote ’em again with the side lilacs and a mustache. Then to a barber again, off comes the sides and you vote ’em a third time with the mustache. If that ain’t enough and the box can stand a few more ballots, clean off the mustache and vote ’em plain face. That makes every one of ’em good for four votes.’”

A. Callow, The Tweed Ring 210 (1966) (quoting M. Werner, Tammany Hall 439 (1928))

The meat of the Court's finding from the majority opinion written by Justice Stevens is:

But just as other States provide free voter registration cards, the photo identification cards issued by Indiana’s BMV are also free. For most voters who need them, the inconvenience of making a trip to the BMV, gathering the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote, or even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.

The test adopted by the Court did hold open the possibility that other schemes or additional evidence of significant burden might change the opinion, but it found no such evidence in the record.

Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito filed a concurrence, opining that the Courts decision should have adopted a different test that left no loopholes. As Justice Scalia wrote, "petitioners’ premise that the voter-identification law might have imposed a special burden on some voters is irrelevant."

The three most far left members of the Court, Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter argued "State may not burden the right to vote merely by invoking abstract interests, be they legitimate, . . . or even compelling, but must make a particular, factual showing that threats to its interests outweigh the particular impediments it has imposed." In other words, common sense measures to detect and stop voter fraud are unconstitutional unless you can already detect voter fraud. Amazing.

This is a major win for Democracy. You can find the court's decision here.

Update: Here is hoping that Dafyyd at Big Lizards is correct in his assessment of the ramifications of this decision:

Such bills will, when fully implemented -- for example, when extended to the rest of the United States and to include absentee balloting -- make it much, much harder to commit voter fraud... and today's Democratics depend so heavily on fraud, they probably can't survive without it.


Supreme Court Justice Scalia

The CBS show 60 Minutes recently interviewed Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He spoke on a wide range of topics, including originalism, abortion as a Constitutional right, and the Supreme Court decision in Gore.

This was actually a very good interview, though the interviewer did not know enough about the law to get to the very bottom of Scalia’s philosophy on originalism. Nor did the author touch on the recent move by the far left of the Court to base their U.S. Constitutional decisions on foreign law, nor the far left decision in Kelo, essentially gutting the Fifth Amendment. That said, the interview gives a humanizing look at Justice Scalia as well as at least a taste of his judicial philosophy on issues that go to the heart of the nation America was and may become.

At 72, Justice Scalia is still a maverick, championing a philosophy known as "orginalism," which means interpreting the Constitution based on what it originally meant to the people who ratified it over 200 years ago.

Scalia has no patience with so-called activist judges, who create rights not in the Constitution - like a right to abortion - by interpreting the Constitution as a "living document" that adapts to changing values.

Asked what's wrong with the living Constitution, Scalia tells Stahl, "What's wrong with it is, it's wonderful imagery and it puts me on the defensive as defending presumably a dead Constitution."

"It is an enduring Constitution that I want to defend," he says.

"But what you're saying is, let's try to figure out the mindset of people back 200 years ago? Right?" Stahl asks.

"Well, it isn't the mindset. It's what did the words mean to the people who ratified the Bill of Rights or who ratified the Constitution," Scalia says.

"As opposed to what people today think it means," Stahl asks.

"As opposed to what people today would like," Scalia says.

"But you do admit that values change? We do adapt. We move," Stahl asks.

"That's fine. And so do laws change. Because values change, legislatures abolish the death penalty, permit same-sex marriage if they want, abolish laws against homosexual conduct. That's how the change in a society occurs. Society doesn't change through a Constitution," Scalia argues.

. . . "I’m surprised at how many people really, really hate you. These are some things we've been told: 'He’s evil.' 'He's a Neanderthal.' 'He’s going to drag us back to 1789.' They're threatened by what you represent and what you believe in," Stahl remarks.

"These are people that don't understand what my interpretive philosophy is. I'm not saying no progress. I'm saying we should progress democratically," Scalia says.

Back at the Oxford Union, Scalia told the students, "You think there ought to be a right to abortion? No problem. The Constitution says nothing about it. Create it the way most rights are created in a democratic society. Pass a law. And that law, unlike a Constitutional right to abortion created by a court can compromise. It can…I was going to say it can split the baby! I should not use… A Constitution is not meant to facilitate change. It is meant to impede change, to make it difficult to change."

But his critics argue that originalism is a cover for what they see as Scalia's real intention: to turn back some pivotal court decisions of the 1960s and 70s.

. . . He's been labeled a "counterrevolutionary."

"A counterrevolutionary!" Scalia reacts. "Sounds exciting."

The critics say his aim is to undo Roe v. Wade and affirmative action, and to allow more religion in public life.

"The public sense of you is that [you] make your decisions based on your social beliefs," Stahl says, with Scalia shaking his head. "That is the perception."

"I'm a law-and-order guy. I mean, I confess I'm a social conservative, but it does not affect my views on cases," Scalia says. "On the abortion thing for example, if indeed I were, you know, trying to impose my own views, I would not only be opposed to Roe versus Wade, I would be in favor of the opposite view, which the anti-abortion people would like adopted, which is to interpret the Constitution to mean that a state must prohibit abortion."

Scalia says he's against that.

"It's just not in the Constitution," Stahl asks.

"There's nothing there," he says. "They did not write about that."

His philosophy has occasionally led him to decisions he deplores, like his upholding the constitutionality of flag burning, as he told a group of students in Missouri.

"If it was up to me, I would have thrown this bearded, sandal-wearing flag burner into jail, but it was not up to me," Scalia told the students.

To Scalia, flag burning was protected by the founding fathers in the First Amendment, which is his only criterion, he says, under originalism.

"But do you respect that there is another way to look at this?" Stahl asks.

"You know the story of the Baptist preacher who was asked if he believed in total-immersion baptism? And he said, 'Believe in it? Why I've seen it done!' I have to say the same thing about your question. There must be other views because I've seen them," Scalia says.

"Yeah, but do you respect them? You don't, do you?" Stahl asks.

"I respect the people who have them, but I think those views are just flat out wrong," Scalia says.

He's talking about some of his fellow justices, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal who is - and this never ceases to surprise people - one of Scalia's best friends, both on and off the court.

To Ginsburg, the Constitution evolves and should reflect changes in society; that going back to what was meant originally when they wrote, for instance, "We the People," makes little sense.

. . . Of all the cases that have come before him on the court, Bush v. Gore may have been the most controversial. It has been reported that he played a pivotal role in urging the other justices to end the Florida recount, thereby handing the 2000 election to George Bush. The subject came up at the Oxford Union.

"Supposing yourself as a Supreme Court justice were granted the power to appoint the next president of the United States. Who would you pick and why? And would he or she be better than your last choice?" a student asked Scalia.

"You wanna talk about Bush versus Gore. I perceive that," he replied. "I and my court owe no apology whatever for Bush versus Gore. We did the right thing. So there!"

"People say that that decision was not based on judicial philosophy but on politics," Stahl asks.

"I say nonsense," Scalia says.

Was it political?

"Gee, I really don’t wanna get into - I mean this is - get over it. It's so old by now. The principal issue in the case, whether the scheme that the Florida Supreme Court had put together violated the federal Constitution, that wasn't even close. The vote was seven to two," Scalia says.

Moreover, he says it was not the court that made this a judicial question.

"It was Al Gore who made it a judicial question. It was he who brought it into the Florida courts. We didn't go looking for trouble. It was he who said, 'I want this to be decided by the courts.' What are we supposed to say? 'Oh, not important enough,'" Scalia jokes.

"It ended up being a political decision" Stahl points out.

"Well you say that. I don't say that," Scalia replies.

"You don’t think it handed the election to George Bush?" Stahl asks.

"Well how does that make it a political decision?" Scalia asks.

"It decided the election," Stahl says.

"If that’s all you mean by it, yes," Scalia says.

"That’s all I mean by it," Stahl says.

"Oh, ok. I suppose it did. Although you should add to that that it would have come out the same way, no matter what," Scalia says.

The justice has been explaining his positions publicly more and more, and even delving into some thorny issues, like torture.

"I don't like torture," Scalia says. "Although defining it is going to be a nice trick. But who's in favor of it? Nobody. And we have a law against torture. But if the - everything that is hateful and odious is not covered by some provision of the Constitution," he says.

"If someone's in custody, as in Abu Ghraib, and they are brutalized by a law enforcement person, if you listen to the expression 'cruel and unusual punishment,' doesn't that apply?" Stahl asks.

"No, No," Scalia replies.

"Cruel and unusual punishment?" Stahl asks.

"To the contrary," Scalia says. "Has anybody ever referred to torture as punishment? I don't think so."

"Well, I think if you are in custody, and you have a policeman who's taken you into custody…," Stahl says.

"And you say he's punishing you?" Scalia asks.

"Sure," Stahl replies.

"What's he punishing you for? You punish somebody…," Scalia says.

"Well because he assumes you, one, either committed a crime…or that you know something that he wants to know," Stahl says.

"It's the latter. And when he's hurting you in order to get information from you…you don’t say he's punishing you. What’s he punishing you for? He's trying to extract…," Scalia says.

"Because he thinks you are a terrorist and he's going to beat the you-know-what out of you…," Stahl replies.

"Anyway, that’s my view," Scalia says. "And it happens to be correct."

. . . "What is the connection between your Catholicism, your Jesuit education, and your judicial philosophy?" Stahl asks.

"It has nothing to do with how I decide cases," Scalia replies. "My job is to interpret the Constitution accurately. And indeed, there are anti-abortion people who think that the constitution requires a state to prohibit abortion. They say that the Equal Protection Clause requires that you treat a helpless human being that's still in the womb the way you treat other human beings. I think that's wrong. I think when the Constitution says that persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws, I think it clearly means walking-around persons. You don't count pregnant women twice."

. . . His new book, "Making Your Case, The Art Of Persuading Judges," is surprisingly breezy in that it’s a primer for lawyers on how to win cases. His co-author is Bryan Garner, an expert on legal writing.

"You say things in it like, ‘Be prepared. Look the judge in the eye.’ You almost make it sound like lawyers are imbeciles," Stahl says.

"You would be surprised," Scalia replies, laughing.

. . . "You’ve apparently had some down times in your tenure on the court so far. And I’m pointing to the term of 1995-96 when you wrote to former Justice Blackmun at the time, and here's what you said: 'I am more discouraged than I have been at the end of any of my previous nine terms.' You also wrote that you were beginning to repeat yourself, and you did not see much 'use in it anymore,'" Stahl remarks.

"Gee, I hadn’t remembered that I’d written it," Scalia says.

"It says, 'I am beginning to repeat myself,'" Stahl says.

"That's true. That is something that gives me some concern. I mean after a while, you know, I’m saying the same things in today’s dissent that I said in a dissent 20 years ago," Scalia explains.

"Around that same time you wrote, 'The court must be living in another world. Day by day, case by case it is busy designing a Constitution for a country I don't recognize,'" Stahl says.

"Yeah. That's how I felt," Scalia says.

"Past?" Stahl asks.

"It’s been less dire in more recent years," Scalia replies.

"In other words, you’ve had down times," Stahl asks.

"Yeah, I think so. I’m happier sometimes than at other times. And the end of a term, I don’t care what term it is, it’s usually a disappointment," Scalia says.

That's because - until recently - he was often on the losing side in cases he cared about most. Over the last several years Scalia has reached outside the court, speaking out publicly about his philosophy, in hopes of influencing the next generation. It’s a role he relishes.

"Little kids come to the court, they’re brought by their teachers. And they recite very proudly what they’ve been taught. I mean, this is how widespread the no-'The Constitution is a living document.' And I have to tell them 'It’s a dead document,'" Scalia told the students at the Oxford Union.

Read the entire article. The issues he raises are of great importance. If you are unfamiliar with Scalia’s judicial philosophy and how they apply, I would strongly recommend to you:

Justice Scalia's 2005 Speech on the Living Constitution

Transcript of the debate between Justices Scalia and Breyer on the issue of using foreign law to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution

The Living Constitution, Eminent Domain and Private Property Rights

The Constitution and the Red Herring of Abortion - Gonzalez v. Carhart


Outfoxed By Obama & The Twelve Unasked Questions

Yesterday, Fox’s Chris Wallace interviewed Barack Obama. It was an interesting interview, and Obama came off well overall. But Chris Wallace did a very poor job of asking probing questions on the major issues of Iraq, the War on Terror, and Rev. Wright.


You can find the transcript of the Obama interview here. After watching the interview twice, my impression was that Obama came off well. Part of that is that Obama is both likable and highly intelligent. Part is that, unless pushed, he will always dance past the tough questions with the liquid grace of a Fred Astaire.

On several of the issues raised by Chris Wallace, such as the issue of his appeal across the spectrum of voters, Obama defended his position well. And Obama did change his tune from last week and now agrees that his relationsip with Rev. Wright and Trinity United does reflect on his character and that it is a legitimate political issue. Obama did not do so well when Wallace questioned Obama on the fact that, while Obama claims to be able to heal the partisan divide, his record is extremely liberal and that he has never attempted to reach across the aisle on a single controversial issue. Obama’s response to that question was very muddled, at one point attempting to claim that he somehow met this criteria in regards to the confirmation hearings for John Roberts:

WALLACE: But, Senator, if I may, I think one of the concerns that some people have is that you talk a good game about, let’s be post-partisan, let’s all come together . . . The gang of 14, which was a group — a bipartisan coalition to try to resolve the nomination — the issue of judicial nominations. Fourteen senators came together, you weren’t part of it. On some issues where Democrats have moved to the center, partial-birth abortion, Defense of Marriage Act, you stay on the left and you are against both. And so people say, do you really want a partnership with Republicans or do you really want unconditional surrender from them?

OBAMA: No, look, I think this is fair. . . During the Roberts –

WALLACE: John Roberts, Supreme Court.

OBAMA: John Roberts nomination, although I voted against him, I strongly defended some of my colleagues who had voted for him on the Daily Kos, and was fiercely attacked as somebody who is, you know, caving in to Republicans on these fights. . . .

That's not quite a profile in courage. At any rate, Instapundit has a round up some of the commentary on the interview.

. . . Via MyDD, where Jerome Armstrong observes: "Obama is trying to separate himself from the most strident parts of his base, and he does this pretty effectively throughout the interview." . . .

UPDATE: A more critical take at No Quarter. "The truly scary part is that Obama stands for, essentially, nothing. Obama stands for Obama." More discussion at TalkLeft.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reviews from the Rightosphere aren't much better: "I supported Roberts when I opposed him." Plus this: "He called Wright a 'legitimate' campaign issue, which will seem rather shocking to the New York Times, the McCain campaign, and others who have demanded an end to the North Carolina GOP’s television ad.. . . . Obama sounded a lot less convincing when it came to responding to the William Ayers controversy."

For my part, I thought Chris Wallace completely failed to ask anything other than puffball questions on Iraq, the war on terror, Afghanistan and Rev. Wright. Here are the questions that I think should have been asked on those issues:

1. Whether or not invading Iraq was a good decision, the fact is we are there, and so is al Qaeda and Iran. You can’t un-ring the bell. You have made the centerpiece of your campaign the fact that you are against the war in Iraq and said unconditionally that you will draw out our combat troops within 16 months after becoming President. The other day, during the Senate Hearings, you had the opportunity to question General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker about Iraq. You had the chance to ask them to evaluate the likely outcome of your plan to withdraw the vast majority U.S. forces over a sixteen month period. That would have informed America as to the costs and benefits of your proposal. Yet you chose not to ask them that. Why not?

2. We know from testimony General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker gave to other Senators, that they believe a drawdown such as you have proposed would likely be fatal to all the gains we have made in Iraq. It would reopen Iraq to infiltration again by al Qaeda and Iran would seek to dominate Iraq much as it has Lebanon, using militias to create a "Hezbollah" - something which it is trying to do now. Do you agree that all of these things would be incredibly harmful to our efforts to defeat Islamic radicalism and stop expansionist Iran? And if so, how do you possibly justify your plans to pull us out of Iraq before we have that nation stabilized and able to control its internal and external security?

3. Ambassador Crocker has clearly stated that attempting to pressure Iraq with threats of pulling out our soldiers is counterproductive because it puts Iraq’s political groups in the position of looking at their interests when the U.S. is gone rather than having enough feeling of security to make concessions. It makes political progress far less likely. Members of the Iraqi government have made significant concessions over the past several months. Those concessions have resulted in the Iraqi government, at this point, meeting the vast majority of the bench marks we had set out for Iraq to mark political progress. In light of that and Ambassador Crocker’s testimony, how do you justify pulling out of Iraq before the country is stabilized?

4. Both bin Laden and Zawahiri, in public and private correspondence and speeches, have always stressed that Iraq is the central front in al Qaeda’s war against the West. Indeed, al Qaeda’s number two expressed it again in a speech to the world wide umma just the other day. Both Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus said that they had every reason to believe those statements, and evaluated suggestions to the contrary as ridiculous. Moreover, they see the Anbar Awakening movement as having huge ramifications for the world-wide fight against Islamic extremism. And indeed, al Qaeda’s number two has been explicit in saying that destroying the Anbar Awakening movements is one of his top priorities. With those facts in mind, how do you justify pulling out of Iraq, particularly when we have all but defeated al Qaeda in Iraq as of today?

5. You say that we need much more effort in Afghanistan, and much of what we have tried to do is to get NATO to play a much larger role. Indeed, Afghanistan is a NATO mission. Yet far too many of the European NATO nations are, in many ways, not supporting the action in Afghanistan. You have been the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee for Europe since the 2006 election, and thus have had significant power of oversight for our relations with NATO nations. Can you explain why you have not held a single hearing to bring pressure on our European NATO allies to fully support the Afghan mission since the 2006 election? And if your answer is because you have been busy with this election, can you tell us why, throughout 2007, you could not forgo your interests for a week to put the interests of our nation in the forefront?

6. We can agree that intelligence is our single most important line of defense in stopping plots of murder and mayhem planned against our country. In the wake of 9-11, when over 3,000 Americans died in attacks on our soil by the acts of an enemy few of us even knew about, U.S. intelligence agencies approached the telecom industry and asked for their voluntary cooperation with intelligence gathering. The companies did not get paid a single dime for their help deemed critical to the defense of our nation. Moreover, the head of our intelligence organizations, Mike McConnell, has since explained on several occasions how vital it is that we continue to get voluntary cooperation across the spectrum of intelligence gathering operations from telecom companies. The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, agrees and that is why both fully support granting the companies immunity from the class action lawsuits that these companies are now facing. These class action law suits are all brought by a Democrat special interest group, the tort bar. The tort bar stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars in their law suits while we, as a nation, risk losing the the very critical voluntary cooperation of the telecom industry in intelligence gathering. You recently voted in favor of the tort bar, to strip immunity provisions for telecommunications companies from the Protect America Act. Could you please tell us why you are supporting a Democratic special interest group over the vital needs of our national security?

7. Iran has been a rogue nation ever since the theocracy was imposed in 1979. That theocracy has a long history of acts of war, directly or by proxy, against the United States. They have been responsible for kidnapping Americans, the torture and murder of CIA agents, the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon and Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. They are an incredibly destabilizing force in the mid-East, essentially controlling Hamas – an organization you said you would not meet with – and Hezbollah. They have supported coups in several neighboring countries. They call for the destruction of Israel and years of talks have not dissuaded them from pursuing nuclear weapons, which now threatens to create a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East. Yet you voted against anything that would even allow the U.S. to use even a threat of force against Iran, and have stated that you will, as President, meet unconditionally with your Iranian counterpart. Iran's goal is very clear - to expand its revolution beyond its borders. What could you possibly offer Iran that would change the inherent nature of the theocracy and move them from their current course?

8. You routinely quote JFK who said that while we should not negotiate out of fear, we should not fear to negotiate. You seem to take that quote out of context. JFK certainly never met with Cuba, nor with North Vietnam, both of whom we had ongoing hostilities with at the time. To the contrary, JFK tried to foster a coup in Cuba and he drastically increased our military involvement in South Vietnam. With those things in mind, many people feel that meeting within the Iranian government for unconditional talks is naive and would be very counterproductive. It would give legitimacy to a government that is responsible for killing American soldiers as we speak and it would give legitimacy to a government that does not have the support of its people. Further, talks with an expansionist enemy have historically proven disasterous. For example, had Europe taken a stand against Hitler in the mid '30's, as Churchill argued, WWII may have been aborted. Instead, Chamberlin held talks with Hitler. That merely emboldened Hitler and, in part, led to World War II, with a loss of lives estimated at close to sixty million people. What makes you think your plans to hold talks with Iran under the current circumstances are, one, justified, and two, would be any less ill advised, counterproductive and disasterous than the attempts to find a middle ground with Hitler in the 30's?

9. We’ve been treated to some of the sermons from your pastor, Rev. Wright. They show a man who appears virulently racist and anti-American. That is buttressed by a number of other facts that we know, such as the Church’s black liberation manifesto reviling "middle-classness," Rev. Wright's close relationship to the racist Louis Farrakhan and, frankly, how in your book, Audacity of Hope, you were moved by a semon which included the assertion that "white folks greed runs a world in need." This raises several questions. Many people are concerned at the incredible dissonance between the sermon’s we’ve heard by Rev. Wright, your supporting his message with large donations to the Church, and yet your claim to be a post racial candidate who can somehow heal partisan and racial divides. We’ve heard you say that you didn’t hear anything like what we are hearing from Rev. Wright while you sat in his pews every Sunday for twenty years. And indeed, you say that the clips the press is playing are taken out of context. Let's take just one of many examples. I find it hard to put into context Rev. Wright's claim that the HIV virus was created by the white government in order to conduct a genocidal attack against African Americans. Can you explain how such an incredible statement by Rev. Wright can be contextualized as anything other than virulently racist and anti-American?

10. It is beyond argument that if a white candidate, such as John McCain, had a close relationship with a virulently racist preacher for over twenty years, and that he described him as his spiritual mentor, that it would raise very serious questions about Mr. McCain’s character and judgment. Is there any reason why, when its you instead of John McCain, a different standard should apply?

11. The sermons we are seeing on the news were not taken by hidden camera. They were recorded by Trinity United and sold on DVD through your Church’s bookstore. They are the "best of" moments. Clearly, the Church was quite proud of these sermons. This would indicate that these sermons were part of Rev. Wright’s mainstream message. That could lead some to wonder if you are being honest in your claims to the contrary and what that says about your veracity, your character and your judgment. In order to resolve these issues, would you make available all recordings you have of Rev. Wright’s sermons and ask Rev. Wright to make his unedited sermons available for the period of time you have been in his church?

12. On the basis of far less provocative speech than Rev. Wright's, you were one of the first people to come out and seek the ouster of Don Imus from his radio program. How do you square this with what appears to be a grossly hyocritical double standard - and by that I mean your twenty years of support for Rev. Wright and Trinity United?


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Carnival of the Insanities

Dr. Sanity, our favorite e-psychiatrist has once again siffed throug the news of the week for evidence of the psychotic, the neurotic, and the just plain insane. She has published her findings for all to enjoy. Do pay her a visit.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Acts of War by Iran, Acts of Perfidy by the Left

For many of us who are prior military or who have family in the military, little can be more maddening than watching our soldiers attacked in Iraq by neighboring Iran in a proxy war while we do nothing to force a halt to their actions. Possibly the only thing approaching that in frustration is the left wing media and State Dept. officials who spin for Iran, and the Democrats in Congress whose mantra of "taking care of our soldiers" is so bereft of any true substance as to be a mockery. As I posted here, we are finally seeing indications of preperation for the use of force against Iran. And that has sent the NYT others on the far left into a fierce rearguard action.


The NYT leads today with an effort in agenda journalism - Questions Linger On Scope Of Iran's Threat To Iraq - aimed at undercutting the justification for the use of force against Iran.

The United States has gathered its most detailed evidence so far of Iranian involvement in training and arming fighters in Iraq, officials say, but significant uncertainties remain about the extent of that involvement and the threat it poses to American and Iraqi forces.

Didn't we just hear our two top officials in Iraq say that Iran was the single greatest threat to Iraqi stability and U.S. troops in Iraq today? Apparently, the NYT has not willingly suspended its disbelief.

We have some two hundred soldiers dead just from Iranian supplied IEDS, and hundreds of others wounded and maimed. Our forces and the Iraqi Parliament in the Green Zone are coming under daily attack from Iranian rockets and mortars. We have captured numerous Qods force operatives and high level Hezbollah agents in Iraq, and have a very full picture of how they are training and directing forces against the U.S. Until two weeks ago, Basra, the economic center of Iraq, was more a part of Iran than Iraq. There seems no uncertainty of the threat Iran to the Iraqi Shia. More than 300,000 of them in southern Iraq petitioned their government in November to battle the Iranian scourge:

The Iranians, in fact, have taken over all of south Iraq," said a senior tribal leader from the south who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared for his life. "Their influence is everywhere."

. . . [T]he petition organizers said many citizens are fiercely opposed to Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs.

. . . "The most painful stab in the back of the Shiites in Iraq by the Iranian regime has been its shameful abuse of Shiite religion to achieve its ominous end," the sheiks said a statement. "The only solution and hopeful prospect for Iraq, and in particular the southern provinces, is the eviction of the Iranian regime from our homeland."

Read the entire article. The only uncertainty about the threat Iran poses seems to be among the far left and our MSM.

So how could the NYT justify this uncertainty? Why, with quotes from several anonymous sources - and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Some intelligence and administration officials said Iran seemed to have carefully calibrated its involvement in Iraq over the last year, in contrast to what President Bush and other American officials have publicly portrayed as an intensified Iranian role.

. . . Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California who has called for opening talks with Iran, said that while she believed that there was evidence that Iran was aiding Shiite militias, she worried about the tenor of the administration’s latest warnings.

“This is not a new thing,” she said of Iran’s involvement. “Why all of a sudden do the sabers start to rattle?”

This is amazing. One, it conflicts with the clear statement of General Petraeus, who presumably is in the single best position to make this assessment. Two, after the highly politicized canard produced by our intelligence agencies in the December, the NIE on Iran's nuclear weapons programs, I am not inclined to credit any weight to an anonymous intelligence source. Three, if you look at what the NYT has written and the position of Senator Feinstein, they are not contesting that Iran is conducting a proxy war in Iraq. Rather, they are suggesting that the murder and maiming of our soldiers at the current level, whatever that maybe, is acceptable. It leaves me near speechless.

Let me give the NYT and others on the left a big hint. Taking care of our soldiers doesn't mean putting them in permanent garrisons in the U.S. Keeping our soldiers out of war is not "taking car of our soldiers." That is their mission, though it is a decision that should only be taken with great caution. Rather, taking care of our soldiers means that when they are committed to a war, making damn sure that our government does everything possible to allow for force protection. That means that the only acceptable level of casualties from the acts of Iran are zero. And it means that if Iran is causing American casualties, they should be paying an impossibly high price for their actions.

To continue:

Iran . . . has shifted tactics to distance itself from a direct role in Iraq since the American military captured 20 Iranian operatives inside Iraq in December 2006 and January 2007. Ten of those Iranians remain in American custody.

Since then, Iran seems to have focused instead on training Iraqi Shiite fighters inside Iran, though the exact number remains unclear. . . .

Surely the NYT is not suggesting that Iran is not funding nor arming these proxy forces, in addition to training them. Apparently, the point the NYT is making is that the Iranians are simply not exercising direct control over the day to day targeting of these groups. To the NYT, that distinction without a difference is apparently important. One wonders if there is a single reporter or editor at the NYT with military experience or with relatives serving now in Iraq. If there were, I seriously doubt that agenda journalism like this would be tolerated.

I can see the reasons for not responding to Iran's provications in the past, given the unsettled problems in Iraq. Those problems are now resolving. And Iran needs to be next in our sights.


A Step Closer To A First Strike Against Iran

Iran is arming, training and funding a proxy war in Iraq with the goal of driving out the U.S. and "Lebanizing" Iraq. Recently I wrote a post, The Next Moves In An Existential Chess Match, stressing that we need to conduct at least a limited attack on Iran and forecast that such a course of action was well into the planning stages. Yesterday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Sec. of Defense raised the spectre of military operations against Iran and a Pentagon briefing on the degree of Iran's malign and deadly involvement in Iraq is planned for Monday. Iran's Qods force appears squarely in the crosshairs.


This from the Washington Post:

The nation's top military officer said yesterday that the Pentagon is planning for "potential military courses of action" as one of several options against Iran, criticizing what he called the Tehran government's "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a conflict with Iran would be "extremely stressing" but not impossible for U.S. forces, pointing to reserve capabilities in the Navy and Air Force.

"It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," he said at a Pentagon news conference. Speaking of Iran's intentions, Mullen said: "They prefer to see a weak Iraq neighbor. . . . They have expressed long-term goals to be the regional power."

Mullen made clear that he prefers a diplomatic solution and does not expect imminent action. "I have no expectations that we're going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future," he said.

Mullen's statements and others by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently signal new rhetorical pressure on Iran by the Bush administration amid what officials say is increased Iranian provision of weapons, training and financing to Iraqi groups that are attacking and killing Americans.

In a speech Monday, Gates said Iran "is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons." He said war would be "disastrous" but added that "the military option must be kept on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat."

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, who was nominated this week to head all U.S. forces in the Middle East, is preparing a briefing soon on increased Iranian involvement in Iraq, Mullen said. The briefing will detail, for example, the discovery in Iraq of weapons that were very recently manufactured in Iran, he said.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago. It's plainly obvious they have not," Mullen said. He said unrest in the Iraqi city of Basra had highlighted a "level of involvement" by Iran that had not been clear previously.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago. It's plainly obvious they have not," Mullen said. He said unrest in the Iraqi city of Basra had highlighted a "level of involvement" by Iran that had not been clear previously.

But while Mullen and Gates have said that the government in Tehran must know of Iranian actions in Iraq, Mullen said he has "no smoking gun which could prove that the highest leadership is involved. . . .

Read the entire article. The smoking gun question is pure leftist dissimulation nearing the degree of dislocation from reality displayed by 9-11 truthers. The Qods Force and IRGC report directly to Iran's Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei. To suggest that Iran's proxy war in Iraq is occurring without the theocracy's knowledge and approval is simply ludicrous.

And the International Herald Tribune adds to the story:

The government of Iran continues to supply weapons and other support to extremists in Iraq, despite repeated promises to the contrary, and is increasingly complicit in the death of U.S. soldiers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday in a stark new assessment of Iranian influence.

The chairman, Admiral Michael Mullen, said he was "extremely concerned" about "the increasingly lethal and malign influence" by the government of Iran and the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, a special force that aids and encourages Islamic militants around the world. The Quds Forces in Iran were created during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and report directly to the leadership of Iran's theocratic government.

Pentagon concerns about Iranian influence in neighboring Iraq is nothing new, but the content and tone of Mullen's remarks left the impression that far from abating, the worries about Iran have intensified in recent months.

"The Iranian government pledged to halt such activities some months ago," Mullen said. "It's plainly obvious they have not. Indeed, they seem to have gone the other way."

The discovery of weapons caches in Iraq, with devices bearing stamps that indicate they were manufactured quite recently, run contrary to the Iranian promises not to interfere in Iraq, the admiral said. He conceded that he had "no smoking gun" to prove direct involvement by the very highest echelons in Tehran, but he said he found it hard to believe that all the top leaders were ignorant of recent developments.

The Pentagon is sufficiently concerned about Iran's apparently deepening involvement in Iraq that it plans a briefing in the near future by General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, to publicize the caches of weapons, some of which are believed to have been used against U.S. troops in the recent fighting in Basra, in southern Iraq. . . .

"I believe recent events, especially the Basra operation, have revealed just how much and just how far Iran is reaching into Iraq to foment instability," Mullen said.

. . . Mullen acknowledged that the U.S. military was being stretched thin by the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, he said, "it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability." As for Iranian motives, Mullen said he believed the leadership in Tehran hopes for a weak Iraq, so that Iran can increase its influence in the region.

. . . Mullen said Iranian influence in Iraq goes beyond shipment of weapons. "They continue to train Iraqis in Iran to come back and fight Americans and the coalition," he said. Reiterating earlier accusations, he asserted that Iranian leaders "continue to broadly support terrorists in other parts of the region," including the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas.

"And in fact, we're seeing some evidence that they're supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan," Mullen said.

Read the entire article.

It would seem likely that this is the first shot in the media war to prep the homefront and Iraq for an action against Iran. I would suspect that the trigger will not be pulled on even a limited attack on Iran until the U.S. is reasonably sure that it has the Mahdi Army elements under control, in particular in Baghdad. With operations ongoing to take control of Sadr City from the Mahdi Army and with both Petraeus and Odierno scheduled to appear before Congressional hearings prior to assuming their new commands, I would expect American raids on Iran, if they are to occur, to wait until the end of June. And I would imagine that if Iran strikes back, we will see a full scale attack on Iran's nuclear program.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Krauthammer On Questions of Obama's Character & Judgment

Charles Krauthammer is by far my favorite columnist and I always anticipate reading his latest column each Friday. I was surprised to find this week that Mr. Krauthammer's column was on the on the topic of whether questions of Obama's character and judgment are germane to Obama's bid for the presidency. I find myself in full agreement with Mr. Krauthammer's conclusions and, on this rare occasion, actually composed a post completely parallel in logic some days in advance of Mr. Krauthammer's article. You can find Mr. Krauthammer's article here and my post on the same topic here.


Interesting Posts From Around The Web - 25 April 2008

The interesting posts of the day, all below the fold

Art: Music, Hans Bauldun Grien, 1529

Stop the ACLU tries their hand at creating Pelosi-esque biblical quotations.

Transterrestrial Musings ponders the incredible policy disaster of the ethanol program. Interestingly, they note a scientific advance that may provide us with an alternative for using agricultural land and crops for the creation of ethanol. The rush to adopt alternative energy is problematic in that many alternative forms of energy are far less reliable or are, for other reasons, far more problematic than originally thought. In this regard, Deleware Crumudgeon notes that Texas is learning now about all the problems associated with making wind turbines a significant piece of their power generating scheme.

Villagers With Torches discusses the real danger posed by William Ayers to our country. It is in his pushing a radical left "social justice" curriculum into our grade school systems – something which the right should be fighting tooth and nail. As VWT states, "The next time Obama--the candidate who purports to be our next "education president"--discusses education on the campaign trail, it would be nice to hear what he thinks of his Hyde Park neighbor's vision for turning the nation's schools into left-wing indoctrination centers."

At Blonde Sagacity, commentary on possibly the most asinine oped of the political season, a British op-ed claiming that America is simply too racist for a black president. It is sophomoric and delusional anti-Americanism. Right Truth hits the nail on the head. "Race doesn't matter to [conservatives] -- give us a qualified man OR woman of any race, and we will be more than happy to support them with our time, money and votes. It's about the PERSON, not the color of their skin." As Discriminations notes, someone needs to pass the message to Joe Klein.

Barking Moonbats uses a Time magazine prop to show the application of math to modern politics, demonstrating that two halves make "a hole." Heh. This type of lesson is important because, as pointed out by No Oil for Pacifists, our liberal media has a real problem with basic math.

KG at Crusader Rabbit is distinctly unimpressed by the nonsensical musings of a Harvard Professor whose specialty is "’post-colonial studies,’ i.e., a reader-proof species of anti-Western multicultural claptrap." This is the second Harvard Prof I have been exposed to in the past month - Orlando Patterson being the other - whose intellectual prowess is, to put it tactfully, lacking.

April 25 is Anzac Day, when our cousins to the West honor their fallen soldiers. John Ray posts an explanation at a Western Heart. MK posts a poem for the occasion written by a 12 year old boy that is exceptional.

France is not so much policing its Muslim population as it is using military raids to enforce some order.

At Ankle Biting Pundits, a telling juxtaposition of two vastly different reports on the same McCain visit. There’s the upbeat local news, then there is the agenda journalism coming out of the MSM spin cycle.

At Jammie Wearing Fools, Supreme Court Justice Scalia has a message for the morons (with video) – its time to get over the Florida recount.

There is a disconnect between reality and the MSM Iraq narrative. It is tough to reconcile MSM reports with the reality of Iraqi refugees returning in droves.

Seraphic Secret has a series of exceptional posts on the Muslim uprising in Algeria over half a century ago.

Gay Patriot has an interesting post on Dutch gays and the limits of tolerance.

On the cultural corner, Pen and Spindle ponders the development of the romance novel and famous authors of the genre who are still relevant. And also blogging on themes of history and literature is Dave in Boca with an exceptional post.

ABC did very shoddy journalism if not outright fabrication in their recent story claiming that guns available in America were fueling the drug wars in Mexico. Confederate Yankee has the story.

A point worth emphasizing at the Common Room, that civil liberties are for all. It is, at times, hard to keep that elementary point in perspective.

The Midnight Sun ponders the case of Brigitte Bardot and the unfortunate overlap of racism and anti-jihadism in parties labled right-wing. She rightly notes a looming the danger to the anti-jihad movement if they do not seperate themselves from the racists.

Reality is usually spun a full 180 degrees when it comes to the UN and anything to do with Israel. Meryl Yourish has an excellent post on the topic. But, as Rightwing Conspiracy notes, the people at the UN are all on the invite list for former President Carter.

Since the partisan dems cannot force a legislated surrender in Iraq with the next bill to fund the Iraq war, they are changing tack and larding the bill with pork and vastly expanded Democratic pet projects. These people truly are despicable.

From Consul at Arms, reports that the State Dept. is about to issue guidance requiring employees to stop using the term jihad are, as of yet, unsubstantiated.

From the Jawa Report, the problems in Pakistan continue to grow as the government tries yet again to gain peace with the terrorists in their midst by granting concessions. In the words of Churchill, this is feeding the alligator in the hopes that it will eat you last.

Root causes of social ills and common sense prescriptions at Liberty Corner.

BDS and 9-11 have been very bad for Hollywood’s bottom line.

Did you ever wonder how to spot a Persian prostitute?

The Shield of Achilles sees clear of evidence of Britain voluntarily submerging its anglo-saxon identity in response to Islamists. Britian is being led by the socialists into oblivion.

Finally, an answer to that burning question, "what’s the deal with all those medieval midgets?"

"C’mon baby. Moo like a cow." (shiver).


Friday's Art & Prose

Art: Tityus, Vecellio Tiziano, 1549

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

- Dylan Thomas


The Biggest Loser Tuesday - Howard Dean

Jon Stewart speculated on how John McCain spent Tuesday night. It involves a bowl of the collected tears of Howard Dean.



Thursday, April 24, 2008

Toon of the Day

Pelosi 1

by Michael Ramirez


More Steps Towards Reconciliation In Iraq

Within the past month, the NYT proclaimed Maliki's Basra offensive a disasterous, politically motivated act that had weakened his deeply sectarian government. The NYT proclaimed Sadr the victor. Sufice it to say, that narrative was exposed as a canard within days. Today, Basra is in Iraqi government control, Sadr is throwing an impotent tantrum from somewhere inside Iran, and Maliki has earned vast new respect as a national leader. And today, the NYT reports that members of Iraq's largest Sunni bloc are returning to Parliament, lured back by the willingness of Maliki to take on Sadr's militia and his amnesty to low-level Sunni prisoners.


This from the NYT:

Iraq’s largest Sunni bloc has agreed to return to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s cabinet after a boycott that lasted nearly a year, several Sunni leaders said on Thursday, citing a recently passed amnesty law and the Maliki government’s crackdown on Shiite militias as reasons for the move.

The Sunni leaders said they were still working out the details of their return, an indication that the deal could still fall through. But such a return would represent a major political victory for Mr. Maliki in the midst of a military operation that has at times been criticized as poorly planned and fraught with risk. The principal group his security forces have been confronting is the Mahdi Army, a powerful militia led by Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric. Even though Mr. Maliki’s American-backed offensive against elements of the Mahdi Army has frequently stalled and has led to bitter complaints of civilian casualties, the Sunni leaders said that the government had done enough to address their concerns that they had decided to end their boycott.

“Our conditions were very clear, and the government achieved some of them,” said Adnan al-Duleimi, the head of Tawafiq, the largest Sunni bloc in the government. Mr. Duleimi said the achievements included “the general amnesty, chasing down the militias and disbanding them and curbing the outlaws.”

The recently passed amnesty law has already led to the release of many Sunni prisoners, encouraging Sunni parties that the government is serious about enforcing it. And the attacks on Shiite militias have apparently begun to assuage longstanding complaints that only Sunni groups blamed for the insurgency have been the targets of American and Iraqi security forces.

Exactly which ministries will be given to which Sunni politicians is still under negotiation, . . .

. . . The official government television channel, Iraqiya, appeared to confirm the deal, following a meeting between Mr. Maliki and David Miliband, the visiting foreign secretary of Britain. Iraqiya said the prime minister “said that reconciliation has proved a success and all political blocs will return to the government.” . . .

Read the entire article.