Carol Platt Liebau: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

911 on 9/11

This NY Times piece notes that tapes of 911 calls from 9/11 are being released by the city of New York.

Would that every talk show host in the country would play some snippets (the victims' voices have been excised; what remains are the rescuers'), just so that everyone can remember what 9/11 was really like. Then let's hear about why the NSA shouldn't be wiretapping Al Qaeda-linked foreign calls to and in this country.

The Unvarnished Truth

Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics tells it like it is in this piece: President Bush's problems result from the perception that the war in Iraq isn't going well.

If that perception persists, there's not much "change" -- of chiefs of staff or anything else -- that will make a difference.

Giving War a Chance

I admire people like Errol Lewis, who, in this piece, calls on black leaders to conduct a culture war within the black community against counterproductive attitudes that retard black progress. It's brave, because he's arraying himself against the likes of Jesse Jackson -- the perpetual big-mouthed "poverty pimps" who couldn't care less about the plight of their people, so long as they themselves remain "influential" and well-to-do.

Here's Lewis' call to arms:

Specifically, we need aggressive, concerted action by members and institutions of the respectable black middle class to do open combat against the rise of an ancient enemy: a bold, seductive street culture that exalts lawlessness, addiction and anti-family behavior like pimping, sexual promiscuity, ignorance and personal selfishness.

And for those who think this is just a "black" problem, it's worth noting that many of the attitudes and poses popularized by rap music and street culture spread far afield; even today, they are hardly restricted to the African-American community.

Tenure on Steroids

When reading about the troubles confronting the duplicitous French leaders Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, t's hard not to indulge in schadenfreude (to use a word coined by France's age old adversaries).

My particular favorite is the young people rioting in the streets over a "reform" that would allow them to be fired without cause during their first year of work. In the good ole U.S.of A., that's known as "at will employment" -- and it's pretty much the arrangement that any worker who hasn't signed a contract operates under (which is a lot of us, including young attorneys, as I remember well).

Even so, before Americans get too smug, let's remember the vaporings of the teachers' unions. It's worth noting that the French in the streets aren't the only opponents of free enterprise and robust competition. France's employment system is just tenure on steroids.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The "Plan" That Isn't

As this editorial in Investors' Business Daily points out, when papers like the Los Angeles Times report that "Democratic Plan to Beef Up Security Lacks Specifics", well, you know it's bad.

The supposed strategy consists of three words: get Bin Laden. It took 'em four and a half years to come up with that one?

Remember John Kerry's 2004 mantra: "I've got a plan"? Well, I guess the Democrats now do, too. What a shame that none of us knows what it is.

The Power and the Glory . . .

Drudge has linked to this piece, which reports that a new study has shown no link between prayer and improved outcomes in heart patients.

I don't know whether such stories are designed to shake believers' faith, but if so, for me, it's not working. Of course, everyone prays for something, from time to time. But the fact that one's prayer may not be answered in the time and manner that one may ask for doesn't mean that God hasn't heard, doesn't care, or that the prayer didn't "work." After all, many times there is a plan for our lives that turns out to be better than anything we might even haave imagined . . .

Even at the times when that doesn't seem to be the case, though, isn't prayer supposed to be the way that we get in touch with what God wants, rather than a way to instruct Him about what we want (as if He didn't already know?).

Indecent Exposure

Iran is defiantly exposing the impotence and logorrhea that characterizes the U.N.

After all, if the solons sitting assembled in New York can't even agree that a bunch of Islamofascist nuts shouldn't be permitted to have a nuclear bomb, of what use are they, anyway?

The Best Disinfectant

So there's going to be an investigation into the use of steroids by baseball players, most notably Barry Bonds.

It's only right. Sunshine is the best disinfectant -- and how outrageous it would be if Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron's home run record by cheating. Not only would it be dishonorable, it would also be manifestly unjust to Aaron, who is, by all accounts, a wonderful human being.

The New Democratic (Court) Strategy

In this piece, law professor Ronald Cass warns against the ongoing effort by those who oppose him to find ways to marginalize Justice Antonin Scalia.

As I pointed out here some months ago, some Democrats tried a silly and frontal assault on Justice Scalia's ethics. Now, they're challenging his impartiality.

The end game, as Professor Cass points out, is to try to secure the Justice's disqualification on important cases, or to minimize his impact when he does participate. Having failed to block confirmation of two conservative justices, it's apparently become the new Democratic strategy to keep the conservatives from getting to 5.

They've pretty much done all the damage to Justice Thomas that they can (and Justice Thomas makes fewer colorful appearances than Justice Scalia does); Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito haven't been on the Court long enough to present themselves as juicy post-confirmation targets; and no one on the left wants to alienate Justice Kennedy, who has increasingly voted their way on many important cases (most notably on gay rights and and the death penalty for those under 18).

Justice Scalia has inveighed against the politicization of judicial nominations. And now he's being subjected to the increasing, and disturbing, politicization of judicial service, as well.

More On Immigration . . .

Ultimately, any immigration reform legislation must reflect the national consensus: That the U.S. government has the right (and the duty) to be the sole arbiter of who enters this country, and that immigrating to America is a privilege to be cherished, not an entitlement to be demanded.

That's from my piece today over at the American Spectator online. Read it here.

Jill Carroll is Free

Read about it here. Note that the captors' demand -- that all female prisoners in Iraq be released -- was not complied with.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Feelin' Punchy?

Obviously, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Bedlam) was. McKinney punched a Capitol officer in the chest with a cell phone after he asked her to walk through the metal detectors at the Capitol.

Apparently, members of Congress are entitled to bypass the detectors -- but the guard didn't recognize McKinney, and she wasn't wearing the pin that identifies her as a member of Congress, which, this piece from Slate suggests, may be something of a habit with her. Any further comment would just be piling on (not that it wouldn't be fun, it's just too easy!).

In any case, it will be interesting to see how the Democrats respond to one of their own who reacts with such bizarre contempt for the rules and the people charged with safeguarding all of us.

Romney the Reformer

Chalk one up for Mitt Romney -- he's a brave man, indeed.

Romney has proposed the unthinkable -- actually (gasp!) basing some teacher rewards on merit. Among other features, his plan would make teachers with good evaluations eligible for bonuses, and would divorce teacher evaluation from the collective bargaining process, while instituting criteria statewide for assessing teacher performance.

Predictably, the teachers union is crying foul, calling the plan "inequitable, divisive, and ineffective." What's inequitable is the refusal to reward outstanding teachers in a manner proportionate to their contributions. And there's no way to tell if it's ineffective 'til it's been tried (and are things really so good that we should be erring on the side of maintaining the status quo?).

As for "divisive," well, yes. Any plan that rewards excellence is going to "divide" the excellent from the mediocre or subpar. Now explain why that's a bad thing.

Many teachers express indignation that their profession doesn't receive the "status" accruing to other lines of work. My sense is that if teachers want the "respect" that some other professions receive, then they need to subject themselves to the risks and rewards of doctors, lawyers and businessmen: The risk of failure and firing for the incompetent, with the rewards of lucre and acclaim for the outstanding.

Being Prepared

As this Time magazine article notes, we are approaching the first anniversary of Terri Schiavo's death.

This book -- "20 Questions to Ask about Will & Estates" -- addresses the Schiavo and other relevant cases, and also provides concrete advice and a sample Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney and Healthcare directive.

I've known one of its authors, Bob Zafft, for years, and he's a friend. He's also a very smart guy, and I'd trust his legal advice implicitly. The book is accessible to laymen, it's comprehensive, and it's certainly worth checking out.

Playing with Fire

Tony Blankley minces no words in offering a warning to the US senators favoring the McCain-Kennedy bill: You are "attempting to legislate into the teeth of the will of the American public."

That's a bad choice.

And he provides the poll numbers to back it up.

Reiner Resigns

It's about time.

And although the universal pre-school initiative sounds like a good idea at first blush, I need someone to explain to me just a couple of things:

*Why some of California citizens should pay higher taxes so that Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes' child -- and other well-to-do tots -- will be able to attend preschool for free.

*Given the outrageous deficiencies of too much public education in this country, why we should be entrusting the education establishment with additional responsibilities.

*If the schools are as short on money as they claim, wouldn't any additional tax money be more wisely directed to solving the problems that -- according to the education establishment -- can only be solved by spending increases, rather than being spent on preschool.

Riddle me that, Batman!

Demonizing John McCain?

Over at Real Clear Politics, John McIntyre writes about the volte-face the liberals in the MSM are doing, as they begin to attack John McCain -- and how, ironically, those attacks may help McCain gain some much needed bona fides with Republican stalwarts (as I've noted before, the overt adoration of the MSM is a big stumbling block for McCain in GOP circles).

But most Republicans don't just dislike McCain because the press likes him (as John notes, "his major weakness is he lacks the trust of the party faithful and conservatives"). It's because he seems to put his own political advantage above what's good for his party. The most recent example is the immigration bill, Kennedy-McCain, which calls for only "virtual" border security while providing a guest worker program. A bill like this -- underbalanced on the border security side -- if it passes, risks demoralizing Republicans to a degree that could depress turnout next November.

Other examples include the whole "torture amendment" debacle -- discussed on this site here -- and his self-important posturing in the whole Gang of 14 escapade (discussed on this site here).

John McCain is a war hero and a great American. But as a politician, he's an opportunist who's willing to put personal interest above almost everything else (a charge to which many of his Senate colleagues will heartily attest, at least in private).

For a long time, McCain was willing to cultivate his press constituency with only minor regard to party loyalty. Now that it's turning on him, it's hard to feel too, too sorry.

Finally, it's worth wondering whether all the pro-McCain polls are a function of anything more than name ID. At this point, not that many normal Americans know George Allen (or Mitt Romney, for that matter). Couldn't his convincing showing against Hillary Clinton be a greater reflection on her unpopularity than on him?

And even if not, given the animosity toward him on the right, and the growing dislike that will be orchestrated by MSMers like Krugman on hte left, it's worth wondering if McCain will eventually end up with "wide" support that's less than even skin-deep. And that kind of support becomes mighty hard to win with.

At the Heart of the Debate

Leo Jarzomb/Staff photo
(HT: Michelle Malkin)

In yesterday's post about the illegal immigration debate, I referenced the relative paucity of American flags vs. Mexican or Honduran flags at the recent protests against immigration reform. This picture describes, better than words, the kind of pro-Mexican, anti-American sentiment that is too often enshrouded in politically correct doubletalk when it comes to news coverage of illegal immigration.

This is the kind of thing that's easy to miss if you don't live in a border state. But if you do, it's impossible to ignore.

America has always been a nation of legal immigrants. Lady Liberty still lifts her lamp beside the golden door for people who want to become Americans. Those whose primary loyalty is to another country have no business either applying for citizenship, or beoming US citizens.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

RIP Lyn Nofziger

Mark Tapscott has a fine and heartfelt tribute to Lyn Nofziger over at Tapscott's Copy Desk.

"Painting the Map Red"

Hugh Hewitt has produced a new book -- "Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create A Permanent Republican Majority." Buy it here.

It's worth noting that the book has already turned up in some remarkable places.

RIP Caspar Weinberger

Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger has died. The Washington Post write up includes Iran-Contra in its first line, but Secretary Weinberger's legacy is so much larger than that.

Most of all, he stood strong to help President Reagan win the Cold War through a philosophy of peace through strength -- and he did it at a time when much of the world (not to mention the American intelligentsia) thought his ideas were not only wrong, but stupid.

But he and President Reagan were right. Thank you, Secretary Weinberger. Rest in peace.

Lest Anyone Forget . . .

These days, we're hearing so much about Republican iniquity that it's worth pointing out that the D.C. Circuit has upheld a lower court ruling that Rep. Jim McDermott illegally (and secretly) taped a phone call between Rep. John Boehner and Rep. Newt Gingrich and then turned the tape over to reporters.

All the liberals who, today, are so concerned with privacy right for some reason held their tongues, way back then.

McDermott is being ordered to pay up to the tune of $700,000.

The Moussaoui Conundrum

Zacharias Moussaoui is the scum of the earth. And as this editorial points out, he richly deserves the death penalty.

But here's the question: How can we mete out that punishment? After yesterday's testimony, it appears that the theory is that Moussaoui knew about 9/11 and was supposed to be part of it, so his failure to disclose the plot after he was arrested on immigration charges makes him, in effect, responsible for the deaths.

Here's the problem. Is there a duty to disclose under U.S. law? Not that I'm familiar with (and if I'm wrong, someone set me straight). Certainly, one can be charged with lying to investigators, but I'm not aware of laws that attribute to Person A the responsibility for crimes committed by Person B, simply because (without more) the crimes weren't disclosed in advance.

Certainly there can be that kind of vicarious responsibility for those engaged in a conspiracy together. But if Moussaoui was part of the 9/11 conspiracy, wouldn't punishing him for having failed to disclose the plot constitute, in effect, a violation of his right against self-incrimination?

I'd love to see Moussaoui fry. I'm just not sure how it can be done consistent with existing law.

The Real Backlash

As this LA Times story notes, 40,000 middle and high schoolers took to the streets yesterday to protest a law that does nothing but try to get a handle on illegal immigration.

It was a bad move, from a strategic sense. The relatively paucity of American flags -- versus the Mexican and Honduran flags much more in evidence -- coupled with the cries of "Viva la raza!" being broadcast on every major morning radio show, only raises the hackles of every American who believes that living here (not to mention doing so illegally) is a privilege to be cherished, not a right to be demanded.

As Debra Saunders points out, the much-feared "backlash" from Latino voters isn't likely to materialize -- as long as it's made clear, and repeatedly, that the debate isn't about whether legal immigration should continue. It should -- and no responsible American is challenging the legal immigration system. Rather, the debate is about whether the United States has the right (and the obligation) to exercise control over its own borders.

Too often, this controversy is being painted as nothing more than a matter of internecine Republican political warfare. That's not exactly true. This piece points out some rather revealing poll numbers:

--Some 59 percent say they oppose allowing illegal immigrants to apply for legal, temporary-worker status, an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found.

--More than six in 10, 62 percent, say they oppose making it easier for illegal immigrants to become citizens, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. Nine in 10 in that poll say they consider immigration to be a serious problem _ with 57 percent of those polled saying very serious.

--Three-fourths say the United States is not doing enough along its borders to keep illegal immigrants out, a Time Magazine poll found.

Hate to break it to the political class, but all those people can't be Republicans (would that they were!).

If the people in Washington don't tend to business, the much feared "backlash" will indeed occur, but it won't be Latinos revolting against the Republican Party. It will be ordinary Americans expressing disgust with politicans who are ignoring their concerns (and as the majority party in Washington, the GOP will suffer most).

Two important elements that could help defuse the issue? (1) A period where new controls on illegal immigration are put into place, and the American people have time to assess their efficacy; and (2) A renewed emphasis on requiring those living in America to assimilate.

Some "Shakeup"

It's a little silly to listen to some in the press try to spin Chief of Staff Andrew Card's resignation as some kind of White House "shakeup."

Certainly, a "shakeup" is helpful to the "White House is floundering" narrative that's floating around. But in truth, Andy Card's resignation is just that: Andy Card's resignation.

Chief of Staff is a notoriously grueling position; most don't last five and a half years, like Card did. Is it that hard to believe that he might want a life of his own? Moreover, if the President were trying to send a "message" about change in his administration, he wouldn't choose a fairly low profile (though important) administrator -- it would be one of the administration's more public faces. Finally, replacing Card with Josh Bolten -- another longtime administration insider -- is hardly a sign that the President is panicking and looking for "new blood."

And don't forget: The President is one of the most loyal men around. He wouldn't just shove Andy Card -- who has served him long and faithfully -- overboard to silence his critics.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tant pis!

At least one Brit is gloating because a recent study of IQ scores ranked the British eighth -- and the French 19th.

The Germans were first. Achtung.

The "Ridiculous" File

Enter this one in the annals of silly lawsuits -- a man is suing eHarmony for refusing to set him up on a date. eHarmony declined because it has an "unmarrieds only" policy for its site . . . and the man is separated, but not yet divorced. So this crybaby is charging that he was "discriminated against" on account of his marital status.

Is anyone else offended by this ridiculous attempt to manipulate civil rights concepts in order simply to get one's way?

eHarmony is a site for meeting and matching. Sorry to inform the litigant, but even today, society recognizes that married people have no business trying to get dates. He's still married. Marriage is not an immutable status, and the discrimination is reasonable in light of the organization's purpose . . . especially given that it's a somewhat more spiritually oriented site than many of the others, and both those using the site and those running it should be able to do so in accordance with their own beliefs.

Please, Mr. Litigant, put on your big boy pants and knock it off. You'll have plenty of time to date when you're single. There's no invidious discrimination here.

Thesaurus Games

Here in USA Today, a writer named Tom Krattenmaker takes issue with the name of an event being held in Washington, D.C. called "The War Against Christians."

Obviously, the use of the word "war" is a metaphorical one -- but even so, perhaps he does have a point that, during a real war -- a better metaphor could be found. Clearly, the term "crusade against Christians" won't do, for myriad reasons . . . So let's just go to the thesaurus.

How about "campaign against Christians"? Of course, as even Krattenmaker concedes, whatever you want to call the phenomenon, it's out there -- from the serious charges, to petty asides.

So let's just change the term, and everybody's happy -- except for the Christians who are being maligned, of course.

Just In Case You Missed It

I'm posting again the article from The New York Sun that sets out facts indicating that the ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda were more extensive than anyone had known.

And here is the link to the documents themselves.

Assimilation: Essential

Michael Barone writes about the illegal immigration controversy with his usual skill.

In particular, he brings up an important (and underdiscussed) element of the debate when he notes that most Americans expect our immigrants to assimilate.

It's discomforting to read local news stories of soccer games held in the United States, where the entire crowd is rooting against their supposed homeland and for Mexico. It's worrisome to see an increasing number of signs, government services, and ads printed in Spanish -- given the civic stresses that result from being unable to understand each other (hello, Quebec) and the fact that those unable to speak English can hardly expect to live the American dream.

America has always expected its immigrants to assimilate, even if it took a generation or so to do it. What's particularly unsettling, though, is the proposition posited by the incomparable Victor Davis Hanson in his book Mexifornia: That, unlike all the other previous immigrants to America, Mexican immigrants live so close to their homeland, and with such easy access to it, that geographic distance becomes no barrier to maintaining old loyalties and old customs, even over several generations.

It's worth noting that a lot of the people who express reservations about the immigration influx aren't necessarily anti-immigration, anti-Latino, or anti-anything else. They are concerned -- with what may be very good reason -- about the economic and cultural difficulties entailed in trying to absorb what seems like an ever-expanding number of immigrants in an era when there is no longer a clear social consensus that assimilation is necessary, or even desirable.

And a guest worker program, without more, does nothing to relieve that concern.


According to the dogged Clarice Feldman, it sounds as though there are serious infirmities in the special prosecutor's case against Lewis Libby and the appointment itself.

Nor are some of the facts she alleges against Patrick Fitzgerald likely to inspire confidence.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Illegal Immigration Rally

Interesting to note that authorities are supposedly "surprised" by the size of pro-illegal immigration rallies held in Los Angeles this weekend.

They shouldn't have been. As this article from the LA Times magazine points out, estimates are that there are 2 million illegals in California.

Illegal immigration is an important issue, but one that holds great political peril, especially for Republicans. Everyone knows that Democrats would like nothing better than to vilify Republicans as being anti-immigrant or anti-Latino -- and that there's a split between western Republicans, in particular (whose constituents are feeling the effects of illegal immigratin disproportionately) and pro-business Republicans, who are trying to keep wages low.

But the fact is that no one has called for curbing or restricting legal immigration from Mexico or anywhere else. Rather, the debate at the moment is over how best to enforce current law while meeting what we're told are the labor market's requirements.

It would be most helpful in weighing the debate if someone who's in favor of more immigration or a guest worker program could respond to these concerns raised by Professor Samuelson.

Honest -- and Repulsive

Take a look at the headline to this story in the LA Times: "War May Hurt GOP in Heartland." Pretty standard Times fare -- perhaps the apocalypse is upon Republicans, perhaps the wish is father to the thought. We'll know in November.

It's the subhead that's remarkable: Democrats hope that souring public opinion will swing parts of the country their way.

Let's think about that. A public "souring" on the war is one more likely to insist that the US pull out -- and so far, I've heard few responsible arguments to contradict the fact that a pull-out would embolden Islamofascist terrorists, intimidate the brave Arab men and women trying to secure their own freedom, and constitute a black eye for America.

And yet the Democrats are "hoping" that public opinion on the war will "sour" -- not because it will lead to a policy that is likely to make the US safer and stronger as a whole but because it may help them regain political power.

The sub-headline is true. And the truth is repulsive.

A "White" Institution?

Read this excellent piece in The Washington Post by Joy Jones.

She recounts her shock when some of her (African-American) students told her that "marriage is for white people," and notes with amazement that, according to sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin, "a black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today." (emphasis added).

Ms. Jones writes eloquently about the social forces and realities that impact many African-American men and women's decision not to marry -- and it's hard not to empathize with some of them.

But the bottom line is this: It seems that too many Americans -- of all races -- are looking too much at what they want (what "works" for them) and not enough at what's right for the children they may be deciding to produce. As Ms. Jones notes:

[A black male acquaintance]has worked with troubled adolescents, and has observed that "the girls who are in the most trouble and who are abused the most -- the father is absent. And the same is true for the boys, too." He believes that his presence and example in the home is why both his sons decided to marry when their girlfriends became pregnant.

Here's the question: Are children better off in any way since premarital -- or nonmarital -- sex became the norm? Doesn't sound like it. And so wouldn't it be worth it, from a social perspective, to try to start re-establishing some of the older mores? And wouldn't it make sense, from a prospective parent's view, to do everything s/he could to give his/her child the best start in life: That is, a family with a mother and father who have made an explicit religious and legal commitment to each other through marriage?

Monumental Arrogance

Talk about the ends justifying the means! David Broder quite rightly takes issue with a new plan being floated that would effectively eliminate the Electoral College, without even undergoing the constitutional amendment process that should be required for such a sweeping change.

Amazing that there are some so arrogant that they're willing to throw away the accumulated wisdom of the Founding Fathers -- in both substance (destroying the electoral college) and procedure (circumventing the amendment process) -- all because they didn't like the 2000 election results.

Not only that, their plan invites all of the dangers that the Founding Fathers attempted to avoid by establishing the electoral college. Those include the potential of inter-state hostility, addressing concerns of smaller states that they'd be ignored, and ensuring that (in most cases) even a modest difference in the popular vote will translate into substantial electoral college advantage for the winning candidate, providing the sense that there's a clear winner, which, in turn, encourages stability.

On "Incompetent" Presidents

Here's a piece worth reading. It reminds the President's supporters that, if we are able to stay the course, all the specious foreign policy criticism arrayed against him will sound like the petulant braying of lesser men and women.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Explosive Documents

As this column by Dave Kopel points out, there's a lot of information contained in the newly released Saddam Hussein documents that simply isn't being reported on thoroughly.

Here's one nugget, as Kopel summarizes it:

Four days after the Sept. 11 attacks, an Iraqi intelligence source in Afghanistan reported back to Iraq about information he received from a Taliban official: Bin Laden had visited Iraq and was in communication with Iraq, and the U.S. "has evidence that the Iraqi government and the group of Osama bin Laden have cooperated to attack targets inside America." Thus, if it were proven that bin Laden and the Taliban had planned "such operations, it is possible that America will attack Iraq and Afghanistan."

Referencing a forthcoming article in Foreign Affairs, Kopel also writes:

The documents state that Uday Hussein ordered "special operations, assassinations, and bombings" against London and other targets. Moreover, the Iraqi regime, at the time of the March 2003 coalition invasion, had made advanced preparations for "Blessed July" terrorism attacks against the West.

Remember the prominence with which newspapers ran the Iraq Survey Group's conclusion that no WMD were in Iraq? Why aren't these blockbuster documents getting the same in depth, contextualized treatment?

Read the docs for yourself HERE.

Free Abdul Rahman!

It sounds like the Afghan government is going to do the right thing.

A Gratuitous Swipe at Christians

This weekend's Wall Street Journal includes a review of what sounds like a very interesting book about the art of conversation and its decline.

But why, in the middle of a piece discussing conversation in the 18th century and its celebrated authors and conversationalists, does the the writer, Moira Hodgson, decide to take a jab at Christian fundamentalists?

In "The History of England," Hume talks about the terrible effect that Puritanism had on conversation (just as religious fundamentalism does today): "Every elegant pleasure or amusement, it utterly annihilated; many vices or corruptions of mind it promoted." (emphasis added).

What's that about?

"Strange New Respect" for the Blogosphere

Today, the eternally partisan LA Times media columnist Tim Rutten has finally found a function for the blogosphere that he can live with -- bringing down conservatives! He's commenting on the resignation/firing of Ben Domenech from The Washington Post.

Rutten writes:

Even a casual reading of the facts demonstrates clearly that the online folks — whatever their ideology — performed pretty much as one would wish. In fact, they vindicated many of their medium's claims to be a seedbed to communities of collaborative watchdogs, each building on the other's work to shed light on an issue that engages them.

Wonder why he didn't seem as enthusiastic when the "collaborative watchdogs" were focused on Dan Rather and Mary Mapes? After all, in his piece on Rathergate, there's nary a mention of the blogosphere.

But Rutten always makes it clear what side of the fence he's on. Note the gratuitous nastiness in the piece directed toward the concept of home-schooling.

Sure, some liberals may demonstrate the tolerance that all of them claim to venerate . . . but Rutten's not one of them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Just the Facts

Tim Graham writes about the MSM's long week of self-defense masquerading as self-evaluation of its reporting on Iraq. And -- as so often happens -- the facts tell the story:

61 percent of the stories were dominated by a negative focus or pessimistic analysis, compared to only 14 percent that featured achievements or optimistic assessments. Two out of every five stories featured car bombings, assassinations, or other terrorist attacks. Just eight stories recounted episodes of heroism by U.S. troops, and another nine featured soldiers helping the Iraqi people. But 79 stories focused on allegations of combat mistakes or egregious misconduct by U.S. military personnel.

The study was done by Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center, according to Graham.

Iraq & Al Qaeda

Bob Kerrey gets the significance of the recently disclosed documents. Do the rest of the Democrats?


Ben Domenech has resigned.

On The WaPo's Newest Blogger

The big picture about the importance of MSM hiring young conservative writers of talent is laid out with clarity by David Mastio over at Real Clear Politics. It explains why the Post was quite right to hire someone like Ben Domenech to be proprietor of its newest blog.

But Rick Moran (brother of ABC's Terry Moran, incidentally) levels some pretty serious charges of plagiarism against Domenech at The American Thinker.

It should be noted that Moran sources the charges to a Kos diarist (not the most reliable source, if you ask me). Likewise, some of the linked stories that Domenech is alleged to have plagiarised aren't dated, that I can see -- so it's not immediately apparent who copied whom.

Even so, for the sake of his credibility and the Post's, it seems appropriate that someone respond to these charges, so that Mr. Domenech can be cleared of all wrongdoing if the facts warrant it.

Six Good Questions

Edwin Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation, lays out six questions that should be addressed before the federal government acts. Here they are.

Judging the MSM for Yourself

This has been an unfortunate week for the MSM. Much of the week has been spent discussing the coverage of the Iraq war, and it appears that MSM is finally getting the clue that the American people are offended and appalled by its apparent willingness to be used by our enemies (whether it will change its stripes is another matter entirely).

There are plenty of reasons to believe that the MSM and its acolytes can't be entirely trusted. You're about to witness another one.

Read the first paragraph of this piece in The New Republic by Jonathan Chait (he also writes for the LA Times). It references Chait being "publicly shamed" for not owning a gun when he was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on his eponymous radio show, along with mentions of apparently "consciously McCarthyite language," etc.

Time was when a writer could "spin" his interview any way he chose, and use it for fodder. Unfortunately for Chait, however, Hugh's incomparable producer, Generalissimo Duane, transcribes and archives the interviews over at Radioblogger.

So go over and read the interview for yourself, or listen to it on the mp3. Judge for yourself whether Chait's characterization of the interview is accurate, or whether his description is misleading.

In the largest sense, this isn't about Jonathan Chait and Hugh Hewitt at all. Rather, it's another example of why the American people are, increasingly, coming to realize that they can't trust the MSM to give them the "whole story" -- not when a "better" story can be written, or an agenda satisfied, by subtly misleading the audience about the tone, emphasis or substance of an event.

Totally Worthless

Clinking glasses with one of America's enemies: For Albright, it's not about "good and evil," indeed.

Madeleine Albright, one of the least distinguished Secretaries of State in American history, now presumes to step forward to advise the Bush Administration on what it should be doing in the Middle East.

What's notable is the lack of any real guidance -- just a bunch of ersatz realpolitik and posturing about "complexity." Surely Jennifer Loven, so quick to object to Bush's alleged use of "straw men," will have a field day with Albright.

Albright criticizes: "For years, the president has acted as if Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein's followers and Iran's mullahs were parts of the same problem." Well, for someone who is so versed in "complexity" and nuance, shouldn't she understand that it all depends on how you define the problem? President Bush has never said that the three were indistinguishable or the same; rather, he has argued (rightly, in my view) that all three are manifestations of the same underlying problem: A radicalism and aggression that flourishes when in the absence of freedom and democracy.

She goes on to write, disingenuously: When the U.S. invaded Iraq, Bush may have thought he was striking a blow for good over evil, but the forces unleashed were considerably more complex. Perhaps. But she is trying to make it sound as though the President ordered the invasion of Iraq simply to "strike a blow for good over evil." As every American knows, the world believed that Iraq had WMD; we couldn't risk those falling into the hands of Al Qaeda (an even more realistic threat in light of these contacts). Helping Iraq become a free and democratic country, as the President advocated likewise in the run-up to the war, is also more than the simplistic fairy tale notion Albright envisions -- I haven't noticed her coming up with any better way to stop the spawning of America-hating terrorists.

Her three suggestions are worthless. First, she notes that problems in Iraq can best be solved by the US acting as a "referee" -- where has she been? That's what we've been trying to do as the Parliament convenes. Second, she advocates the continued use of the "carrot" approach with Iran, because it "will be less willing to cooperate in Iraq and to compromise on nuclear issues if it is being threatened with destruction." So far, the carrot approach hasn't yielded much -- and as any negotiator should know, incentives are more likely to be appreciated if their recipient understands that other options are available, but not being used (it worked to persuade Ghaddafi to surrnder Libya's nuclear weapons). Third, she argues that the "march of freedom" isn't the big story in the Middle East. Really? Maybe the people in Egypt -- who actually got to vote in a less-rigged election -- would disagree, as would those in Afghanistan and, yes, even Iraq. Why does she think the Iranians are so eager to intervene in Iraq? It's because they understand the impact of having a free and democratic neighbor on their own despotism.

It's amazing, given her record, that Madeleine Albright would criticize this Administration for anything. She's the one who was duped by the North Koreans, who continued to build nuclear bombs on her watch -- and who did nothing with Iran, besides "open talks" 10 months before the end of the Clinton Administration. As for the intervention in Bosnia, apparently simply striking a blow for "good vs. evil" thinking is OK when she does it . . . because no deeper "strategy" was ever evident in that foray.

Everyone knows that the Clinton Administration did nothing but kick the foreign-policy can down the road, and leave problems for the succeeding Administration to handle. Albright is the prime example of that operating procedure. So now, it's unfortunate -- and even a touch dishonorable -- that she chooses to emerge and criticize the Bush Administration's approach to handling the issues that she had the opportunity to address . . . and didn't.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Legal Blogging

It was great fun to be able to participate in a "legal blogging" panel moderated by Hugh Hewitt and sponsored by Chapman University School of Law's NeXus Law Journal. Panelists included a public interest lawyer (and former student of Hugh's) who blogs, an appellate & intellectual property lawyer who blogs, a law professor who blogs, and a couple other professors with expertise in areas relevant to the blogosphere.

Quite an interesting and stimulating evening!

Saddam & Osama

So Saddam Hussein was personally approving Iraq contacts with bin Laden.

Wonder what all those on the left -- who seem to believe Saddam should have been left to go about his business -- will have to say about this?

Not So "Fair and Balanced"

Apparently, an ABC producer didn't hold back in revealing his true opinion about President Bush in">this email.

Funny, isn't it, how Republicans believe that the MSM doesn't give them a fair shake. Whatever could have caused that impression?

More Mistakes at The Times

Oops, they did it again! This Editor & Publisher story points out the second major Times mistake in a week. First, The Times admitted it had misidentified the "hooded man" in an "iconic" photo from Abu Ghraib.

Now, one of the people the Times featured as a "victim" of Katrina was arrested for fraud and grand larceny yesterday.

E&P puts it well: "Again mirroring the Abu Ghraib episode, the newspaper revealed a surprising and inexplicable lapse in fact-checking on the part of a reporter and/or editor."

Too bad the Times can't live up to the standards it demands from others.

Thank You, Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby weighs in on the argument over whether men should be able to relinquish responsibility for an unwanted baby, discussed on this site earlier this week here.

He writes:

REAL MEN - good men - take responsibility for the children they father. If they get a woman pregnant, they do the right thing: They stand by her. They support their child. They don't try to weasel out of a situation they co-authored. They shoulder the obligations of fatherhood, even if they hadn't planned on becoming a father.

How sad is it that someone actually has to inform everyone of this fact?

He concludes with a bang:

[P]redatory males have done enormous damage to American society, and the last thing our culture needs is one more way for men to escape accountability for the children they father. [The plaintiff in the men's rights case] wants more than the freedom to be sexually reckless - he wants that freedom to be constitutionally guaranteed. Truly he is a child of his time, passionate on the subject of rights and eager to duck responsibility.

Read the whole thing.

Criminalizing Jesus?!

That's what Hillary Clinton thinks a proposal to make unauthorized (i.e. illegal) presence in the United States would do (when, exactly, was Jesus an illegal immigrant, BTW?).

If this is the Democrats' idea of reaching out to people of faith, it's not going to work. Does Hillary think that all she has to do is drop Jesus' name, and the other side is going to swoon and agree with her? How insulting to all people of faith. Now, just like her husband, it seems that Jesus is being turned into a tool of Hillary's ambitions.

I'd love to see the Republicans smoke the Democrats out by being willing to loosen some restrictions in exchange for tightening voter registration and identifications measures to ensure that illegals aren't voting. What do you want to bet the Democrats wouldn't go for it?

Got a Good Terrorist Joke?

The Hoover Institution's Peter Schweizer argues that we should be ridiculing the terrorists, not just demonizing them.

He's got a point -- although perhaps President Bush has had to keep reminding the people of the very real threat we face because the press seems disinclined to do it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The New Third Rail?

Granted, it's a Zogby poll, but it's remarkable how (relatively) pro-life the American electorate seems to be.

Time was, back in the '80's, that being pro-life was perceived as a disadvantage -- that whatever side they were on, Republicans as a whole suffered electorally when the abortion issue came up.

Seems that the tide may be turning. Could technology be part of the reason? It would seem consistent with my long-time theory that Americans will do the right thing, if they're given all the facts.

Parade of Horribles

Investors Business Daily explains why "disaffected" Republicans don't have the luxury of toying with the idea of staying home this November.

Importing Poverty

Robert Samuelson pens a brilliant piece outlying why most of the assumptions cited by those in favor of a guest worker program are, in a word, wrong.

Telling It Like It Is

Jon Stossel -- a true journalist -- continues to dispel the myths being purveyed by the education establishment.

While the rest of the press runs around pretending to speak "truth to power," Stossel actually does it.

Wondering Why

Here is a story about a CBS cameraman named Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, whom the US wounded, and then detained for as-yet undisclosed activities.

CBS is upset by a purported lack of due process -- they say they're not sure with what offense Hussein is charged. Apparently, there has been some reference to Hussein "instigating a crowd" in Mosul, however.

Granted, I don't watch CBS News, but has there been extensive reporting on this? It would be pretty interesting if Iraq operations of the MSM were seeded with indigenous terrorist sympathizers, wouldn't it?

Might even explain some of the coverage . . . hah.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Barking Moonbat

Caught Hugh Hewitt on CNN, along with Nic Robertson of CNN and Mike Ware of Time magazine.

Of course, Hugh's not a barking moonbat, nor is Nic Robertson, who pointed out the difficulties reporters confront in Iraq, given that they can't roam freely to report on stories at will, given the dangerous conditions.

But Time's Ware came off as absolutely dripping with hostility and contempt for the mission in Iraq -- and skirted the edge of asserting that Iraqis had been better off under Saddam, because now they had to wait in line for gas and do without electricity from time to time. He was, in fact, living proof of the relevance of the segment, which discussed the extent to which the MSM is underreporting good news in Iaraq to the point that some of its members seem positively invested in American defeat there.

Keep an eye on Radioblogger, because if there's a transcript, no doubt that's where it will be posted.

Update: Is anyone surprised to learn, according to this CNN account, that Michael Ware has served as a "go-between for anti-Western militants and the media"? They apparently picked wisely, for he asserts that "It [the war] has two sides." The linked piece makes it clear that Ware understands the propaganda value of insurgent videos, but it doesn't sound like that knowledge has deterred him -- Ware implicitly admits that he's been helping the terrorists "get their message out," and "worries" that he may have gotten "too close to the insurgents." Mr. Ware, I think your worries are justified.

According to Atrios, Ware has been a guest on the hard-left radio program "Morning Sedition". Read more about Ware's "fair and balanced" coverage here.

He's a darling of the far left, and no wonder. The only wonder is that Time would allow him to cover the war as a supposed "objective" journalist. And then they want to know why the American public doesn't trust the MSM?

Selective Regret

EJ Dionne mourns the retirement of "liberal Republican" Sherwood Boehlert.

Funny, I don't seem to recall the same wailing and gnashing of teeth when the conservative Democrats go . . . or even support for conservative Democrats currently serving like Sen. Joe Lieberman or Rep. Jim Cooper. Doesn't seem like conservative Democart Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska receives quite the loving coverage of Republican "maverick" John McCain or retired Republican "moderate" Sen. John Danforth.

Wonder why that is?

To Each His Own

This piece explains why it's not just Catholics who should be upset by governmental efforts to impose "one size fits all" strictures on adoption criteria.

Just Not Getting It

Today, Ruth Marcus shows us once again why she just doesn't get it. In this week's offering, she attempts to tie Harvey Mansfield's new book, Manliness, to the liberal lament about the Bush Administration, arguing "What this country could use is a little less manliness -- and a little more of what you would describe as womanly qualities: restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt."

Well, speak for yourself, Ms. Marcus. When I have to choose a leader to defend me and my family and my country from Islamofascists who would love nothing more than to hack off our heads with butter knives, I'm not really looking for an "introspective" leader, plagued by "self-doubt", in constant search of "consensus." (What would reaching "consensus" with Al Qaeda look like, anyway? "Here -- you can enslave or chop the heads off the women, but only the blondes, 'kay?").

In fact, you could argue that some of the biggest blunders of the Bush Administration have come -- not from excessive manliness -- but from a misplaced desire for consensus. No Child Left Behind was supposed to build bridges to Teddy Kennedy. The Medicare drug bill was supposed to appeal to Democrats who had been decrying the drug burden on the elderly. All the spending was supposed to reassure those who feared that conservatives lacked compassion (as defined by the willingness to spend others' money). The effort to forge "consensus" in the UN resulted in delaying the Iraq invasion, which in turn may have provided Saddam with the opportunity to hide his WMD's in Syria.

In any case, those who want to see how the warm and fuzzy-sounding qualities of "restraint" and "desire for consensus" and "self-doubt" work out in crisis situations, play a mind game -- and imagine that President Logan, from the popular television show "24", was actually in charge in America (God forbid). He's "restrained" -- he can't decide what to do. He "desires consensus" -- he can be swayed by whomever he speaks with last (a quality likewise attributable to his "self-doubt"). In short, he's weak. He's a wimp. In real life, people like that have no business in The White House.

It's always hard to understand why women like Ruth Marcus have such antipathy to qualities traditionally associated with "manliness" -- and why they care so much about the absence of public hand-wringing, mistake-admitting and self-doubting in the Bush White House. I respect that kind of manliness; it's not necessary to see the President gnashing his teeth and rending his garments or, worse yet, staging manipulative "introspective moments". In the end, I care about whether the President is getting the job done -- or making headway. Not about whether everyone is ready to sit down in a circle and sing kumbaya together.

Ruth Marcus and people fear and dislike manliness in President Bush, and they detest its perceived presence in The White House. But guess what? So does Al Qaeda. If I were President Bush, I'd be willing to endure Ms. Marcus' fear and dislike in exchange for securing Al Qaeda's. Good trade.

Attn: Legalizers

Here, a piece about a study showing that long-term heavy use of marijuana slows both the mind and the body. As if we hadn't already guessed . . .

A Hitchens Must-Read

Here, Christopher Hitchens (a man of the left) points out that the plan of "the insurgency" has always been to stoke "civil war," and notes that the US would almost certainly have had to intervene in Iraq sometime -- either as it did, or later, under much worse circumstances.

Rightly Dismissive

In today's news conference, President Bush was rightly dismissive of a question about the threats to censure or impeach him.

His response was perfect; indeed, the Democrats have not come forward and called for an end to the surveillance program. How can that be if they believe it's unconstitutional or illegal? How is it that Bush should be charged with a censurable or impeachable offense by instituting the program (and believing in good faith in its legality) -- but all the Democrats who were briefed on the program, but who now express grave doubts about its legality all along should be held blameless? What are those Democrats going to say -- that they were "just following orders"?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Tired of the Titillating Times?

As I pointed out here, last week, the LA Times ran an article on women who were choosing to have plastic surgery performed on their private parts.

Last month, we had this story on a "burlesque queen and fetishist" who had, the Times informed us, "become fashion's 'It' girl."

And now, today, there's this piece on the sex lives of older women, referencing "spanking" and "anal sex."

Don't get me wrong -- I'm absolutely delighted to know that "older women like sex," as the article's subhead triumphantly informs us. I'm just not sure why that fact needs to be splayed all over the front of the Calendar section, just as the burlesque queen/fetishist story was; the plastic surgery was the health section's prominently placed lead article.

Who knew that one would need to exercise caution in exposing children of tender age to a major metropolitan daily -- because of its sexual overtones?

Beautiful and True

Read "Bloom and Grow" over at the Wide Awake Cafe.

(Underreported) Good News

According to this story in USA Today, US deaths in Iraq have fallen to their lowest level in two years. Maybe we would have heard more about it if the news had been bad, instead.

More Fallout from the "Revolution"

Anyone who still thought the sexual revolution was costless should read this piece from Cathy Young.

It's about men who have sex with women out of wedlock, and are then resentful when the women choose not to have abortions, thereby requiring them to pay child support for a baby they didn't plan on making. Women, they argue, can choose to abort the child or to have it -- a choice they don't get to make. If she chooses the latter, they insist, they should be able to terminate their financial obligation.

Nice. Sounds like chivalry truly is dead.

First, as Young points out, where does that leave the children? Minus not only a father, but without whatever money he would have contributed to the child's upbringing.

Where does that leave the mother? Coerced toward having the abortion, if she doesn't believe that she could manage without assistance from the father.

Where does that leave society? In many cases, supporting children whose fathers were happy enough to make them, significantly less happy to deal with the consequences.

It is unfair, as Young points out, that men can have to give up significant portions of their income for 21 years because they can't control the abortion "choice." But in the same sense, biology is inherently "unfair," too. Because those men won't be the ones either to risk the psychological and physical trauma that can result from an abortion (even one that's freely chosen) or else end up primarily responsible for a child.

Women can't offload the responsibility of carrying and birthing (or aborting) a child to men (nor, precious as it is, would most want to). Men can't offload the responsibility for providing financially for the children they make.

Maybe it's just something to keep in mind before one gets carried away in the heat of the moment.

On Iraq

The Prime Minister writes.

I'm proud that he's the leader of Iraq -- not Saddam Hussein -- and I'm proud to have supported the action that made it possible.

The Pundit "War"?

Howard Kurtz writes today about "the pundit war" -- an infelicitous praise, perhaps, given that most of the bickering is over the real war, that is, the Iraq/terror war.

In effect, as Kurtz points out, liberal pundits are seizing the opportunity to shriek "nanny nanny boo boo" at their conservative counterparts, now that the war in Iraq has hit some snags (as, it must be noted, all wars will).

I suppose that turn and turn about is fair play. Conservatives didn't hesitate to point it out when liberals who opposed the war from the beginning turned out to be wrong in arguing that (1) Saddam Hussein would use chemical or biological weapons against our troops if we attacked (hey, how come they're not being accused of having lied?!); (2) There would be door-to-door fighting in Baghdad that could result in massive casualties; (3) Saddam would light the oil fields on fire, precipitating a world-wide crisis; and (4) There would be a mass exodus of refugees from Iraq.

(Update: For other sources for the same assertions, check out today's Best of the Web).

So everyone gets his/her moment in the glorious sun of vindication. But, to me, there's an important difference between the war-haters and the war-supporters: For the former to be right, things have to go badly for their country -- and there's always the all-too-human temptation seize upon or spin news so that things sound worse than they are in order to support one's preconceived notions. That tendency can be particularly dangerous in a war where we know that the enemy is hoping/depending on American popular opinion to turn against the war as virtually the only way they can win.

That's not to say that everyone who opposes the war is either (1) a tool of America's enemies or (2) unpatriotic. Certainly not. It's just to say that they carry (or should carry) the extra burden of making sure that their criticisms are accurate and responsible -- and that they're not creating a political atmosphere so poisonous that admitting and/or correcting honest mistakes simply becomes cost-prohibitive for the Administration, at the expense of the country, as a whole.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Shopping Dogs . . .

The LA Times Magazine today actually had a very entertaining feature about dogs who go shopping with their human pets. Accompanying were some very cute pictures of a female version of Winston (she's almost as cute, but not quite) -- here and here.

Suffice it to say that Winston would never consent to wear a "pink mink" collar or purple tennis shoes. He revolts against sporting anything his Harrod's collar, designed to resemble an American flag.

As for shopping, he's much too busy confronting the squirrels in the yard or the German Shepherds in the neighborhood (yes, he thinks he's bigger and tougher!) to have any time for it. But to each his own . . .

Heroine Dog!

Congratulations, Katrina!

Winston applauds you.

Despicable Durbin

Here's the transcript from an interview of despicable Democrat Dick Durbin on Fox News Sunday.

Two elements are noteworthy:

Once again, Durbin takes potshots at President Bush and the Iraq war but provides neither substantive criticism nor any solutions whatsoever. Just one more indication that the Democrats don't take national security and military mattrs seriously, that they have no ideas of their own, and that they are simply depending on a strategy of hoping for bad news -- a sad testament in wartime.

Second, Durbin declined to rule out censuring or even impeaching President Bush over the warrantless wiretapping issue. How revealing is that of the Democratic agenda?

Three Years Later

On the third anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War, we remember with pride, gratitude every soldier who has made America safer and liberated Iraq.

The Boston Herald sets out the progress made in a country that was once under the hob-nailed boot of Saddam Hussein:

*Some 130 Iraqi battalions are now in the fight, 60 in the lead.

*Iraqi units have primary responsibility for more than 30,000 square miles of Iraq.

*Iraqis are conducting more independent operations throughout the country than coalition forces.

*Iraqi forces negotiated with and dispersed angry mobs after the attack on the Golden Mosque of Samarra.

There are difficulties and challenges still to be confronted and overcome. The Bush Administration has indisputably, in retrospect, made mistakes in the execution of a victory strategy. And every American life lost has been one too many.

But as the American people weigh the war, its costs and benefits, it's worth remembering that there is now only one choice before us: Whether we will stay the course and finish the job, or embolden the Islamofascist terrorists by heeding the voices of defeat and retreat here at home.

Donald Rumsfeld explains it all for you.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Waste of Time

It's really a shame to call attention to this silly piece appearing in today's LA Times by columnist Meghan Daum.

It seems clear that she was really out of topics for this week, and so she decided to take some potshots at two female authors -- Kate O'Beirne particularly, with a little scattered buckshot for Karenna Gore.

Daum apparently objects to O'Beirne's new book, "Women Who Make the World Worse" -- a denunciation of a few of feminism's most egregious leading lights and/or exponents. Fair enough -- except we never really learn what's wrong with the book, except that Daum doesn't agree with it. As far as she gets on criticism is this silly little denunciation of O'Beirne's supposed "notion that all assertive women are litigious, motherhood-resistant and either oversexed or undersexed." Right. Has she met Kate O'Beirne? The woman held her own on "The Capital Gang" for years -- hardly the stigmata of the shrinking violet.

Daum's drive by character assassination is likewise egregious -- she critiques the book's cover as "illustrated with caricatures of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and "Sex and the City's" Carrie Bradshaw that border on the anti-Semitic." Note to Daum: O'Beirne had nothing to do with the book's cover, as I learned when I interviewed her on Talk Radio 790 KABC. Question to Daum: What makes the drawings anti-semitic? Color me obtuse, but I just don't see it. (Check out the book's cover here).

Finally, Daum trashes O'Beirne for not including Oprah as one of the women who makes the world worse -- because, Daum asserts, O'Beirne harbors secret fantasies of appearing on the show. Is this what passes for substance at the LA Times?

In contrast, Daum characterizes Karenna Gore's new book as "bland innocuousness" (though she does throw in her supposition that O'Beirne would declare Gore's heroines some of the women who make the world worse. Well, as for the one I know about, the socialist Mother Jones, O'Beirne would be right. Not surprisingly, Daum admires her -- it's pretyt hard to find a female conservative in LA Times column-land.)

But it's funny: Even as Daum manages to suggest that O'Beirne is vicious and that Gore is innocuous and boring -- well, she produces a column that is both.

A Little Newspaper Humor

A friend sent me this highly amusing email:

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the
country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but
don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their
statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the
country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave
Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country
and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's
running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on
the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the
country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but
need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is
a country . . . or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all
that they stand for.

(Thanks, Sheridan).

New York Times: Duped Again

Memo to the NY Times: Wishin' don't make it so.

A Culinary Nightmare . . .

Here's an entertaining piece from The Washington Post, suggesting that America has become a nation of "culinary illiterates."

Hm. As someone who has had to have the fire department come twice for oven fires (once, back during my days in Washington, D.C., it even momentarily seemed that evacuation of my apartment building might be necessary), it would be great to find some of those basic cooking classes that the story references . . .

As for people finding 7-ingredient recipes optimal, well, I'm a 4-ingredient girl myself. It's just demoralizing to spend a lot of time preparing a dish that's devoured in one minute -- or even in 15.

Never, Ever Again

The image of the Falling Man will forever be with all those who can remember what it was like to be alive on 9/11. (HT: Michelle Malking, via Hugh Hewitt).

Let us all resolve to honor his memory by never forgetting what's at stake in the gerat war on terror.

Felons Shouldn't Be Voting

I don't agree with Gregory Kane all that often -- but he's right about this one: Convicted felons have no business voting, in Maryland or anywhere else.

Kane asks: Do we really want, for example, the guys who were in the Stop Snitching DVD to leave prison and vote in a tight race for Baltimore state's attorney that pits a candidate who wants to keep witness intimidation a felony against one who wants to make it a misdemeanor?

I'd add to that: A murderer has "disenfranchised" his victim for all time. Even when he leaves prison, he hasn't really "paid" for what he's done, because how can anyone really compensate for taking the one thing that no one can give back -- an innocent human life? Other felonies may not be as dire, but maybe there should be a requirement that full restitution be made to the victim/victim's family -- or that there be some other significant indicia of rehabilitation -- before re-enfranchisement should be available.

Forgiveness is a virtue, and governors should be able to restore voting rights on a case by case basis. But someone explain to me why criminals deserve to have a say in the governing of a society when they've been "discinclined" (to put it delicately) to obey the laws that are already in place.

Using the Military

So, according to this piece, the Democratic strategy for 2006 involves using military bases for politics, in contravention of Defense Department rules.

What's most notable about the strategy document summarized in the linked piece is its relentless negativity. Tear down the war (even if it's succeeding), tear down the President, tear down morale. To what depths has a once-great American party sunk . . .

Notably absent is any policy, plan or vision for the future. The Democrats should be ashamed of themselves. Their only strategy is to try to make Americans feel worse about everything. No doubt they're patriots, but don't patriots try to to demonstrate how they can make America better -- rather than just trying to convince their fellows that America is worse?

Being a Leader

This story details the extent to which Hillary Clinton's stance on the Iraq war is at odds with that of many in her party.

It will be interesting to see what she does, especially given that American voters will have to be assured that a female leader is a particularly strong person before they will elect her.

So she has a choice: Does she flip flop, obfuscate and try to have it both ways in the finest Clintonian tradition? Or does she actually have the guts to show some leadership and stick to a consistent, coherent position?

Like it or hate it, President Bush has outlined a clear policy, and he has stuck with what he believes to be right. That's what leaders do. Now we'll see whether Senator Clinton is a leader, or simply another leftist politician who wants a promotion.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blanket Punishment?

In grade school, I remember the detestable practice of "blanket punishment" -- one child did something wrong, the whole class lost recess. It seemed unfair then . . . and it seems unfair now.

Reading this week's column by Daniel Henninger for some reason recalled to me the days of blanket punishment. Henninger -- who's a wonderful writer, and someone with whom I usually agree -- argues this week that morality is no longer being taught in American culture generally (both sad and true). That's because, according to Henninger, "morality" has become almost exclusively associated with sex for political reasons -- because the red-button issues pertaining to sex tend to yield strong emotions and, hence, votes for one side or the other.

Henninger is correct in calling for a restoration of moral discourse in America. But it's troubling when he proposes:

Maybe it's time for the sex obsessives on the left and right to take their fights over abortion and gay rights into a corner somewhere and give the rest of society space to restore some ethical rootedness in an endlessly variable world.

It's not that society wouldn't be better off if we could get a bit of a rest from the most divisive sex-related social issues. It would. It's just that what Henninger's doing is equating -- on the one hand -- those who have worked hard to divorce sex from any traditional moral moorings with -- on the other -- those who have simply tried to resist that effort. It's like blanket punishment: The left started trying to impose sweeping moral revisionism when it comes to sex on the rest of the country. The right resisted. You're both fighting. So no recess for anyone.

One needn't be a "sexual obsessive" to be very troubled by sexual morality (or the lack of it) in America today, particularly among some young people. In too many cases, no larger moral principle than "do what feels good at the moment, so long as you don't get pregnant or an STD" has become the guiding focus of sexual discourse in America.

It could, in fact, be argued that the struggle over sexual issues is just one more sign of the degeneration of moral discourse generally, rather than its cause -- or even that reticence about sexual issues like that advocated by Henninger is actually what empowered the left to start the fight over sexual morality. Or, perhaps he's right, and sexual issues have indeed been part of what has made "morality" a bad word in America today.

But one thing is clear: The moral/ethical revival Henninger calls for generally is needed nowhere more, it seems, than in the sexual arena.

Accountability for Schumer

The Washington Times rightly notes the undercoverage of the links between Chuck Schumer -- supposed scourage of identity thieves everywhere -- and the identity theft scandal at the Democratic SEnatorial Capaign Committee, of which he is in charge.

But here's what the whole matter comes down to:

Mr. Schumer should answer for the culture of criminality at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that allowed this misbehavior. He should further explain how he can fancy himself an identity-theft reformer when his own committee encourages thievery to cook an election.

A Pathetic Performance

Jill Stewart discusses the legislative debacle that is state government in California.

And it's worth noting that Governor Schwarzenegger has managed now to alienate both sides of the political aisle. Since the special election, he's focused his charm offensive on the Democrats; apparently, no one has reminded him that the Democrats want him to lose. The problem for him is that he's increasingly irritating the Republicans to the point that even they won't care much if he does.

The Governor's enormous bond initiative (never popular among conservatives) will now have to appear on the November ballot -- the one where he's running for reelection -- if at all. There's no way this is good news for Schwarzenegger. It means that, if it's larded up then as it was now, he's got to persuade Republicans to come to the polls and vote "yes" for him, even if they're voting "no" on the bond -- all while hoping that Democrats won't take out their opposition to him by opposing his bond measure.

What a mess, for him and for us all.

Saddam's Terror State / Where's the MSM?

Today, the Investors Business Daily runs an important editorial summarizing the contents of some of the recently declassified documents from the Hussein regime.

One of teh translated documents, as the piece notes, is a pamphlet CMPC-2003-006430 for Saddam's spy service:

Here, for instance, are the marching orders for Directorate 8, the Mukhabarat's "Technical Affairs" department: "The Eight Directorate is responsible for development of materials needed for covert offensive operations. It contains advanced laboratories for testing and production of weapons, poisons and explosives."

It goes on. Directorate 9, we discover, "is one of the most important directorates in the Mukhabarat. Most of its work is outside Iraq in coordination with other directorates, focusing on operations of sabotage and assassination."

The document also discusses the Mukhabarat's Office 16, set up to train "agents for clandestine operations abroad." The document helpfully adds that "special six-week courses in the use of of terror techniques are provided at a camp in Radwaniyhah."

Got that? Terror techniques.

Where is the MSM?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Suspicious Incident

Sounds like some suspicious activity near Chicago's Sears Tower.

Hope my friends in Chicago are being careful.

Re: Jill Carroll

The Committee to Protect Bloggers is asking that bloggers run this this public service announcement and this Christian Science Monitor update site on the plight of kidnapped journalist Jill Carroll (HT: Hugh Hewitt).

Obama in Oh-Eight?

Margaret Carlson sounds like she'd love to see it happen.

But if Barack Obama is as smart as she thinks he is (and I believe that he is), he'll wait. It's too easy to dismiss a first-term senator who's never had to win re-election (a la John Edwards), and Barack would no doubt be hesitant to ruffle the institutional feathers of those who might see his move as overly audacious (not to mention all the Clinton network whose help he'll eventually need when he does make the run that he's clearly planning for).

But What About Schumer?

The Washington Post reports that one of the Schumer aides from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee who was accused last September of illegally obtaining the credit card report of Maryland Lieutenant Governor (and Republican US Senate candidate) Michael Steele (discussed on this blog here) is going to face charges.

What's funny about the Post article is the paucity of reference to Schumer himself -- the aide's employer. Quite a difference between this and the treatment of the Claude Allen affair, where he was frequently identified as a "former Bush aide" -- especially considering that Allen's wrongdoing took place outside the scope of his employment, whereas for the Schumer aide, the situation is exactly the opposite.

Confirm the Judges

As Robert Novak notes, conservatives are, in fact, outraged that 11 appellate court nominees are languishing without Senate votes. No, business interests (read: donors) may not care about the judiciary, but rank-and-file Republicans -- whose votes senators need to remain in office! -- do.

Why is the Republican Senate acting like a Democratic Senate would?

Confirm the judges.

A Prayer for Our Soldiers

News reports indicate that the largest-scale air operation since 2003 is taking place in Iraq, spearheaded by both American and Iraq troops. Prayers go out to them all.

Note, also, that some documents from the Saddam era are beginning to be released. The intriguing title of one? "2002 Iraqi Intelligence Correspondence concerning the presence of al-Qaida Members in Iraq. Correspondence between IRS members on a suspicion, later confirmed, of the presence of an Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Moreover, it includes photos and names."

If indeed Iraq was harboring Al Qaeda, perhaps our liberal friends should explain why going into Iraq was different than going into Afghanistan.

Finally, don't expect anything but negativity from the MSM, but a wonderful achievement occurred with the opening of the Iraqi partliament.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

As If We Didn't Already Know . . .

One can only guess that Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was talking about the Democrats on national security (HT: Mary Katherine Ham over at Hugh

And yet she's ahead in her bid for re-election? What've they got in the water in Michigan?

Kinda cute the way the suit matches the sign, though. Who says the Democrats don't have it together?

Petty Squabbling

There's no honor among thieves, and, apparently, there's no harmony among members of the anti-war movement.

No wonder they're anti-war. Can you imagine them ever being organized enough to fight effectively? Just imagine if these people were actually in charge . . .

The Terms of Debate

Death threats against a Supreme Court justice -- any Supreme Court justice, anytime -- are criminal and they are wrong.

But the fact that legitimate criticism of justices relying on foreign law has spurred some crazies to issue death threats doesn't delegitimize the criticism itself, any more than ugly and inappropriate protests outside military hospitals delegitimze responsible (even if incorrect, in my view) disagreement with the direction of U.S. foreign policy.

In the immortal words of Hillary Rodham Clinton, "We are Americans, and we have a right to debate and disagree . . ."

A Needed Reminder

Russ Feingold needs to read this piece, reprinted from the 2/27 National Review.

Here's the nub of it:

Read today, In re: Sealed Case does more than simply outline the president's authority. It also puts the administration's warrantless-surveillance decision in some context. What was going on at the time the president made the decision to go ahead with the surveillance? Well, first Congress passed the Patriot Act, giving the administration new powers. Then the FISA Court refused to recognize those powers and attempted to impose outdated restrictions on the administration. Then the White House, faced with the FISA Court's opposition — and with what administration officials believed were some inherent weaknesses in the FISA law — began to bypass the FISA Court in some cases. And then, in In re: Sealed Case, the administration received irrefutable legal support for its actions [from the FISA Court of Review].

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"Fools and Feingold"

That's the title of this op/ed in the Investors Business Daily. Perhaps it's a take-off on the old adage "Fools and their gold are soon parted."

In any case, Feingold certainly has taken leave of his senses. Many of the other Democrats are less principled -- and more craven.

In keeping with what I notd here, the IBD points out that if the program were as unconstitutional as Feingold et al claims it is, then the Democrats who knew about the program -- Daschle, Pelosi, Rockefeller and others -- had a duty to speak up. They didn't. Should we censure them, too?

And the IBD correctly notes that censure is a non-constitutional, meaningless penalty that has no place in the Constitution or in our politics.

My Brilliant Husband

Today, in the wake of McClatchy Co.'s offer to buy the Knight-Ridder group of newspapers, the Wall Street Journal reaffirms the importance of newspapers, if the journalism and the business ends are both handled intelligently.

Funny, that's essentially what my husband said here in The Journal on December 7 in his piece "No Substitute for Excellence," penned when the potential sale of Knight Ridder first began to be discussed.

Prescient, no?

Declining to Be Taken Seriously

There is no reason in the world for the LA Times to have run this piece in yesterday's paper.

Is there anyone who believes that an article about women undergoing plastic surgery to their private parts in an effort to emulate porn stars is newsworthy, uplifting, useful or even relevant to 99.9% of the reading public?

All it succeeds in doing is coarsening the tenor of our public conversation.

Surely even The Times can do better.

A Real Breach of Privacy

Here is a thought-provoking piece from Phyllis Schlafly.

While the left screams about wire-tapping the overseas phone conversations about suspected terrorists, the U.S. Government is collecting infinitely more information about many of its own citizens.

It's far from clear to me why the federal government needs a lot of the information it's collecting.

Ah, the Irony

Jesse Jackson provides this unparalleled offering of abject ignorance. Using the usual half-baked lefty melange of lies ("Bush's tax cuts . . . failed to generate jobs"? Might want to check this out, Reverend), he condemns virtually every aspect of the Bush presidency in the direst terms.

But here's the delicious irony. The point of the article is that the Democrats have been unforgivably unable to take advantage of the supposed manifold failing of the Administration because they have no agenda. But guess what? In his Bush-bashing article, Jackson offers not a single suggestion -- not one -- about what the Democratic agenda should include.

Instead, he is content to criticize the President's alleged "politics of division."

Yep, Jackson sure wouldn't be caught dead doing anything but uplifting and unifying -- would he?

Good for a giggle.