Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.
Yes, I've cited it recently. I finished the book yesterday after a week of trying to pound my way through it. Normally, reading a book in the quickest amount of time isn't a problem for me. But it is sort of difficult when I'm at work, and at home blogging. Reading fills in the gaps that aren't otherwise already spoken for. But yes, "Emperor" Hughus Hewittus has written a new book. Out on store shelves now is Painting The Map Red: The Fight To Create A Permanent Republican Majority. Generalissimo Duane is currently running a contest for the best photoshop entries regarding his book, and where it's being read. You can view those entries here.
If I may be so bold, this book is a must-have within anyone's library if they truly feel that it's time the GOP step up, and seize the moment that's been handed to them. In 1994, the Gingrich Revolution tore control of the House away from Democrats for the first time in decades. In 2000, had it not been for "Jumpin'" Jim Jeffords, the GOP would have had control of the Senate. In 2002, we corrected that mistake, and made more gains in 2004, including the ouster of Tom Daschle by John Thune. Put succintly, the GOP's base understood the cause being fought by their representatives against obstructionist Democrats.
But, that idea--creating and maintaining a majority--is in jeopardy. Interneccine fights within the party has dragged us into a fight where the important things are tossed to the wayside so we can sit and argue over things like Harriet Miers and the Dubai Ports deal. That's not the way to go. Tearing ourselves apart over petty things will not gain us anything. And Hugh makes this apparent more than anyone else has; he sees such inter-fighting as weakening the party, not strengthening it.
In Chapter Two, Hugh answers, in a straight-forward way, the question of how big the GOP's tent is. To the chagrin of much of the GOP's base, these do include RINOs that I have been railing against. And while I still dislike them, I see the logic of his argument. People like Mike DeWine, John McCain, and Olympia Snowe all tend to have that sort of "maverick" attitude, but when the vote counts, they generally side with the party. They're right on issues more than 70% of the time. And while some of their antics (McCain with his torture legislation and immigration bill comes to mind) are irritating, the GOP still needs them. Why? Because part of our base is center-right. That's what those people are, and until someone comes along that is better than them, they should stay. The lone exception? Lincoln Chafee. Chafee is someone that Hugh specifically cites, and with good reason. Chafee couldn't find his @$$ with both hands in broad daylight. He is too often wrong, and his interference in certain things (Gang of 14 deal, anyone?) is considerably more detrimental to the GOP than any of the other RINOs. Hugh even states the drastic: If Chafee wins the primary, contribute to the Democrat so Chafee loses. That's harsh, and I'm reluctant to agree, but I'd rather have someone sitting in that seat I can depend on--I know, for the most part, how a Democrat's going to vote--than have someone in that seat who practically flips a coin on every little decision he makes.
Chapters Three through Seven all deal with the GOP's message. The GOP has to get it's act together when it comes to spending. This was more traditionally a Democrat tactic, and while we are at war now which has increased our spending, there is simply too much pork running around Congress. Certain projects, while they might be beneficial, they are irrelevant until this war is over. The pork projects sent back home are nice perks for the voters, but in the end the voters have put their faith in this party to win a war. Part of winning that is a control of the spending unless it is for national security or the military. It's that simple. Yes, other projects have their niche in the budget, but even a few of those need to have cuts made in them.
As stated, we are at war. We are at war against radical Islamofascists who want us destroyed or dead. We're the infidels, remember? And what the GOP needs to point out is that their opponents have forgotten. They've forgotten which is why they're issuing calls for a "redeployment" of our troops. That equals cut-and-run, for all those not keeping score. That's a mistake, and it's got to be driven home by the GOP when they're campaigning this year. They have also declared war on our faith. They have done everything they can to help the causes of removing religious displays in public. And where some people point to nutters on our side, like Falwell and Roberston, we have to acknowledge that. But we also have to point to their nutters, like Moore, Dean, Newdow , and the ACLU. These people have publicly disdained religion, and are doing their best to remove it. Newdow's newest appeal heading towards the Supreme Court is going to force the high court to rule--should they choose to accept it--whether or not "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violates anyone's Constitutional rights. Yes, this is what we need. During a time of war, the one thing that many of these soldiers look to for strength--their faith--is being attacked by moonbats at home.
Another aspect of our beliefs that are under assault is the definition of marriage. The Democrats, while not openly endorsing it, are slowly pushing homosexual marriage for the nation. And this is what Hugh has to say about it, which I consider this to be a most important passage in the book:
"As we enter the election season, it is impossible to predict the timing of new developments in the legal battles over same-sex marriage, DOMA*, the state constitutional amendments, the proposed federal amendment, or the variety of positions that high profile politicians of both parties might take. But this much is clear: nearly all of the support for same-sex marriage is on the left, nearly all the opposition is on the right. It is not just a "wedsge issue." Same-sex marriage is a cleaver issue for two reasons."
"The first argument concerns the morality of same-sex relationships, and the outlines of that argument are so familiar as to bore. Either one believes sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and wrong, or one doesn't. There is very little a book of this sort, or any book for that matter, can say to change many opinions on the subject, and I have no intetion of trying."
"But the second debate around same-sex marriage is a very crucial issue that needs to be argued out in public, in the most civil of conditions, no matter what the left says about the motives of the center-right."
"Not once, in all the years since the United States Constitution was ratified in 1789, has any state legislture passed and governor signed a single law opening the institution of marriage to two individuals of the same sex."
And the GOP, to stay true to it's conservative roots, must stand against the act. Anytime it's asked, simply return with "I don't believe in that." The institution of marriage is a sacred one; one in which I wish the government was out of. But, as long as they're involved, then I'd like them to respect the roots of the institution. Those roots are one man and one woman, and Hugh is right to state the GOP needs to get out in front of this issue, and force the Democrats to debate it. Openly. The people need to see where the Democrats stand.
But this is one of the reasons why Hugh brings up the judiciary. Michael Newdow, avowed atheist and despiser of the words "under God" has another case heading up the chain. This time, if the Supreme Court takes it, it won't be able to side-step it like they did the last time. They ruled he couldn't bring the suit because he wasn't the custodial parent. They just opted not to rule on his argument at all. But, if we want a federal judiciary that agrees with his legal illogicalness, then the Democrats are the ones we want to pass and fail these nominees. They want a federal judiciary that believes in a "living, breathing Constitution;" one that can easily conform to societies whims. That's not the Constitution I believe in. Like Justice Scalai, I prefer my Constitution dead, and so does a fair majority of the country. The "dead" meaning as the Constitution was written. The agenda the Democrats can't get passed through Congress or through the states, they want "passed" at the judicial level; this is wrong. We only need to reference what the Democrats are willing to go through to stop nominees who believe in interpreting the Constitution that way. We saw it with John Roberts, and we saw it in Sam Alito. William Pryor's nomination hearings were a nightmare as Democrats invoked an illegal test against him regarding his faith; this is explicitly forbidden under Article VI of the Constitution. Those are the levels the Democrats are willing to stoop to, and the GOP needs to call them on it. Call them on it, and call them out.
Hugh also brings up the blogs in his book. Now, whether you're a blogger or not, whether you like them or not, blogs are here to stay for awhile. We're not going anywhere, and unlike the MSM's claims to the contrary, we're not in our twilight years. We're just beginning, and unlike the MSM, and the port-side blogosphere, our pipes are running just fine. That's the allusion made. The extreme elements among the Democrat Party have risen up against their leaders, ousted them, and put in place a person that they can relate to. That's the moonbat fringe, and "Howling Mad" Howie Dean, and they're just oozing the vitriol out. As a matter of fact, their pipes are made of lead. They're rusting a corroding the information flows within the blogosphere. Because of their poison, a civil debate is hard to come by. The center-right blogosphere is fine. It's working, and at a rate much quicker than it's port-side compatriot. Our pipes are copper, far sturdier than the moonbat's network. Our arguments are far more constructive, and the issues we address are more pressing than "I hate Bush/I hate Republicans." The public doesn't want to hear that over and over again. They want solutions. They want ideas. The GOP's advantage is the center-right blogosphere. We have already done much for the party in terms of driving the debate, and being active in the process. Our port-side cousins haven't fared so well, as 2004 showed plainly. The amount of money by Democrat activists tied up into Internet campaigning (from MoveOn.org, to DemocraticUnderground, to any other radical special interest group) was astounding, and utterly fruitless. The president won his reelection, and the GOP gained seats in the House and Senate. It's because they poisoned the debate, and it turned people off. We can't go that way, but the center-right blogosphere can provide for the free-flow of sound, reasoned, and verified information for the coming elections.
Overall, this book is awesome. The roadmap it lays out doesn't just affect us for 2006. This applies to 2008, 2010, 2012, etc. It's the conservative ideals for the 21st Century, which don't differ much from those of the late 20th Century. It is an extremely thought-provoking book, where even I found myself questioning a few things about where I stand on the conservative spectrum. But the most important lesson to be learned from this book:
"There's a continued urgency in Republican politics. Most GOP primary voters know that we are in a war for our very lives and continued existence as a country. They know that if one of our Islamist enemies obtains the ability to nuke an American city, they will not hesitate to do so. They also know that the Democratic Party does not grasp this urgent reality."
"The GOP primary voters know the stakes, then, and I think are thus uncoupled from their traditional, almost impossible to overcome habits of nominating the most conservative candidate capable of winning. But I don't think they've abandoned the loyalty test, which is why the trio of senators, and maybe a fourth in Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, hurt themselves by appearing to be other than rock-solid supporters of the White house on the GWOT."
"There's good reason for this. Loyalty to party is a good indication of reliability in judgment and predictability in response. The willingness to hang with a party through thick and thin, with its nominees and its leadership, communicates judgment, maturity, predictability, and stability."
We know that this year won't be easy. We're in just as much of a make-or-break election cycle as the Democrats are. The difference is the Democrats have a longer road to hoe. They have to take back the House and/or the Senate to stay alive. A loss in either isn't good, and a loss in both would be devastating. But we have a lot to prove, too, and it's not any easier for us. If the GOP really wants to win this year, and maintain a plan that will ensure a majority for years to come, this is literally the map to follow. I recommend the book for anyone interested in the coming election cycles, and what the GOP must do to win. And if I had the money, I'd send a copy of this book to every GOP campaign manager across the nation with one simple instruction attached.
TEN YARD PENALTY: Blatant Misrepresentation By The Left!
As many of us are coming across, the Left has decided to take the issue of the president's NSA terrorist surveillance program to a new level. Marcie was hit with this argument last night in a chatroom. Yes, she held to In re: Sealed Case, as she should have. That precedent supercedes anything said in a Congressional committee. But I had no idea what she was talking about. That was until I read this from Captain Ed, which explained a lot. The story orginated in the New York Times. Eric Lichtblau, the author grossly misrepresented his story. Actually, "misrepresented" is a bit lax. Like Michael Ware, Mr. Lichtblau lied. This is what he wrote:
In a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the secretive court, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, several former judges who served on the panel also voiced skepticism at a Senate hearing about the president's constitutional authority to order wiretapping on Americans without a court order. They also suggested that the program could imperil criminal prosecutions that grew out of the wiretaps. Judge Harold A. Baker, a sitting federal judge in Illinois who served on the intelligence court until last year, said the president was bound by the law "like everyone else." If a law like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is duly enacted by Congress and considered constitutional, Judge Baker said, "the president ignores it at the president's peril."
Judge Baker and three other judges who served on the intelligence court testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in support of a proposal by Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, to give the court formal oversight of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program. Committee members also heard parts of a letter in support of the proposal from a fifth judge, James Robertson, who left the court last December, days after the eavesdropping program was disclosed. The intelligence court, created by Congress in 1978, meets in a tightly guarded, windowless office at the Justice Department. The court produces no public findings except for a single tally to Congress each year on the number of warrants it has issued — more than 1,600 in 2004. Even its roster of judges serving seven-year terms was, for a time, considered secret.
Now, let's take a look at the the transcript as reported by PowerLine.
Judge Kornblum: Presidential authority to conduct wireless [Sic. Presumably Judge Kornblum meant "warrantless."] surveillance in the United States I believe exists, but it is not the President's job to determine what that authority is. It is the job of the judiciary.
The President's intelligence authorities come from three brief elements in Article II....As you know, in Article I, Section 8, Congress has enumerated powers as well as the power to legislate all enactments necessary and proper to their specific authorities, and I believe that is what the President has, similar authority to take executive action necessary and proper to carry out his enumerated responsibilities of which today we are only talking about surveillance of Americans.
*** Senator Feinstein: Now I want to clear something up. Judge Kornblum spoke about Congress's power to pass laws to allow the President to carry out domestic electronic surveillance, and we know that FISA is the exclusive means of so doing. Is such a law, that provides both the authority and the rules for carrying out that authority, are those rules then binding on the President?
Judge Kornblum: No President has ever agreed to that.
Senator Feinstein: What do you think as a Judge?
Judge Kornblum: I think--as a Magistrate Judge, not a District Judge, that a President would be remiss in exercising his Constitutional authority to say that, "I surrender all of my power to a statute," and, frankly, I doubt that Congress, in a statute, can take away the President's authority, not his inherent authority, but his necessary and proper authority.
Senator Feinstein: I would like to go down the line if I could.
Judge Baker: No, I do not believe that a President would say that.
Senator Feinstein: No. I am talking about FISA, and is a President bound by the rules and regulations of FISA?
Judge Baker: If it is held constitutional and it is passed, I suppose, just like everyone else, he is under the law too.
Senator Feinstein: Judge?
Judge Stafford: Everyone is bound by the law, but I do not believe, with all due respect, that even an act of Congress can limit the President's power under the Necessary and Proper Clause under the Constitution.
Chairman Specter: I think the thrust of what you are saying is the President is bound by statute like everyone else unless it impinges on his constitutional authority, and a statute cannot take away the President's constitutional authority. Anybody disagree with that?
Chairman Specter: Everybody agrees with that.
OWWW! Oh, the stake of truth might finally be through their thick heads!
I doubt it, but this proves two very important things about this debate. First, Eric Lichtblau lied about what the jurists actually stated. And again, it came from a chopped statement. But second, and most important, it was an argument that the Left has hinged itself on since the start of this whole damned debate. In re: Sealed Case 01-002 didn;t seem to faze them, and they held out hope over this circus.
You can't use what the judges say as "precedent set." Their testimony is not considered amidst the realm of jurisprudence; hinging one's hopes on this goes beyond pathetic. This is like caliming that because so-and-so said it that it trumps the FISA Court of Review's decision, of which Sealed Case is it's only appeal, and it's been quite explicit in where the president's limits are regarding this issue. It doesn't fall into the Left's camp of illegality. Therefore, this is now a moot point. I hope they give up this ghost. The Sealed Case decision stands as is, and trumps anything they come up with. So, remind the Left of this when this weak argument is raised. It doesn;t fly. It doesn't hunt. And even James Carville has the trash can on his head for his party even grasping this desperately at straws.
Ron Brownstein is unimpressed by the battle plan for 2006 and 2008 laid out by the Democrats. And can you blame him? Here is the heart of the argument he has. (Hat-Tip: Captain Ed.)
Sharpening their election-year message, leading Democrats on Wednesday released a plan that promised to strengthen America's security but offered few details about how they would achieve their sweeping goals.
On Iraq, the plan — echoing language recently approved by Congress — said Democrats would "ensure 2006 is a year of significant transition … with Iraqis assuming primary responsibility for securing and governing their country."
But it established no timetables, or targets, for reducing the U.S. military commitment there.
The Democrats also pledged to rebuild the military, "eliminate" terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, improve domestic security, free America from reliance on foreign oil by 2020 and pressure Iraq's feuding political factions to reach consensus on a national unity government.
The agenda "will take America in a new direction, one that is tough and smart," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said.
The plan, dubbed Real Security, is part of a Democratic effort to clarify the party's message for voters before the November midterm elections by releasing a series of policy statements. Democrats previously issued a lobbying reform plan.
By focusing on national security policies before detailing their ideas on traditional party priorities such as healthcare or education, the Democrats signaled their desire to neutralize an issue that had been President Bush's core political strength since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
But the Democratic plan provoked a coordinated flurry of counterattacks from leading Republicans. In statements and interviews, GOP officials charged that Democrats had belied their tough talk by challenging Bush on some national security issues, including his approval of a domestic surveillance program that operates without obtaining court warrants.
"Their behavior has been totally inconsistent with what they're now promising they're going to do," Vice President Dick Cheney said in a radio interview.
The veep is correct. What they are preaching now is wholly inconsistent with the previous ideas and actions. They have called for a retreat from Iraq, proclaiming that all done there was for naught. They are trying to tie the hands of the president, albeit ineptly so, in dealing with the surveillance of our enemies. And like John Kerry, many Democrats have been voting against the necessary funding for the war. So, for them to pull a 180-degree turn--a veritable about-face--on the war is impractical. This is sloganeering at its worst, and I am sure they are crossing their fingers that America will bite.
The other thing I noted missing in their plan, as Mr. Brownstein and Captain Ed pointed out, is that there is no talk regarding what will be spent, and what it will be spent on. An increase in special forces, while commendable, is not the full answer to the war. There must be other steps made in the war than sheer manpower. Furthermore, if the Democrats are considering using special operations soldiers like front-line fighters, that is a mistake.
Our special warfare community is our first line of defense, but they are highly trained and specialized in certain fields. You do not waste their talents and skills as front-line fighters. And what else will they spend that money on? I heard a news report this morning about a new 700 ton bomb we will be testing soon in Nevada. The bomb's specific use? Why, it would be used to bust through deeper, more reinforced bunkers in the GWOT. Will the Democrats continue to fund a weapon like this, or will it go the way of the B-2 Spirit project?
The Democrats strategy, while filled with slogans and talking points, does little to define what they believe in, and their moves to make America better in the coming years. This little press release from them regarding their plan is a farce. They do not have the recent history to back this promise up, and they actually have more points regarding the GWOT that should make America wary of trusting them to lead in the years to come. This is obviously an attempt by the Democrats to combat the debating that will arise this election year over their commitment to winning the GWOT. If this is what they have, then the GOP is going to beat this party like a bongo drum.
The Bunny ;)
Oh yes, this will instill confidence in the Democrats for this election season. I know it is petty, but it is still amusing. Nothing says "Trust Us" more than Nancy Pelosi enthusiastically holding up a "Real Security" packet upside down for the cameras. LOL.
As our readers know--and that goes for readers of any blogs--the US government released a load of documents from Iraq out to the public. We have been commenting on them, and analyzed a few ourselves. But as news marches on, we can barely keep up with what is coming out. We are busy, yes, and so is the MSM, but this story from the Houston Chronicle makes only the second acknowledgment from the MSM that these documents had been released. The other outlet was ABC who put up a searing disclaimer at the beginning of their coverage of them that stated that ABC could not vouch for the "documents authenticity." Nevermind the fact that the government has verified the authenticity of many of these documents.
The federal government is making public a huge trove of documents seized during the invasion of Iraq, posting them on the Internet in a step that is at once a nod to the Web's power and an admission that U.S. intelligence resources are overloaded. Republican leaders in Congress pushed for the release, which was first proposed by conservative commentators and bloggers hoping to find evidence about the fate of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs, or possible links to terror groups. The Web surfers have begun posting translations and comments, digging through the documents with gusto. The idea of the government turning over a massive database to volunteers is revolutionary _ and not only to them. "Let's unleash the power of the Internet on these documents," said House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich. "I don't know if there's a smoking gun on WMD or not. But it will give us a better understanding of what was going on in Iraq before the war."
The documents' value is uncertain _ intelligence officials say that they are giving each one a quick review to remove anything sensitive. Skeptics of the war, suspicious of the Bush administration, believe that means the postings are either useless or cherry-picked to bolster arguments for the war.
The documents _ Iraqi memos, training guides, reports, transcripts of conversations, audiotapes and videotapes _ have spurred a flurry of news reports. The Associated Press, for instance, reported on memos from Saddam Hussein in 1987 ordering plans for a chemical attack on Kurds and comments from Hussein and his aides in the 1990s, searching for ways to prove they didn't have weapons.
Hoekstra said it took months of arguing with intelligence officials before he and John Negroponte, the new Director of National Intelligence, agreed to make the documents public. None contain current information about the Iraqi insurgency, and U.S. intelligence officials say they are focusing their limited resources on learning about what's happening on the ground now.
There are up to 55,000 boxes, with possibly millions of pages. The documents are being posted a few at a time _ so far, about 600 _ on a Pentagon Web site, often in Arabic with an English summary. Regardless of what they reveal, open-government advocates like the decision to make them available. It's a "radical notion," said Steve Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists government secrecy project, which tracks work by U.S. intelligence agencies. That "members of the public could contribute to the intelligence analysis process. ... That is a bold innovation."
Champions of the Internet as a "citizen's media" embraced the step, too.
"The secret of the 21st century is attract a lot of smart people to focus on problems that you think are important," said Glenn Reynolds, the conservative blogger at Instapundit.com and author of "An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths."
"It's kind of like a swarm. It's a lot of individual minds looking at it from different angles. The stuff that's most interesting tends to bubble to the top," he said.
A self-described Iraqi blogger translated one of the documents for the American blog pajamasmedia.com a Sept. 15, 2001, memo from the Iraqi intelligence service that reported about an Afghan source who had been told that a group from Osama bin Laden and the Taliban had visited Iraq.
Some remain doubtful, suspecting that the administration only releases information that puts President Bush and his arguments for war in a good light. The Iraq Survey Group found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction after the war, and the Sept. 11 commission reported it found no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaida.
"I would bet that the materials that they chose to post were the ones that were suggestive of a threat," said John Prados, author of the book, "Hoodwinked: The Documents That Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War."
Prados, an analyst with the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research institute, dismissed the documents: "The collection is good material for somebody who wants to do a biography of Saddam Hussein, but in terms of saying one thing or the other about weapons of mass destruction, it's not there."
One of several conservative blogs devoting attention to the release, Powerline.com, set up a separate page to catalog its findings and news reports on what the documents reveal.
"These documents are going to shed a lot of light on a regime that was quite successful in maintaining secrecy," said John Hinderaker, one of three men who run the site. "Before the first Gulf War, Saddam was perilously close to getting nuclear weapons and people didn't know it. The evils of the regime will be reflected."
But he also cautioned the optimistic. "When you're dealing with millions of pages of documents," he said, "it's a big mistake to think you can pull out one page or sentence out of a document and say 'Eureka, this is it.'"
Better late than never, I suppose, but the MSM is still far behind compared to the "Army of Translators" that stepped up to go over these documents. And if blog readers think that we are all done with them, think again. This is just the initial release. A lot more is set to be released. Remember, we are dealing with 55,000 boxes of material, millions of pages, and thousands of hours of recorded conversations. This will not be an "overnight" sort of analysis. We worked much quicker on the Roberts documents released before his hearings, and rightly so; all bloggers involved were working on a truncated timetable. We had to read those documents, analyze them, and bring up anything that might have been out of the ordinary. The same thing applies now with the Iraq documents.
Quin Hillyer has a piece from the Spectator about the GOP's reluctance to push judicial nominees forward. This isn't good.
The utter cluelessness of the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate continues to show itself in the Senate's continuing refusal to move forward with confirmation of federal judges, especially to the circuit courts of appeal.
And what's truly baffling is that the Republicans' failures on judges not only hurt the American polity, but actually hurt their own politics as well -- as we shall see. With senators, unfortunately, principle doesn't always suffice; but when principle and raw politics happen to coincide, it's almost bizarre to see practiced solons fail to take advantage.But that's what has happened.
It was actually liberal Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, one of the fiercest participants on the wrong side of the battle over the judiciary, who in a March 14 statement best made the point: "[T]he total number of judicial appointments since January 2001 [is] 232, including the confirmations of two Supreme Court Justices and 43 circuit court judges. Of course, 100 judges were confirmed in the 17 months there was a Democratic majority in the Senate. In the other 45 months, 132 judges have been confirmed. Ironically, under Democratic leadership, the Senate was almost twice as productive as under Republican leadership."
That's a hell of a note.
SEN. LEAHY WAS, OF COURSE, being a bit disingenuous, because most of the nominees approved in the first 17 months were for the less controversial positions on the lower federal courts, not for appellate judges. But the fact remains that the Republican leadership has moved in many ways more slowly in the face of the threat of Democratic filibusters than the Democrats themselves moved when they had the majority power to reject nominees outright in committee. Worse still, the Republican majority has moved more slowly after supposedly "winning" the battle over the constitutional ("nuclear") option against filibusters than it moved before the so-called Gang of 14 agreed that filibusters could be used only "under extraordinary circumstances."
The Gang's agreement expressly provided for cloture for (and, in effect, confirmation of) purportedly controversial appellate nominees Bill Pryor, Janice Rogers Brown, and Priscilla Owen. It also freed up D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Thomas Griffith, a favorite of powerful GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, and two appellate judges from Michigan, Richard Griffin and David McKeague -- neither of whom was controversial in his own right.
Since then, however, the only appeals court judge confirmed was fellow Michigander Susan Nielson, who was in ill health and who died in January, just three months after being seated on the bench.
But a fourth Michigander, state court of appeals Judge Henry Saad, has finally withdrawn in disgust after three years of ill treatment. Meanwhile, Fourth Circuit nominees William Haynes and Terry Boyle remain in limbo after, respectively, more than two years of waiting and a whopping 15 years. (Judge Boyle was first nominated for the Fourth Circuit by the first President Bush, and nominated again by the second Bush way back on May 9, 2001.)
Brett Kavanaugh (of whom, more shortly) has been waiting for nearly two years for the D.C. Circuit. William Myers was first nominated for the Ninth Circuit in May of 2003. In all, 11 nominees await confirmation, and nine other seats are vacant. (And by my count there are 34 lower-court vacancies as well.)
In short, the famous (or infamous) Gang of 14 agreement has left far more appellate slots unfilled, ten months later, than it has helped to fill. And this sorry record comes on top of the failures earlier in the Bush presidency to ward off the character assassinations that badgered nominees Miguel Estrada, Carolyn Kuhl, and Charles Pickering into withdrawals for no good reason.
One would think, with a 55-45 majority and an agreement from seven of the minority Democrats that they would not filibuster except in "extraordinary circumstances" (and with more than 50 Republican committed to clarifying the rules so as to kill judicial filibusters once and for all if the Democrats break this agreement), that Senate Republicans would be more eager to fill the judiciary with people willing and able to push back against leftist jurists -- jurists whose decisions are inimical to the principles and politics of those very same Senate Republicans.
Some may argue that the Senate GOP isn't getting credit here for confirming Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Point granted. But it's irrelevant. Both then-judges had already effectively won the PR war within about three days of being nominated. All the Senate GOP had to do was keep its nerve and fight a pretty simple rearguard action while the nominees themselves did the heavy lifting.
MEANWHILE, IT IS AT THE CIRCUIT appellate level that the greatest number of important cases get decided, without the Supreme Court even deciding to review them. Of those circuit courts, the D.C. bench is of course seen as the most important of all -- and it is there that perhaps the most promising nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is slated to sit.
At age 41, Kavanaugh already has a resume that many lawyers 15 years his senior would die for. A double-graduate of Yale (B.A. and J.D.), the brilliant and friendly Kavanaugh clerked for not one but two circuit appellate judges and for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (when Kennedy still seemed mostly conservative), served as an assistant U.S. solicitor general and as White House associate counsel, in addition to stints at the prestigious Kirkland and Ellis firm and for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.
It is that last-mentioned role, of course, that gives Senate Democrats heartburn. But it shouldn't. No less than the iconic Watergate scoopmeister Bob Woodward has written that Kavanaugh was a moderating force in the office, showing wisdom and balance (sometimes in the form of basic tactfulness) that some of his superiors lacked. For instance, he opposed the decisions to include in the main report issued to Congress all the graphic details of the Clinton sexcapades and to release said details in a public document dump. (The explicit nature of the material was blamed on Republican prurience and actually helped turn the American public against impeachment.) And as one of the main authors of the report on Vince Foster's death, Kavanaugh helped clear away some of the most outlandish rumors about that sad event. In short, he was more than fair to the Clintons, and deserves no Democratic calumny for his role.
Moreover, leading conservative legal lights uniformly give Kavanaugh high ratings on matters of principle -- and the American Bar Association judicial panel gave him its highest rating of "well qualified."
In short, Kavanaugh is, like Justices Alito and especially Roberts, a political victory just waiting to happen for Republican senators who would only be helped if the Democrats insist on raising a stink about such an attractive and talented nominee. And if Democrats are stupid enough to filibuster him, a GOP invocation of the constitutional option to kill the judicial filibuster for good, on behalf of a nominee of such star quality, could only redound to the GOP's political benefit.
INDEED, IT IS IN PURELY POLITICAL terms that the Senate Republicans' reluctance to push judicial nominees looks both moronic and bizarre. All the recent political history suggests that when the topic is judges, Republicans win. (Or at least conservatives win: Clearly and sadly, even many self-proclaimed "conservatives" in the Senate GOP caucus are anything but conservative in the principled, philosophical sense at all.) Current GOP senators Saxby Chambliss, Mel Martinez, David Vitter, John Thune, and Jim Talent all won hard-fought races at least in significant part by stressing the issue of judges at campaign appearance after campaign appearance. South Carolinians Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, North Carolinian Richard Burr, and Georgian Johnny Isakson also stressed judges while winning more handily.
More than that, it is on the issues surrounding judgeships that conservative positions consistently attract the largest majorities in public polling. While no good conservative judge is "result-oriented," the simple nature of the beast is that a conservative judicial approach will tend to reach popular results -- because it is the arrogant left whose judges try to dictate newfangled social outcomes, without regard to the elective branches of government, that are opposed by a majority of the American public and which are found nowhere in the text and tradition of the Constitution.
For instance, when the issue is the misuse of "eminent domain" to seize private lands for the use of other private entities, conservatives win.When the issue is governmental hostility towards (rather than mere neutrality about) expressions of faith in the public square, conservatives win.
When the issue is partial birth abortion, conservatives win. When it's forfeiting sovereignty by citing the supposed authority of foreign law, conservatives win. And conservatives win big on the issue of judicially imposed homosexual unions, on the Pledge of Allegiance, and especially on issues of law and order.
A politician doesn't have to delve into abstruse constitutional theory, much less into emanations from penumbras, to make hay of these topics. All of these topic are affected by judicial decisions, and all of them create gut-level responses in conservatives' favor among broad swaths of the American people.
Despite appearances to the contrary, a Senate staffer close to the process told me on Tuesday that at least a fair number of Republican senators understand how important the judicial nominations are, and that -- probably beginning with Judge Boyle, who has waited 15 years for his chance -- the nomination logjam should soon be broken. Specifically about Brett Kavanaugh, this source said that Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is understood to be supportive, and that: "I think he's going to move. I think you'll see his nomination start to percolate soon."
And, noted the staffer, "We still have the nuclear option in our back pocket."Here's hoping the staffer is right. Because it's long past time to test the Gang of 14's deal, and to use the nuke if it's needed.
If you read my review of Hugh Hewitt's new book, then you know where I stand on this issue. Actually, even if you didn't read my review (and why not, I demand?) you know where I stand. I want jurists on the bench that interpret the Constitution based on the fact that it means what it says, and says what it means. There are to be no hinky feelings about wehether something is covered within the Constitution. Either it is inherent--that being meant to be included within the Constitution--or it is specifically enumerated within the Constitution.
The jurists that Mr. Hillyer cites are good judges. There is no doubt in my mind that they could do their jobs properly and effectively. All that we lack is a GOP majority in the Senate that is willing to stand up, and push them through. This goes to their platform. We must make a stand on the judiciary, just like we did in 2004. There is no doubt whatsoever that this is a very important issue for 2006, and right now the GOP seems content with shooting itself in the foot.
On TuesdayHugh Hewitt conducted an interview with Michael Ware, Time's Baghdad bureau chief. Today, he replayed that interview. No, this isn't a revisit to the live-blog I did of it. Those were initial reactions. This time through, I paid close attention to a few things that simply bug me.
HH: So Michael Ware, what do you think...and you've spent time with insurgents, too. That's very controversial reporting that I've read. Explain to the audience how you connected up with them, and how much time you spent with them in Iraq. MW: Well, in the course of the past three years, I've had ongoing contact with different elements of the insurgency. It all began immediately after the fall of Saddam's regime in the early months of the occupation. I was doing a story which was looking at the invasion. I was trying to find out from the Iraqi commanders themselves what had happened on their side, what was the chaos like, what was it like as a dictatorship deteriorated, and dissolved before their eyes in the midst of this American attack. Now at that time, I met these men. They were Republican Guard commanders, members of the secret police, the intelligence service, the secret service, all manner of agencies, asking them what had happened to them during the war. Then as time went by, these men started to feel more and more disenchanted, more and more dishonored. And one by one, they started picking up arms, and in a very ad hoc fashion, started attacking passing American vehicles and so on. Then over time, they started to evolve. And I got to watch that with my own eyes, as they did take shape as the insurgency we've ultimately come to see today. ...
HH: Have you spent time with the jihadis?
MW: I have. I have. It's certainly not something that's simple to do at any time, particularly now. However, in the past, though, I have actually been with Zarqawi's organization on different occasions. I once was taken to a Zarqawi training camp, although I was not told that that's where I was going, or for quite a while, that that's where I was. I've been to some of their safe houses. I've received some of their propaganda materials. By the same token, trying to film them secretly in Baghdad, I was kidnapped by them, dragged out of my car, and a group of Syrian fighters for Zarqawi were preparing to execute me on the street here in Baghdad. So I've been with Zarqawi's people in a number of different forms. ...
I don't really think that I need to beat this dead horse anymore, but I have a problem with a journalist covering the enemy the way Michael Ware did. It's one thing to report what you see, what you hear from people on the street about it, and even get your hands on some of their propaganda, but I got a serious problem with this sort of embed for a journalist, and that applies to the entire field of journalists. I don't care about the country of origin. I don't care about their personal biases. I'm referring to their lives, and I question any journalist who has communication with them, and leaves their company still breathing. The US has already faced accusations from the MSM in regard to more than one incident involving a journalist in Iraq. (TY Eason Jordan.) But this concern arises when it comes to their lives, and a question of the reporting that comes out from that point forward. Hugh is correct on the fact that there is a level of fear coming from Mr. Ware.
HH: Now that's very interesting, because that would indicate that...and I understand it, but that fear is affecting your reporting, or your candor level.
MW: Well, it certainly affects the way you couch things. It doesn't stop you saying things. I mean, like I said for example, I came across a tape once of Zarqawi himself, on an audio cassette, instructing or giving a seminar to some of his recruits and fighters, somewhere outside of Baghdad. Now this was a tape that was meant purely for internal consumption, for ideological or for training purposes. Now by one means or another, that fell into my hands, and I published it. I published its contents. Now within that discussion, Zarqawi himself showed that there was great division between his organization and one of the leading Iraqi Sunni organizations, and you're hearing him criticizing this very important Iraqi leader. Now by me publishing that, that aired their dirty laundry. As a result of that, he threatened, or his organization threatened to kill me. I mean, one has to be careful about how you couch things, but it doesn't stop you reporting the facts.
OK. I can vouch for tape story but my gripe here doesn't reflect that. Is it me, or is this a complete lack of common sense. He's still talking to them after having his life threatened. Either this guy is suicidal, or he's completely off his rocker. I'm sorry, but this is just plain nuts. No story is worth your life. None! I don't care if it's the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything (for the record, the answer is 42). You don't get killed for it.
HH: So you would have encouraged such reporting, had it been possible in World War II?
MW: Well, I don't know. I wasn't around in World War II, so I'm not sure I'm really in a position to determine. All I can talk to about are the circumstances that have presented themselves to me, and the wars I've found myself in. ...
HH: Because we talked about this on CNN. Do you think Iraq is better off today, just...than it was under Saddam? Do you think that...
MW: Well, I was never here under Saddam. My period during Saddam's regime was in the Kurdish North, where with U.S. air cover, they've forged their own autonomous sanctuaries. So I never lived under Saddam, and I can only imagine what the horrors were like, and what the restrictions were like. All I can tell you that life here right now is extraordinarily difficult, and there's a lot of killing going on, and there's a lot of deprivation going on, and to be able to compare that to something I never saw is a bit difficult for me.
HH: Well, do you think the Russian people were better under Krushchev than they were under Stalin? Neither of us saw Kruschev or Stalin, but both of us...
MW: Yeah, I wouldn't have a clue, you know?
HH: You wouldn't have a clue? Really?
MW: No, not really. I mean, Stalin was the beast of all beasts, but you know, I'm not a student of Russian modern history, nor of the Cold War, on where the broad brush strokes...and I certainly don't hold myself out as expert enough to be able to comment on something like that. All I can tell you about is what I see, and what I experience.
Call this petty if you want, but I don't understand how he just can't answer this questions. They're simple and straight-forward. He can't answer for Saddam because he never lived under him. He can't speak about Stalin or Khruschev because he doesn't know Russia. He can't state if he would have encouraged similar reporting during World War II because he didn't live back then. These aren't yes-or-no questions, per se. It goes more to his opinion. He injects opinions into his reporting, so why can't he opine about these subjects?
HH: He was there before the war began. He had come back and forth to Afghanistan. In your dealings with the insurgents, had they dealt with him prior to the war?
MW: No. I did uncover some documents, however, that referred to his presence, here in some form. Now it seemed to be covert and unofficial, and one can only guess. However, I did receive a document written by one of his right hand men, a man who was killed in 2004 by a U.S. JDAM in his vehicle, who wrote an after action report of the first battle of Fallujah, in the course of which he said well, you know, Abu bil-Bloggs (phonetic spelling) was killed at this point. You know Abu bil-Bloggs. He was the one who saw Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war.
HH: Did you publish that?
HH: In Time Magazine.
HH: Oh, that's interesting. I missed that one. I have to go back and find that. That's a very significant find.
At least it would be if it were true. As yet, no one in the blogosphere can find that story. We've tried. Marcie and I have busted our humps trying to locate it through a variety of searches, pouring over his Baghdad reports, and checking even the stateside reporting. There isn't a story about Zarqawi being in Iraq. As far as I know, no one has sent Hugh a link to it, and that includes Michael Ware. This makes me trust him even less.
This story is still generating a buzz in the blogosphere. As of right now, according to the lists on Hugh's site, these other sites have commented on this story:
These people are pretty ticked at this guy, too. They've got some serious gripes, and I'm sure what I said above will be reflected in more than a couple of these.
ADDENDUM: I found something from the interview today on it's replay, and it sort of gnawed at me a bit. I believe Mr. Ware about something else, as well. If this is the case, I take offense at his boast. Here's how it went:
HH: I'm sitting in the Empire State Building. Michael, I'm sitting in the Empire State Building, which has been in the past, and could be again, a target. Because in downtown Manhattan, it's not comfortable, although it's a lot safer than where you are, people always are three miles away from where the jihadis last spoke in America. So that's...civilians have a stake in this. Although you are on the front line, this was the front line four and a half years ago. MW: Absolutely, and I think that's really the reason that a lot of us are doing what we're doing. I mean, it's because of that horror that so much has ensued. It is because of this fight that these people came and picked, that so much has happened. But I mean, what I'm saying to you is that if you think anyone would have the right to complain or to take umbrage at what I do, it would be the troops here on the ground. It would be U.S. military intelligence. It would be the U.S. military. You'd think that they wouldn't give me embeds, wouldn't you? You'd think that they wouldn't grant me backgrounders, or wouldn't take me out on special events. You'd think that they wouldn't give me access to the generals, or to military intelligence. You know, in this war alone, I've been in combat with virtually every kind of U.S. fighting force there is, from the SEAL's, to the Green Berets, to Delta, to Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mechanized. I mean, I've been there, done that in combat. I've been in every major battle of this war, except from Najaf and the first battle of Fallujah. That includes the battle of Tal-Afar, the Battle of Samara, and the Battle of Fallujah, with front line units. I witnessed an event that the Pentagon subsequently asked me to write about as a witness, which is now a matter for the Congressional Medal of Honor nomination. And I am mentioned in that citation. So if anyone would have a problem with what I do in exploring the issues of this war, you'd think it'd be the military. Yet strangely, they don't.
To my knowledge there has been one CMH winner since the beginning of the GWOT in Iraq. That would be Paul Ray Smith. The following is the citation for Sgt. Smith:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.
Mr. Ware is nowhere within the citation. Again, I take offense to this. Inventing facts doesn't sit well with some people, and I'm one of them. The CMH is the highest award given to any service member, and Michael Ware, in what I'd call a blatant attempt to gain a little "fame" injected himself into the incident.
Now, maybe I'm going off half-cocked here. Maybe he's referring to another CMH winner. But by "citation" I take that to mean the award has been given. Sgt. Smith is the ONLY CMH winner for Iraq that I can find.
Yesterday Hugh Hewitt had an interview with the Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief. In this interview, Mr. Ware admitted to embedding himself within the insurgency and the jihadists in Iraq. He excused his over-exuberance with following the story as just that; he was merely following a story. Now for those that feel as Thomas and I do, yes we dislike this move by the veteran war reporter. We would disapprove of such a move by ANY journalist who would decide to take this step in reporting a conflict.
Simply put, no one cares about our enemy. We do not care about their grievances, their point of view, or whether or not they are truly "human;" that is a given as we are not fighting Martians in this war.
But Thomas picked up on something that popped up in that interview.
HH: He was there before the war began. He had come back and forth to Afghanistan. In your dealings with the insurgents, had they dealt with him prior to the war? MW: No. I did uncover some documents, however, that referred to his presence, here in some form. Now it seemed to be covert and unofficial, and one can only guess. However, I did receive a document written by one of his right hand men, a man who was killed in 2004 by a U.S. JDAM in his vehicle, who wrote an after action report of the first battle of Fallujah, in the course of which he said well, you know, Abu bil-Bloggs (phonetic spelling) was killed at this point. You know Abu bil-Bloggs. He was the one who saw Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war.
HH: Did you publish that?
HH: In Time Magazine.
Here is our problem, dear readers: We cannot find this story he claims was printed in Time. I spent the better part of the day today searching. I searched: Google, Yahoo, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX, and none of them have any link that pertains to that story. Not in any interview they have ever conducted, nor did he reference it in any of those interviews. He injected it in the interview yesterday, and as yet, it cannot be found.
From this point, we must assume that this is a lie. There is no other way to look at this. The other story he referenced in that interview--the one about the Zarqawi tape--was easily found. And there is a sort of non-admission in the story that Zarqawi might--mind you might--have been in Iraq prior to our invasion, but it is not definite or solid. Actually, it is sort of wishy-washy in it's language.
So, until Mr. Ware comes forward and delivers a link to Hugh Hewitt to that story, we must take what he said as a lie. Time has not printed a story admitting that Zarqawi was in Iraq prior to our invasion. This does not bode well for him. As a professional correspondant, and one who has seen much of this war from both sides, his journalistic integrity hangs in the balance. We want that link. It is not because we are looking for another head on the wall. But at this point, the onus to prove our assertions wrong falls in his lap. We want the link. The link will clear this up. If it does not show up, then we must go back to the original assumption.
Michael Ware lied, and he is one the record doing so.
"Brave" Order From The UN: Its Lack Of Teeth Is Obvious
(Clap) (Clap) (Clap) (Clap) The Un is once again showing how "relevant" it is. According to the AP Wire, it isn't nearly as relevant as it believes.
The U.N. Security Council demanded Wednesday that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, the first time the powerful body has directly urged Tehran to clear up suspicions that it is seeking nuclear weapons.
Iran remained defiant, maintaining its right to nuclear power but insisting that it was committed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and had no intention of seeking weapons of mass destruction. "Pressure and threats does not work with Iran. Iran is a country that is allergic to pressure and to threats and intimidation," Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif said. He later added that "Iran insists on its right to have access to nuclear technology for explicitly peaceful purposes. We will not abandon that claim to our legitimate right."
The 15-nation council unanimously approved a statement that will ask the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to report back in 30 days on Iran's compliance with demands to stop enriching uranium. Diplomats portrayed the statement, which is not legally binding, as a first, modest step toward compelling Iran to make clear that its program is for peaceful purposes. The Security Council could eventually impose economic sanctions, though Russia and China say they oppose such tough measures.
"The council is expressing its clear concern and is saying to Iran that it should comply with the wishes of the governing board," France's U.N Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said.
The document was adopted by consensus and without a vote after a flurry of negotiations among the five veto-wielding council members. In the end, Britain, France and the United States made several concessions to China and Russia, Iran's allies, who wanted as mild a statement as possible.
Still, the Western countries said the statement expresses the international community's shared conviction that Iran must comply with the governing board of the IAEA and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Enrichment is a process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a nuclear warhead.
Members of the council wanted to reach a deal before Thursday, when foreign ministers from the five veto-wielding council members and Germany meet in Berlin to discuss strategy on Iran.
Diplomats would not say exactly what will happen if Iran does not comply the statement within 30 days, but suggested that would be discussed by the foreign ministers in Berlin.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the statement an "important diplomatic step" that showed the international community's concern about Iran. "Iran is more isolated now than ever," she said in a statement. "The Security Council's Presidential Statement sends an unmistakable message to Iran that its efforts to conceal its nuclear program and evade its international obligations are unacceptable."
The council has struggled for three weeks to come up with a written rebuke that would urge Iran to comply with several demands from the board of the IAEA to clear up suspicions about its intentions. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The West believes council action will help isolate Iran and put new pressure on it to clear up suspicions about its intentions. They have proposed an incremental approach, refusing to rule out sanctions.
U.S. officials have said the threat of military action must also remain on the table.
Russia and China, both allies of Iran, oppose sanctions. They wanted any council statement to make explicit that the IAEA, not the Security Council, must take the lead in confronting Iran.
The draft circulated to the council calls upon Iran to "resolve outstanding questions, and underlines ... the particular importance of re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities." Still, it removed language that China and Russia opposed.
The text removes language saying that proliferation is a threat to international peace and security. Also gone is a mention that the council is specifically charged under the U.N. charter with addressing such threats.
Russia and China had opposed that language from the start because they wanted nothing in the statement that could automatically trigger council action after 30 days.
"For the time being we have suspicions," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Andrey Denisov said. "So from that point of view, it is like a ladder. If you want to climb up, you must step on the first step, and then the second, and not try to leap."
Anyone got shivers over this? I didn;t think so. This is more bureaucratic wrangling that's going to give Iran more time. So, the games begin. I understand the idea of taking a diplomatic route towards Iran. But where are the teeth. If the world has supposedly looked at Iran and said "knock it off, or else," then can someone please point out where the "or else" is? Anyone?
The UN ambassadors concede that they don't know what the consequences will be. Can we afford to go through this whole dog-and-pony show again? Did we not learn this lesson with Iraq? While we diddled away over the proper diplomatic route, what is considered "material breach," and other retarded ideas, Saddam was able to build his WMDs, and on the brink of a war he knew he was going to lose, he got rid of them. Some in Syria, some possibly in Iran; maybe Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well. We don't know exactly where they went. But too much corroboration within the Saddam documents, the work of investigative journalists, and those who once served under Saddam all make the same claim. He had them, and got rid of them in the run-up to the war.
Can we afford this with Iran? Let's consider a worse scenario. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that Iran takes less time than the 12 year record Saddam racked up with the UN. But by the time we move for action, Iran unveils our nightmare: the ability to create a nuclear weapon, and the ability to reproduce them. Scary prospect, huh? Experts place Iran's ability to do this within the next nine-to-twenty-four months. Up to two years.
I'm not out cruising for a fight here, but damn, I would have thought that the bureaucrats would have remembered what their dithering led to three years ago. Do we want to do that? No. If asked, will we? I wouldn't, but it's likely that we would. The future isn't written here, folks. I call things as I see them. This "order" from the UN Security Council is going to be met with derision from Tehran. They know that the UN is not ready to escalate this confrontation to violence. But, then again, Tehran doesn't want to risk a confrontation, either.
Fine, they have thirty days to show compliance. We'll see, but I'm not holding my breath over an Iranian change of heart.
Go Mark Go! Steyn On Immigration, RINOs, and Michael Ware ...
One day ahead of his normal showing on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Mark Steyn popped up to give his usual unusual idea regarding some hot button topics.
HH: And joining us on Wednesday as opposed to his normal date on Thursday because of my travel schedule, columnist to the world, Mark Steyn. Mark, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show. MS: Good to be with you, Hugh.
HH: Mark, let's start with the issue that is raging in Washington, D.C., the McCain-Kennedy bill, the immigration issue, and the meltdown among Republican over it. What's your assessment of what's going on there?
MS: Well, you know, I think there is a big problem with immigration. I'm personally always reluctant to speak about it, because I belong to that very, very tiny, tiny, tiny demographic of documented immigrants. And judging from that parade in Los Angeles the other day, there's far fewer of us than there are of the other kind.
HH: Yes, that's true.
MS: And if you talk to legal immigrants, they're the ones who are the most resentful of this whole illegal business, because we're the ones, we pay the huge fees to immigration lawyers, we filled in all the paperwork. I've stood in line at these dreary government offices to get these stupid cards and these stupid government numbers, to go through the whole process officially. And everyone whose done that is resentful to the idea that somehow if you just make it across the border, and you get here, you can stay here, and half the state governments in this country will do what they can to make your situation as painless as possible, and the public schools...I'll give you a small example of schools. If you're a legal immigrant, and you enroll your children in a local grade school, they want to know whether they've had all the shots, you know, for this and that.
HH: Sure. Vaccinations.
MS: If you're a legal immigrant, you have to then, you're faced with then getting the documentation out of whatever country you happen to have come from. And sometimes, that can be difficult, because they give them different things at different times, and the school nurse will give you a lot of harrassment. If you actually just say okay, scrub that, they're not legal immigrants, I want them redesignated as illegal immigrants, then you won't be asked for any paperwork. It's a lot easier. The problem at the moment is that it's a rational decision, coming into this country, to be an illegal immigrant. And that is the problem.
HH: Mark Steyn, I don't know what year you emigrated, but you ought to go back and get a refund if this thing passes, that's for sure. My question is, though, we've got 11 to 15 million illegals. It's a complicated problem. We're not going to throw them out of the country. But given that, is the first thing we should do secure the border? Or is the first thing we should do legalize or regularize, or use any euphemismize that you want, the 11 to 15 million?
MS: Well, no. I think if you're going...as you say, there is a problem. You've got a population that is basically four times the size of the average European Union nation...
MS: ...living in the United States illegally. Four times the size of the population of Ireland, say. Two or three times the size of the population of Denmark or Norway. So I think the first thing you have to do is say well, that is a problem, but before we deal with that, before we come up with some way of finessing that, we will secure our borders. I mean, I do think this is a national security issue, because when I hear this sort of pseudo-isolationist talk that comes out from many people on the right particularly, I say well look. You've got a country here that can't even secure its borders against two relatively benign states, yet now you're saying you'll be able to tell the whole world to go to hell, and that Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't matter, and the whole place can go to hell. You can't even enforce your border against some sleepy Mexicans and wily Canadians. And America has to be able to demonstrate...sovereignty begins at the border. You don't have a nation if the nation doesn't have borders.
HH: Now Mark Steyn, I understand why Ted Kennedy and liberal Democrats want to naturalize and legalize, and then get voting, the 11 to 15 million whom they perceive as their voters. I understand that. They might be as wrong as Gladstone was about the enfranchisement of the late 1870's, but I do not understand why John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, and Mike DeWine want to go out of order, leaving the border unsecure, but getting to naturalization or amnesty first. How do you explain McCain?
MS: Well, I think a lot of Republicans on this issue have, are operating between what they see as two pincers. One is that if you come out strongly against immigration, illegal immigration, you're seen as somehow being quasi-racist by the media. So you lose a lot of your good...if you're an anti-immigration Republican, you lose a lot of whatever good press you won. And we've seen, particularly in the case of Lindsey Graham, that that's very important to him. And at the same time, there is no doubt that there is a constituency in the Republican Party that thinks that somehow the economy is dependent on this huge flow of illegal immigrants. Again, that's something that is, i think, repugnant to legal immigrants, because if it's an economic issue, then certainly this country should be capable of devising swift, efficient, safe, secure legal immigration to get them in here. But the idea that somehow letting people annex different industries, stage by stage, in order to artificially depress the cost of operating those industries as a conservative position, I think is ludicrous.
HH: But I go back to McCain, Mark Steyn, because first, there was McCain-Feingold, then there was the Gang of 14, and now we have McCain-Kennedy. And it seems he will never not subjugate the interest of his party to his own perception of political self-interest. Is that fair? Or do you think he's just trying to do the best he can?
MS: No, I don't think that. I mean, my observation of John McCain, and I understand he's very popular with a lot of people in the United States. My observation of him during the 2000 campaign, the 2000 New Hampshire primary season, is that he is one of the most incredible narcissists on the political scene. And that basically, John McCain is very good at talking himself into believing that whatever position he adopts is, by virtue of the fact that he's adopted it, the sensible, sane position. That's certainly true of McCain-Feingold, and I think he'll do a similar job talking himself into it with this view of him on immigration.
HH: Narcissism is a word that came up much in my e-mail overnight in connection with a lengthy interview I did yesterday with Michael Ware, Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief. Did you have a chance to see that, Mark?
MS: Yes, I did, and I thought it was an incredible interview. And in a way, incredible because I would imagine that nobody, no foreign correspondent for a major Western news organization would regard it as unusual. And that's what's so depressing. The bit where he was talking about yes, he's got contacts in Zarqawi's organization, and he's been taken on these privileged little trips to meet with them and all the rest of it, that's the complete opposite of...I don't know how you feel, Hugh. You probably feel the same way. But I felt gradually exhausted since September 11th, 2001, that it's very dispiriting trying to keep going in this phase of what is a very long conflict. And the reason I do it is because I want us to win. I don't particularly like journalism. I don't particularly like writing newspaper columns. I'm sick of having to make what I think should be an obvious case again and again and again. And I'd much rather pack it in and sit on my porch in New Hampshire and enjoy the view of the mountains. But I do it because I want us to win. And the idea that he has, this diseased sense that somehow just the story, the story is somehow how you demonstrate your journalistic integrity and purity, and might get you nominated for some prize that nobody cares about somewhere down the line, that's not what it's about. I mean, why does he want to be a journalist, if it's not to be on the right side of history. This is ridiculous.
HH: That's...there was a moral vacuum there, and the left is mocking the interview, suggesing that I was arguing that we are front line troops in the information war. I wasn't. I was suggesting that every civilian is invested in this, because of a hole in the ground three miles from here.
MS: Exactly, and that's where your left-wing detractors are missing the point, is that we're all, in a sense, we're all conscripted in this war. Those 3,000 people who died on September 11th, they weren't serving forces, they were just fellows who got up in the morning and went to work, or went to Logan Airport and got on a plane. And that's the thing. We're all conscripted in this war, whether we know it or not.
HH: I think you would rather be writing things like obituaries. I have to get to this obituary of this Telegraph columnist about whom I had never heard, but I read laughing out loud on the airplane East this week. It's in the Atlantic Monthly. People should run out and get it. Tell people about this guy. What an idiosyncratic writer. MS: Well, Michael Wharton, who was a colleague of mine at the Telegraph in London, and he died in his 90's a few weeks ago, and he basically wrote this satirical column for fifty years in the Telegraph, in which gradually all the things that he satirized about eventually came true. You know, a lot of things we take for granted now, like bishops who believe, trendy bishops who believe in nothing, insane environmentalists, social workers who say we're all guilty. In a sense, he developed a lot of these features in the modern world as sort of satirical things in the early 60's, and then had the horror, as great satirists often do, of finding that they all came true.
HH: Yeah, he thought be was a humorist, but he turned out to be a prophet. It's a wonderful tribute to your colleague. I hope people pick up the Atlantic Monthly. Mark Steyn, columnist to the world, always a pleasure. www.steynonline.com.
As always, and summed up in a single word, brilliant. Simply brilliant, especially regarding this immigration debate going on. He is correct, and this is one thing the pro-illegal immigration people cannot refute. The bulk of those that came here legally--those who jumped through the hoops, filed the paperwork, started the process, and saw it through--are the most resentful of those looking at this deal. It is positively preposterous for the Senate to push this through, and that disdain runs deep for those Republicans who voted this atrocious bill out of committee. Neither side is going to be happy with this "compromise" on an issue that, according to the law, is already solved. The laws on the book should be enforced, and should have been enforced all this time. The government has opted out of that agreement, which has allowed us one scar this nation will not soon forget. I doubt America wants to see another band-aid on cancer for a "quick-fix." And that quick fix is not even noteworthy because it does little than slap the hands of those who came here illegally. Steyn is correct. Sovereignty, a national identity, starts with borders. Those borders should be held, and those coming here illegally should be prosecuted, and deported. What does it say when a "neighbor" and "ally" continually encourages their people to head into America? How much of an ally are they, really?