Two posts: (1) Danish Cartoons: Latest Victims--Us v. Them; (2) Immigration: And Their Flag Waves Still Here--The Home Front.
Waldenbooks and Borders in Buffalo NY will not carry a magazine with four of the original Danish cartoons of Muhammad for fear of inciting violence. Score one for Islamist intimidation.
Do we face an Hispanic Reconquista? Or shall we wlecome newcomers and, if so, on what terms?
George Will offers four reasons why Bush is right on immigration:
"But control belongs at the top of the agenda, for four reasons. First, control of borders is an essential attribute of sovereignty. Second, current conditions along the border mock the rule of law. Third, large rallies by immigrants, many of them here illegally, protesting more stringent control of immigration reveal that many immigrants have, alas, assimilated: They have acquired the entitlement mentality spawned by America's welfare state, asserting an entitlement to exemption from the laws of the society they invited themselves into. Fourth, giving Americans a sense that borders are controlled is a prerequisite for calm consideration of what policy that control should serve."
Will continues by noting that within a decade the NY & DC metropolitan areas will join four metropolitan areas with whites in the minority (Miami, Houston, LA & SF), and that thus a purely punitive solution cannot work. We should, he adds, make it easier for skilled immigrants to enter the US. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich says that illegal influx will be reduced if minimum wage laws are enforced against business who hire low-wage illegals.
Linda Chavez, a former chief of staff of the Reagan-era U.S. Commission on civil rights, says regarding foreign flag-waving protesters that they are not representative of the large Hispanic body politic, which is learning English (thanks mostly to TV, not public schools) within a generation and inter-marrying at higher rates than other immigrant groups. She gives more history of 1994's Prop 187 in California. At one point it was supported by 70 percent of voters then support plummeted to 51 percent a week before the election. But after 70,000 illegals marched in LA waving Mexican flags, support bounced back to the final 59 percent tally. the measure was, in the event, declared unconstitutional by the liberal California judiciary. Reports show that a public school in Houston and residential complexes in Palm Beach, Florida have raised the Mexican flag. The Houston school is named Reagan High School.
David Brooks believes that immigrants import superior values whose support among natives is declining: work, family, gift-giving etc.; Brooks notes that Mexican immigrant children are bigger and healthier than are middle-class white kids. But Peggy Noonan, having attended the annual Medal of Honor dinner held in NYC, writes that while we assimilate immigrants economically we do not assimilate them culturally. Says Poetic Peggy: "We are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically now. We are assimilating them culturally. Within a generation their children speak Valley Girl on cell phones....But we are not communicating love of country. We are not giving them the great legend of our country. We are losing that great legend."
A Washington Times editorial entitled "Room for One Flag" says that to avoid the entitlement mentality now so conspicuously on display in Paris, best we follow Teddy Roosevelt, who said in 1907 that immigrants who come ".,..in good faith ... shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin [but] [w]e have room but for one flag, the American flag."
The LA Times tells us that a $202,000 grant from the goofballs at Homeland Security has funded 80 security cameras to watch over Dillingham Island's 2,400 residents (yes, that's one camera per 30 residents). The Alaskan island is closer to Russia (800 miles) than to Seattle (1,200 miles).
Frank Gaffney argues persuasively that in the present climate Israel must not unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank. Hillel Halkin calls March 28's election "the wackiest" in Israel's history. The center-left government is expected to push disengagement. I have long been a supporter of disengagement but now have changed my mind. My reasons:
(1) Hamas's win, coupled with its open advocacy of war against Israel, and the triumph of radical minorities in Iraq have made hash of America's Mideast democracy project for at least several years, and thus silenced many potential moderate voices in Mideast lands;
(2) Palestinian assaults against international peacekeepers in Gaza and on the West Bank, including forcing American and British troops to stop guarding a Palestinian jail they had promised to keep secure--there is in this episode a whiff of Somalia 1993;
(3) the immense--albeit orchestrated--cartoon riots in the Islamic world show that radical Islam has tremendous power to intimidate societies far more powerful than they;
(4) Iran's open defiance of the West and the UN, re its nuclear program, eliciting tepid diplomacy at best despite Hitlerian threats made towards Israel by Iran's millenarian President.
(5) a resulting serious deterioration in the political stature of President Bush, partly 1-4, partly massive managerial ineptitude at the White House and partly opportunistic, often mendacious attacks on him from Democrats and their media allies.
Things might be different had Bush won in Iraq, were Iran stopped, had the West forcefully resisted the pressure stemming from the Islamic world over the cartoons, had the Palestinians showed a modicum of interest in trying to govern their society rather than agitate anew for war--and had US and UK troops stood their ground against Palestinian threats. Some of these could have sufficed to let Israel risk disengagement. But none have gone our way--or Israel's. Retreat when strong is risky, but doable; retreat when weak energizes the enemy, and courts calamity. Israel should finish the fence and stand firm on the West Bank.
Waldenbooks and Borders in Buffalo, NY are refusing to carry a magazine with a cartoon of Muhammad for fear of sparking Islamist violence. Score one for Islamist intimidation.
Last year President bush presented the widow of Paul Ray Smith with her husband's well-deserved Congressional Medal of Honor. Sgt. Smith is the only winner to date, among Iraq II soldiers, of the nation's highest medal for combat valor. Herewith the story of his deeds that place him in hallowed company.
From the sublime (see item above) to the ridiculous (this one). Actress Sharon Stone, once married to an idiot dumb enough to climb into a cage with a Komodo dragon (for which he earned a well-deserved foot-bite from the justly annoyed lizard), shows that she was well-matched, at least in terms of IQ, with her ex-hubby. Sharon recently said that she openly advocates what may best be called "Sharon Stone Safe Sex"--essentially, what our prior President received in the Oval Office. To be fair, such is safer than having more traditional sex with the character Sharon played in Basic Instinct I, whose sequel Sharon is now pushing. Sharon also opined that Hillary could not be elected Prez because she is a "hot babe" with a "sexual presence" for whom America is not ready. Give her credit: She knows what her fans like. Yo, Sharon, how about going back to kissing tyrants in pursuit of Mideast peace?
March 29, 2006 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
Back to the sublime. Tough Tony became the fourth foreign leader to address a joint session of the Australian Parliament on Tuesday. His remarks were, as always, eloquent and worth reading in full--Western Europeans, especially, should pay heed. Neo-Churchillian Blair had this to say re America and the alliance against Islamist terror:
"This requires, across the board an active foreign policy of engagement not isolation. It cannot be achieved without a strong alliance. This alliance does not end with, but it does begin with America. For us in Europe and for you, this alliance is central. And I want to speak plainly here. I do not always agree with the US. Sometimes they can be difficult friends to have. But the strain of, frankly, anti-American feeling in parts of European politics is madness when set against the long-term interests of the world we believe in. The danger with America today is not that they are too much involved. The danger is they decide to pull up the drawbridge and disengage. We need them involved. We want them engaged.
"The reality is that none of the problems that press in on us, can be resolved or even contemplated without them.
"Our task is to ensure that with them, we do not limit the agenda to security. If our security lies in our values and our values are about justice and fairness as well as freedom from fear, then the agenda must be more than security and the alliance include more than America."
Columnist Debra Saunders says that an immigration "backlash" vote is a myth based upon a re-write of history. She notes that in 1994 California governor Pete Wilson won re-election, and that Proposition 187, aimed at denying benefits to illegals, passed with 59 percent of the vote. Even 38 percent of Hispanics, she writes, oppose extending such benefits to illegals. Fair enough. But her call for enforcement did not include a national ID card, which is essential for tougher sanctions to succeed.
An LA Time front-pager reports that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is attempting to balance sympathy for the Latino protesters with restraint, that he may govern a polyglot city; meanwhile many residents (and, no doubt, Americans elsewhere) were offended by protesters waving Mexican flags. The mass nationwide protests were organized by Spanish-language media; media sponsors had urged protesters to carry only US flags.
La-La Land's mayor may well have stoked a fire he cannot control, with results potentially lethal to his ability to govern and portentous for the nation. Columnist Tony Blankley gives poll data that show Americans overwhelmingly opposed to amnesty and guest workers, and demanding stronger enforcement. Immigration is a train coming down the track that politicians can no longer duck, and it may be the biggest election issue this fall.
4 posts: (1) Immigration: Dems Play Chess; GOP Plays Checkers--The Home Front; (2) Fire France; Light Up With France's Fire--Weenie Watch; (3) Russian, French, German Perfidy re Iraq; re Iran Next?--Weenie Watch; (4) Three Nuclear Futures: We Fiddle, Tehran Burns--Us v. Them.
John Podhoretz explains how Democrats used the felony provision in the proposed immigration law to box Republicans in. They want a punitive bill that enrages Hispanics, so that Hispanics become as reliably Democratic voters as are African-Americans today. Should that happen, JP warns, it dooms Republicans for a generation. He is right. The GOP base had better wake-up. Think 1994 and California Governor Pete Wilson, where Proposition 187 was judged by Hispanics as too harsh on illegal aliens. It took The Terminator and a spectacularly inept Democratic Governor to give Republicans a partial lease on life there--only partial, as California is counted a Blue state in presidential contests.
David Frum writes today on NRO of 43's guest worker + amnesty program: "It's like some poli-sci program run amok." NROs' Rich Lowry sees the short-term political trump card Democrats hold: Hispanic illegals vote 2:1 Democratic. The NRO editors urge that we defer the amnesty debate until border control is re-established, a view that seemingly ignores the lesson of Prop 187. The Terminator, for his part, proposes a one-strike deportation rule for illegals who commit "serious crimes" (presumably he means felonies). GOP Senatorial stalwarts John Kyl (AZ) and John Cornyn (TX) propose 5 years and out for illegals; re-entry would be permitted by lawful re-application. They note that 40 percent of the estimated illegal population came to the US since 9/11, and thus they propose better electronic verification. Ace economist Thomas Sowell calls guest-workers gate-crashers who are, unlike guests, not invited. Sowell addresses that "take jobs Americans won't" mantra with a classic proposition of economics: price. Americans will do those jobs, but not at wages as low as illegals will accept. Sowell sees lax enforcement being driven by political calculation and by business seeking cheap labor.
International economist Jagdesh Bhagwati argues for a "middle ground" approach to illegal immigration. Legalize the inflow and treat them humanely, says he. He notes that by one estimate a Mexican who crosses the border can anticipate earning $250,000 more here than at home; so long as Mexican opportunity is so much less (generations) we can anticipate crossings. Also, amnesty violates "horizontal equity": it is unfair to treat illegals equally with legals. Missing from this view, however, is the idea of "earned citizenship"--making illegals earn their way by meeting certain standards. Problem is, as JB notes, that forging ID is too easy, and so we cannot separate one group from the other. Which brings us back to that bugaboo: a national ID card--we are paying the price of dithering on this since 9/11. As for the Democrats: They get to sit back and laugh; they see a GOP problem, and no answer looks especially good these days.
Yes we must somehow control our borders better. But radical restrictionist measures--"kick 'em out, keep 'em out"--cannot work in a country whose largest minority, some 40 million, are Hispanic. Guest workers will stay, blanket or easily earned amnesty is morally inequitable, and in the event we cannot even count illegals, so enforcement is a chimera until (if ever) we can. The IRS can find you and me, but the INS cannot find the illegals. What can we do?
We need legislation that incorporates the following: (1) a national ID card to enable us to identify illegals, without which comprehensive enforcement is impossible; (2) earned citizenship that supplants illusory guest workers and serial amnesty; (3) election reform that ensures only legal citizens get to vote. The odds? Dismal. Why do I sound so pessimistic? Try this: Seems that William Jefferson Clinton hired a chauffeur who was an illegal Pakistani immigrant. Yep, he who treated the first World Trade Center bombing as an isolated incident just had another...isolated incident. Serves him right for not consulting Hillary first. (But as to those not married to Hill, don't consult her on immigration--or anything else.)
La France is convulsed by riots due to student opposition to a law designed to encourage employers to hire inexperienced youths, which allows employers to fire new hires after a two-year trial, instead of rolling the dice by hiring someone that they are then stuck for life with--for better or worse, in sickness and in health, etc. Economist Larry Kudlow offers metrics on French economics and regulation that show the non-Kosher pickle France finds itself in.
There are a pair of bright spots: France's unrivaled nuclear energy position and a strong, growing broadband sector. As two excellent Wall Street Journal articles today note, in these vital areas France easily outstrips, among others, America. Whereas France gets 78 percent of its electric power via nuclear energy, Germany is a distant second at 28 percent and the US a far back fifth at 19 percent. Yet France's nuclear program provides only 20 percent versus 49 percent for oil, of total energy consumption, and they spent $120 billion to build it--in US per capita terms, $600 billion. Regarding broadband, OECD figures as of June 2005 show France, at 12.5 percent household broadband penetration, trailing the US's 14.5 percent and world leader Korea's 25.5 percent. (There are more than 10 countries between the US and Korean figures, but that lies outside the scope of this posting.) Where French broadband shines is in its quality; 24 megabit speed, 16 times the US norm of 1.5 megabits, for $36 per month. France's faster broadband enables services like remote health monitoring, not doable at US speeds.
Returning to the riots, put simply, France is toying with the novel idea that giving someone a job does not constitute a shotgun marriage for life. John Tierney, in a gentle ribbing, suggests that America help its floundering "ally" by exporting to France the American self-help industry, as the French, with low self-esteem, need it more than a relatively more confident US. The once culturally confident country for which my generation had nothing but admiration--who with a spark of joie de vivre objected to brie & Brigitte?--is now a whimpering, self-absorbed welfare haven, ripe for taking by an exploding (in more ways than one) Muslim population. (France still does produce jolie femmes; as for its cheeses, US import rules make it hard to get decent ones here.)
Tierney gets it half-right: we should export of self-help promoters. But his choice of importer is wrong. Leave us export our self-help folks not to France, but to Muslim lands, which badly need a dose of "can-do" self-0help promoters. As for France, leave us stick with our real allies (UK, Australia, etc.) while we tell the French, per The Donald: "You're fired!"
Mike Ledeen's latest NRO piece gives his latest tally of perfidy by Russia, France & Germany. Russia, as reports from captured and now public Iraqi "Harmony" documents show, tipped off Saddam re US force plans, from a leak within Central Command. Meanwhile, France & Germany leaned on pro-US Turkish pols, warning them that Turkey would never get in the EU if American forces were allowed to move into northern Iraq from Turkey. We thus lost a close vote and our most powerful infantry division was blocked from moving southward. These actions prolonged the first phase of Iraq II, caused more US casualties and gave Saddam's Fedayeen insurgents valuable time to organize the insurgency. Ledeen predicts--probably rightly--that Russia will use its spies to keep Iran informed about US plans. Our position in Iraq would have been much stronger had continental European forces sent special ops to help, plus really pitched in afterward, especially in training police.
None of this makes Europe our enemy, but it does mean that we ought to calibrate our posture on a country-specific basis, and calculate in the fashion of the great 19th century European statesmen how we deal with Europe: We have neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies there, but merely permanent interests. As for helping Europe, if you think Iraqis are not sufficiently grateful recall the famous line of Austria's Prince Felix Schwartzenberg after his country got outside help in suppressing the 1848 Hungarian revolution: "Austria will astound the world with the magnitude of her ingratitude." This doesn'o mean we never help Europe; just do not except to be thanked for doing so, and pick our spots with care.
Charles Krauthammer cites the late brilliant physicist Richard Feynmann forecasting after World War II, during which Feynman worked on the Manhattan Project, that nuclear war was inevitable. CK sees three nuclear futures for the planet: two nightmares, one bearable. Nightmare One is fanatics starting a massive nuclear war. Nightmare Two is several cities destroyed by terrorist nuclear devices, causing a few million casualties and spurring liberal societies to jettison liberal democracy for a dictatorial order designed to prevent WMD attacks more efficiently than a liberal order can do. (The civil liberties crowd seems oblivious to this prospect, being permanently in denial.) The third is that liberal regimes act to defuse the Iran nuclear threat and establish a benchmark of preventing rogue states and terrorists from obtaining nukes, taking whatever action necessary.
CK is not sanguine that the West will act decisively against Iran. Sadly, as Michael Ledeen points out today on NRO, ignoring Iran's subversion in Iraq and negotiating over nukes shows that pessimists have reason to be gloomy. Ledeen says we must destroy the Iranian and Syrian regimes--start by strongly supporting democratic change in Iran and by bombing terrorist camps in Iran and Syria. The mullahs calculate, he writes, that our pursuing feeble negotiations, plus the severe damage inflicted by domestic critics on Bush, means that the US is paralyzed. The mullahs' calculation may well be right.
8 posts: (1) "Lucky" on Senators--The Home Front; (2) Souter Lifts the Drawbridge--The Home Front; (3) Tolerance, Freedom, Muslims & Amish--Us v. Them; (4) Iraq: Have We or Iraqis Paid More?--Us v. Them; (5) Israel: Americans Flip MSM "The Bird"--MSM Murders; (6) Cindy & the Tillmans--The Home Front; (7) Elites, War & Reality--Us v. Them; (8) Yale Barks at Afghan Women--Weenie Watch.
I am reading the 1959 Richard Condon novel, The Manchurian Candidate, from which the famed 1962 movie (far better than the novel) was made. A lovely nugget in the book is this quote from a real-life 1958 interview by columnist Leonard Lyons with Charles ("Lucky") Luciano, in which the aging, by then exiled capo de tutti Mafiosi capi said: "A U.S. Senator can make more trouble, day in day and day out, than anyone else."
Justice David Souter, author of the infamous Kelo v. New London case last year that subordinated private property rights to public/private business ventures, opined in last week's decision in Georgia v. Randolph, invoking Fourth Amendment search warrant principles, that "a man's home is his castle." Gee, Justice "Bates Motel" (Tony Kornheiser's 1990 nickname for Souter, after fiend-killer Norman Bates, played by Tony Perkins in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho), that's just what the losers argued in Kelo. Some hometown neighbors wish to evict Souter. Alas, they probably will fail.
What are the limits of the famed Western ethic of toleration? We can tolerate the Amish, but must reject fundamentalist Islam. Why? We need to distinguish between two types of minorities: (a) those that are peaceful, particularist and few; versus (b) those that are militant, universalist and many. To be equally tolerant of both is societal suicide. Deference to militancy is surrender to the threat of war; deference to universalist aspiration is cultural surrender that creates a unified but illiberal order; deference to number creates distinct, segmented societies even if the minority is particularist. Thus, to defer to cartoon riots gives away the West's grand value of free--even offensive, as satire often is--expression; to allow students to come to school in head-to-toe Muslim garb--as Cherie Booth Blair argued in a case she lost last week--endorses cultural separatism; to allow execution or expulsion of a Muslim convert to Christianity from a Muslim land the West liberated at cost of blood and treasure is cultural self-abasement akin to societal suicide (fortunately we stopped the Islamists--this time). Even a tiny, militant universalist sect can create trouble in an era of WMD threats, let alone extremist members of a 1.2 billion Islamic world community.
Two intelligent, serious 43 critics, Francis Fukuyama and Adam Garfinkle, write in today's Wall Street Journal that the US should decouple democracy promotion from fighting terrorism. Our blinders in Iraq have, rightly or wrongly, discredited aggressive democracy promotion. While the authors acknowledge a linkage between tyrannical regimes and export of terror, they advise 43 to focus on low-profile counter-terror operations and put democracy promotion on a slower timetable, lest Islamist regimes continue to win elections. In yet another setback for promotion of democracy Ukraine's December 2004 "Orange Revolution" party has suffered losses in parliamentary elections.
For his part, ever sharp Mark Steyn neatly captures the stakes in pushing hard against Islamist intolerance. Best is his quoting an answer to the West's cultural relativists (there are none of this intellectual breed outside the West) of a British colonial officer in 19th century India:
"In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of 'suttee' -- the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:
''You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows.You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.'
43, run up the rope before it's too late.
The latest round figures place US combat deaths in Iraq at 2,300 and wounded at 17,200; Iraqi deaths are estimated to be 30,000 to date. With the US at roughly 300 million having 12 times Iraq's approximate 25 million population, this makes Iraqi deaths 360,000 in relative per capita US terms. Can you imagine the political and societal impact in the US had 360,000 US troops died in Iraq II? If we assume Iraq is in a civil war--a point of dispute but ultimately irrelevant in that if the insurgents triumph, whether it is formally called a civil war or a guerrilla war is academic--then we can take the American Civil War toll and make a further historical comparison. American dead for 1861-1865 were 600,000 out of 30 million, a two percent fatality rate; multiplying by 10 to get today's US per capita toll = 6 million. A two percent Iraqi toll would mean 500,000 actual Iraqi casualties--nearly 17 times the actual rate.
As pundits often make historical references in assessing the cost/benefit calculus for Iraq II, here is a quick per capita guide for US combat toll comparisons, excluding wars before World War II because medical practice was so primitive (and excluding the Gulf War because, thankfully, casualties were so few as to make statistical comparison meaningless): US population was 137 million for 1943, the mid-year of World War II; it was 158 million for 1952, Korea's mid-year and 200 million for 1968, Vietnam's mid-year. Thus, to compare fatalities requires multiplying figures for earlier wars to get per capita equivalents today. As multipliers, for WW-II use 2.2, for Korea 1.9 & Vietnam 1.5. It should also be noted that US deaths would be far higher--perhaps around 6,500--if 20th century historical ratios of US casualties pertained. 20th century US wounded typically were about 2/3 of total casualties--a 2:1 ratio; the US wounded-to-dead ratio in Iraq is 7.5:1. Better medicine and body armor thus have kept deaths to about 30 percent of the 6,500 that at 20th century combat rates would be our Iraq II total. (The NY Sun, however, reports today that Marines carrying 70 pounds of combat gear often shun the 5 pounds of body armor as inimical to rapid, agile movement, and offering not enough added protection to be worth wearing; a related Sun editorial scolds politicans who exploit the issue for rpolitical gain.) For more detailed numbers for all noteworthy US wars, including stats on numbers under arms, see this excellent USCWC website. (The census figures I use differ slightly from those at the site because I took mid-war base years for simplicity of calculation.)
Iraqis have thus suffered in three years 34 percent of what Americans lost in Vietnam in 11 years, which suggests that if casualties are incurred over the next seven years at comparable rates Iraqis will pay more dearly than we did then: 124 percent of the per capita equivalent price in deaths Americans paid in Vietnam. I leave it to LFTC readers to decide if this amounts to a civil or guerrilla war. (In the end, either way, we must prevail.) Iraqis are paying a price far higher than we in Iraq II--their relative death rate over the past three years--is 150 times ours to date. They are, indeed, fighting for their country and paying a fearful price.
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe presents poll results of American attitudes towards Israel that should gladden the heart of Israel's supporters--and enrage the mainstream media (MSM). Overwhelmingly, Americans support Israel, detest Palestinian atrocities and even endorse targeted assassinations carried out by Israel against terrorists. This is true despite media coverage that even in the West differs little from that on al-Jazeera. To see how vast the gulf is between Western media in Israel and the American (but sadly, not the European) public, read Stephanie Guttman's gripping book, The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy (Encounter Books 2005). In it the author documents in shocking detail how "reporters" routinely accept Palestinian sources as accurate, scornfully reject Israeli sources as biased and conceal massive manipulation of Western publics by Palestinians who use violence or threat of same to get their way.
Two examples say it all: (1) On 9/11 there was brief airing of footage on US television of Palestinians joyfully romping in the streets celebrating the attacks. Threats from the Palestinian Authority got the footage yanked within hours. (2) Remember Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot to death in an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and PLO thugs in September 2000? Israel was immediately blamed. But it turns out that the Israelis did not do it, as the boy was not in the line of IDF fire; the Palestinians did it--either accidentally or, equally likely, intentionally. Too late--MSM flushed the truth down the memory hole. Ms. Guttman's tome is educational for even those with substantial knowledge of the Mideast, providing chilling detail on how easily Western media are manipulated--and how little they mind same. It is an astonishing, revealing read.
Paul Beston's article in TAS compares the grotesque behavior of half-mad Cindy Sheehan with the dignified behavior of the family of Pat Tillman. What makes the contrast so stark is that while Cindy seeks celebrity, poses on her son's grave for Vanity Fair, etc., the Tillmans are unable to get an honest answer from the Army as to exactly how friendly fire killed their hero-son Pat, who gave up NFL stardom to fight for his country. The Army, it seems, continues to dodge, has destroyed evidence and seems unwilling to give the Tillman family the honest, prompt answer it deserves. The Tilmans ruefully wonder: If this is how a high-profile enlistee family is treated, what can the non-famous expect? Some things government does are so wicked they beggar the imagination.
Peggy Noonan compares India/Pakistan 1947 with Iraq and finds that elites, then as now, don't see what is happening on the ground. They neither had then, nor do they have now, any true conception of the imminent carnage on the eve of quasi-civil war. A typically eloquent PN column.
The intellectual and moral wreckage at Ivy League colleges is revealed anew in a Wall Street Journal editorial that notes how Yale treats Afghan applicants. Eli Yale, so happy to help a Taliban Tokyo Rose applicant escape what the school calls "the wreckage of Afghanistan" did not extend such help to Afghan women who applied to escape the wreck the Taliban made--with the help of the very apologist Yale accepted as a student. Under a program started by an Afghan female refugee, 20 students have been placed, with 10 colleges participating--NONE Ivy League. All the women were fully qualified, unlike Yale's Taliban-flack "diversity" hire; all maintain at least a 3.5 GPA. The full article is worth a read. Equally worth a look is today's follow-up article by ace WSJ reporter John Fund, detailing more on Yale's contemptible contortions and on which students deserve dispensation.
One post: NSA Taps: Bugling "Taps" For Taps?--The Home Front. This is a 7,200 word in-depth analysis of the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the NSA wiretap controversy, with an assessment of the most likely outcomes.
British PM Tony Blair gave a major foreign policy address yesterday, entitled "Why We Fight On." With his characteristic eloquence that 43 lacks, Tough Tony says we are not in a clash of civilizations, but rather a clash about civilization. In other words, we are not fighting against an adversary that represents a civilization; theirs is an atavist totalitarianism nurtured in religious obscurantist fanaticism. Indicative of this is the latest from Afghanistan, where an Afghan who converted to Christianity faces death, having been turned in by his family. Michelle Malkin has the gory details and has posted at her website 43's embarrassingly weak statement, plus a stronger response from the Danish foreign minister. The Wall Street Journal editors explain the awful blow-back of quitting Iraq. Even Fareed Zaharia, highly critical of 43 re Iraq, says we should not give up in Iraq. Max Boot (LA Times--free subscription) says the war has cost more than its supporters anticipated. I am 75 pages into Cobra II, the book I touted last week on the Iraq war. It is riveting and deeply informative. More when I finish.
Christopher Hitchens, with his customary passion, defends the Iraq enterprise, arguing that a unified, democratic Iraq is the only hope. He notes that civil war has always been the centerpiece of the jihadist strategy. Most dangerous is the ability of a minority to destroy hope for the great majority:
"Since February 2004, there have been numberless attacks on Shiite religious processions and precincts. Somewhat more insulting to Islam (one might think) than a caricature in Copenhagen, these desecrations did not immediately produce the desired effect. Grand Ayatollah Sistani even stated that, if he himself fell victim, he forgave his murderers in advance and forbade retaliation in his name. This extraordinary forbearance meant that many Shiites--and Sunnis, too--refused to play Zarqawi's game. But the grim fact is, as we know from Cyprus and Bosnia and Lebanon and India, that a handful of determined psychopaths can erode in a year the sort of intercommunal fraternity that has taken centuries to evolve. If you keep pressing on the nerve of tribalism and sectarianism, you will eventually get a response. And then came the near-incredible barbarism in Samarra, and the laying waste of the golden dome."
George Friedman of Stratfor commented earlier this month (not online) that Bush's war strategy has taken a triple hit by three intersecting events: (1) the Golden Dome bombing in Iraq; (2) the al-Qa'ida attack on a Saudi oil installation; and (3) the Dubai port deal collapse. In Iraq, the US began the postwar with a lean to the Shi'a, seeking to avoid suppression of the Sunni; then the US tilted to the Sunni to seek to bring them into the broader political process. The Golden Dome bombing seeks to derail this process by igniting civil war. In Saudi the al-Q terror attack on oil was designed to shift the strategic balance; it backfired, because the failure of the attackers to even penetrate the perimeter demonstrated the operational impotence of al-Q in Saudi Arabia. But the Dubai port deal demonstrated to Mideast observers that 43 has lost much of the political standing that made him the dominant global political figure. Which bodes ill for 43's aim to split the Islamic world between radicals and moderates. If moderates see the US losing or 43 losing clout, they will straddle between the warring sides.
In this vein, Francis Fukuyama, despite his having broken with the Bush Administration over the Iraq war, warns Europeans not to take too much schadenfreude in America's troubles. FF sees a "perfect storm" brewing in which failure in Iraq plus the rise of bi-partisan isolationist sentiment (like that which, FF believes, drove opposition to the Dubai port deal), causes America to retreat. Europe will need America's help, and will lose if we retreat, he writes.
A "perfect storm" indeed. An Administration in disarray cannot fix it. The stumbles in Iraq appear to have doomed the prospect for a broad success in combating Mideast jihadism. 43 must recover sufficiently to eke out a narrow victory--a tolerable outcome in Iraq, albeit well short of the model democracy that could have transformed the Mideast much for the better. And 43 must finish Iran's nuke program--preferably with political decapitation--if anyone other than Giuliani or McCain wins in 2008. Yes, it will be ugly, but defeat is uglier. Pretty outcomes, never the norm in war, are not in prospect here. And sadly, the opposition party in America is so dysfunctional that its ascendancy will only compound the disaster--by accelerating US withdrawal and thus energizing jihadist movements around the world. If Bush is the poster boy for managerial incompetence and obstinate refusal to take advice even from friends, the Democrats are the poster party for suicidal Eurabian and socialist defeatism.
A recent LFTC posting described so-called "to hell with them hawks"--conservatives disaffected by the mess in Iraq, who wish to abandon democracy creation. Jed Babbin says the label is misplaced. The THWT hawks really are, he says, Endgame Conservatives who feel we should focus on destroying terror-sponsoring governments and leave democracy to the longer term. The ECs would target Iran & Syria and lean hard on Saudi Arabia. They deride pro-democracy factions as Wilsonian and thus naive. I find myself sympathetic to the ECs more & more. I saw democracy as possible if we moved fast and decisively in Iraq, but now partition seems the better course. To be fair, the pro-democracy types were not truly Wilsonian; they saw tyrannical and terrorist regimes as incubators of terror pre-9/11, and sought to clear the swamp--I agreed with them. But this seems not achievable in the near- or medium-term. Leave us, then, destroy the Iranian & Syrian regimes, and keep a troop presence in Iraqi Kurdistan in a partitioned Iraq. BTW the current print edition of Vanity Fair has a superb, and depressing--piece on Afghanistan, where Taliban are making a comeback, written by author Sebastian Junger (he wrote The Perfect Storm). Definitely a good, if heartrending, read.
One post today: As Congress & the President close in on a final deal over the National Security Agency's program to monitor conversations between terror suspects abroad and persons residing within the United Sates, and as Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) seeks a censure motion and even presses for impeachment--moves sure to fail but part of a likely Presidential bid launch for 2008--LFTC posts today a summary of key constitutional and legal issues surrounding the NSA monitoring, plus a look at the probable line-up should litigation launched by outside parties reach the Supreme Court.
Today's Posting: NSA Monitoring Program: A Summary--The Home Front.
NSA WIRETAPS: PRESIDENT, CONGRESS LOSE, TERROR WINS
two months of intense debate inside the Beltway over the National
Security Agency’s (NSA) program for warrantless monitoring of
communications between suspected terrorists abroad and callers inside
the US, six truths emerge:
(1) Over a thirty year period, federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have indicated that the President has some measure of inherent authority, derived from the executive function, that Congress cannot define by statute and whose scope has not been defined by judicial review, to conduct warrantless surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes;
(2) The President lacks Congressional statutory authorization to conduct warrantless surveillance of suspected foreign intelligence operatives or terrorists, for more than 3 days or, in event of a declaration of war, more than 15 days—time limits set by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA (1978), as amended by the USA Patriot Act (2001);
(3) Congress will not accept plenary Presidential authority to conduct warrantless surveillance outside of statutory bounds, subject merely to periodic review by top congressional leaders and even with notification of the FISA Court (a special court set up by the FISA law);
(4) the President faces an uphill battle in the United States Supreme Court, given the current balance and given probable indisposition of some Justice sympathetic to the President’s position to decide a case on broad constitutional grounds that can be decided on narrow statutory grounds;
(5) The President thus is wise to seek a deal with Congress that preserves extended warrantless surveillance, but under closer supervision by other Branches than done under the President’s current NSA program;
(6) Congress is likely to accept a compromise, because the NSA program is politically popular with most of the American public, who accept (rightly, on evidence to date) that NSA targets terrorists not domestic opponents, and who are neither able nor inclined to parse arcane constitutional law issues.
The gravamen of the President’s legal argument is that while the 1978 FISA statute itself does not authorize the NSA program, the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) constitutes independent and sufficient legal authority outside of FISA; just as the Supreme Court recognized in 2004 that detention, though not mentioned in the AUMF, is a fundamental incident of war, so is interception of communications without obtaining a warrant. Further, the language of the AUMF has plain legal meaning, independent of contrary private intentions of those voting for passage. Alternatively, the President retreats to the concept of inherent authority, and to the extent that FISA, by purporting to be exclusive, prohibits this the President argues that FISA is unconstitutional “as applied”—that is, in this particular factual context—because under the Supremacy Clause of the federal Constitution no statute can alter constitutional powers. The President also argues that FISA was passed a generation ago, in a vastly different time, with different threats in mind and in a technologically ancient era. Two subtler arguments are also advanced on his behalf: (1) given multiple constructions of constitutional prerogative the courts should adopt a construction that avoids unnecessary inter-branch constitutional conflict; (2) because the full Congress cannot keep a secret, notifying more than a few leaders jeopardizes the entire program, and thus makes asking Congress to again amend FISA impractical.
The President is right on several points: (1) FISA was passed in 1978 not to protect Americans against foreign intelligence gathering, let alone terrorist attacks, but rather to protect Americans against abuse by their own government, as happened in the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon Administrations; (2) technology has indeed radically changed, with ubiquitous wireless and mass-market Internet data services and a global web of networks orders of magnitude greater in coverage than the pitifully few connections of times past; (3) intercepting communications is indeed a fundamental incident of war; (4) constitutional powers trump statutory powers.
Limited Authorization of Presidential Action
The willingness of the President to negotiate with Congress, despite widespread popular support for his program, suggests that the President’s advisers have made clear to him that despite the sharply limited nature of his program, regular consultation with top Congressional leaders and notification to the FISA Court, victory in the Supreme Court is dicey at best.
The President is behind the eight-ball on several counts: (1) Congress amended FISA in passing the USA Patriot Act, just 6 weeks after the 9/11 attacks—with immediate memory of that dreadful day, and of anthrax unleashed on Capitol Hill by perpetrators (still) unknown); (2) Congress specifically considered eavesdropping in passing the Patriot Act, and expanded the President’s authority, though for far shorter periods than the NSA program’s four-plus year duration. Congress extended the period for warrantless surveillance from 24 to 72 hours, allowing roving wiretaps that follow persons from one mode of communication to another, allowing interception of Internet communications; (3) Congress is now weighing Patriot Act amendments, some 30, all aimed at tightening restrictions on Presidential action to provide greater protection of privacy and civil liberties. Congress gave the Executive modest authority only. Under the established legal rule that specific laws trump general laws, and that a conflicting later law made with knowledge of prior law amends prior law, the Patriot Act amendments trump authority that may be implied per the AUMF.
Supreme Court: Likely to Avoid a Broad Constitutional Ruling
The extent to which a President has inherent authority outside Congressional authorization will be definitively decided, if at all, by the Supremes via judicial review. But the Supremes are supposed to seek statutory grounds if possible, and if they do the President will lose. On constitutional grounds the President will win, unless the Supremes were to decide that requiring a warrant does not abridge substantive Presidential powers, but merely prescribes procedure by which they are exercised. However, a warrant rule here effectively forecloses an entire class of surveillance. Low-probability surveillance of suspects over a long period of time will simply not pass “probable cause” muster, and thus the NSA program cannot meet judicially-mandated warrant standards. It is debatable whether such an “outcome-determinative” rule is purely procedural, but a Court disinclined to rule on broad constitutional grounds may well so decide.
With four likely liberal votes against him (Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer) the President needs all remaining five. If one presumes Thomas and Scalia highly likely to support the President, and Bush’s two appointees (Chief Justice Roberts and Samuel Alito) likely to but less so, Bush still needs Anthony Kennedy’s vote, a toss-up, to prevail. The multiplied percentage probabilities of winning all five votes are not comforting to the President’s position.
the NSA Program Be Saved?
So how does the President find an exit strategy that saves his program? His ace in the hole is that the public supports his program; Congress, too has an ace—a holding by the Supreme Court that the NSA program is illegal would politically wound the President. The bald fact is that the president is confronted by a bi-partisan majority in Congress that: (a) wants Congress’s perceived institutional prerogatives restored; and (b) remains haunted by the ghosts of abuses past. Congress will not give the President a blank check to wiretap terror suspects.
The outlines of a pact are clear: (1) a broader power to conduct surveillance without warrant—with perhaps 90 days to either show “probable cause” for a warrant (it can take months to prepare complex FISA applications), or to justify continued surveillance without one; (2) broader consultation with Congress-more than the “Gang of Eight” top leaders; and (3) broader reporting requirements to the FISA Court. The President couldn’t get a blank check from Congress even in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and the current High Court will not likely give him one. He needs to accept greater supervision from other branches, in some combination, with safeguards to minimize the risk of compromise by disclosure—FISA judges and selected members of Congress, but not the full roster of either.
The good news is that neither the President, given a dicey Supreme Court before which to argue plenary authority, nor Congress, given a program popular with the voters, is in any mood to go for broke. The bad news is that with the blizzard of publicity over the past two months the NSA program’s value is, if not totally destroyed, almost surely greatly diminished. So who are the only sure winners from two months of widely aired public debate of the NSA program since it was made public by the mass media? You guessed it: the terrorists, who will adjust tactics based upon what they have learned about NSA’s hitherto secret program.
5 posts: (1) TSA's Banner Week--Weenie Watch; (2) US & Iraq & Iran: Triple Trouble?--Us v. Them; (3) Islam's "Fifth Horseman" Approaches?--Us v. Them; (4) Iraq: Eliot Ness, Call Your Office--Us v. Them; (5) 1968: Recall 1st Arab Terror Strike Here--9/11, 3/11 & N/11.
The Transportation Security Administration outdid itself this past week. First, we learn that a lawyer for TSA violated the trial judge's instructions not to coach witnesses, and thus 7 important witnesses are barred from the "20th hijacker" punishment trial (death penalty or life sentence) of Zaccharias Moussaoui. And yesterday NBC reported that in tests conducted at 21 airports last fall, TSA screeners failed to detect bomb material smuggled on planes at any of the 21 test airports. TSA even failed to detect bomb materials in bags taken aside for special screening. Think of this the next time you see TSA morons invasively pat down a Scandinavian grandmother.
Thomas Friedman often gets carried away, but when he is on the money he is one of the best in the business. Today he argues that the only thing worse for Iran than a US withdrawal from Iraq is a US success in building Iraqi democracy, with a US stalemate the best outcome for Iran. Friedman cautions that by withdrawal he does not mean an instant cut-and-run. But having our troops tied down there is ideal for Iran, which fears an untethered Iraq. Assumptions that Iranian and Iraqi Shi'a are cozy are false. Persians and Arabs don't like one another. That is why, TF notes, they fought an eight-year war (1980-1988). Most Iraq Shi'a are moderate, unlike the Twelver (think "Twelfth Imam" millenarian) mullahs who rule Iran. Iraqi democracy would spur pro-democracy discontent in Iran. A US pullout would free Iraqis to turn on Iran. Look for the career bureaucrats at State to offer Iran, in upcoming talks, more influence in Iraq than it could ever hope to get otherwise, in order to placate the mullahs and speed troop withdrawals. Be afraid; be very afraid.
Ever provocative, Arnaud be Borchgrave writes that re Iraq & Iran the "Fifth Horseman" of the Apocalypse has appeared. He salutes Bush summoning former Democratic Congressman Lee Hamilton and Bush 41 top man James Baker to head an Iraq study group. He argues that 43 : (a) is losing Iraq to Iranian influence; (b) slighted Pakistan via his nuke deal with India; (c) ignores future Palestinian rocket threat despite Israel's fence; (d) should thus negotiate secretly with Iran, despite Iran's current president being a "fifth horseman" and despite UN sanctions being doomed from the start. He argues that 43 should pursue a geopolitical bargain with Iran that prevents a terror axis from Hamas to Baghdad to Tehran to Islamabad. He concludes that if the US cannot strike a deal, Israel will take out Iran's nuke assets, and fears that $200 oil will result.
In agreeing to talk with Iran, 43 has accepted one suggestio: negotiations--except the talks will be public. (The Fifth Horseman was about a Qaddhafi plot to nuke NYC; not bad, but not nearly as good as two other books by Dominique Lappierre & Larry Collins (Oh, Jerusalem & Is Paris Burning?). My thoughts re AdeB's points (sorry for small format type, but I pasted my comments from Outlook, having commented on this in response to an e-mail sent me earlier by an LTFC reader):
1. Iraq. Liberal democracy is not in the offing. Partition will probably prove necessary. The key is to marginalize Moqtada al-Sadr & his allies. Bullets OR ballots--not both.
Ralph Peters, ever sharp, sees in Iraq not civil war but gang war between thugs. He believes that we should have partitioned Iraq in 2003 (so do I, as I have written on LFTC) but thinks a unified Iraq is possible. Let the thugs kill (mostly) one another while Iraqi security is beefed up. But RP warns to have a Plan B (partition) ready in case unity fails; hope is not a strategy. Amen.
We are reminded by an op-ed in the NY Sun that the first Arab terrorist strike on US soil was June 5, 1968 when RFK was assassinated by a Palestinian terrorist who hated Israel. We are informed as well that this week double-Sirhan, spared death by the Supreme Court's 1972 Furman v. Georgia decision, came up for the 13th time at a parole hearing, thankfully denied; he comes up again in 2011. That act changed history, in all probability. Had RFK won the Democratic nomination--very possible--he would, I think, have beaten Nixon. No Nixon = no Watergate and no China opening (RFK could never have gotten away with it). No President Ford. So Reagan runs against Carter in 1976? Carter was the "outsider" sent to clean up after Watergate ("I will never lie to you"). More likely, we would have seen Scoop Jackson v. Reagan. As for the Palestinians, they have learned nothing since 1968.
Ironically, Andrew Wolf's Sun column today recounts how the other night he saw a film today's Hollywood could never make: "Cast a Giant Shadow." Wolf recounts the bio of David "Mickey" Marcus, the American general who saved Israel, and is the only US soldier buried at West Point who died in the service of a foreign army. Wolf hates the film, unjustifiably. I saw it last summer and it holds up beautifully. No moral ambiguity here. Wolf objects to Hollywood tarting up the film by adding a ficitious love interest, played by sultry Senta Berger, and having lovely Angie Dickinson play Marcus's wife. But he is too much the biographical purist. The film is, after all, entertainment. And speaking of Angie & Senta they were, in their day, considered second-tier sex symbols, after the likes of Sophia Loren, Ursula Andress, Raquel Welch etc. Today? Compared to Angie & Senta (let alone yesteryear's top female tier) today's female sex stars are either (a) teen tarts, (b) tomboys or (c) silicon inflatable dolls. Better girls--and better films then, too. Pray that Spielberg refrains from making a film whitewashing Sirhan's foul deed.
9 posts: (1) Iraq: Al-Qa'ida's Near-Tet--Us v. Them; (2) Iraq: Unity Possible? If So, What Price?--Us v. Them; (3) Cherie Blair's Islamist Tendency--Weenie Watch; (4) Indonesian Turnaround--Us v. Them; (5) UN Flip-Flop: Burying Bolton--Turtle Bay Tortoise; (6) Law Leapfrogs Chapel Hill Terror--The Home Front; (7) Spending: Deficit of Governance--The Home Front; (8) Ports Deal Lobbyists: Guess Who?--The Home Front; (9) McCain Straw Poll Media Miasma--MSM Murders.
James Robbins reveals on NRO that al-Qa'ida almost pulled off a replay of the North Vietnamese Tet offensive that shocked American television viewers in 1968, and turned key elites against the war. Iraqi internal security cracked an al-Qa'ida plot to plant 421 phony guards inside the Green Zone, from where the terrorists were to storm the US & UK embassies and take hostages. Robbins reports that the plotters were "one bureaucrat's signature away" from success. He cites Clausewitz's "trinity" of targets--military, leaders and national will--and notes that only as to the last do the terrorists have a decent chance. He then quotes Osama himself: “It is obvious that the media war in this century is one of the strongest methods; in fact, its share may reach 90 percent of the total preparation for battles.” When Robbins says a Tet II defeat would seriously wound the war effort he understates the case. It would spell complete psychological defeat, destroy the White house and most of the support Republicans in Congress still give the war effort.
David Ignatius, a frequent 43 critic, now says that there are growing signs that Iraqi politicians are moving towards unity. He notes that Iraqi leaders have decided to pull back from the brink of civil war, and that the US wants to engage Iran on Iraq issues. And in a "curious and curiouser" twist, secularist Ahmad Chalabi supports the al-Jaffari/al-Sadr alliance. Jim Hoagland, often a 43 supporter, argues that the US should side with Iraqi PM al-Jaffari in bringing radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr into the political process. Engaging Iran, of course, means not striking at Iran's nuke assets or its leaders, at a time when Condi Rice calls Iran a "central banker of terrorism" and Iran is considered the number one security threat we face. Cragg [sic] Hines, a Houston Chronicle columnist based inside the Beltway, writes that due to ethnic mixing in major cities partitioning Iraq three ways, as I advocate, cannot work. Worth a read. But we may have no choice, depending upon how things play out over there. I am tempted to say "Stop the world, I want to get off" and leave it at that, but LFTC readers deserve more.
Muddling through and accepting a middling result is likely the best we can do with Iraq. Withdrawal and defeat is unthinkable. Not only would efforts to remake the Mideast collapse, but our fair-weather friends there would write us off for a generation. Muslim radicals worldwide would be energized; restive Muslim populations in Europe would be energized as well. People who worry that Iraq is minting thousands of recruits for terror should contemplate how many more an American retreat would create. Think Somalia, which energized Osama. Failure is not an option. We likely must define success down, but on some minimally digestible terms we must prevail.
As stalwart as Tough Tony has been on terrorism, Cherie Blair has been the opposite. In many ways she is Hillary without the post-9/11 makeover. She is a prominent barrister, and has taken on a case defending the right of Muslim schoolgirls to wear the veil. As peerless social commentator Theodore Dalrymple explains, the schoolgirls are not competent to make this choice which in reality was made by their Islamist parents in pursuit of cultural separation. Such parents often take their Muslim female offspring out of school around age 12 and send them back to Pakistan to be forcibly married. True, the Amish, too, seek cultural separation, but adherents of their faith neither commit terrorist acts nor intimidate cartoonists. Laws that treat Islam differently rightly recognize this reality--one Cherie Blair implicitly denies.
Dalrymple, who works in a lot of underclass settings including hospitals (he is a physician), sees bright, ambitious Muslim girls, well-mannered, who try to kill themselves to avoid the fate of consignment to the darker corners of their faith. The Muslim girls come from intact families, unlike many of Britain's whites. Dalrymple concludes:
"Yet the Muslim families clearly were doing something right, or at least much better than the white, non-Muslim families around them (if you could call the loose patterns of association found among the whites “families”).
"Here, then, is proper material for reflection, of the kind that the opportunistic Blair couple will never give it. Discipline without freedom leads to misery, but freedom without discipline leads to chaos, shallowness, and misery of another kind."
A Wall Street Journal editorial reports a welcome turnaround in Indonesian attitudes towards the US: an NGO survey shows that since 2003 the share of Indonesians with a positive view of the US has tripled, from 15 to 44 percent; by 40 to 36 percent they support the US in the war on terror, the first Muslim country to show a plurality in our favor on this. Why the shift? US aid after the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami, that we distribute to 600,000 Indonesians. A gain in the world's most populous Muslim country is a big win for us.
A Wall Street Journal editorial gives the grim news: outvoted 170-4 the US still will pony up its 22 percent share for the new UN Human Rights Council; Israel, Palau & the Marshall Islands joined us in the vote. John Bolton, it seems, was outvoted inside the Administration. Those who want more gory details can find them at Hudson Institute scholar Anne Bayevsky's Eye on the UN website. Yech.
It may well be that the Iranian student who attempted to murder his Chapel Hill fellow students cannot be prosecuted for committing a terrorist act due to gaps in the set of applicable federal and state laws. He was a lone wolf, did not use WMD, did not succeed in killing anyone and if he himself was motivated by religious animus it will be difficult to apply hate crime laws because he didn't target his victims because of their religion, but rather because of his, and his anger at US policy. A garden-variety reckless endangerment case will have to suffice.
Peggy Noonan, ever poetic, wonders if 43 ever cared to cut spending or if, as a self-styled "compassionate conservative" he really believes as much in Big Government as LBJ. Noonan thought after 9/11 that 43 may have decided not to fight certain domestic battles in pursuit of wartime unity. Had that been the result of spending largesse it would have been a defensible bargain. It understates the case to observe that 43 has purchased nothing but contempt for his no-veto Presidency, and that opposition to the war has been spiteful and opportunistic. PN notes a USA Today report that since 2000 US population has risen 5 prevent, while spending on 25 key government entitlement programs is up 22 percent and at $1.3 trillion represents more than half the total federal budget. This is a massive failure of conservative governance. It is something 43 does not even discuss, and we will, it seems, get no explanation from him, ever.
George Will explains why a line-item veto would likely not work to control spending: Legislators could pass more dreck, knowing the President would veto while showing their constituents that they fought the good fight; and Presidents would still strike deals, trading support for small spending items for legislative support of favored Presidential items. Worse, a line-item veto statute may fail to pass constitutional muster, as it arguably re-arranges spending powers in violation of the Constitution. Will notes that on March 23 Bush will have gone without casting a veto longer than anyone since Thomas Jefferson, who went two terms without casting a single veto. He quotes historian Forrest McDonald, who explains that Mr. Jefferson simply refused to spend funds he thought ill-considered, and that massive bills did not exist then. This, of course, is the impoundment power that Nixon surrendered during Watergate in 1974. Budgets have exploded since.
Youssef Ibrahim has a revealing article on the ports deal, which I had not intended to write about again. He details Dubai's miscalculations. Incredibly, the two lobbyists Dubai hired to manage the Washington end of the deal seem to have been caught flatfooted. They were two people with considerable Washington experience: Bob Dole and Madeleine Albright. How come?