One post: The REAL Memorial Day: Today--The Home Front.
The nation celebrated Memorial Day Monday, but those of us of a certain age know that originally, from its 1868 inception to 1971, when Congress passed the National Holiday Act, the holiday was known as Decoration Day in honor of Confederate ladies decorating the graves of their war dead. On May , 2000, President Clinton proclaimed 3 PM on Memorial Day has a moment of national remembrance, for either silent prayer, or playing (singing) "Taps" (1862); 5 unofficial verses are vest known; there are no official lyrics). Apropos of memories, two extra items: (1) Here is an eyewitness account of a funeral ceremony at Arlington; having been to one, I can attest it is a moving, beautiful spectacle. (2) It was May 12, 1962 that General Douglas MacArthur gave his famous "Duty, Honor, Country" farewell address at West Point. Here are the MacArthur 1962 audio (31 minutes; full text (5 pages).
Exemplifying the principles embraced by those words are two Army soldiers back from Iraq, saluted in this TAS article: Specialists Eric Moser & Chris Corriveau; for their heroic actions they were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's highest decoration (the Medal of Honor is awarded, of course, by Congress); a riveting earlier TAS report (13 printed pages) tells their amazing story, in a rooftop firefight against overwhelming odds, in which two of their comrades perished. President Bush's Memorial Day tribute was lovely to watch; John McCain's Memorial Day remarks were divided between a plea for better medical care for veterans, and an appeal to win in Iraq. And read this Human Events story about Ida Ayres, whose immediately family members served in five wars. Bill Kristol thanks veterans and offers one eyewitness account by a helicopter pilot, of evidence f progress in Iraq. May all deceased American war heroes R.I.P.; may those still with us live long & happy lives with their families.
General MacArthur's speech came 6-1/2 months after the Soviet Union detonated its"Tsar Bomba" (2:59 video) super-bomb, a 57-megaton yield monster whose fireball would have enveloped Mount Everest, and whose thermal pulse would have caused third degree burns on exposed flesh out to 100 kilometers (62 miles). More detail on TB is worth a read, as its power was equal to a 5+ magnitude Richter-scale earthquake! In real life, a 27-ton weapon like TB could never have been delivered to strike the U.S., but the episode attests to the temper of the times (Doomsday angst) when the general gave his famed farewell.
Now wish continued long life for Frank Buckles, whom George Will informs us is the last survivor among the 4,734,991 veterans who served in World War I. Mr. Buckles is a spry 107. To enlist at age 16, he lied about his age, saying he was 18. Buckles was working for a steamship company is Manila when, in 1941, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. He survived 39 months of captivity. He has seen 20 of America's 43 presidents, and lived 46 percent of his country's years. Enjoy Will's tribute to an American who has lived a grand life. Sadly, though, author-historian Edward Lengel recounts how Americans, unlike Australians, Canadians and Europeans, largely ignore world War I--there is no memorial in DC, and far less literature and film than about World War II. This is bad for two reasons: the one Lengel cites is that however unintended it smacks of ingratitude; the other, perhaps more important (noted in Will's column), is that world history over the past 90 years was shaped more by the devastation wreaked by World War I than by any other event. Buckles celebrated Monday by attending a ceremony at Kansas City, Missouri's World War I memorial (Harry Truman was a WW-I veteran). Ben Stein expresses heartfelt thanks to our protectors.
Finally, here is a a closing quotation from George Orwell, that explains the contribution soldiers make to the security of the rest of us: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. "
A WSJ editorial upbraids Condi Rice for, at times, acting like Barack Obama would towards Iran: talk, talk, talk. The WSJ editors note that the report includes a disclosure that Iran's weaponization efforts continued into 2004--thus contradicting the Nov. 30, 2007 CIA NIE that said Iran stopped its weapons program in 2003. The editors propose that the US blockade refined oil shipments to Iran for one month, by stepping outside the UN, where only tepid sanctions are possible, thanks to Russia and China. Check out the IAEA Report (May 26, 2008) for yourself.
Read this LA Times article and meet KSM's lawyer, who thinks that his client, despite masterminding 9/11, is entitled to constitutional rights. Coupled with appalling judicial imperialism by the Supreme Court, we are well on our way to giving unlawful combatants rights never before accorded even lawful adversaries.
Author Lawrence Wright's 18-pager in the New Yorker is long, but well worth the read. In a nutshell, the prime theorist of al-Qaeda's death cult jihad has published a book repudiating violence against innocent people, and thus repudiating 9/11. The author, one Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad who is known widely by his underground name of Dr. Fadl, has directly challenged al-Qaeda number two Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, partly for personal reasons, but mainly philosophical. Wright's piece shows currents gathering in the Islamic world, even in Egypt, running sharply against militant Islamism. The Islamists were very popular after 9/11, but their endless refrain of killing innocents by the carload, including Muslims, has backfired with many. Ex-CNN reporter Peter Bergen (who interviewed bin Laden about a decade ago), has co-authored a piece echoing Wright's themes, adding that a key factor in moderate Muslim disenchantment with al-Qaeda--and among disaffected radicals--is that terrorists using takfir (the practice of declaring persons unbelievers--see this reference link), so as to entitle them to decide who is a "true Muslim." The authors note that among the place where sentiment is turning against al-Qaeda is in the Muslim areas of London. If winning Afghanistan was the End of the Beginning, this might be the Beginning of the End. Only the specter of WMD terror makes even a failing al-Qaeda potentially very dangerous still.
Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace sat for this 36-minute interview recently,
with Charlie Rose. Kagan sees China & Russia raising a new, daunting challenge to global democracy: functioning, economically prosperous autocracies, with populations willing to accept dictatorial government, including control of broadcast media and Internet access, so long as it produces acceptable economic and social results. The post-Cold War dream of a world made safe for liberal democratic capitalism has thus been dashed.
Nationalism, supposedly dealt a fatal blow by economic and communications globalization and the growth of multilateral institutions like the European Union, is now resurgent. Russia yearns for a return to superpower status, its leaders and its people seething with resentment at the loss of national prestige with the collapse of the Soviet Union. China sees itself emerging to retake its rightful place on the world stage, after two centuries of humiliation. Patterns of rivalry between China and Japan are being repeated; China is tilting toward Pakistan, while India and Japan tilt toward the United States. India seeks to escape the residual effects of British colonialism, despite its manifest benefits of India's political development. Kagan cites Lord Palmerston's famous 19th century aphorism about nations having neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies, merely permanent interests. Kagan says that while true, a nation's perceptions of its interest are dynamic, not static, and thus can change over time, as circumstances appear to dictate. Kagan warns:
[N]ations are never entirely satisfied.When one horizon has been crossed, a new horizon always beckons. What was once unimaginable becomes imaginable, then desirable. Desire becomes ambition, and ambition becomes interest. More powerful nations are not necessarily more contented nations. They may actually be less contented.
Russia and China may be adopted the model of Meiji Japan, which around 1870 began to adopt Western institutions not in pursuit of global harmony, but to further their own nationalist ambitions. Writes Kagan:
Power changes people, and it changes nations. It changes their perceptions of themselves, of their interests, of their proper standing in the world, of how they expect to be treated by others....
Nations have historically considered honor and price worth fighting for, often at the sacrifice of economic interests, and disputed territories have often been the cause of war.
Kagan regards Islamism as a "hopeless dream"; Iran, true to its Persian heritage, seeks dominance in the Mideast. Like Sunni radical Islam, militant Iranian Shia Islam is driven by anger at their displacement on the world stage for three centuries. Buttressing Kagan's view re militant Islam's decline in appeal, however, are figures provided in the latest column by foreign policy maven Fareed Zakharia. FZ cites an independent study from Canada's Simon Fraser University, that contradicts studies by the American government that show rising terror attacks. The SFU study excludes casualties in Iraq, which is a war zone, and finds that since 2001 there has been a 40 percent drop in terror attacks. FZ notes also that Islamists do not wear well with those who meet them up close. By 2007 support for al-Qaeda stood at 1 percent in Afghanistan; between August 2o07 and January 2008, support for al-Qaeda in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier province fell from 70 to 4 percent.
FZ concludes that our fear of terror is excessive. Were it not for WMD terror prospects, he might well be right. But FZ also, inadvertently, refutes one of his principal debating points, one he has made often in the past five years: that the Iraq War has ruined America's posture worldwide. True, America did take a severe hit, but Islamism will lose popularity contests almost always, because most people (including, to be fair, FZ) realize that the Islamists are so much worse than the Americans.
Kagan notes re America that its reputation for increasing arrogance was forged in the Bush I and Clinton years. Between 1989 and 2001 America intervened militarily overseas more than ever in a similar time frame, an average of one intervention every 16 months. Madeleine Albright publicly bragged that America was "the indispensable nation." While in many contexts the statement was, and remains, true, it was hardly diplomatic to tell the world out loud. Europeans championed aggressive use of international law to achieve humanitarian aims, at times trumping traditional national interest in sovereignty; autocracies like China and Russia regarded such trends (rightly) as a threat to them, not just to Third World flyspeck nations.
Kagan concludes that there is no longer an "international community" with common interests. The Kosovo War of 1999 proved that, when NATO sidestepped a Russian veto in the Security Council--a entity that, Kagan says, "is slipping back into its long coma" after its brief post-Cold War revival. Nor does fighting terror make Russia and China our true partners: Russia fights terror in Chechnya and China in its western province of Sinkiang (the Muslim Uighurs--China is clamping down on even non-violent Uighurs, using the upcoming Olympics as an excuse to escalate repression), but both countries see Mideast terror as handcuffing America, and thus increasing Russian and Chinese influence in the world.
Yet American's influence is rising, with Europe, fearful of Russia, and India, fearful of China, moving towards our orbit. Kagan offers a caveat: "But even if the United States were superhuman in it wisdom, even if it behaved morally and capably at all times, American power would still inspire jealousy and hostility and, in some quarters, even fear." Yet, Kagan concludes: "in most of the vital regions of the world...the United States is still the keystone in the arch. Remove it, and the arch collapses."
Democracies must, Kagan writes, come together to win the struggle for influence waged with the autocracies, but the battle will take decades to be resolved. It in effect returns the world to the Great Game of 19th century politics, with postmodernist politics of the 21st century largely eclipsed. Kagan does not explicitly state, but the democracies operate under handicaps that their 19th century forbears did not face: democratic publics suspicious of non-idealistic policies and (understandably) averse to fighting wars, and elites (media, business and NGOs) hostile to the very democracies who make their rise to power possible. Thus no American president can operate with the impunity that British, French and German statesmen did in the 19th century. This is hardly all bad, but it is hardly all good, either.
Rich Lowry explains how Democrats in 2008, unlike 2000, do not want to "count every vote" because they want Obama, not Hillary. His best paragraphs show how Idaho last night (Obama won yesterday's caucus by 65 - 35%) gave Obama more net delegates (12) than New Jersey gave Hill (11), under the loopy counting rules devised by the Democrats:
The metric the superdelegates are using is who won the most pledged delegates (Obama leads by roughly 150). This is entirely reasonable, given that pledged delegates were the prize both candidates were competing for. But the Democratic delegate-allocation rules can make the Electoral College that Democrats maligned back in 2000 look robustly representative by comparison.
Obama won more net delegates from Idaho (12) in winning the state by 13,000 votes out of 20,000 cast than Clinton netted from New Jersey (11) in winning the state by more than 100,000 votes out of 1 million votes cast. Obama dominated in small caucus states - where a tiny percentage of tiny electorates participated - and through strange wrinkles in the rules won more delegates in states like New Hampshire and Nevada where Clinton notionally won.
Thus, not only are Democrats not counting every vote, but some votes count for far more than others. Which, as Lowry notes, is precisely the situation with the Electoral College that Democrats excoriated in 2000 because Al Gore won more votes than the winner.
Michael Barone captures Obama's vulnerability due to his pastor problem. Elites shrug it off; many ordinary voters do not. A crisp read. A Politico article suggests Big Mac may win by 50 electoral votes, because black votes are concentrated in states already guaranteed to go Democratic, and far less a factor in key swing states. Politics maven Jay Cost hs a two-part look (Part I & Part II) at Obama's voting coalition. If Mac wins, he will probably owe a debt of gratitude to Michelle the Mega-Mouth, whose choice quotations (including some I have missed) were helpfully assembled by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby.
Big Mac has more ammunition: an NY Times front-pager reporting the the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency is accusing Iran of willful lack of cooperation into the investigation of Iran's nuclear program. Read McCain's May 27 speech outlining his his policy on nuclear threat reduction. Mac can also take note of the recent homeland security directive on terminology, castigated by WSJ editor Bret Stephens, who notes that "liberty" is disfavored, in preference to "progress." I had missed this one in my own LFTC piece on this. BS also has a link to the full -page document, which (unlike mine) is printable. Mac does plain-speak, versus Obama's wonk-speak, and can win the foreign policy debate.
But winner beware: Let George Will's Newsweek column serve as a warning to the victor that extravagant promises will come back to haunt you.
David Frum's latest book, Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again (2007), is an effort to stave off disaster for the GOP this fall, by offering a post-Reagan conservative agenda in tune with the expectations of today's electorate. Frum offers a cafeteria menu of micro-policy options. His thesis is well argued, but time preludes my getting into each policy area. His most important point is this: Ronald Reagan is history. Voters want something new.
As to foreign policy, Frum offers one startling Gallup poll finding, taken just one week after 9/11: Only 29% of French, 21% of Italians, 18% of British, 17% of Germans and 12 percent of Spaniards supported military action against terrorists. Frum also notes, as to John Kerry's 2004 campaign constant citation of the 9/12 headline in Le Monde, "We are all Americans now," that the sub-heading that same day was: "[T]he reality is perhaps that of an America whose own cynicism has caught up with [it]."
David Brooks sees a similar opening for McCain. But policy maven Peter Ferrara interprets Frum's tax ides as "smart surrender"--making concessions up front while getting nothing of value in return. On entitlements, economist Richard Rahn compared the Chilean success story with 25 years of American failure. Fred Barnes suggests 5 bumper-sticker proposals to put the Democratic Congress on the spot: (1) double or triple H-1B skilled work visas; (2) enable nationwide health insurance purchase--so an NJ resident can buy a Kentucky insurance policy; (3) cut the corporate income tax rate from 35 t0 25 percent; (4) lift the ban on offshore oil drilling; (5) push for new highway construction, instead of mass transit.
With a gimlet eye, Peggy Noonan compares Hillary's non-stop whining about "sexism" as an excuse for her falling short, versus three women who would have scorned such prattle: Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi & Lady Thatcher. A nice read.
5 posts: (1) Memorial Day: Timing and a Forgotten Story--The Home Front; (2) Petrol Price Bomb: Diving Dollar Dunnit--The Home Front; (3) The Day Lebanese Democracy Died--Us v. Them; (4) California Courts: Gay Abandon--The Home Front; (5) Blue Thunder Over the Big Apple--The Ap & the Cap.
I did not post yesterday, as it was a holiday. This Friday, May 30, I will post a special Memorial Day edition, on the original (until 1971) exact date for Memorial Day. But I wish today to share a memory of a slightly different kind, courtesy of Doug Feith's book, War and Decision (2008), which I am wending my way through. It is a great read, and I will review it upon finishing. Doug gives us this nugget from late 2001, a column from Maureen Dowd, that captures how she and many others felt then. Dowd saw "quagmire" in Afghanistan, because we are, she wrote, not tough enough to win. Here are my favorite parts of her diatribe:
George W. Bush was brought up to believe in Marquess of Queensberry rules. Now he is competing against combatants with Genghis of Khan rules, who hide among women and children in mosques and school dormitories, and who don't need an executive order to betray and murder.
Just as terrorists, American or foreign, cunningly used our own planes and mailboxes against us, so they used our own morality against us. We were stumbling over scruples against a foe with no scruples.
So Mean Maureen wanted us to play by street rules. Other reports have had Nancy Pelosi, early on, pressing the administration on making sure detainees were interrogated aggressively. When Maureen & Nancy feared for their backsides, they were all gung ho for jettisoning restraints. Now that they feel secure, they indulge the luxury of sitting on their moral high horses.
So who killed cheap gas? Arab sheiks flying private jumbo jets? Ravenous Chinese demand for oil? India following suit? Nope. The Fed dunnit. This WSJ article shows that while oil has tripled since 2002 in Euros, from 25 to 75, when the Euro and dollar were at parity; but oil has quintupled in dollar terms, to $125. So, knock $50 off the oil barrel price, had the Fed not been printing money promiscuously. This WSJ editorial seals the deal: Oil was $70 last August; since then, the Fed funds rate has fallen from 5.25 to 2 percent. Inflation (the general price level) rose 6.5 percent from April 2007 to April 2008. This is what happens when the Fed tries to cover both fiscal and monetary policy, instead of sticking to the latter.
In all, as this Washington Times op-ed pushing alcohol flex-fuels for American cars indicates, America will pay $1 trillion for Mideast oil in 2008, up from $400 billion last year, and ten times the sum paid a decade ago. The world, in 2008, will pay $4 trillion to Mideast moguls for oil. The $1 trillion for America is $3,300 per American--$13,200 per family of four. Happy motoring.
Mark May 21's Hezbollah Deal as the end of the Cedar Revolution. Its terms give Hezbollah and its parliamentary allies two-thirds of the total parliamentary voting power. Condi Rice saw a positive step in the end to the violence, but surrenders always end that way. Hezbollah now has veto power over the Lebanon's elected government's decisions. The Cedar Revolution began March 14, 2005, one month after the Feb. 14 Syrian-run assassination of Lebanese power broker Rafik Hariri. It ended 1,164 days later, on May 21, 2008.
National Journal legal correspondent Stuart Taylor, as excellent a legal analyst as any, exposes the usurpers of the California Supreme Court for what they are: Platonic Guardian Immortal Legislators in judicial robes. Conservative policy maven Jeffrey Bell predicts that CA voters will hit this one big: On November 4, CA voters will consider a proposed constitutional amendment baning gay marriage, which would overturn the CA court's decision; polls indicate 3-2 support for the amendment. Obama must oppose it, while Big Mac will endorse it. The court's ruling tees up higher the judicial selection issue for the fall, pitting Obama's "vote your conscience" standard against Mac's "vote the law" standard.
"NYPD 23" is a helicopter that patrols the skies over NYC. It is, says police chief Ray Kelly, a unique asset. Its primary task is to thwart terror, but it helps re other crimes as well. Civil libertarians, naturally, fear privacy snooping via the powerful cameras. The NYCLU's complaint reminds me of "Blue Thunder" (1983), the Roy Scheider flick about an experimental military helicopter intended for crowd control--firing cannon to disperse demonstrators. Hollywood is, after all, a fantasy factory.
A Jerusalem Post front-pager quotes a senior administration official stating that after the election President Bush will order his aerial armada to pay a nocturnal visit to Iran. V-P Cheney is said to be on board, while State's Condi & Defense's Gates are opposed. The White House, understandably, said that its efforts to stop Iran's program remain peaceful.
It is hard to tell whether this kind of thing is an authorized leak designed to keep the mullahs awake so they can watch Conan O'Brien, or a dissenter's attempt at pre-emptive sabotage. Anticipate a spate of stories immediately after the election warning of this, so as to be sure the Iranians are on high alert. That is not all bad, as if we do strike, and defeat Iran's air defenses even when on high-alert status, Moscow's future armaments marketing plan may be disrupted.
My own view is that an attack remains unlikely. Yet the administration's retreat from the disastrous public version of the Iran National Intelligence Estimate last fall, plus the astounding acts of three allied governments in repudiating it (Britain, France & Israel), plus the administration's decision to raise the profile of Iran's activities in Iraq that account for the majority of current American combat deaths, are all steps to make more politically feasible such a strike. Working against it is that after the Iraq WMD intelligence debacle, no one on the planet will believe our intelligence agencies should they say a strike is now necessary. Rather, it will have to be based upon what is publicly known about how Iran pursues uranium enrichment, in defiance of international sanctions that are not working.
In the end, expect Bush to stand down if McCain wins; Big Mac will prefer, on the event, that he and not Bush, oversee such an attack. If Obama wins, the odds that either Bush or Israel act increase, because no one--especially, not the Iranian leadership--believes that an Obama administration would order such a strike. It is conceivable, but barely, that Hilary might, but only if given airtight intelligence, which simply will not exist for such a proposition. The only airtight evidence is a mushroom cloud.
Meantime, the JP reports that between February 2006 & January 2007, at least 13 Mideast countries have either revived old nuclear programs, or seriously entertained starting new ones. That makes 13 nations with which Barack Obama can parley to his heart's content.
Well, 007 has made it to the British Imperial War Museum, which has opened an exhibit on James Bond & his creator, Ian Fleming, the ex-naval intelligence attaches with the writer's touch (40 million books sold in his remaining lifetime of 12 years after his first book cane out). Enjoy this New York Times article on the author and the show.
May 23, 2008 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
5 posts: (1) Obama: The Incredible Gaffe Machine!--The Home Front; (2) Change as 2008 Mantra--The Home Front; (3) 2008: New Electoral Map?--The Home Front; (4) Intifada Poster Boy No More?--MSM (Mainstream Media) Murders; (5) UN: At Last! A Human Rights Target!--Turtle Bay Tortoise.
Blogger Michelle Malkin collects a treasure trove of gaffes delivered by Saint Barack, who in the eyes of his media helpmates can do no lasting wrong (temporary, like five minutes, yes, but no more, please). OK, he has campaigned virtually non-stop for months on end, and anyone could commit these. But would a Republican candidate who had compiled a list like this still be left standing? Could Dan Quayle have said 57 states?
Thomas Sowell captures in three delightfully pithy paragraphs why the slogan "Change" for 2008 is such drivel. Especially funny--and apt--is how he illustrates the difference between talking about doing something and actually doing it: Barack's bowling a 37. No doubt Barack could have talked a 300.
Real Clear Politics editor Reid Wilson suggests that the 2008 election will create a new electoral map. the 2004 presidential contest saw 12 states decided by fewer than 5 percent margins (6 for Bush - CO, FL, IA< NV, NM & OH; 5 for Kerry - MI, MN, NH, OR & PA). All are close today, save Iowa, and possibly, Florida. Only 3 states switched from 2000: NM & IA to the GOP; NH to the Democrats.VA looks Democratic this time, and NC & SC may tip as well. Big Mac may take Michigan and Wisconsin. Strategists say as many as 14 states are up for grabs his time. Stay tuned.
The Jerusalem Post reports that a French appellate court has thrown out the libel conviction of a skeptic who accused France-2 and its cameraman staged the infamous September 2000 Muhamad al-Dura incident, in which a 12-year-old Palestinian boy was shown on camera, huddling against a wall and partly sheltered by his father, when the report said, the Israelis shot him, having shot at him for 45 minutes.
The whole thing has long been proven by independent investigation to have been a hoax, one that enraged the Muslim world. Daniel Pearl's killers held a photo of the boy aloft as they beheaded the WSJ reporter. The Second Intifada was galvanized into high gear by the incident. Israel's IDF foolishly initially apologized, then later proved it cold not have done it, as later did outside investigators.
On NRO, Nile Gardiner nails the UN Human Wrongs Council for finding a new target for investigation: America. Yep. A UN special rapporteur will be visiting us for three weeks ISO evidence of "racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" in America. As NG notes, Burma, China, Zimbabwe and other leading global lights of freedom and gentleness are not on the UN's program.
Come to think of it, there IS reason to investigate America. Perhaps Barack can set up an appointment with Pastor Wright....or his congregation...or Michelle....
5 posts: (1) Kentucky Colonel Clinton--The Home Front; (2) Michelle, Barack's Belle--The Home Front; (3) Iraq: MSM's Blackout--MSM (Mainstream Media) Murders; (4) Trade--and Credibility--Trashing--Weenie Watch; (5) Googling Cyber-Terror--9/11, 3/11 & N/11.
Hillary's Kentucky (8 percent black population) 65-30 blowout of Barack--with a popular vote margin of 249,000--keeps her alive and kicking until the end of primary season, June 3; Hill added the under-30 age group, by a razor-thin 49-48 margin, to her traditional support groups. Exit poll data show Hill winning pretty much across the board. Obama's 58-42 win in Oregon--west coast latte country--gave him 99,000 more votes than Hill, but didn't nullify her big night. He now has a majority of pledged delegates, even if Hill sweeps all those left, but Hill will continue.
This 2008 Democratic primary popular vote table explains why: After last night's huge Kentucky win, if Florida and Michigan voters are counted (2.3 million voted in FL + MI), Hill now has a slim popular vote lead. A big win in Puerto Rico may enable her to ignore Florida and Michigan and still claim the popular vote title. Hill won Florida 50-33 and by 294,000 votes; both were on the ballot but neither campaigned. Hill took Michigan with 55 percent of the votes, running against "uncommitted"--Obama was not on the ballot. Her Michigan tally was 154,000 votes. Adding 28,000 late-count votes from Oregon to Obama's numbers, not shown in the RCP table (Fox had the later figure this AM), Obama has a 446,0000 vote lead in official released tallies; if Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington were to release their caucus vote totals, his margin would be, Real Clear Politics estimates, 556,000. Hill might win Puerto Rico by as much as 1,000,000 votes! That would wipe out Obama's margin, even counting the caucus totals and leaving Florida and Michigan out. Hill's Florida & Michigan total margin is 448,000, enough to wipe out Obama's official lead to date, but not quite enough to do so if the unreleased caucus totals are added in.
Obama has now lost two major primaries in key swing states, late in the campaign, by margins unheard-of for presidential nominees in primaries held during their nomination year. Hill's big questions, as likely she is not the presidential nominee, are (besides getting her campaign debt being paid off): Does she want V-P/? Senate Majority Leader? Supreme Court Justice?
V-P is risky. If Obama loses, she loses too, and is finished as a presidential candidate, as her selection for the ticket would have been based partly on her presumed superior electability; losing in a strongly Democratic tide is not a credential to run next time (especially as she damaged Obama and thus impaired his chances of winning, with or without her on the ticket). Supreme Court Justice is a stretch, as if Republicans have enough votes to filibuster--still the most probable outcome, even given Democratic pick-ups likely this fall--the GOP base will demand just that, no matter what the media coverage is. Which leaves her best option: lead the Senate. She would instantly eclipse Nancy Pelosi and Obama, and become the Democratic legislative leader. If Obama wins, Hill can run after 8 years captaining Congress for her party. If Obama loses, Hill can say, "I told you so." And she would then be poised to run in 2012, only 65 years young. Though if she lost V-P she would still be a prominent senator, Majority Leader seems by far her best choice.
Then again, I do not expect that Hillary will ask me for career counseling.
So Barack Obama is outraged that his wife is being targeted by a GOP video ad aired in Tennessee. The ad riffs off of Michelle's famous winter sound-bite that she is for the first time in her adult life proud of her country, because voters may be about to elect her hubby president. The GOP 4-minute ad shows Tennessee residents expressing pride in their country--pride they feel every day, and citing the virtues of America that make them so proud. Newt Gingrich, on Greta van Susteren's show, drew the proper line. First Ladies who play traditional public roles, limiting their policy advice to pillow talk, have always gotten, and deserve always to get, a pass from public political criticism. Those who, like Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton, inject themselves forcefully into public debates, making common cause with their husbands, are fair game for political response.
So where is Michelle? Out campaigning daily for hubby, on leave (whether paid or unpaid) from he cushy PR job for a Chicago hospital. The woman who got, by her own admission, preferential admission into two of her country's ultra-elite educational institutions (Princeton University and Harvard Law School), and who now earns one-third of a million dollars annually doing "community affairs" (whatever that entails) for a Chicago hospital, thinks her country "downright mean" and that America has "a hole in her soul" that she & her hubby can heal.
Michelle 2008 (with apologies to the Beatles)
Michelle, do tell
Why America belongs in Hell
Do us tell, do us tell, do us tell
What's wrong with ourselves
Then you can ring our bell
And make us well....
Trade expert C. Fred Bergsten details how Nancy Pelosi's derailing of the Colombia trade deal, by eviscerating fast-track authority, unravels a bargain made a generation ago, and destroys America's credibility as a trade negotiating partner. The likely impact: more trade preference deals between foreign countries, that operate to exclude American participation. Bergsten estimates that trade liberalization adds $1 trillion annually to American GDP, and that full liberalization would add another $500 billion. Nancy P. could care less.
Senator Joseph Lieberman called upon Google to take down terror communications and videos posted on YouTube. The Senator, writing Google's chairman in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental affairs, noted that Islamist terror groups post videos to incite and instruct. The terror groups use their distinct logos as digital watermarks authenticating their brand name.
5 posts: (1) Today: Kentucky Closer?--The Home Front; (2) Gitmo, Water & Trials--The Home Front; (3) Is 2008 Election a New Ball Game?--The Home Front; (4) How Hill Could--Should--Have Stopped Barack--The Home Front; (5) Election Entitlements?--The Home Front.
Will Hill be left with noting but Kentucky bourbon to swill after her big win today? Michael Barone thinks otherwise. MB says that Obama's hopes to sway enough super-delegates to commit publicly, before the May 31 rules committee meeting over seating of Florida and Michigan delegations, and to pre-empt the June 1 Puerto Rico primary, in which Hill may gain one million popular votes, are destined to fail. Clinton can maintain until the May 31 meeting that the total number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination is not 2,025, but 2,209, counting Florida and Michigan. Further, Obama has lost the primary popular votes since February, by 364,000, a margin that will probably swell to above 500,000 after June 3's ending contests. Moreover, of Obama's 153-delegate margin, nearly all come from caucuses. Obama has won regular pledged delegates by seven--yes, seven. And even that would have not come to pass, but for black voters. Obama's 80 - 90 percent black-voter margins gave him lopsided delegate counts in black-dominated congressional districts, while Hill was winning other districts by far smaller margins. Yet Hill, the great Yankee fan, is saying, per Yogi Berra: "It ain't over 'til it's over."
No one has been more stalwart, and effective, as advocate than Andy McCarthy, for the aggressive posture taken by the Bush administration since 9/11, both as to the legality of controversial executive action, and as an authoritative source for the limitations of law in prosecuting terrorists, which McCarthy did successfully in the 1990s.
Now, McCarthy breaks sharply with the administration, over its plan to introduce as evidence at trial the fruits of waterboarding top-level detainees. McCarthy draws a sharp line between aggressive interrogation of detainees in search of evidence to prevent future attacks and capture terrorists at large, and using that same evidence to convict defendants in war tribunals. The former, McCarthy argues, makes sense and is defensible; the latter is neither.
Worse, as McCarthy notes, the case in which the evidence is at issue concerns Salim Hamdan, Osama's ex-chauffeur and winner in a 2004 Supreme Court case. Even the former chief prosecutor at Gitmo opposes using the evidence, and will so testify in court. Worse still, Pentagon officials pressed introduction of marginal cases, and bringing charges at politically-timed moments.
At times, it seems the administration has a death wish. Putting top al-Qaeda leaders on trial is simply foolish. They had no such right to a trial, and should an acquittal be won, the propaganda defeat would be devastating. And, as McCarthy notes, the Supreme Court Justices read the newspapers. If they learn of this, with a major habeas corpus case to be decided by the end of June, it surely could tip the balance. The Supreme Court, wrote political satirist Finley Petter Dunne, follows the election returns. It also follows press reports.
Be afraid, very afraid.
Michael Barone cites four reasons 2008 is new territory for voters: (a) neither candidate had massive support in the primary; (b) neither spent his formative years in the States, at one place (Big Mac was born in the Canal Zone and a Navy brat, while Barack was born in Hawaii and grew up in part in Indonesia); (c) money did not buy the richest candidates a big edge; (d) tested candidates ran poorly--most notably, Hillary. Bill Kristol sees "McCain Exceptionalism" creating an opportunity to run on national security and also take advantage of the California Supreme Court's gay-marriage judicial activism, something not popular with voters.
Hudson UN maven Anne Bayevsky calls Obama's foreign policy "cheap-talk diplomacy." She reports two quotes Obama may come to regret, about unconditional negotiations with adversaries:
From Obama’s website: “Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions…. Talk to our Foes and Friends: Obama is willing to meet with the leaders of all nations, friend and foe.”
From a July CNN debate: “Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?” Senator Obama: “I would.”
Real Clear Politics co- founder & executive editor Tom Bevan nails in a WSJ op-ed Hillary's biggest blunder: failing to detect early on the toxicity of Obama's pastor. Newspaper stories--including one in the NY Times--alerted readers to possible problems due to Obama's church. Had the pastor stuff been aired just before the primaries begun, or even in mid-January, Obama might be a mere footnote in the 2008 race. What makes all this especially inexcusable is that in the Google Age opposition research is easy. Most of what is needed is a click or two away online. But Hill's team assumed their Queen was marching on to a coronation. Self-coronation, they failed to grasp, works in places like Russia, not here.
George Will writes with his customary astringent wit, on why identity politics creates ritualized indignation and a sense of outcome entitlement. Many Hillary voters think that she is entitled to be Barack's V-P pick. Failing to pick her, leaving her merely a senator from the Empire State, is thought by such supporters to be disregard. Those working menial jobs at low pay (Will offers two examples) may think disregard is something other than a Senate seat. Will says that the ultimate test of acceptance is not being hired and thus breaking an identity barrier, but being fired, and thus being treated like anyone else.
The only "entitlement" candidates have is to be allowed to file and run. Voters are entitled to the best candidate. It is not time for a black, or a woman. It is, in 2008, as ever, time for the best possible president from among those running.
4 posts: (1) Barack Chamberlain?--Weenie Watch; (2) Saint Barack: Our 21st Century Saint Jimmy?--MSM (Mainstream Media) Murders; (3) Naming the Enemy: Fog Thickens at Foggy Bottom--Weenie Watch; (4) Bush's Knesset Speech Sparks "Peace Process" Propaganda--Us v. Them.
A Wall Street Journal editorial defends President Bush's use of the term appeasement in his Knesset speech, and lambastes Barack Obama and senior Democrats who expressed outrage that Democrats could even, by indirection (Bush named no one), be accused of being soft on our adversaries. The WSJ neatly skewers such pretensions, citing past Democratic indiscretions. The WSJ writes of comparisons to Nixon re China and Reagan re Russia, wait until Iran gets a Chou en-Lai, or Syria a Mikhail Gorbachev. Do not hold your breath.
David Brooks chimes in, citing Obama's "let's all talk" line on dealing with Hezbollah in Lebanon. But DB also cites realist talk from Barack, and says Obama is well-briefed on events inside Lebanon. Yet Obama still seems to think that terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas can be steered away from their goals. The concept of implacable adversaries doesn't sit well with Obama. Human Events editor Jed Babbin details Obama's Chamberlainesque record. Babbin makes an important point: Diplomacy is not necessarily appeasement; diplomats buy and sell, while appeasers give something away (without getting something of equal or greater value in return). Babbin explains:
Thus, Obama has already offered Iraq to Iran without getting anything in return. And he has promised to engage in diplomacy with Iran, personally meeting with Iranian leaders without precondition.
Obama, by our objective (and historically sound) definition, is an appeaser. For Obama, Iraq is the Sudetenland. What will be Iran’s Poland? Obama would find that out at his first meeting with Ahmadinejad. Having already surrendered Iraq, a President Obama would have positioned America only to give further concessions without any prospect of extracting equal or greater concessions from Iran.
Babbin compares Obama to Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire, who said: "I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers." (Now, if we could reincarnate Vivien Leigh and make her First Lady....) Also in Human Events, retired Army colonel Robert Maginiss notes that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has admitted that we lack leverage against Iran. So why is the Bush administration appeasing the mullahs? Obama cannot make this point, because he, too, would parley with them without leverage.
NY Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin quotes Obama's own words to impeach his claim that he would not appease. He notes that Obama even cites his middle name, Hussein, as an asset in negotiating with Muslim interlocutors. But as Edward Luttwak noted last week, Obama, born a Muslim (his father was Muslim), is viewed not merely as an infidel in the Muslim world, but as an apostate. Apostasy is a capital crime in Islamic lands. Some diplomatic asset.
John Bolton, who has criticized the administration for appeasing North Korea, says of Obama's offer to debate McCain on national security anytime, "bring on the foreign policy debate" with McCain. Bolton notes that negotiating without preconditions gives terrorists coveted legitimacy and acceptability on the international stage, and also enables them to play for time, as North Korea did while pursuing its nuclear weapons quest. Bolton also notes that negotiations can distract leaders, as has happened with Bush and the Palestinians, taking his eyes off Hezbollah's moves inside Lebanon.
In sum. Obama is another Chamberlain, President Bush has been that way at times (especially of late), and so Big Mac can distance himself from an unpopular president while taking on Obama. Bring on a major national security debate indeed.
Gerard Baker, across the pond, counsels that the media's canonization of Barack Obama--and demonization of former media saint John McCain--carries grave risks:
The idolatry of Mr Obama is a shame, really. The Illinois senator is indeed, an unusually talented, inspiring and charismatic figure. His very ethnicity offers an exciting departure. But he is not a saint. He is a smart and eloquent man with a personal history that is startlingly shallow set against the scale of the office he seeks to hold. It is not only legitimate, but necessary, to scrutinise his past and infer what it might tell us about his beliefs, in the absence of the normal record of achievement expected in a presidential nominee.
If the past 40 years have taught us anything they have surely taught that premature canonisation is an almost certain guarantee of subsequent deep disappointment.
I cannot get out of my head what Jimmy Carter said while running for President, in his bid for early sainthood: "I will never lie to you." He had to settle, later on for self-canonization in retirement, as he travels around the globe sucking up to any terrorist he can find--especially if they target Israel.
The State Department published "Words That Work; Words That Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication" in March. Slightly more than two pages, marked for official use only, it was posted online, and so LFTC posts it here (I was unable to print it--you must either read it online or find another link that will print, but it is easy to read). Noteworthy tidbits: (1) Islamo-fascism is "considered offensive" by many Muslims; (2) avoid "clash of civilizations"and "West versus Islam"--they imply a religious war; (3) avoid "al-Qaeda movement", which implies legitimacy; (4) avoid "caliphate"--a term with positive connotation among Muslims, also true of "jihad" and mujaheddin", which are positive terms for warriors; (5) avoid formulations like "We are not at war with Islam"--listeners drop the negative; (6) avoid Arabic terms that, if mispronounced, can convey unintended meanings to those who understand Arabic; (6) avoid Islamic theological terms, such as salafi (predecessor, ancestor), wahhabist (the Saudi militant Sunni religious sect), sufi (a mystic sect, found in Iran, among other places), ummah (community).
Let us grant that State's intent was not mindless political correctness. Some of the advice makes sense--not using "movement" to describe al-Qaeda, to avoid conferring unintended legitimacy. Jihad, mujaheddin, are terms that are not ideal, but a Gresham's Law of usage takes hold: The terms are such common currency that changing them seems impossible. (The latter is used, by Americas, almost exclusively to describe Muslims who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan.) Irhabi is better than jhadi for terrorists, but can anyone see the change taking root? Being careful about using Arabic terms is wise counsel. Banning caliphate goes to far, in my view; the Islamists want one, and we need to understand what they are seeking, in terms that relate to what they are claiming as their goal. Banning Islamo-fascism is a bad idea. Most of those offended are militants; the rest can be made to understand why the term is important to use.
What is missing is a list of just who advised State on this. The public should know. We need to avoid gratuitous offense, but if speaking essential truth offends some, so be it. We cannot give away the necessary vocabulary to describe whom we fight. State's intentions here seem to me benign; but the document goes too far in its effort to avoid offense.
Predictably, President Bush's Knesset speech has provoked an allergic reaction in the Arab world, because in an address celebrating the 60th birthday of the Jewish state, Bush declared America's everlasting support for Israel, and barely mentioned the Palestinians (a few domestic observers and politicians have echoed this foolishness). The Washington Times reports:
A front-page headline Friday in the Palestinian daily newspaper El Hayat Al Jadidah read: "Bush Views are More Zionist than the Zionists."
"How can peace be reached with a biased broker like the United States of America?" asked an editorial in the daily Al Quds newspaper. "How could a president of the United States of America be in the Middle East and ignore completely the other side of the coin?"
The Palestinian "nakba" (catastrophe--their epithet for May 14, 1948) was their own leaders. Historian Efraim Karsh proves that proposition beyond reasonable cavil, based upon newly available evidence from Britain's Palestine Mandate archives. With Bush's favorite peace partner, Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, saying that after Bush's failure to mention the Palestinians in his Knesset speech he, Abbas, no longer desires that the U.S. mediate peace negotiations with Israel. Palestinians leaders are still a "nakba" in and of themselves.
Begin with a chuckle, circulated by online wags:
Science Reveals Heaviest
Element Ever Discovered
Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. The new element, Governmentium (Gv), has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it a mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction normally taking less than a second, to take from four days to four years to complete.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of 2-6 years. It does not decay, but undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes, not to mention multiple oxymorons.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. That hypothetical quantity might normally be called "critical mass" but, in this unique case it is known as "critical mess"..
When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium (Am), another just-discovered element that radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.
The Lebanese government's reinstatement of the Hezbollah official (airport security chief) whose firing triggered Hezbollah's spasm of violence, plus its abandoning its demand that Hezbollah shut down its private communications network, marks Hezbollah's latest triumph. Soldier-author Ralph Peters excoriates America and its allies for backing down from taking on Hezbollah. Peters says the West has yet to muster the stomach to wage war at the level of intensity he thinks necessary to win.
Charles Krauthammer notes in his column celebrating Israel's 60th b'day that the Jewish state suffered 6,373 dead in its 1948-49 War of Independence, one percent of the 1948 population. That equates to 3 million Americans today. Or, as CK puts it, 35 Vietnams (taken as a percentage of America's population back then)--and the Vietnam War lasted 11 years, whereas Israel's killed back then were racked up in one year. And yet the world bloviates on about Palestinian suffering in the war that Arabs started, one perpetuated to this day by Arab rejectionism. Israel has 7.1 million people, America, 304 million. So to equate Israel's current losses in current American per capita terms, multiply by 43. President Bush's Knesset speech was a gem--thank God he did not mention his "peace partners", the Palestinian Authority. Yet it rang hollow to me, as next door, literally (see item above), terror won another round in the snuffing out of Lebanese democracy.
WSJ pundit Dan Henninger sees the brutal indifference of Burma's rulers to the human suffering of their people, as what does not happen in democracies, because their publics will not tolerate it. President Bush suffered a loss of prestige after Katrina that has proven permanent. Burma's leaders do not have that problem, despite filching aid intended for the needy, and with the death toll now estimated to be above 100,000. Burma's leaders ignored the two days' warning India gave them about the approaching cyclone.