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Desperate Decisions

Obama out-teaches madrassas. Also: There he goes being Jimmy Carter again. Backroom immigration. Who's a Mennonite? Plus much more.

5.22.07

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ROOT CYNICISM
Re: Philip Klein's Obama in the Granite State:

Mr. Klein criticized Barack Obama's comparison of increased foreign aid to the Marshall Plan, reminding us that we only instituted the plan after defeating the Nazis. I would remind him that the Marshall Plan existed to prevent repetition of the past: the dangerous coalescence of poverty and a hateful-yet-charismatic leader. Obama's valid point is that the terrorists are a small percentage of the population, but are burgeoned yearly by the region's severe poor who lack residual purpose in their lives beyond sparking a suicidal explosion to kill a few foreigners. Obama realizes that such desperate decisions can only stem from a confluence of both (1) a lack of other options and (2) the proximity of a target some local imam designated as the cause of your troubles: in this case, U.S. soldiers . Obama accurately identifies poverty as the source of the first cause, and the true fuel for radicalization. In doing so, he understands the Marshall Plan's purpose: the evasion of another bellicose Hitler taking power in a poor country whose economy never recovered from war. If we secure leadership that understands this economic undercurrent in the trend towards middle-eastern radicalization, we can militarily battle existing terrorists while allocating foreign aid that shifts the economic equation for the region's poor away from radical madrassas.
-- Erem Boto

In the piece by Phillip Klein about Mr. Obama, Mr. Klein writes, "Obama has pointed out in recent campaign appearances that, "we are just 16 votes short from bringing this war to a close.'" This demonstrates Mr. Obama's naivete and inexperience beyond any doubt. What Mr. Obama does not know, or chooses to ignore, it that wars are not "ended" by votes.

There are only two ways to "end" a war, win it or lose it. You either defeat your enemy, or surrender to him. Mr. Obama, along with way too many so-called "leaders" in the Democrat party, want to lose. He, and they, would have to improve to rise to the level of despicable.
-- W. B. Heffernan, Jr.

Is it youth and inexperience or ignorance, lack of commitment, fear of standing against real threats and/or stupidity that would lead Barack Obama to declare war on cynicism but reduce the war against terrorists and jihadists to a cost/benefit analysis and payoffs to quiet our enemies?

And 10,000 committed terrorists? Ha! Does that guesstimate by Obama's advisers inspire a collective sigh of relief? Only with those who look for reasons to continue or initiate their denial of the reality of the jihadists' war on Western Civilization.

Barack Obama's to-date campaign seems to be cynically naive -- and empty. And he seems yet another "I'm not my opponent" challenger who appeals, regrettably, to the apparent shallowness of far too many potential voters.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

IT CAN BE DONE
Re: Windsor Mann's Spent Republicanism:

I regret to inform my dear American friends that, au contraire, fiscal conservatism and balanced budgets are in fact alive and well -- at least here in the fair dominion of Australia. The conservative government lead by Prime Minister John Howard has just handed down its twelfth budget. Before it came to office the government had a deficient of $96 billion, resulting in annual debt servicing costs of $12 billion and average income earners were on a marginal tax rate of 47 cents in the dollar. The last ten budgets have all been in surplus, the existing deficient has been reduced to zero and the government saves $12 billion a year by no longer paying interest on debt. Further more, in the last four budgets, income taxes have been reduced and 85 percent of income earners now pay a single tax rate of 30 cents in the dollar -- some change from 47 cents! The next two years are all forecast to provide budget surpluses and I wouldn't be surprised if the tax rate is reduced further for most taxpayers. A flat tax rate of 25 per cent looks like a real possibility here. Arthur Laffer -- eat your heart out!

Compared to this record, the fiscal record of the Republican Party in government is not conservative at all -- it's incompetent and appalling. You guys don't have a clue about what fiscal conservatism is and that is a big reason why the polls for you stink like a blocked cellblock toilet. There is no reason at all why a disciplined, organized and competent conservative party can't have the same budget record as the John Howard government here in Australia. But since when has the Republican Party in general and the Bush administration in particular shown even faint signs of being disciplined, organized and competent? I don't know whether to laugh or cry over that one. Fiscal conservatism is not the problem for American conservatives and it sure isn't some dream of days gone by. The real problem is the complete lack of basic leadership qualities and simple guts. If Republicans ever find their missing backbone they might find that balanced budgets and tax cuts are not a dream and can be achieved. After all, we did it here and we don't have oil wells like they do in Texas.
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

HIM AGAIN
Re: Paul Beston's I'm Jimmy Carter, and I Can't Help Myself:

Bravo Mr. Beston, well thought, well perceived.
-- Ramon

It seems this insufferable man will never become the elder statesman. His annoying behavior continues to worsen (if that's possible) with age. Through his own choice, Carter has turned his mellowing years to vinegar.

He's well aware that his presidency is considered the "least effective" (or "weakest" or "most incompetent" -- pick your adjective) by many serious historians, so it's doubly ironic that Carter, who created the worst economy of the twentieth century save for the Great Depression, slams Bush, who has created the most prosperous economy not only in American history, but in history. We are experiencing the unprecedented phenomenon of mass prosperity, in which the greatest health risk to our "poor" is obesity from an abundance of affordable food. The only things we had in abundance during the Carter years were pessimism, gas lines, double-digit inflation and interest rates, and double-knit leisure suits. (In fairness, I have never believed Carter had advance knowledge of the leisure suits, even though they happened "on his watch.")

Carter, unlike Bush, never seemed to grasp that a strong domestic economy tends to benefit people throughout the global economy, so it is rightly seen as an effective tool in international relations. If Carter really wants to know who the worst president in history was, he may find a mirror instructive.
-- Doug Roll
Jacksonville, Texas

Please, please, please stop giving Jimmy Carter face time by giving his ridiculous, self-serving, imbecilities the dignity of response. Carter is the WORST president in the history of the Republic. There is no aspect of the Presidency that he failed to disgrace. His record is so studded with failures that one could take every president since him, count up all of their mistakes, and still not even be close to equal to this caricature of a president.

As an "older" American, there are things in my youth that I regret, mistakes I have made, pathways I have taken that have led me wrong. The most egregious of my youthful discretions is my vote for Carter in 1976. The country would have been better off if it had elected Yogi Bear as president and his pal Boo Boo as vice president. And speaking of cartoon characters (which naturally come to mind when thinking of Carter) there was more wisdom in an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle than there was in the entire four years of the Carter presidency.

For crying out loud, this guy is so stultifyingly stupid that he doesn't even know how idiotic his rantings sound to any sane person. If he is capable of learning, then someone should teach him that when you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging.
-- Joseph Baum
Garrettsville, Ohio

It is always refreshing to hear Mr. Carter's rants. Age has not mellowed this small minded, mean spirited America -- hating man. His rage and vitriol lets the rest of America know exactly where the lunatic fringe of the democrat party mentally resides.

I just love the quote from his Notre dame commencement address. Has there been a tyrant Mr. Carter has refused to embrace? He just loved Yassir Arafat who seemed his personal hero. His romance with Fidel Castro has endured for more than half a century. To Mr. Carter the butcher of Cuba is a ray of socialist sunshine in a world made bleak and barren by America's misdeeds.

He has always admired Kim Jong Il of North Korea and wishes that the United States would just let him have the peninsula in its entirety. Mr. Carter believes that would end the terrible feelings of paranoia and isolation from which the murderous premier suffers.

Mr. Carter has amply demonstrated his mental instability. It is what makes him so valuable to his party. His radical admirers are able to say "I recall that President Jimmy Carter said...." Then maintain plausible deniability for the inane utterance by adding "I was just quoting...."

In the former Soviet Union Mr. Carter so much loved for its control over dissidents and the lives of its citizens, he would long ago been locked away in an insane asylum for his discordant diatribes, After all, if one was not satisfied in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, one would have to be insane, no?

Mr. Carter is a subject of scorn and ridicule among thinking, sentient beings. He is the Jonathon Winters of ex-Presidents. Mr. Carter, like Al Franken, is worth a grudging smile and very little else. His most likeable attribute is that he is very old and is likely to shuffle off this mortal coil shortly, thus removing his hate filled speeches from our consciousness.
-- Jay Molyneaux
Denver, North Carolina

It appears that the embittered and jealous Jimmy Carter either has a very narrow view of what is or is not history.

It also appears single-term Carter, who lost the first battle in the world war against jihadists, is lobbying to promote Mr. Bush into the position that he, Carter, so firmly owns -- that of the worst president in contemporary American history, if not all American history.

For sure, Mr. Carter tarnishes the office of former president through his embarrassing and crass behavior.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

As I remember, Carter's election was seen as a repudiation of Nixon. And, after four years of the man who brought us the mullahs of Iran, he himself was repudiated by the election of Reagan. What more needs to be said?
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

I thought about letting this latest screed from the estimable and pernicious former president go, but this morning he seems to be back pedaling with some new vacuous lies about his words or deeds. It's time for this stain on our history to go quietly into that good night with a little CLASS and dignity, although I'm relatively sure that he has no clue or idea what class or dignity is, get back to building houses and just shut up. He will never be able to rehabilitate his so called legacy he will always be viewed historically as an abject failure, a simpering lib in a sweater kissing the back sides of communists, Arab terrorists, and assorted enemies of America whose defining moment is a study in failed leadership.

And he presumes to judge the President -- what a hoot!
-- Stuart Reed
Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan

Former President Jimmy Carter's recent tirade against President Bush and Tony Blair is reminiscent of those he took against President Ronald Reagan. Carter actually seemed to believe we were meddling in the internal affairs of the former Soviet Union when during an appearance in Berlin, President Reagan stated "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

I spent thirty-four years as a Federal employee and had first hand experience with Jimmy Carter's style. Overall, he tried to run the Federal government as if it were a county courthouse in rural Georgia. Worse, he surrounded himself with fellow amateurs.

He and his cohorts emasculated the IRS' criminal investigation function and the IRS' tax collection efforts. "Intelligence Division" seemed too sinister a term so it was renamed the Criminal Investigation Division. Automatic part payment agreements were offered to all first time tax delinquents. This was a decision that flew in the face of the part payment nature of the income tax withholding system. The result? Federal tax delinquencies soared.

And he abolished 900 covert positions in the CIA. This crippling effect would last for years.

Saving the most ludicrous for last, he turned off the hot water in all Federal building washrooms to "save energy."

Jimmy Carter was America's first amateur President. This recent outburst against the President Bush will ensure that he retains his status as the first amateur ex-president.
-- Stan Welli
Aurora, Illinois

Poor ol' Jimmy, he got un-elected in 1980 and still hasn't figured out that since 1976 he hasn't been elected to anything. Now he's running around the world like the 1970s Saturday Night Live Ex-Police spoof.

"Another foreign policy failure!" -- he oughta know 'em when he sees 'em.
-- Wes Agnew
Texas

I have long regarded the vile Mr. James Earl Carter, Jr. as the 20th century's answer to James Buchanan, another inept Democrat. I realize that is an unfair comparison, as Mr. Buchanan had the good grace to retire into the obscurity he so well deserved. He did not parade himself about the world mouthing his especially bitter brand of bile, the ramblings of an angry failure.
-- Mark K. Zunk
Indianapolis, Indiana

Time for Jimmy to grow up! Had he used the name James he might have, in time, commanded a small modicum of respect. Instead, all presidents since Jimmy's term in office have been busy cleaning up the mess he made. All of today lies at the feet of the deposed Shah of Iran. And "I'll never lie to you" Carter. Thanks, Jimmy.
-- Wolf Terner
Fair lawn, New Jersey

I thought it was traitorous to criticize American presidents!

Oh, sorry -- that only applies to DEMOCRATIC American presidents.

Rant on!
-- Kathy Crowley

Oooh how I wish "Jimmah" would, in the words of the Black Eyed Peas ditty, "Shut Up/Just Shut Up"!
-- Gretchen L. Chellson
Alexandria, Virginia

BACKROOM MUGGING
Re: Jeff Emanuel's The Great Immigration Ruse:

I would like to write an award-winning letter mostly praising and agreeing with your writer, Jeff Emanuel. Unfortunately, this issue, this affair, this abortion, this attempt to subvert the will of the people of the United States has me so livid that I can barely contain my anger at George Bush and the so-called Republican leaders that are attempting to trowel great gobs of lipstick on this ungodly pig.

You might well ask why I am not angry with the Dems that are attempting to railroad this through. Because I expect this kind of thing out of them. That is why.

Does George Bush never learn? He trusted Ted Kennedy to work with him on his very first initiative, the No Child Left Behind fiasco. Everyone else in the country was able to observe that Bush's signature was hardly dry on the bill before Kennedy was issuing the vilest, mean-spirited statements about how Bush did not care about the children, and how utterly horrible the No Child Left Behind Act was. I guess that Bush and his inner circle were the only people in America that are fools enough to go back to Kennedy again, to trust him again, to work with him on legislation again.

Can a president be impeached for blind stupidity above and beyond that expected of national politicians? It is either that, or he has total disdain for the intelligence of the average American adult Republican/Conservative.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Thank you for pointing out the absolute fascist angle of this latest Amnesty misadventure.

First of all -- who do these pompous Congressmen think they are? They are not kings, they are slobs we elected to represent Americans, not to represent illegal foreigners! But they come out like kings making their pronouncement (without the permission of the people and with no debate), that they are going to DESTROY 250 YEARS OF AMERICAN HISTORY by turning our country into the United Socialist Republic of North Ameximerica!

Secondly, why would any Republican go along with a plan that will ultimately reduce their party to irrelevance? I smell something VERY FISHY. Follow the money.

This latest Amnesty is an abomination. The third in my lifetime and each one comes with promises that it will be the LAST one, but they never solve the problem. They make the problem WORSE. But I guess our Congress isn't very imaginative or resourceful, because here we go again! The definition of insanity is when you do the same thing over and over and expect a different result....

Disgusted,
-- Joyce Romano
Redondo Beach, California

I suspect that the actual (but unspoken) agenda behind the push to ram this American Sovereignty Forfeiture Act through Congress is to take immigration "off of the table" as a 2008 Presidential campaign issue -- for both parties. Accordingly, if this beast is in fact enacted, we must start demanding of all Presidential candidates an unequivocal pledge to vigorously work to repeal it as soon as they take office.

Republican officeholders who believe that legislation such as this will curry favor with Hispanic voters -- or at least neutralize them -- will ultimately find that it will help them as much as the "prescription drug benefit" did in the last election. Pandering to the other side's base doesn't mean that it still isn't part of the other side's base.

Finally, we must apply Clintonian-parsing to all statements. For example: "Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson released a statement in which he said that he would 'reserve judgment on supporting the final bill until the debate is complete,' but that 'at a minimum the bill must include [a] border security "trigger" prohibiting implementation of a temporary, probationary work permit program until the Department of Homeland Security certifies to the President and to the Congress that the border security provisions in the immigration legislation are fully funded and operational.'"

Does the "fully" apply to the funding and the operational, or merely to the funding and superficially operational?
-- Thomas C. Wigand, Esq.

So this is how a McCain presidency will treat its citizens and the Constitution. No written bill to be seen or discussed, a rushed cloture vote without any committee oversight, no "extraneous" input from pesky citizens, who'll only mess things up, just a handful of senators and staffers. This apparently includes fellow Sen. Cornyn, who dared question King John. And all this time I thought McCain's arrogance only applied to us hoi polloi. On what joy we have in store for us. Didn't we fight a revolution to get rid of one king?
-- A. DiPentima

Oh, one other thing. I've found that virtually anytime the word "comprehensive" is utilized by politicians or do-gooders anywhere, it's a warning to put on the hip boots. Seriously, I see that word and I cringe...
-- frost

I would like to know the names of the "so-called leading Republicans" who met in the back room with all those illegal-backing organizations of activists to try to put over this obscene immigration bill. They certainly were not in tune with the American voters, and my guess is that they were RINOs. They should be unmasked.
-- Evelyn Stromberg
Los Alamos, New Mexico

Jeff Emanuel replies:
Several Republicans were involved in this compromise legislation, including Arizona Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain (whose appearances at the meetings were, until last week, mostly made by proxy due to his busy campaign schedule), Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, and Sen. John Cornyn from Texas. The fact that Senators Kyl and Cornyn were complicit in this agreement, though, should not cause them to be newly branded as RINOs so much as it should raise eyebrows about their apparent naivete in trusting that the provisions for which they fought -- and for which they made concessions -- would actually be included in the bill's final draft. For example, as mentioned in the original column, while Jon Kyl was appearing on television Thursday night touting the major accomplishment of getting a measure included in the bill which would eliminate chain migration, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was on another network promising that that provision would not be included in the bill's final draft.

It should also not be assumed from their participation in this venture that all of the Republicans involved were in agreement on what concessions to make, what provisions to fight for, and what a "successful" immigration bill would contain. There was a great deal of friction between the participating Republicans -- especially on the final day of negotiations, when Cornyn was the object of a profanity-laced blowup by McCain. This apparently came about when, as the time approached for the prescheduled triumphant joint press conference announcing the agreement, Cornyn remained unwilling to drop his request for inclusion in the bill of a provision streamlining deportation procedures; instead he chose to champion principle over concession and easy compromise. For his trouble, after working with those involved "in good faith" for three months, Cornyn was ordered by McCain to leave the negotiating room -- and his provision was not included in the final draft of the bill.

Simply branding those Republicans who were involved in this matter as "RINOs," without looking a bit deeper to see their motivations and the concessions they hoped to gain from the other side, is a bit of a hasty indictment of Senators who may well have been acting in good faith. However, more even than the bill's contents, it is the hasty, secretive manner in which this was carried out which is, to me, most worrisome -- as well as the fact that some of these Senators, after years of being stonewalled by the Democrats to such a degree that they could not accomplish many key legislative goals while in the majority, have continued to demonstrate an unfortunate unwillingness to learn from that past experience, as well as a naive belief that, if they only made certain concessions to the opposition and to those who hold entirely different beliefs on this issue, their pragmatism would be reciprocated, and their provisions would also be included in this "comprehensive" bill.

NOT A REAL MENNONITE
Re: Mark Tooley's Getting Angry, Mennonite-Style:

Sorry, TAS: Tim Coil is not a Mennonite.

He joined a Mennonite church. Big difference.

From the story details, it appears that he joined it because and when it was convenient.

"Real" Mennonites are Mennonites from birth -- a peaceful people who learn and live their faith every day and teach by the example of their lives.

I cannot see a Mennonite ever infringing on the rights and freedom of others.

For more than ten years, I lived in an area widely settled by Amish and Mennonite families [for example, on my road, a bit over a mile long, there were a half-dozen Amish family farms].

I came to respect them deeply and resent Tim Coil for twisting their most enviable religious and moral honesty to suit his personal political agenda.
-- A. C. Santore

ONE LAST TIME
Re: Quin Hillyer's Back Bush Now:

The article "Back Bush Now" fails to consider two important facts:

Fact One: Bad policy in Iraq is what is undermining both Bush and the Republican chances in the next election. No amount of cheerleading is going to change that reality. Indeed, for over four years now the Republicans and the country at large have been very supportive of Bush on Iraq. As the war has dragged on longer than what it took the U.S. to defeat Nazism in WWII, that support has naturally eroded.

Fact Two: The "Surge" of troops into Iraq is doomed to fail. Why? Because the U.S. is not addressing the root cause of the violence in Iraq. What it the root cause? According to the Pentagon, over 95% of suicide bombers and over 70% of IED's (roadside bombs) and nearly 100% of sniper rifles, are coming from outside of Iraq; mainly Syria and Iran. Until the Bush administration forces Iran and Syria to stop aiding the insurgency in Iraq, all efforts are doomed to fail.

Indeed, the U.S. is going to fail in Afghanistan as well. Iran, emboldened by the lack of U.S. action on their warlike acts in Iraq, is now aggressively aiding the Taliban.

This is what friends of the Bush administration should be telling Bush. Conservatives, and indeed, most Americans, want to succeed in Iraq. But to succeed in Iraq we must end Iranian and Syrian interference there. That is the simple, hard reality. Cheerleading will not change that reality one iota.
-- Rogelio el Contrario

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