The arrest of seventeen Canadians - a dozen adults and five youths - won’t be enough to arouse our northern neighbors. Reuters reports that those arrested in Ontario had about three tons of ammonium nitrate - roughly double the amount used in the Oklahoma City bombing — for use in car or truck bombs. There’s speculation that they were targeting government offices.
Canada has been less serious than even Mexico in trying to control jihadist wannabes. Let’s hope these arrests indicate that the RCMP and their intelligence folks are getting more leeway to preempt attacks there and here.
Let’s not talk about closing “the border.” The proper term is borders.
So Wen Ho Lee gets rich off his lawsuit. What a pity. You’ll remember Mr. Lee: the nuke lab dude who went home with computer files, was suspected of espionage on China’s behalf, but ended up earning sympathy because in some ways his case was mishandled. But the fact is that the news organizations STILL have not admitted to ANY factual inaccuracies, nor was the accuracy even officially challenged. And for good reason: The fact is that Wen Ho Lee is no victim. The stories were true, in that Mr. Lee pleaded guilty for “mishandling computer files,” as the AP story put it. ANd these weren’t just ANY files; they were files with important nuke-related info on them. And TO THIS DAY, Wen Ho Lee still hasn’t offered adequate explanation for why he took the files out of the office in the first place, when it was obviously improper for him to do so. Meanwhile, even as a big mainstream media basher, I must say that the news organizations here are getting a raw deal. Note this: “The companies said they agreed to the sum to forestall jail sentences for their reporters, even larger payments in the form of fines and the prospect of revealing confidential sources.” There is no reason in this case for the news organizations to have to reveal their controversial sources, at least not as far as I can see. The sources did not give up state secrets or classified info; they blew the whistle on Mr. Lee, who was suspected himself of giving up state secrets and who clearly was quite lackadaisical, at BEST, with at least semi-privileged information. As Mark Corallo notes in the Barry Bonds-related steroids case, reporters should be forced by a court to give up their sources only if it is a “matter of grave national security or impending physical harm to innocent people, not just, well, this is the only way we’re going to be able to get this information.”
So Wen Ho Lee wins some money, and all of the rest of us lose.
Paul: It’s hard to not feel the frustration you express, but we all have to resist it. There’s always a choice. There has to be, or we are no different from the barbarians we fight. I’m utterly confident that the desire to get to the bottom of this and to punish anyone guilty of a crime is felt most strongly among the Marines themselves. Haditha may have been the ultimately dark moment for some of them, but for the rest their light shines undimmed.
Rep. James Clyburn, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, is touting a letter to the editor in the Washington Post today, “How Faith Works for Democrats.” The headline belies Clyburn’s meaning: Democrats don’t work for faith but vice-versa. Here it is:
…Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created the Democratic Faith Working Group more than a year and a half ago to remind the wider faith community of the public and personal faith narratives of Democrats.
Ms. Pelosi asked me to chair this initiative because, as she explained to me, she had noticed in my actions and expressions a deep commitment to faith-based issues. Ending poverty, increasing the minimum wage, protecting the innocence of children, improving education, preserving God’s creation by protecting the environment, and fighting for social and economic justice are all faith-based causes. The values expressed are solidly rooted in the faith of the American people and in the policies of Democrats.
Those values form my spiritual foundation as well. As the eldest son of a fundamentalist minister, I went off to college fully expecting to follow in my father’s footsteps. During my junior year, however, I had a change of heart, and when I informed my father of my decision, he replied, “Well, son, I imagine the world would rather see a sermon than hear one.” That admonition became a guiding principle for my life as a public servant and aptly describes the attitudes of many of my Democratic colleagues.
We stand together for opening wide the doors of government, as we do with our church doors on Sunday mornings, to all people who yearn to participate, have a voice and make a difference.
Democrats who studiously adhere to Thomas Jefferson’s doctrine of the separation of church and state are also rooted in Matthew’s directive to provide for the least among us and are guided by James’s admonition that “faith without works is dead.”
We believe that the federal budget is a moral document in which our values are demonstrated through our spending priorities.
Any budget that favors the wealthy over working Americans, cuts aid to schoolchildren, slashes health care for veterans, underfunds first responders and reduces opportunities for those who are the least in our society is a budget that fails to keep faith with America’s values.
This is what the Democratic Faith Working Group is all about.
First, it is worth nothing that this group has existed only since the Democrats lost the values vote in the 2004 election. Give them credit for recognizing the problem, albeit belatedly.
Second, this platform is indistinguishable from old-line liberalism. Democrats seem to think they can talk about God, say faith matches liberalism, and call it a day. They even present a Congressman who once considered the ministry, who says, “Hey! We go to church too!”
Americans of faith will recognize these attempts as the window dressing they are. Especially revealing is Clyburn’s citation of the “Matthew’s directive to provide for the least among us.” Perhaps Clyburn is thinking of the Gospel of Matthew, in which Christ may have provided that directive. (Or maybe Clyburn thinks Matthew made up the Gospel?)
But more important is the Democrats’ application of providing for the least among us. It also means safeguarding and loving the least among us, from the womb to natural death. For a man with a 100 percent rating from NARAL who has twice voted against partial birth abortion bans to preach about the “least among us” insults the public’s intelligence.
This isn’t faith motivating politics. It is faith “working for” politics — the same old package repackaged and rebranded.
Is becoming a bit of a spectator sport. Every time new economic data is released, showing the economy to be booming, how will the media skew it into disappointment?
ABC News submits its entry for today’s latest unemployment and job growth figures: “Job Growth Stalls but Unemployment Dips.” By which they mean the economy added 75,000 jobs in May, and unemployment dipped to a fantastically low 4.6 percent. How miserable!
I managed to catch you on O’Reilly last night. I wish he had asked you about an underlying issue: the rules of engagement in this conflict. As you noted, the Corps is remarkable for how few such incidents they have had in their long history of working in nasty places. But what alternatives do Marines have in their current predicament short of over-reaction on one side, and being hamstrung from protecting themselves on the other? From this civilian observer’s perspective, they seem to be in a profoundly difficult circumstance. Their overall sterling performance in the midst of such conditions really makes the “ethics training” now promised seem like a sad joke. (Shouldn’t stateside office workers get ethics training before the military does?)
When I criticized the Bush White House for tacitly supporting Ray Nagin for re-election as mayor of New Orleans, providing the crucial difference in his slim victory over Mitch Landrieu, a few people ignored Nagin’s record of incompetence and outlandishness and demagoguery to say, well, Bush was right because the national Dems (those evil meanies!!!!) were all in line with Landrieu, and it was better to beat back the Dems. Well, well, well. I’d rather be in bed, politically speaking, with Mary Landrieu and the DNC than with Jesse Jackson. Look at page A-6 of today’s Washington Post and you’ll see just who it is who got an honored spot at Nagin’s (re-)inauguration: The Rev. Jesse himself, in a photograph laughing with Nagin and with incompetent Gov. Kathleen Blanco — after Jackson and others of his il.. well, his reputation, rescued Nagin with a massive vote turnout by displaced New Orleanians bused back into town.
Nagin, it must be said, was a breath of fresh air at first in that he tried legitimately to clean up the corruption endemic to New Orleans city government. But he’s a chameleon and a demagogue (“chocolate city,” “people who look like us”,) he can’t keep competent people on his staff, he let the police department fade back into incompetence and corruption, and he lies down with unsavory characters. In his second term, poor New Orleans will reap the pain that Bush helped sow when Bush helped Nagin get re-elected.
Lots going on today. I’ll be on “Dayside” on Fox about 1 pm EDT talking about the Haditha mess. A media feeding frenzy like this is not unusual, but can’t obscure the fact that if war crimes were committed, it’s not a metaphor for the whole war, and an aberration in the history of the Marines.
I’ll also be guest-hosting again for Hugh Hewitt (6-9 pm EDT on Salem Radio Network, www.hughhewitt.com). Guests scheduled include Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff and The Beltway Boys - Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke. The discussion with Chertoff will be, ah, spirited. Hope you can listen in.
Just one look at today’s lineup on Congress, immigration, and immigration punditry makes it clear as a polished dagger that a profound disgust has gathered in America. It is not only the disgust of Conservatives, but I believe it is a thoroughly conservative disgust.
One way of thinking about this difference is to read Peggy Noonan’s meditation on the possibility of a third-party revival in 2008. This kind of talk has never been really infrequent in modern American politics, but that it even can be taken half-seriously now is nothing short of astounding. “It wasn’t meant to be this way,” one feels — but then again, that’s the coda of feeling that embodies our whole problem.
I think we have an intellectual and emotional duty to nail down the source of our profound disgust. I disagree flat out with Noonan that the source is best characterized as the political elite. I think the source is a certain social culture, one in which some elites in politics, business, war, and entertainment have learned to enjoy a high-rolling group grope that is deadly to what the conservative spirit holds dear. My thoughts here seek to come to grips with why we are where we are. Unless we know the true nature of what assails us we are simply crying out at the blows.
Quin, you are right to praise both Kavanaugh and Bush today.
But on Bush, it would be nice for him to act on judges when the cameras are not rolling. We can scream to high heaven for the Senate to act on the President’s nominees, but let’s face it — Bill Frist isn’t sweating it because President Bush is not applying pressure. More and more, judicial confirmations hearings look like occasional bones to appease upset conservatives.
By the way, now-Judge Kavanaugh acquitted himself (pun sort of intended) very well indeed at his swearing in, with very appropriate and wise and respectful words about a judge’s role and the necessity of humility, etc. He will make a superb judge — and, perhaps, down the line, a superb Justice!
Also terrific today was President Bush, who took the opportunity not only to heap praise upon his longtime aide, but also to pointedly make the case for all judicial nominees to get a fair, open, unfilibustered, up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. Great stuff, all around!
At the White House today to see young Brett Kavanaugh be sworn in as the newest federal appellate judge, in this case the important DC Circuit Court of Appeals, I had the chance to speak to a number of the stars of the conservative legal firmament, and was reminded again just what good and decent people we have on our side — starting with a real Starr, former judge and independent counsel Kenneth Starr. What a warm and gracious gentleman he is! The media caricature of him as a modern-day Grand Inquisitor is so far off the mark, so almost-criminally unfair and removed from reality, as to condemn that caricature’s purveyors (if there is any justice) to at least severe danger of long-term residence in one of the realms (or circles) about which Dante wrote. The truth is that Judge Starr is a great American who took on a very tough job and did his duty with honor and care. Sure, critics can carp that he did not always handle the political side well in what became a sickeningly politicized investigation — politicized, mind you, not by Starr but by his critics. Kavanaugh himself was cited by the Grand Authority of the WashPost’s Bob Woodward as having argued fruitlessly, while an assistant on Starr’s Whitewater/etc. counsel team, for alternative means of reporting their findings so as to head off the worst of a political firestorm. Politically speaking, the wise young Kavanaugh was almost certainly right — but this does not mean that Starr’s motives were anything but the purest. Eschewing political considerations is what is usually the “good government” approach to investigations, and Starr felt honor-bound to present the House impeachment investigators with all the relevant facts and proofs. In the end, it was not HIS fault, but that of Gingrich and other House leaders, that the House chose to put all the tawdry details on the Internet.
But I digress: The point is that while Kavanaugh may have disagreed procedurally on that point with Starr, and that while Kavanaugh was FALSELY reported during his recent committee hearing to have criticized Starr (actually, he criticized the decision — I think it was by Janet Reno — to continually expand Starr’s investigative scope, especially when the indy counsel law itself was suspect), the obvious truth is that Kavanaugh admires and likes Starr enough for Starr to have been invited to, and to attend (all the way from Pepperdine on the West Coast), with his lovely wife, Kavanaugh’s swearing in. And for good reason: because Kenneth Starr is a man of deepest integrity and great personal decency. He served as indy counsel at great personal cost and in the face of calumnious attack, yet never lost his kindness and graciousness — which were, as I noted, in ample display on the White House lawn to those with whom he spoke.
Another great public servant who caught all sorts of spears for the Bush 43 White House, with far too little appreciation, was former Attorney General and former Missouri U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft. He, too, was at the ceremony. He, too, is one heck of a nice guy. Immediately upon being apprised of a mutual friendship (actually, a friend of his who was a top aide of his), Ashcroft launched into a fond and knowing, praise-filled discussion of the remarkable baseball prowess of the friend’s eight-year-old son. So very kind and very human — and so unlike, again, the horrible caricature created by the mainstream media of an uptight, censorious, humorless man.
Well, it says right here that both Starr and Ashcroft deserve this nation’s gratitude. Thanks be to them, certainly, from this one redoubt at least.
The military is handling the Haditha incident in precisely the right way. Though the Pentagon can’t speak about the investigation, the media wants to corner it in a “damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t” position. (see my column in RealClearPolitics today).
I’ll be on the O’Reilly Factor tonight about 8:30 or 8:40 to talk about Haditha. Hope you can catch it.
Despite Notre Dame’s apparent retreat from its Catholic identity with Fr. Jenkins’s decision this spring to allow the Vagina Monologues, a committed core is still carrying the torch for distinctly Catholic education. Icarus Fallen has more.
Some conservative bloggers and many of our readers have suggested that they will stay home from the polls this November as retribution for the Republicans’ shameful showing in Congress.
As an apparent answer to that argument, the guys at RedState took a look at who would chair Congressional committees if Democrats were in charge. It is enough to make you vote for Mike DeWine.
That said, I think some very smart people on the right are falling into the trap of looking at these local and state elections through such a national lens. Yes, national events and Congressional actions impact those races. But ultimately, what will matter, is how your guy voted. Urging Republicans to hit the polls or stay home is largely futile — if they have a good candidate, who well represents his district, they will turn out. If he is a RINO representing St. George, Utah, he will be sent packing.
According to this report in the FT, the French region of Champagne may be threatened by groundwater containing nuclear waste. Champagne, according to Churchill, is bottled sunshine. Maybe it’ll glow in the dark.
A group of Marines, if an ongoing investigation finds that their killings of Iraqi civilians in Haditha were actually akin to murder, face the most severe of punishments. As Dave notes below, certain segments of the media are all too eager to reach negative conclusions in the matter. What does the President have to say about it? Granted, he can’t opine on the innocence or guilt of the Marines, but how about a statement of support for who they are and the conditions they are laboring under in
Nah. The President says “I am troubled by the initial news stories,” as generic a statement as can be made. He stresses that there will be punishment for those who are guilty. He talks about Marine pride, but only in the context of saying, again, that they will be sure to punish the guilty. There is no message of reassurance for the Marines in harm’s way, but there is plenty for the Arab world and the American media. Pathetic.
When I wrote today’s column, I did not realize that tomorrow, Thursday, Hastert becomes the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House in history. More reason for him, after tomorrow, to rest on his laurels and announce that this will be his last term — not in Congress, but as Speaker.
The CNBC just called the bull pen to talk about the new initiative to talk the Iranians out of their nuke program. Sigh. See ya on “On the Money” tonight about 1900. Should be another slugfest.
Between Henry Paulson’s chairmanship of the Nature Conservancy, his wife’s financial support for Democrats, and his donations to Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Emily’s List, some conservatives are finding plenty disappointment in his nomination.
Pejman at Red State does us all a service by keeping alive the discussion about the horrible Kelo case that amounted to such an abuse of the power of eminent domain, so that now, apparently, private land can be seized by the government for other private, not public, use. One addendum to the wisdom in Pejman’s blog post: Eminent domain abuse is one of the primary reasons why, if Republicans want to fight on judges, they won’t please merely the conservative “base” but also will win over lots of converts from voters in the middle.
For all the handwringing the New York Times does over WMD evidence, one would suppose they would be especially careful in all areas. Not when it comes to the events at Haditha. Today’s dispatch suggests the Times has come across new evidence of a cover up by the Marines. Eric Schmitt and David S. Cloud lead breathlessly:
A military investigator uncovered evidence in February and March that contradicted repeated claims by marines that Iraqi civilians killed in Haditha last November were victims of a roadside bomb, according to a senior military official in Iraq.Among the pieces of evidence that conflicted with the marines’ story were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest, the official said.
How scandalously damning. If it is true. What does the Times present for evidence? An anonymous source of dubious authority (what exactly is a “senior military official”?) relaying second hand information (or third hand? fourth?) of the conclusions of a preliminary investigation.
That’s not news. It is rumor.
The Power Line guys posted a Memorial Day weekend list of the 21 best American novels. The list is mostly solid, except for a classic omission: John Steinbeck. English departments usually omit his works from their syllabi, for reasons that elude me (though I am told many English profs can’t stand his moralizing).
Hinderaker writes that they ignored “politics and sociology” in compiling the list, but when a friend suggests Grapes of Wrath, he replies, “No socialist realism for us, thank you!” So I guess politics were not ignored? Either Grapes or East of Eden deserve a place on any list of best American novels.
Postscript to my thoughts on Sudan last week: we need a public conversation grounded in actual fact on the Somali situation, where the War on Terror has gone hot. The trouble is the same problem that has lurked at the heart of the war since its inception — it is really a war on terrorist Islam, and anyone who picks up a gun and starts shooting bad guys is on our side for good or ill. In the case of Somali warlords, the same types that once gave us Black Hawk Down, the ill is palpable. They occupy hospitals, and they appear to be losing.
U.S. diplomats at odds with our present policy of using warlords to battle African Islamists have been reassigned. That might be just what the doctor ordered, but it certainly is evidence that the seriousness of the Somali front is deepening. The compulsion is to not touch this one with a ten-foot pole — let the Somalis duke it out themselves, and throw cash, or arms, at whomever we need to win. But the most uncomfortable part of the Cold War — uncomfortable because we were too involved not to care, and too uninvolved to act decisively — followed precisely this pattern. And Africa is rather wider, rather larger, than Central America. For this among other reasons, the international community recoils from its supposed mission of bringing real order and peace to troubled regions. Is this because, finally, it is impossible? Who dares to admit the truth?
The major print and TV media and John Murtha are billing the killings at Haditha as the next Abu Ghraib. Murtha timed his press conference announcing that the Marines killed Iraqi civilians “in cold blood” to coincide with six months since his call for withdrawal from Iraq.
Not so fast. John Murtha, much less the media, doesn’t yet know what happened. Charges have not been filed. The Marines are investigating. And the only military man the Washington Post could get on record tells Mary Katherine Ham that his quotes were wildly distorted.
The media will attempt to make Haditha the next Abu Ghraib. Look for their efforts to ramp up in the coming weeks. As they do, ask for hard evidence, and not Murtha’s gossip.
“Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing,” the AP reported yesterday afternoon.
That’s not the Minority Leader’s only headache: Hotline notes that his poll numbers are starting to suffer in Nevada: “[Reid’s] reputation with home-state voters as a middle-of-the-road Red-state Dem is eroding. If this storyline seems familiar, it is. It’s exactly what happened to Tom Daschle.”
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing this morning titled “Reckless Justice: Did the Saturday Night Raid of Congress Trample the Constitution?” All four witnesses answered that question in the affirmative. I only caught the very end of the hearing on C-SPAN, but judging from their prepared testimony, none of the witnesses acknowledged the extraordinary constitutional safeguards built into the search warrant. What a joke.
At long, long last, John Snow is resigning as Treasury Secretary, the AP reports. Goldman Sachs chairman Henry J. Paulson, Jr. is the expected replacement. Two questions: 1- Will the press refer to him as the Goldman Sachs “chair,” an inanimate object? 2- Will the Bush administration begin undermining him within a year?
The Washington Post and Drudge report this morning that Harry Reid accepted free boxing tickets from the Nevada Boxing Commission while a related bill was pending in the Senate. Say what you will (and what I will) about John McCain, but at least he insisted on paying the full price of his ticket.
Today’s New York Times reports that “Iran appears to have slowed its drive to produce nuclear fuel, according to European diplomats who have reviewed reports from inspectors inside the country.” The article indicates that, either for diplomatic or technical reasons, Iran’s uranium enrichment program at Natanz seems to have stalled. But uranium enrichment is not the beginning and end of Iran’s “drive to produce nuclear fuel.”
In addition to uranium enrichment, Iran is also on the route toward producing weapons-grade plutonium. This brief (.pdf) from the Institute for Science and International Security shows, with satellite imagery, that construction is continuing steadily on a heavy water reactor in Arak. If it stays on schedule, this reactor could be fully operational by 2009. From the brief:
Once fully operational, the Arak reactor can produce about nine kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium each year, or enough for about two nuclear weapons each year. Because of concerns about the potential misuse of this reactor, the IAEA’s Board of Governors called on Iran to halt construction of the Arak reactor in a resolution adopted February 4, 2006.Any policy decision based on Iran’s nuclear timetable must take into account the Islamic Republic’s progress on uranium and on plutonium. Indications that they’ve slowed down on one front aren’t particularly meaningful unless they are slowing down on all fronts.
Sebastian Mallaby reports that the Bush administration has followed through on its promise to fight AIDS worldwide.
We’ll be back with our regular main page postings tomorrow. But especially today don’t miss the speech Ben Stein delivered this weekend in Arlington, Virginia. Or the Memorial Day tribute penned last year by Shawn Macomber. All this on top of Paul Beston’s remarkable lesson in humility.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?