Rep. Ron Paul has raised more than his share of controversy in Republican ranks by advocating an end to promiscuous intervention and war-making. While it is hard to know what service personnel generally think, Rep. Paul is winning the money-raising race among those in the military.
Representative Ron Paul, the congressman who favors the most minimalist American combat role of any major presidential candidate and who said all of the above quotes, has more financial support from active duty members of the service than any other politician.
As of the last reporting date, at the end of September, Paul leads all candidates by far in donations from service members. This trend has been in place since 2008, when Paul ran for president with a similar stance: calling nonsense at hawk squawk from both parties.
This year, Paul has 10 times the individual donations - totaling $113,739 - from the military as does Mitt Romney. And he has a hundred times more than Newt Gingrich, who sat out the Vietnam War with college deferments and now promises he would strike foes at the slightest provocation.
Actually, this should surprise no one. Service personnel may argue about policy like anyone else. But most important for anyone who could end up in harm’s way is to have a president who takes their potential sacrifice seriously and does not view them as just another campaign prop in the next election.
One of the tragic outcomes of the Iraq war has been the destruction of the historic Christian community. Saddam was evil, but had no interest in persecuting Christians. Indeed, a Christian woman was far better off living in Iraq than in U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.
Half of the Christians have been forced from their homes, many to Syria, where they fear the consequences if Bashir Assad is ousted. Those remaining in Baghdad are afraid to publicly celebrate Christmas.
CHRISTMAS has gone underground in Baghdad this year with the leaders of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities taking the extraordinary step of warning followers that it is too dangerous to openly celebrate Christ’s birthday.
“We have told everyone that there should be no public parties or large gatherings and people should do their own celebrations in their homes,” said Ra’ad Emmanuel, the head of the government-backed Iraqi Christian Endowment.
Ironically, Islamists blamed Iraqi Christians for American behavior, even though the Bush administration did nothing to help local believers. According to the Australian:
“After Saddam fell, Christians were targeted and attacked because everyone thought we were somehow attached to the Americans but the truth is that the US did not do anything for the Christians,” Mr Emmanuel said.
It is yet another tragic and unanticipated consequence of an unnecessary war.
So let me see if I have this straight. Quin Hillyer is now claiming that Newt Gingrich is arrogant and committing an act of “bad karma” because he challenged Mitt Romney to a one on one debate. He claims that Gingrich’s challenge to Romney to a one on one debate GOP debate is no different than George H.W. Bush insisting that John Anderson, Phil Crane, Bob Dole and Howard Baker be excluded from the stage during his one on one debate with Ronald Reagan in Nashua shortly before the 1980 New Hampshire GOP Primary.
I think some historical perspective is in order here. During the 1980 campaign, there were a grand total of six Republican debates all of which took place between January and April 1980. It is worth noting that Reagan skipped the first debate held in Des Moines on January 6th and his absence would cost him as Bush would upset Reagan in the Iowa caucuses just over two weeks later. Reagan would not make the same mistake in New Hampshire and participated in the next GOP debate on February 20th in Manchester along with Bush, Anderson, Connally, Crane, Dole and Baker.
Seventy-two hours later all hell would break loose twenty miles south in Nashua. Yet it is worth remembering that particular debate was initially sponsored by The Nashua Telegram and they only issued invitations to Reagan and Bush. The Federal Elections Commission ruled the newspaper couldn’t sponsor the debate without extending invitations to all candidates. So Reagan put up the money to sponsor the debate (which is why he could later say he was paying for the microphone.) But why would Reagan put up the money if he wasn’t interested in a one on one debate with Bush? Indeed, the other candidates initially directed their anger towards Reagan, not Bush. The Reagan campaign’s decision to include the other candidates came only hours before the debate was scheduled to begin and neither Bush nor The Nashua Telegram would budge. Of course, as it turned out, the debate itself was anti-climatic. With the audience and the Nashua Four applauding in approval with Bush sitting there not knowing what had hit him, The Gipper won the debate before it had begun.
Now let’s fast forward to the present day. If we keep in mind that Republicans had only six debates in 1980, the sixth GOP debate for the 2012 campaign took place on September 12, 2011. In all there were 16 GOP debates in 2011 not including the one one one debates Newt had with Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman. Were they guilty of bad karma for agreeing to debate Newt one on one? With ten more debates scheduled to take place between January and March 2012, the Republican candidates are not exactly lacking for exposure and Newt can hardly be accused of seeking to exclude them especially when he has been prepared to engage them individually.
Newt Gingrich is prepared to face Mitt Romney in a debate any time, any place. Newt has twice challenged Romney to debate him one on one. He did so when he was ahead of Romney in the polls and has done so again now that he is behind Romney in the polls. Mitt Romney has twice said no to Newt. This is a mistake on Romney’s part. If Romney thinks he’s the best candidate in the field then there’s no reason he can’t (to use one of Quin’s favorite words) eviscerate Newt in a debate. If he can do so then he sews up the Republican nomination. But Romney’s refusal to debate Newt only causes already existing doubts to linger. After all, if Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum can debate Newt one on one then why can’t Mitt? Could it be that Mittens knows he can’t lay a glove on Newt?
The “support” from Poppy Bush for Mitt Romney may do Romney more harm than good, at least among a large segment of Tea Partiers and other conservatives. If I were inclined to support Romney, it would make me less inclined to do so — but then again, for the very reasons I am not well disposed to a Bush endorsement I am also not disposed toward Romney in the first place. The more the old-line East Coast establishment rallies around Romney, the less attractive he becomes — if, that is, you believe he was attractive in the first place.
But nothing says “mushy lack of vision thing” more strongly than support from the elderBush.
Some people are all aghast that Mitt Romney has not agree to debate Newt Gingrich one one one. Oh, Romney must be scared!!!!
That’s total BS. Utter, complete nonsense. And I say this as someone who is decidedly unenamored of Romney. (In fact, for really good material on Romney, go here.)
Anybody who knows conservative history should know what happened the last time one purported front-runner agreed to a one-one-one debate with the other purported front-runner in a multi-candidate field. George H.W. Bush INSISTED that only he and Ronald Reagan be allowed on stage at Nashua, N.H. Reagan had other ideas. Phil Crane, Bob Dole, Howard Baker and John Anderson walked out on stage at Reagan’s invitation, the moderator tried to shut off Reagan’s microphone, Reagan firmly said that he (the Reagan campaign) “paid for this microphone,” and Bush looked like the bad guy, and worse, like the bad guy with deer-in-headlight proclivities. That single moment turned around Reagan’s campaign and set him on the course to the White House.
it’s just flat-out unfair to exclude other legitimate candidates from debates. And, after Nashua, it’s decidedly bad karma.
If Gingrich wants to insist on a one-on-one debate, fine, let him play the role of Poppy Bush.
Meanwhile, let Santorum, Bachmann, and Perry all make hay from Gingrich’s arrogance.
The battle for light bulb freedom continues. The Democrats still believe that the American people are too stupid to choose their own light bulbs. The House GOP was able to delay enforcement of the new 100 watt ban for a year. At least we have a few more months before the Department of Energy sends its apparatchiks across the land to spy out Americans using the old incandescent bulbs!
It’s worth noting who in addition to the Democrats favors light bulb socialism. Big Business. As usual, the capitalists are the greatest enemies to capitalism because they really don’t believe in free markets.
Earlier this month, Republicans suspended the law until October by denying funds for its implementation as part of a massive spending bill. For Democrats, this move was another sign of how out of touch the GOP is.
But look who else is complaining. As Politico reported, “big companies like General Electric, Philips and Osram Sylvania (are) fuming.” Allegedly these companies are mad because they invested lots of money getting ready for the new rules.
Fact is, they were pushing for the ban all along.
In 2007, Philips urged an incandescent ban as a way to force the market toward high-efficiency bulbs, complaining that without such laws, “purchase price and functional performance often take precedence over environmental concern.”
That same year, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which represents companies making 95% of bulbs sold in the U.S., told a Senate panel that a ban was needed “to further educate consumers on the benefits of energy-efficient products.”
There obviously is a lot wrong with the Occupy Wall Street movement. But the protestors have helped highlight the problem of the alliance between Big Business and Big Government. Many corporate behemoths long ago made their peace with Uncle Sam and now actively lobby the Feds (and states) to safeguard their market shares and guarantee their profits. Republicans should be pro economic liberty, not pro corporate welfare.
On December 15th, Jeff Lord predicted that Ron Paul would have to “seriously answer” for his newsletters as he ascended in the polls in Iowa. As Jeff points out these questions were raised in January 2008 in Reason by David Weigel and Julian Sanchez. I would add that their reporting built on the groundwork laid by James Kirchick in The New Republic earlier that month.
Six days later, Paul failed to formulate anything resembling a serious answer in an interview with Gloria Borger of CNN and ran away with his tail between his legs when the questions got too tough. This a tactic Paul simply cannot deploy in the White House.
Now, of course, it may very well be the case that Paul didn’t write the actual content of his newsletters but it’s hard to imagine he was unaware of it especially considering it was being released under his name. And it isn’t like this was a one time incident. The incendiary language kept popping up again and again. Thus a reasonable person could conclude that the views expressed in the Ron Paul Newsletter are the views of Ron Paul.
But let’s say that Ron Paul was, in fact, completely unaware of the content of his newsletters. In that case, it demonstrates a lack of judgment, responsiblity and due diligence on his part. Such shortcomings neither inspire confidence nor are they the makings of an honesty and trustworthy President.
Here’s yet another reason why I don’t care for the UN.
Today, the UN General Assembly held a moment of silence for Kim Jong-Il.
Then again when the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Zimbabwe see fit to pay tribute to Kim can we really be surprised if the UN follows suit?
Now apparently this moment of silence was requested by the North Korean delegation. Granted many nations boycotted including the United States boycotted the tribute. But it isn’t helpful when UN Deputy Secretary General Asha Rose-Migiro when signs a condolence book at North Korea’s UN mission nor is it helpful when former President Jimmy Carter extends his condolences to a tyrant. All it does is confer legitimacy upon Kim Jong-Il and gives a boost to Kim Jong-Un.
Notice the L.A. Times doesn’t even call it a “Christmas Card.” But it seems to be defending the Obamas against Palin’s complaint about their way secular official White House Christmas card, suggesting Palin isn’t displaying the appropriate “holiday” spirit by publicly complaining about it. So “Christmas” is on its way to becoming like the term “pro-life,” of use only in conservative circles?
In an interview with the AP while campaigning in New Hampshire today, Mitt Romney said he would not meet Newt Gingrich in a one on one debate “out of respect” for the other candidates in the GOP race.
What a copout. Were Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman being disrespectful to Romney when they agreed to one on one debates with Gingrich?
When it comes to Newt, I guess Mitt is content to hide behind his surrogates and third party attack ads.
And here I thought Mitt wanted to earn the nomination. Well, if Mitt wants to earn my vote then he needs to debate Newt mano-a-mano. If he refuses to do so then I can only conclude that Mitt fears Newt. And well he should.
There’s a lot that can be said about North Korea. But little good. It is a totalitarian state, with as many as 200,000 people thought to be locked up in deadly labor camps. In the late 1990s at least 500,000 and as many as two million people died in a famine, largely caused by Pyongyang’s collectivization of agriculture. Religious liberty does not exist, with the regime targeting believers in any god other than the Kim family. Back in 1950 North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung started a war which killed millions and devastated both Koreas. His son, Kim Jong-il lived lavishly while begging the world for aid to feed his people.
Quite a record.
But no matter. On the Daily Kos Niccolo Caldararo wrote a truly remarkable defense of the North. Sadly put upon by the West and victimized by all the usual suspects, the communist monarchy “today is the result of [North Korea’s] history, and especially its most recent history with America.” Indeed, he added:
While North Korea may behave in a strange fashion at times, its political history is no less responsible toward its own citizens than the history of the South, especially the recent history that was dominated in the 1960s to 1980s by dictatorial regimes that practiced torture and mass arrest. While we hear of starvation and torture in North Korea, these are far less well documented than the recent history of the South.
Whew! (H/t to Tim Graham.)
There is much to complain about South Korea under military rule. But, in case the professor didn’t notice, the South Koreans escaped repression and achieved freedom. It turns out that nasty dictator Park Chung-hee (and he was nasty!) followed economic policies which allowed his people to avoid famine and escape poverty. And dictator Chun Doo-hwan responded to mass protests by holding an election. Silly fellow. He was later convicted and originally sentenced to death for his crimes. His successor, a former general and ally named Roh Tae-woo, allowed another election in which former dissident Kim Young-sam was elected. Roh also later was convicted and sentenced to prison.
These guys were amateurs compared to the Kims.
There also is much to complain about U.S. policy, including its support for dictatorship, and I have. Indeed, I have made myself unpopular in Seoul by proposing the withdrawal of American troops from a nation well able to protect itself. However, the U.S. eventually did the right thing. Indeed, Kim Dae-jung, the long-time dissident turned president, credited Washington with saving his life after the South Korean KCIA kidnapped him intending to murder him.
But really, wrong-headed U.S. policy in the past is beside the point today. The difference between authoritarian South Korea and totalitarian North Korea long ago turned into one of kind, not degree. And today there is no comparison. The North has more than “problems.” It is a national prison camp for 23 million people.
And yes, to answer Professor Caldararo’s question: I have visited both North and South Korea.
Yesterday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas travelled to Turkey where he met with 11 Palestinians who had been freed from Israeli jails as part of the deal which saw the release of Corporal Gilad Schalit back in October.
Amongst them was Amna Muna (a.k.a. Mona Jaud Awana) whom Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, describes as a “terrorist temptress.” In January 2001, Muna lured 16-year old Ophir Rahum over the Internet to Ramallah for what he thought would be a romantic rendez-vous. Instead, Muna set up Rahum for an ambush by three Palestinian gunmen who shot him more than fifteen times. Muna was sentenced to life in prison in 2003 for her role in planning Rahum’s murder.
Needless to say, Netanyahu is furious with Abbas for meeting with a woman convicted of murder who told investigators of her delight as Rahum was in the throes of death.
When you couple Abbas’ provocation with Hamas today agreeing to join the PLO it begs this question. Where is the Obama Administration? After all, both Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta have been falling all over themselves publicly berating Israel in recent weeks. But so far I hear only the chirping of crickets. Well, it’s about what I would expect from an administration that is angry with Netanyahu for building houses in Jerusalem but not angry with Abbas for meeting with a murderer of an Israeli teenager.
Will does it in his usual, inimitable fashion. In this case, he is nailing Gingrich for Gingrich’s thoroughly irresponsible suggestions on how to rein in federal courts.
Make no mistake: Federal courts should indeed be reined in. Gingrich is hardly alone among conservatives in making that rather broad, entirely accurate diagnosis. But his prescriptions are the constitutional equivalent of quack medicine from an unlicensed doctor.
Congress and the president have failed to exercise their rights to remove subject areas from the courts’ jurisdiction. They have failed to write laws carefully enough to foreclose wild judicial interpretations. They have failed to adequately fight for confirmation of qualified conservative judicial nominees, and failed to make the case against unethical, unqualified, imperialist nominees of the Left. Yet these, and a few other mechanisms, are the proper, constitutional remedies for the problem of an out-of-control judiciary. Gingrich’s proposals, though, are, by common agreement among most respected conservative analysts, way out in left field. Gingirch’s proposals amount to an open invitation to a horrendously imperial presidency, with no consistent check on how and when the president could “ignore” the Supreme Court. The proposals are profoundly unconservative.
Robert Costa at NRO has the story. If Santorum pulls off the surprise in Iowa, somebody will need to tell the nuts-and-bolts story of how he did it. I don’t think anybody has worked Iowa any harder or with a greater ratio of organization to money since Jimmy Carter in 1976. That’s a compliment: Carter may have been a bad president — Santorum will be a good one — but his 1976 Iowa campaign was a model of dogged, effective retail politics. The personal touch matters, and Santorum has exhibited it, to the nth degree.
My friend Scott McKay at The Hayride (in Louisiana) is kind enough to cite approvingly a post of mine in support (mostly) of the Boehner position on the payroll tax holiday… but he then goes on to reason it out more fully, and illustrate the issues better, than I did. The money paragraph:
It seems strange that Boehner is being advised to cave because of “optics” less than a week before Christmas on a policy question where he’s clearly in the right - even his critics cede him that. So what if Chuck Schumer is singing show tunes over his party’s victory in a meaningless news cycle or two? If this country is going to be turned around it’s going to take a lot more strategic thinking than just attempting to beat Democrats one news cycle at a time.
I’m with Scott.
A liberal blogger who was fired from Democrat John Edward’s 2008 presidential campaign has attacked the Iowa GOP caucuses, blaming the “misogyny” of Republicans in the Hawkeye State for the recent surge by conservative Rick Santorum.
“Right on schedule, Rick Santorum is getting a push in Iowa amongst people who probably don’t know how to use the googles anyway. … [A] bunch of evangelical leaders have endorsed him, which might put him over the top in Iowa,” Amanda Marcotte wrote at her Pandagon blog. She said this is because “while Iowa wingnuts are wingnutty in all the usual ways, they prioritize ‘bitches ain’t sh—’ way more than the Republican voters do in other states,” and attributed Santorum’s recent success in Iowa to his “puppy dog-like excitement for portraying women as life support systems for uteruses and nothing more.”
Marcotte went on to deride the Iowa caucuses, scheduled for Jan. 3, as irrelevant to the Republican nomination process, and also had harsh words for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann.
Marcotte became notorious in early 2007 when she was hired as “blogmaster” for the Edwards campaign. Her hiring by the former North Carolina senator resulted in attention being focused on Marcotte’s previous writing at Pandagon, including mockery of the Catholic catechism that suggested an abortifacient drug could have been used to prevent the birth of Jesus:
Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.
Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review noted at the time that Marcotte also compared the Catholic Church to fascist dictatorships. Such writings provoked outrage from William Donohue of the Catholic League, who demanded that Edwards fire Marcotte and another liberal blogger, Melissa McEwan, who had been hired by the campaign. Donohue called their work “incendiary … inflammatory … scurrilous,” and said the Edwards campaign had been “tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar, trash-talking bigots.” Marcotte resigned from the campaign barely two weeks after she was hired.
Marcotte wrote Wednesday that “Iowa is just a many month battle for Republicans to compete for the title of Who Hates Women the Most,” saying the “main reason” Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa caucuses was that he “was perceived as the most gleefully misogynist Republican contender.” Marcotte wrote that Bachmann “adds an extra-special layer of bile to the misogyny Olympics” and described Iowa Republicans as “mired … in the notion that any use of the vagina for anything other than pushing out babies is seriously wrong and needs to be punished severely,”
Santorum and Bachmann are widely seen as competing for the same social-conservative constituency that helped Huckabee gain an upset victory in the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses. Santorum has recently been endorsed by a number of prominent conservative activists in the state, including Iowa Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa Family Policy Center president Chuck Hurley, as well as by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. Santorum’s effort to replicate Huckabee’s success in Iowa was emphasized Wednesday when he announced that Shelley Ahlersmeyer would serve as his national grassroots coordinator, the same role she played for Huckabee four years ago.
For the past year and a half, I’ve followed U.S. efforts in Iraq for the Foreign Policy Association. We always predicted a bumpy road for the nascent democracy in post-American Iraq, but even I wouldn’t have guessed at the tumultuous instability currently rocking the country. To put things in perspective, I’ve compiled a brief timeline:
Sunday, December 18: In the pre-dawn hours, the last American soldier leaves Iraq… after nine tumultuous years spent battling insurgency, and engaged in reconstruction and nation-building.
Monday, December 19: Hours after the final U.S. convoy crosses into Kuwait, Nouri al-Maliki’s hardline Shi’a government surprised international observers upon announcement that an arrest warrant had been issued for his Vice President, the prominent Sunni politician, Tareq al-Hashemi. ALSO, Saleh al-Mutlak’s al-Iraqiya bloc (the party of Hashemi and Ayad Allawi, the man who almost saved Iraq) quit parliament, labeling Maliki a “dictator” for increasing political marginalization at all levels.
Wednesday, December 21: Having tracked down Hashemi in semi-autonomous Kurdistan, Maliki demands his return to face prosecution. Maliki also threatened to purge his government of all officials who refuse to work with him.
Thursday, December 22: A dozen coordinated explosions in Baghdad kill more than sixty people — the first major violence since the U.S. military completed its pull-out.
If I put on my analyst’s hat, it’s pretty obvious that what’s happening in Iraq, in the days since U.S. withdrawal. Maliki is very comfortable playing sectarian politics, shielded by the authority of parliamentary majority. The opposition’s decision to quit the field will only secure his grasp on power. Meanwhile, Sunni insurgents are anxious to demonstrate that the government does not enjoy that old Weberian chestnut… a legitimate monopoly on the means of violence within the country.
What’s most alarming to me is the fact that with every disenfranchised Sunni and alienated Kurd in parliament, Maliki makes himself and his fellow Shi’as gradually more reliant on their friendly neighbors to the East.
I know Reid Smith is playing devil’s advocate but there is no room for civil disobedience (whether it be from the shoreline of Walden Pond or not) when it comes to Pvc. Bradley Manning or any other member of the U.S. military.
It’s not like Manning was drafted against his will. He enlisted into the Army of his own accord, took an oath to obey the Constitution and the orders of the President of the United States and of officers above him, underwent basic training and waited to be deployed to Iraq. He knew what he was getting into. So I don’t buy the argument that Manning suddenly “believed that he was part of an unjust war, waged by an unjust government.”
Apparently, Manning had a problem functioning in military life. It happens. But Manning took it a step further and chose to leak classified information knowing full well that it would compromise the safety and security of his fellow soldiers, our allies and the Iraqis and Afghans working with us. He leaked the information to Wikileaks, an organization with an explicitly anti-American political agenda. In the case of the video of the July 2007 airstrike which resulted in civilian deaths including two journalists from Reuters, Julian Assange edited it for his own ends. His manipulations should not be accepted at face value.
It is an unavoidable fact of life that people die in war including civilians and journalists. Our military is fallible but it is not evil nor is it in the habit of deliberately or wantonly killing civilians and journalists. To say that we all have blood on our hands because non-combatants die during war is simply disingenuous. I have no sympathy whatsoever for Manning. As Smith acknowledges, Manning is responsible for his actions and must pay the consequences for them. Unless he was otherwise assisted, no one else need be blamed for his treachery.
We know that the likes of Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and Robert Mugabe are grieving over the loss of their fellow tyrant Kim Jong-Il.
Well, North Korea’s state run news agency is claiming that former President Jimmy Carter expressed his condolences on the passing of Kim Jong-Il and wished his youngest son Kim Jong-Un “every success.”
Now one is normally disinclined to accept what is uttered out of Pyongyang at face value. Yet the Carter Center has neither confirmed nor denied the report.
It also must be remembered that Carter travelled to Pyongyang this past April, he acted as if he was a mouthpiece for Kim Jong-Il saying that Kim was ready to talk negotiate directly with U.S. and South Korea and also called for the end of sanctions against North Korea. Carter has also excused North Korea’s violations of UN Security Council Resolutions is only to “remind the world that they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape their future.”
So I don’t think it’s inconceivable that Carter would send Kim Jong-Un his sympathies and wish him every success even if the people of North Korea have no say in the matter.
The Wall Street Journal is wrong, and John Boehner right. on the matter of how to do this payroll-tax holiday. I explain why, here. One key passage from a longer post:
“The reality is that the Republican position of a year-long tax cut should be a political winner over the Dems’ two-month cut. There are ways to turn around the politics. They are ways that must be attempted, because the two-month cut is flat-out irresponsible.”
I repeat another point I made in that post: What in the (Bleep) were McConnell and the other Republican Senators thinking, to put Boehner and company in this position?
Congratulations to our own Robert Stacy McCain for making RightWing News 3rd Annual list of the 50 Best Political Quotes for 2011 as compiled by John Hawkins. Stacy McCain can be found at #44 on the list with this quote which was in response to Amanda Marcotte’s contempt for Thomas Ball, a 58-year old father of three who committed suicide on the steps of a courthouse in Keene, New Hampshire this past June, following years of divorce and custody battles:
I have no use for “men’s rights,” any more than I have any use for “women’s rights,” but let us ask: Who was it that decided it was a good idea to politicize love, sex and marriage? Who spent the past four decades proclaiming that “the personal is political,” so that every office flirtation and every petty domestic quarrel is a federal civil rights violation?
The damned feminists, that’s who.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Rachel Alexander, the co-founder and longtime editor of Intellectual Conservative (where I began contributing articles in 2003) and an occasional contributor to TAS, also made the list at #41.
So who’s Number One? The Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden.
You probably know by now that President Obama told Steve Kroft in an unaired portion of his 60 Minutes interview earlier this month that he had accomplished more in his first two years in office than any other President “”with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln.”
John Hinderaker of Powerline (who drew everyone’s attention to this display of immodesty) does a nice job of comparing Obama’s first two years in office with that of Ronald Reagan.
Well, it’s good to know that President Obama believes that signing the Stimulus Bill into law is a greater accomplishment than George Washington presiding over the passage of the Bill of Rights.
It’s good to know that President Obama believes that caving into Russia on ballistic missile defense is a greater foreign policy achievement than the Louisiana Purchase under President Thomas Jefferson.
It’s good to know that President Obama believes that apologizing for America’s sins, real or imagined, did more good than President John F. Kennedy establishing the Peace Corps.
If Reagan were still around to hear Obama’s bragging I suspect he would say, “There he goes again.”
I want to make this clear from the get-go: I’m here to play devil’s advocate. Considering the subject at hand, some of you may read that label literally.
A lazy love of God and country is not a love at all. Yes, I believe that Bradley Manning should be punished for the crimes he has committed. I am confident his digital footprint will prove that he leaked hundred of thousands of military and diplomatic cables to the international whistle blowing syndicate WikiLeaks. But… and this is an important “but”… while what he did was illegal, it was not entirely immoral. Let’s take that into consideration before we crucify Manning and those who might defend him.
With that said, I disagree with Ron Paul that this subversion makes Manning a “political hero.” The critical condition of civil disobedience demands that one suffers the consequence of actions that rattle the chains of injustice. Civil disobedience strikes a hollow blow absent the appropriate penalty. On the other hand, Martin Luther King’s style of non-violent resistance didn’t risk the lives of American soldiers who were simply performing their duty.
Moreover, I find Manning’s defense… unfortunate. Strike that. It’s appalling. His sexual orientation and so-called “gender-identity crisis” raise false flags, and associate homosexuality with treason. This is inappropriate and unfair in the extreme to the thousands of gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who honorably serve this country.
I would have a great deal more respect — and sympathy — for Manning (and perhaps for Ron Paul’s defense of the man) if he were willing to graciously suffer the consequences of his actions while maintaining that what he did, he did for a reason — unencumbered by the flimsy excuse of forlorn femininity.
Let’s face it. Whistleblowers are a necessary evil. They expose the inevitable malignity of good government gone bad. But please… exercise a little dignity and don’t do the crime, if you can’t pay the time.Continue reading…
A challenge to New York City’s onerous rent control laws has been granted cert by the Supreme Court according to the New York Times. The plaintiff, James Harmon, a former lawyer in the Reagan adminisration and an alumnus of West Point, inherited the house from his grandparents, who worked long hours as a governess and a waiter to afford the home. Harmon argues that the rent stablization laws amount to the government taking his property without properly compensating him for it.
Harmon has taken to the Supreme Court because the lower courts, and even his assemblywoman, Linda B. Rosenthal, are fine with the current regime. Rosenthal herself is quoted in the Times sounding a bit like an Occupy Wall Street devotee:
Ms. Rosenthal said Mr. Harmon had asked for an exception to rent regulations for his building, which she found untenable because it would, she said, extend to thousands of other people in “the vanishing middle class.”
“I understand he thinks he could make more money, that he is being deprived,” she said. “But I have so many constituents who would willingly trade his problems for theirs.”
As for luck, she said, Mr. Harmon was “lucky enough to inherit a town house.”
She said her views had nothing to do with the fact that she lives in a rent-regulated apartment, though she added, “If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be representing tenants in this district because I couldn’t afford to live in the city.”
The chilling note here is that the assemblywoman appears unaware that we have a system by which hardworking parents can designate their belongings to children after their deaths. Ownership is ownership, regardless of the role of “luck.” But in this account, Harmon is just lucky to have had hardworking grandparents, and he himself is not entitled to keep what was legally transferred to him in a will. Assemblywoman Rosenthal, however, is arguing that she is entitled to her cheap rent because her political worldview demands that others make accommodations so she can do the job she likes.
It’s moments like these you realize that the conservative preoccupation with the federal government, though correct, just might be diverting resources from an ultimately more winnable fight against local despots who put their feet up on the backs of taxpayers.
While the lower courts have ruled against Harmon, the Supreme Court has asked that the city and state file answers to Harmon’s petition to have his case heard. Asked about their chances at winning, an attorney for the city boasted his confidence that the lower courts’ rulings would stand.
Rent stabilized tenants are paying 59 percent below market rates to live in Harmon’s house, and one tenant even maintains a house on Long Island. This is reminiscent of a famous scandal in which then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan maintained a riverfront rent-subsidized apartment in the Mitchell-Lama complex managed by New York City, designed to provide assistance to “moderate” and “middle-income” families. Whatever salary Annan was making, it surely didn’t leave him in such poverty as to require a $10,000 subsidy from taxpayers.
Annan’s case, however, was one in which he was bilking taxpayers by taking advantage of a generous and poorly regulated subsidy. Thanks to rent control laws, private landlords are bilked by New York City to the benefit of well-to-do tenants, hiding the difference between the market rate they are owed and the rent they actually get paid.
What’s most interesting about this case is that Harmon is demanding compensation — rightly so — for a mandate imposed on him by a local government. Is Harmon entitled to the value of the property the government is letting go for cheaper?
Imagine the disastrous consequences to the New York City budget if they had to compensate landlords for the difference, and keep in mind this fact: There are over a million rent controlled or rent stabilized units in New York City. It’s no wonder the lower courts passed the buck and the Supreme Court won’t.
If a man can be judged by the company he keeps while he lives then I would add that a man can also be judged by those who weep when he dies.
In the case of the recently departed Kim Jong-Il the only people shedding tears for him (apart from the North Koreans forced into publicly outgrieving their neighbors) are the world’s tyrants.
According to an article in The Guardian written by David Smith, their Africa correspondent, Cuba’s Raul Castro has declared three days of mourning with flags to be flown at half mast. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (who called Kim his “comrade”), Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega (Kim had congratulated him on his “re-election” last month) as well as Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe have all lamented Kim’s passing.
Indeed, a top official from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF described Kim as “a lovely man.” Given how Zimbabwe has emulated North Korean agricultural policy by going from a net exporter to a net importer of food, I doubt neither the sincerity nor the cruelty of those condolences.
If only Christopher Hitchens had lived long enough to write one more article about the absurdity of it all.
Credit must always go where credit is due. In fact, our friends at Accuracy in Media point out that the You Tube video of Ron Paul which I linked in my story last night was in fact first reported by AIM’s Cliff Kinkaid. In our haste to link directly to the original source…the You Tube video….AIM was not mentioned and should have been.
My intent was to simply let Ron Paul speak for himself as a stand alone and not get into the interpretive business, particularly since I already had a column on the origins of his foreign policy beliefs up at the same time. Please check here to see AIM’s take on Mr. Paul and Manning.
And a word about AIM. They are one of the originals and have a long and honorable history. By all means, if you are not familiar with them, please learn about them here.
Now the question in general. In case you’ve missed it… this is four days before Christmas. Americans are occupied in things other than politics. (Ya think?) This story about Ron Paul coming up with a robust defense of someone many Americans see a traitor should be a big one. Will we see it again after the holidays as Iowa approaches?
So Ron Paul is picking up steam in Iowa. May even be a frontrunner.
And here he is (beginning at 4:06 in the video) saying of Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who leaked thousands of pages of classified U.S. government documents to Wikileaks, that Manning is a “true patriot” and a “political hero.”
I kid you not.
Here’s the link to the video. Wait ‘til Newt, Mitt, Rick, Rick, Michele, and Jon hear about this.
Songwriter, producer and percussionist Ralph MacDonald passed away on Sunday of lung cancer. He was 67.
He’s one of those musicians whose name and face you don’t know but chances are you know his music. MacDonald is best known for co-writing “Where is the Love?” which became a hit for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway in 1972 and for the 1981 hit “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers.
Rooted in Calypso music, MacDonald had long stints with both Harry Belafonte and Jimmy Buffett and played on recordings by the likes of Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross amongst many, many others.
Wherever you go on news or business TV today, all the talk is about congressional “dysfunction” or the travesty of the House Republicans refusing to pass the Senate’s utterly lame two month extension of a payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and a “doc fix” for Medicare.
Let’s make this very clear, this is the House of Representatives functioning as it should — and as dozens of freshmen members believe is their mandate from their constituents.
Just because senators in a rush to get home for the holidays passed a spineless, pointless bill which has the potential to create incredible confusion in payroll systems across the nation does not mean that the House should have gone along.
To be sure, messaging can be a problem for the GOP. It always is.
On the floor of the House, one Democrat called Republicans the “Grinches who stole Christmas” while another, the hyper-anti-intellectual Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), said that the GOP had lit the Christmas tree on fire. And in today’s winning entry for mixed metaphor award, Lee said that Republicans were causing Americans to “drown in dusty and dark waters.” I kid you not.
In a brief press conference after the House vote to appoint conferees to work out a deal with the Senate — in a conference which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says will not happen unless the House passes the Senate bill first — a reporter asked John Boehner about President Obama’s saying that House Republicans should be more helpful, to which Boehner said, with an unusually aggressive edge, “I need the president to help out.”
Democrats everywhere are crying crocodile tears about a tax hike of over $1,000 for the average American because of House Republicans’ actions. But, like everything Democrats say about economic policy, it is a lie. The $1,000 number represents roughly the average benefit for a full year of the tax cut extension. For two months, the amount is about $160.
When it comes to this payroll tax cut, to extending unemployment benefits, and to a “doc fix,” no deal is better than the Senate deal. I, for one, am very happy to see the House Republicans stand up for economic common sense by arguing that a two month tax policy could be as damaging due to the uncertainty it causes as beneficial due to its economic impact.
And even that begs the question of the economic value of one of the most Keynesian tax cuts possible, focused only on consumption rather than on encouraging production or employment.
Nobody needs this payroll tax cut extension more than Barack Obama. He wants to run as the champion of the middle class and as a tax cutter, as laughable as that is. So while he’ll try to argue that Republicans are obstructionists, people will also see this as yet another complete failure of him to lead. Now Obama will be in the uncomfortable position of possibly needing to nudge Harry Reid to walk back his promise not to bring the Senate back this year.
Of the two positions, the House has the better economic policy than the Senate, simply because it doesn’t try to enact tax policy two months at a time. When it comes to the political “optics,” Republicans will have to do a better job than they usually do of making Americans understand why they’re not political Grinches, burning Christmas trees and drowning people in dusty waters. The story is there to tell if they can only find the words.
Did Ron Paul look Sean Hannity in the eye after the Sioux City debate on Fox News — and play fast and loose with the facts of his newsletter?
In this video of Hannity interviewing Paul, at the 5:00 marker Hannity begins asking Paul about the newsletters. Paul flatly denies writing them. But never once mentions that he approved them. Instead, he directs Hannity to an article in the Texas Monthly that Paul says deals with the issue.
The Texas Monthly aricle requires registration for readers. But unfortunately for Mr. Paul, over at the site of the Capital Free Press (here) reporter Patrick McEwen registered and reports on what he found. And what he found directly contradicts what former aide Eric Dondero has said in The American Spectator. In the Texas Monthly, Paul steadfastly denies writing the newsletters. But never once hints that he personally approved them — the charge Dondero is making.
Now, Dondero, in recent Comments posted (scroll down) on The American Spectator, challenges the truth of the notion that Congressman Paul somehow was unaware of the content of his controversial newsletters. He does confirm that Paul associates wrote the newsletters (including Lew Rockwell, the controversial ex-Paul chief of staff) but insists Paul himself was fully involved in the approval process. With Hannity sitting inches away on national television, Paul never admits that in fact he himself approved the newsletters… as Dondero now asserts… “every line of them.”
The newsletters, which surfaced in the last presidential campaign, have re-emerged in a year in which other GOP presidential candidates have had their pasts re-opened for vetting. Old allegations about Newt Gingrich’s marital infidelities, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital and Mormonism, and Herman Cain’s problem with sexual misconduct allegations (all still unproven and flatly denied by Mr. Cain) have dominated the airwaves and the Internet. All have been grilled by Hannity on each allegation — at length.
Says Dondero of the newsletter (full text below*), Ron Paul “did read them, every line of them, off his fax machine at his Clute office before they were published. He would typically sign them at the bottom of the last page giving his okay, and refax them to Jean to go to the printer.” There is not a word of this in the Texas Monthly article that Paul uses to deflect Hannity.
On another occasion, Paul slips and slides through a 2008 interview with Wolf Blitzer on the same subject. Paul repudiates what was written, but very carefully limits himself to saying he never wrote these things.
Here’s the problem.
In light of the fact that I have just written an article about my twelve favorite Christmas songs, I would be remiss if I didn’t write something about Chanukah as it begins tonight at sundown.
For those unfamiliar with Chanukah, it is The Festival of Lights. When the Maccabees regained control of the Second Temple in Jerusalem from Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire in 164 B.C., there was only enough oil to light the Temple for one night. Instead, the Temple remained lit for eight nights. Hence the reason for the Menorah to be lit on eight nights.
Consider this editorial comment in the online encyclopedia Judaism 101 regarding Chanukah, “Note that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory. Jews do not glorify war.”
Yet I think that misses the point. It’s true that Chanukah isn’t a celebration of the military victory. Yet without regaining control of the Second Temple from the Greeks and Syrians, Jews are still prohibited from observing their religious customs while being compelled to worship false idols not to mention the slaughter of pigs at the altar of the Second Temple. If there is no revolt against Hellenism then Judaism could have have been significantly altered or disappeared altogether.
Or let me put it more succinctly: No Maccabees, no miracle.
I really, really wanted to avoid any more posts on Gingrich this week, but the way he is demagoguing the judicial issue is just awful. I have looked and looked and can’t find a single respected legal/judicial expert — left, center, or most importantly, solidly conservative — who thinks Gingrich is on the right track in proposing A) subpoenaing judges to appear before Congress; B) having Congress consider impeaching judges for bad decisions (I editorialized against this idea when Tom DeLay proposed it years ago, so this has NOTHING to do with my feelings about Gingrich’s candidacy); C) having Congress eliminate judgeships to get rid of problematic (i.e. liberal) judges; D) having the president unilaterally decide he can ignore Supreme Court rulings. These are just horribly anti-constitutional ideas. Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center says so. Roger Pilon of CATO says so. Former GOP attorneys general say so. Ann Coulter (despite her bombast, a pretty good lawyer) says so. I could cite lots of other names in the conservative legal firmament (I chose those three just to give a sense of the breadth of the opposition to Gingrich’s idea, from traditionalist conservative to libertarian to eclectic); the point is that Gingrich is WAY off base here.
I say this as somebody deeply involved in the wars over the judiciary, for years, always on the solidly conservative side (for instance, I am 99.999 percent sure I was the first in print or cyberprint, something like six or seven months before the spots opened up, to write that Sam Alito would be the perfect choice for a S. Court judgeship). I agree with Gingrich that the imperial judiciary must be reined in. I am a firm advocate of passing laws to restrict the jurisdiction of various courts. That is an explicitly constitionally allowed option that just hasn’t been used. But Gingrich’s suggestions would completely upend the spirit of the Constitution and its balance of powers — not just recalibrate that balance, to bring judges back into line, but instead actually scramble everything in a way that would promote anarchy. If it were a serious proposal, it wouldn’t be conservative, but outrageously and dangerously radical. I don’t think it’s a serious proposal, though. I just think it’s Gingrich pandering and demagoguing, trying to stop his slide in the polls.
When it comes to a proper House Republican response to Senate Democratic brinkmanship on the payroll tax cut extension: extend for one year rather than hammer something out in conference committee.
Politicians and bureaucrats in the European Union were treated to a verbal lashing for their cronyism and anti-entrepreneurism by Michael O’Leary, CEO of airline RyanAir, at a conference held by the EU on “innovation.”
The CEO started his remarks tearing down the European ruling class for protecting inefficient airlines that charge too much money for useless services. For this speech to come from someone in Europe, let alone at a summit at the EU, is a conservative dream.
Here is a transcript of the first few minutes of O’Leary’s John Galt speech (video below):
This is the first time I think that I or RyanAir have ever been invited to a conference by the European Union. Because as most of you know, the European Union spends most of its time suing me, torturing me, criticizing me or condeming me for lowering the cost of air travel all over Europe and making life so really difficult for their favorite airlines, which as we all know like high-fare airlines, like Air France, British Airlines, and Lufthansa who must be protected at all costs because they’re the future of Europe — the future of europe lies in people being forced to pay 800 euros for one-hour flights across the continent; the future of Europe lies in people being forced to pay fuel surcharges for the right to travel on Europe’s best airlines run by the Germans, the French, and the British.
Well, sorry we like to disagree… which is why a conference on innovation is so important.
… If you look at the mess Europe is in, if you look at the mess that the European economy is in, there’s only one way out of it.
And it’s not going to be a summit of European politicians.
It’s certainly not going to be a conference held in Brussels, where the last innovative idea came in 1922, I think.
Innovation is going to be the way for the European economy to grow, to develop, to create new jobs and that’s why I think it’s so important we have four young people.
I’m kind of a little bit nervous that we’ve brought them to Brussels where I’m afraid that their innovative streak, or their spark of innovation, might be dulled by a long lunch, an afternoon sleep, followed by an early finish, and then they’d all become — God help us — politicians or bureaucrats in Brussels and therefore do nothing to add to the sum of human kind.
So I urge you as quickly as you possibly can: Get the hell out of Brussels.
Go back to your countries, and stay away from here as much as is humanly possible. Because Brussels, those of you who know the Star Wars Trilogy, this is the evil empire. The Berlaymont is the Death Star, where any hint of innovation is left at the door as you walk in to meet with bureaucrats and politicians, who you can always tell when they’re telling lies because their lips are moving.
For the rest of his speech, he explains how he was able to innovate RyanAir into being one of the most popular carriers in Europe by cutting costs and services to keep fares low. They also don’t invest in PR firms or marketing gimmicks.
And, in O’Leary’s own words: “We don’t have strikes.” In fact, earlier this year, O’Leary controversially demanded that striking air traffic controllers be fired as part of an EU ban on strikes, similar to President Reagan’s response to an air traffic control strike in 1981. Over 2.5 million passengers’ plans were disrupted by the strikes that had O’Leary fuming.
When O’Leary completes his remarks, the EU representative who is moderating the discussion attempts to suggest that the E.U.’s efforts to deregulate the air travel industry were to credit for RyanAir’s success. O’Leary patly replies, “Nope, but it was 30 years ago, and we haven’t innovated since.”
Two polls — one by Public Policy Polling and the other by Insider Advantage — show Ron Paul leading in Iowa. The first survey has Newt Gingrich slipping into third behind Mitt Romney; the second has him in fourth behind Romney and Rick Perry. PPP has Perry, Michele Bachmann, andfor the first time ever Rick Santorum in double digits.
Might this be shaping up into a competitive caucus in which Gingrich peaked too soon? Stay tuned.
So says this article by a veteran of 32 years of Iowa caucuses.
There is an awful lot to criticize Mitt Romney for — I give some examples and explain why they would hurt Republicans if he were nominated here — especially on social issues like abortion. But I do think Rick Santorum’s critique of Romney on same-sex marriage, which is really an amplification an earlier critique, is somewhat overblown.
Even during his most socially liberal campaign, the 1994 run against Ted Kennedy, Romney never openly supported same-sex marriage (at the time, this would not have even been a mainstream position among Democrats). He opposed both same-sex marriage and civil unions while running for governor in 2002, by that time a fairly conservative position by Massachusetts standards. After the Goodridge decision, Romney unsuccessfully requested a stay. He twice cobbled together the votes necessary to advance measures that could have reached the statewide ballot under the commonwealth’s byzantine amendment process and possibly overturned the pro-same-sex marriage ruling. He also endorsed a federal marriage amendment.
It’s true that Romney did not do everything opponents of same-sex marriage wanted him to do. He did not refuse to comply with Goodridge. He did not press for the impeachment of pro-Goodridge judges. He did not try to issue an anti-Goodridge executive order. He did not repudiate his position on gay rights in general. He did not continue to support an anti-Goodridge amendment that would have also allowed voters to block civil unions once it became clear that amendment lacked the necessary votes.
Yet it is not clear that any of these moves would have been successful (there is dispute over whether some of them would even have been legal). It must be remembered that Romney was almost alone in his opposition to Goodridge among statewide leaders, especially once Tom Finneran ceased to be speaker of the house. By almost any fair reading of the polls, a governor who went on a crusade against Goodridge would have much more unpopular than the decision itself proved to be. The best chance marital traditionalists had was for the issue to make the ballot. Romney worked toward that end, but a lopsidely Democratic legislature thwarted him.
Romney probably could have done more to call the legislature into account for dubiously recessing the constitutional convention that was the last, best shot to overturn Goodridge. I think he can also be fairly criticized for abandoning the state in 2006 to run for president, knowing that this would make Goodridge’s reversal even less likley. But Romney probably could have spent his entire governorship on the issue and had no more to show for it than he does now.
As others have noted, there is nothing good to say on behalf of North Korea’s recently departed “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il. We can safely assume that he is finding something other than virgins in his journey onward.
His death should end any hope for negotiation and implementation of a new nuclear pact. There was no reason to believe that Kim wanted to give up his nuclear program. Now whoever hopes to succeed him would be a fool to propose giving up the nuclear program. Imagine calling the generals together: I’d like your support and, by the way, I suggest that we give up your biggest toy.
Twenty-something Kim Jong-un, known informally as the “Cute Leader,” may win the official designation as Kim Jong-il’s successor, but there are many potential claimants to power. The younger Kim’s aunt and uncle, for two. As well as a gaggle of Korean Worker’s Party functionaries and military men who have been waiting a long time for the Kim dynasty to end. The North likely is in for a period of political instability, with the possibility of violent conflict.
Alas, China is not likely to be helpful. Beijing wants stability, in the guise of North Korea’s continued survival. The Chinese would prefer more pliable leadership in Pyongyang, not democratic reforms or, worse, a united Korea.
The U.S. should simply stay out of the way and watch while South Korea takes whatever steps it believes necessary to protect against the impact of a breakdown in the North.
Congress remains mired in a bitter fight over extending the cut in the Social Security payroll tax rate. It’s fun watching Democrats push a two percent reduction after demonizing President George W. Bush for wanting to let workers put that same two percent into a private investment account. So much for being concerned about the “integrity” of Social Security!
Another part of the bill would extend unemployment insurance. My Cato Institute colleague Chris Edwards explains why this is bad policy:
any stimulus from UI benefits will be counteracted by the anti-stimulus of the higher taxes needed to pay for them. Many states have been raising their UI taxes on businesses in order to replenish their unemployment funds, and these tax increases are surely harming job creation.
Another negative effect of UI benefits is that they increase unemployment because they reduce the incentive for people to find work. Higher UI benefits delay the need for people to make tough choices about their careers, such as switching industries, taking lower pay, or moving to a different city. It’s a basic rule that when the government subsidizes something, we get more of it.
Leave it to Congress to create more long-term problems with every step they take trying to deal with the economy. This may be the most important argument on behalf of a policy of laissez faire. Private markets are far from perfect. But politicians always in every case make a bigger mess of things!
I share John Tabin’s sentiments regarding the passing of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. I will reserve my sympathies and laments for those who have died under his rule and that of his father Kim Il-Sung as well as those who will very likely to continue to suffer under North Korea’s new twenty-something ruler, Kim Jong-Un.
Unfortunately, the plight of North Koreans doesn’t get the attention it warrants because of the closed nature of their society. Westerners seldom see what goes on north of the DMZ. John wisely cites the words and wisdom of two good men who just left this world - Vaclav Havel and Christopher Hitchens with regard to the totalitarian evil in that country. In the case of Hitchens, he was one of the few Westerners who have seen North Korea first hand.
I would also recommend Kang Chol-Hwan’s The Aquariums of Pyongygang. Kang and his family spent a decade in the Yodok concentration camp. After his release, Kang defected to South Korea via China in 1992. After reading The Aquariums of Pyongyang, President George W. Bush made the book required reading for his Cabinet and invited Kang to meet with him at the White House in June 2005.
The Northern part of the Korean peninsula is governed by the world’s worst totalitarian dictator, who is responsible for taking millions of human lives. Kim Jong-il inherited the extensive Communist regime following the death of his father Kim Il-sung, and has shamelessly continued to strengthen the cult of personality.
He sustains one of the largest armies in the world and is producing weapons of mass destruction. The centrally planned economy and the state ideology of juche have led the country into famine. The victims of the North Korean regime number in the millions.
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel died yesterday at the age of 75 after a lengthy illness.
A playwright by trade, his works would be banned in Czechoslovakia after the Prague Spring in 1968. This would not deter his political activity. In 1977, Havel was one of the founders of the Czech dissident group Charter 77. This would result in Havel being imprisoned by the Communist regime on multiple occasions. He spent nearly half the 1980s held in confinement.
In 1989, Havel led the non-violent Velvet Revolution which resulted in the fall of communism and in him becoming President of Czechoslovakia. Havel would reluctantly oversee the break up of Czechoslovakia in 1993 remaining President of the Czech Republic until 2003.
Havel’s political inclinations were far more social democratic than conservative. But Havel was held in high esteem by the likes of Margaret Thatcher. Lord Powell, who served as Thatcher’s Private Secretary from 1983 to 1990, wrote in The Daily Telegraph, “She took to him because he was articulate and shared her views on communism and in particular her moral views of communism.”
Indeed, when Havel visited Thatcher at 10 Downing Street in March 1990 she paid him the highest of tributes. “During the darkest years of Stalinist oppression, you were an inspiration to your people,” said Thatcher, “In your plays, you exposed and opposed the deceits and injustices of totalitarian rule. You stayed true to your principles through long periods of imprisonment and illness.”
Every once in awhile someone will tell me that I am brave for reading my poems. I am to quick reply that I am not brave. Whatever inconveniences I have been subjected to as a result of my poems are inconsequential (up to and including being banned from reading.) I can always go home to sleep in my bed and get up a write the next day. The same could not be said for Havel and thousands of men and women like him who lived under the thumb of totalitarianism. Yet the life of Vaclav Havel is proof that good can persevere and triumph over evil. Or as Havel put it, “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.”
In an interview with Fox News Sunday today, Mitt Romney declined to say whether the United States should have invaded Iraq knowing what we know now. Romney did say the invasion was “appropriate” based on what was known in 2003. Byron York quotes Romney’s answer when Chris Wallace asks him whether the invasion was correct in hindsight*:
“Oh boy, that’s a big question,” Romney responded. “And going back and trying to say, given what we know now, what would we have done? Would we have invaded or not? At the time, we didn’t have the knowledge that we have now. At the time, Saddam Hussein was hiding, he was not letting the inspectors from the United Nations into the various places that they wanted to go. The IAEA was blocked from going into the palaces and so forth. And the intelligence in our nation and other nations was that this tyrant had weapons of mass destruction. And in the light of that belief, we took action which was appropriate at the time.”
This is actually not a new position for Romney. In 2007-08, he also refused to take a position re-litigating the Iraq war, calling one such question a “null set.” David Freddoso observed back then, “Yet he is unique among the serious Republican presidential contenders because he has never said he would do it all over again, and they all have.”
*UPDATE: A commenter below takes issue with my paraphrase of Wallace’s question. According to the transcript, here is the exact question: “First of all, looking back - and hindsight is always 20-20 - should we have invaded?” The York item I link to above also contains the exact quote. If Romney had answered yes or no to hypothetical question, this would seem to give us some insight into whether he thought the decision to invade was “correct.” But hopefully this update clears up any confusion.
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly gets a lot of flak for taking note of the “war on Christmas.” Of course, O’Reilly is absolutely right: There has been a concerted effort, by anti-religious secularists and God-haters, to deprecate the cultural significance of Christmas. And, unfortunately, they’ve been very successful. Why, walk into any store in any large metro area (New York, Chicago, L.A., D.C., et al.), or any governmental complex, and you’ll rarely, if ever, hear someone say, “Merry Christmas.” Those words are now taboo. “Happy Holidays” is all the rage, and the implication is clear: Christmas is nothing special; it’s just another holiday, like Labor Day or New Year’s Day.
So it is refreshing (albeit not surprising) to hear a prominent Israeli Jew, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, say aloud what too many American Christians are afraid to say publicly: Merry Christmas. (H/T to Smitty over at The Other McCain.)
I say not surprising because, of course, it took a Jew (Jesus Christ) to found Christianity. And, as Netanyahu observes, the Jewish state is today a refuge, not only for Jews, but also for Christians, who are being persecuted and discriminated against in many Islamic states.
Mazal Tov, Prime Minister. Happy Hanukkah — and Merry Christmas.
Along with Jim Antle, Quin Hillyer and Aaron Goldstein, I want to wish our departing friend and colleague, Joseph Lawler, all the best in his new editorial endeavor at RealClear Politics. Joe may be young, but he’s also a sharp-eyed editor.
I’ve been published well over a thousand times in dozens of publications; and one thing I’ve learned is the importance of a good editor and a second set of eyes. No matter how good a writer you are (or think that you are!), it’s always helpful to have someone else review your work.
Especially when you keep very busy, as I do, it’s easy sometimes to mistake your half-baked ideas with publishable prose. Joe has been a very patient, and typically very helpful, editor. He’s got a bright future ahead of him. I wish him the best.
Tim Carney on what awaits Ron Paul if he wins the Iowa caucuses.
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?