It was not just any after-dinner speech.
Last Thursday night, at the annual gala of the Federalist Society, Attorney General Michael Mukasey delivered a keynote address that will go down as a speech of historic proportions: a solemn, powerful, and disarmingly blunt apologia for the Bush Administration's legal positions and actions in War on Terror.
The tough, no-nonsense, stoic former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, who inherited from his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, a Justice Department that had become a shooting target for liberal critics in Congress, the legal academy, and the media, answered those critics head-on.
And he put down a marker for the incoming Obama administration: given the dangers involved and the stakes for the security of Americans, there will have to be a better reason than the empty criticisms voiced to date to justify an Obama departure from the Bush legal architecture.
The familiar refrain that the War on Terror has trampled constitutional rights, civil liberties, and even the rule of law itself rests "on a very dangerous form of amnesia that views the success of our counterterrorism efforts as something that undermines the justification for continuing them." Because the Administration's strategy has been "successful based on what matters most" -- that in the more than seven years since September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda hasn't launched another terrorist attack on American soil -- the critics seem to assume that Al Qaeda "never posed much of a threat after all."
But the threat that materialized on 9/11 was as unprecedented as it was real. The fact that "19 lightly armed terrorists could murder nearly 3,000 Americans" in the "most catastrophic attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor," Mukasey said, created a new kind of "asymmetric warfare" that forced President Bush and his advisors to reassess and revise not just the military, but also the legal, tools to fight back. The Bush response, as he summarized it, was to:
• Declare war: Some critics still argue that "war" in this situation is unjustified. One does not declare war on isolated instances of crime. But systematic terrorism can't be addressed after the fact, as America did as late as the 1990s, just by sending the FBI to collect evidence and then prosecuting the perpetrators. Indeed, Osama bin Laden was already under indictment for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration finally recognized the war that Al Qaeda and other groups had declared years earlier.
• Capture and detain the enemy: Unlike ordinary criminals who are apprehended, indicted, and often freed on bail, terrorist warriors captured by the U.S. military should not be returned to the battlefield (or released to join it). They needed to be detained, and where appropriate in military judgment, transferred to the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay.
• Reorganize government to keep Americans safe from attack: Domestic security agencies throughout the executive branch were brought under the umbrella of the new Department of Homeland Security, and a "Director of National Intelligence" was established to coordinate intelligence efforts in tracking and preventing terrorist attacks. The FBI was restructured to gather intelligence beforehand, not just gather evidence after, attacks.
• Enhance intelligence gathering: The lightning pace of technological advances in recent years required new legislation -- the Patriot Act and modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- to allow analysts, investigators, and intelligence professionals to access data about the enemy's communications and movements.
Typical of the critics of these and other Bush legal policies, Mukasey said, was the head of a nonpartisan legal organization who gave a speech condemning the "oppressive, relentless, and lawless attack by our own government on the rule of law and our liberty." Mukasey noted that the lawyer didn't rely for his criticisms on the text of the Constitution, statutes, treaties, or laws. Instead, he cited the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New York Review of Books. There has been a widespread condemnation of the Bush War on Terror by critics who fail to distinguish between "whether a course of action is permitted as a matter of law, and whether that course of action is prudent as a matter of policy."
And even when legal arguments are raised against the Bush policies, they fail to acknowledge that there is an equally, if not more, powerful legal justification to support the Bush course in uncharted waters when Americans' safety and security is at stake. For example, the Bush position that such non-citizens held abroad cannot use the U.S. civil courts to challenge their detention is grounded in the text of the Constitution, historical practice, and -- before several months ago -- Supreme Court precedent.
As Mukasey noted, even the majority of the Supreme Court in the recent Boumedienne decision (allowing Guantanamo inmates to file habeas corpus petitions in U.S. federal courts challenging their detention) acknowledged that the Court had never before held that noncitizens detained by our government outside the United States had any rights under our Constitution. (Hitler's "willing executioners" would doubtless have been pleased to assert their rights under the U.S. Constitution to challenge their detention while awaiting trial at Nuremberg.)
Now that a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court has given those detainees such "rights" (the text of Constitution actually calls the writ of habeas corpus a "privilege," and says that it "shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it"), the first federal court rulings handed down last week ordered 5 of the first 6 detainees released. In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal the morning after his speech, Mukasey said the general problem with these hearings is the attempt to apply "a civil litigation framework to wartime decisions that often must be made on the basis of the best available intelligence." Accordingly, he warned, courts are going to arrive at different answers in the some 250 Guantanamo habeas cases now pending. And "I fear," he said, that some of those answers will "create risks for our national security."
Bush antagonists in Congress have asked the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to open a criminal investigation into the actions of the President, cabinet members, administration lawyers, and intelligence officers in connection with CIA interrogation of captured members of Al Qaeda. Mukasey said they've presented no evidence that these government officials acted with "any motive other than a good-faith desire to protect the citizens of our Nation from a future terrorist attack," and there is no indication that any government official "sought to authorize any policy that violated our laws."
IRONICALLY, IN THE MIDDLE of Mukasey's speech about opponents of the War failing to make their case in law or reason, he was interrupted by a heckler -- a state court judge -- who stood and shouted at him, "Tyrant! You ARE a tyrant!" Pausing briefly to look in the direction of the heckler, but returning immediately to his speech, Mukasey was too much of a gentleman to quash the outburst by saying that such wild charges and name-calling illustrated precisely the point of his remarks.
The Attorney General made it almost to the end of his speech, and then, suddenly and inexplicably, he faltered and collapsed. Shock and concern over his collapse overshadowed his final point: that the Bush administration had tried "to make sure that our counterterrorism efforts stood on a sound institutional and legal footing so that the next Attorney General and the new Administration have what they need to assure the safety of the Nation."
The Obama administration, as he noted, will review those institutions and legal decisions that have kept us safe for the past seven years. He expressed "hope" that the Obama administration "understands the threat we continue to face and that it shares the priority we have placed on remaining on the offense to prevent future terrorist attacks."
As we left the ballroom after the Attorney General was rushed to the hospital, those present had a dual sense of uncertainty -- about his condition and about the future course of the War on Terror.
As to the former, thankfully, the word came within hours that the Attorney General was well. As to the latter, one can say only one thing for sure: the Mukasey speech is one that history will vindicate, in one way or another.
30 November 2008
By Wendy E. Long
29 November 2008
By Michelle Malkin
The human-rights crowd is right: Life is hard for a Guantanamo Bay detainee. The deprivation is unspeakable. According to the facility’s “cultural adviser,” their brains have not been “stimulated” enough. So this Thanksgiving, America is drawing up plans to provide the 250 or so suspected jihadists at the “notoriously Spartan” detention camp with basic sustenance including, as reported by the Miami Herald, movie nights, art classes, English-language lessons, and “Game Boy-like” electronic devices.
Next up: Wii Fit, Guitar Hero, Sudoku, People magazine, and macrame. Anything less would be uncivilized.
On a deadly serious note, the detainees aren’t the only ones playing games at Gitmo. Some top legal advisers and supporters of Barack Obama, whose name detainees chanted on election night, are now rethinking the president-elect’s absolutist campaign position on shutting the center down and flooding our mainland courts with every last enemy combatant designee. Yes, reality bites. And Democrats must now grapple with the very real possibility that an Obama administration could potentially release a Gitmo denizen who would turn around and commit mass terrorist acts on American soil or abroad.
Nothing clarifies the mind like a jihadi boomerang. Never before have an administration and its followers matured so quickly in office — and they haven’t even taken office yet.
While Obama paid lip service to the “Close the Gitmo gulag!” agenda on 60 Minutes over the weekend, his kitchen cabinet is proceeding more pragmatically. Believe it or not, the Obama crowd is now contemplating a preventive detention law and an alternative judicial system for the most sensitive national security cases involving the most highly classified information — information that has no place being aired in the civilian courts for public consumption.
Listen to relentless Bush critic David Cole, who told the New York Times last week: “You can’t be a purist and say there’s never any circumstance in which a democratic society can preventively detain someone.” Added Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institution: “I’m afraid of people getting released in the name of human rights and doing terrible things.”
Moreover, Obama transition team members have suggested to The Wall Street Journal that despite his campaign season CIA-bashing, “Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.”
Next thing you know, they’ll start arguing that the world has been fooled by years of sob-story propaganda about the Gitmo detainees — funded by Kuwaiti government-subsidized lawyers who cast them all as innocent potato farmers and schmucks dazed and confused on battlefields.
Next thing you know, they’ll rediscover the facts that detainees have systematically lied and exaggerated stories about mistreatment at Gitmo, and that interrogators and military personnel have bent over backward to accommodate their personal and religious needs and wants.
Next thing you know, they’ll start reminding us that dozens of former Gitmo detainees have been released and recaptured on the battlefield while committing acts of terrorism.
Funny, when President Bush and his homeland-security team realized these very realities seven years ago, they were branded terrorists and hounded relentlessly by Congress, the media and the left. When Attorney General Michael Mukasey eloquently defended the administration’s counterterrorism policies at the Federalist Society before he collapsed, he was heckled as a “tyrant.” And when I wrote my second book expounding on this very thesis, I was labeled a racist and fascist whose ideas exploring the proper balance between security and civil liberties had no place in public discourse.
Now, at long last, some liberals have realized that the sacred goal of “regaining America’s moral stature in the world,” as Obama put it, may be less important than ensuring that al-Qaeda killers don’t strike on American ground again.
Viva la Hope and Change!
27 November 2008
In 1621, after a hard and devastating first year in the New World the Pilgrim's fall harvest was very successful and plentiful. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish which was packed in salt, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. They found they had enough food to put away for the winter.
The Pilgrims had beaten the odds. They built homes in the wilderness, they raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. Their Governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians.
The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.
In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom. By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.
26 November 2008
By George Neumayr
Like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton ran on the mantra of "change," but many of his plans for it ran aground not long into his presidency. Now Obama seeks to enact the radical changes Clinton couldn't.
His recruitment of Clinton-era leftists isn't "governing from the middle," but an attempt to implement the thwarted radicalism of Clinton's first two years in office. It suits the ideological purposes of the media to push "the middle" gradually leftward and cast the return of experienced Clinton-era hands as a measure of Obama's caution and moderation.
But this is circumspection at the service of radicalism. Obama is not choosing experience over radical change, but choosing experience for the sake of it. What the Daschles and Holders couldn't accomplish in the 1990s they will try again now. The passage of time hasn't made their positions any less radical.
A sign of the ease with which Obama practices stealth radicalism is that he can even take positions to the left of those early Clinton-era positions and still retain the media's halo of moderation.
Notice that at change.gov legislation Clinton passed -- legislation that was considered outrageous at the time -- is deemed insufficiently liberal in Obama's eyes. Take Clinton's job-killing Family and Medical Leave Act. It is just not good enough for Obama: "The FMLA covers only certain people who work for employers with 50 or more employees. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees, and to cover more purposes including allowing: leave for workers who provide elder care; 24 hours of leave each year for parents to participate in their children's academic activities at school; leave for workers who care for individuals who reside in their home for 6 months or more; and leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault."
Expansion of past liberal legislation, not modification of it, is the theme of the web page for the most part, whether it's Clinton's minimum-wage hikes (which Obama thinks should be turned into a "living wage") or "hate crimes" legislation: "Obama and Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section."
That an incoming president has a special section devoted to the "LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] Community" isn't exactly a sign of governing from the middle either. Obama hints at his support for gay marriage on the page by including the word "full" in front of same-sex civil unions: he favors not just civil unions but "full civil unions." Or, as his wife put it during the campaign, "robust" civil unions. Whenever Obama arrives at that nebulous destination point to which he referred in his victory speech, euphemisms like "full civil unions" will apparently no longer be necessary.
The Clinton-era retreads Obama is selecting wanted these purer liberal positions in the first place and will have another crack at advancing them. They are eager to sweep away the very compromises, such as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military and Defense of Marriage Act, that political resistance forced them to craft reluctantly. This prior experience, and the bogus media-decreed establishment respectability that comes with it, will make their task all the easier. An Eric Holder or Tom Daschle are far more effective conduits for radicalism than any fresh face championed by Daily Kos.
Obama likes to present his positions in the form of triangulation -- he is just offering a reasonable third way. But he invariably places the third position to the left of the first liberal one, or at best restates it (as in the case of tax hikes, in which he used tax rates under Clinton to argue for the moderation of his plan; he wasn't raising taxes, he said, but "restoring" previous tax rates).
His decision to clear the bench of old Clinton hands in Washington fits this game plan perfectly. Still ringing in their ears is the Fleetwood Mac-performed inaugural them of "yesterday's gone." While they couldn't accomplish that in two years or two terms, they now have a chance to get "there" with Obama.
25 November 2008
From The Washington Times.
If the U.S. military infrastructure that the Obama administration will inherit in January could be compared to racing cars, it would be a collection of clunkers - manned by brilliant and heroic drivers, but nevertheless drivers who can't take their vehicles around the track with any assurance the cars won't break down or run out of gas. Not to mention that the drivers are exhausted from the previous races.
Of course, the metaphor is inspired by recurrent deployments of equipment and manpower in Iraq and Afghanistan, with both the equipment and personnel getting banged up badly, the latter more psychologically than physically (hundreds of thousands of current military have post-traumatic stress syndrome, according to some studies.) Despite a roughly $685 billion military budget that nearly equals all the rest of the world's military budgets combined, the two wars at hand have sucked much of the necessary funding away from other defense needs -- more specialized units to help friendly countries, more littoral combat ships, more ground troops to break the far-too-frequent cycle of deployments, more sealift and airlift capacity, more replenishment of dwindling war stocks, the list goes on.
Military experts are almost unanimous that the nation's current military might is terribly ill-equipped to meet national security challenges. That's not just Iraq and Afghanistan, or al-Qaeda forces elsewhere such as Pakistan, but the potential threats from North Korea, Iran, China, Russia, and smaller unstable countries such as Somalia. Even The New York Times (who would have thought?) editorialized: "To protect the nation, the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military."
Rebuilding and reshaping must be done prudently, but it must be done, with a clear understanding of our enemies and what's at stake. With many hands and many causes clamoring to get into the public Treasury, and the economy in a tizzy, it is vital to the nation's very survival that the real needs of national defense in this volatile world be first in line. The only real entitlement Americans should expect is the entitlement of living in a free and secure America.
24 November 2008
by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
The results of the G-20 economic summit amount to nothing less than the seamless integration of the United States into the European economy. In one month of legislation and one diplomatic meeting, the United States has unilaterally abdicated all the gains for the concept of free markets won by the Reagan administration and surrendered, in toto, to the Western European model of socialism, stagnation and excessive government regulation. Sovereignty is out the window. Without a vote, we are suddenly members of the European Union. Given the dismal record of those nations at creating jobs and sustaining growth, merger with the Europeans is like a partnership with death.
At the G-20 meeting, Bush agreed to subject the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and our other regulatory agencies to the supervision of a global entity that would critique its regulatory standards and demand changes if it felt they were necessary. Bush agreed to create a College of Supervisors.
According to The Washington Post, it would "examine the books of major financial institutions that operate across national borders so regulators could begin to have a more complete picture of banks' operations."
Their scrutiny would extend to hedge funds and to various "exotic" financial instruments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), a European-dominated operation, would conduct "regular vigorous reviews" of American financial institutions and practices. The European-dominated College of Supervisors would also weigh in on issues like executive compensation and investment practices.
There is nothing wrong with the substance of this regulation. Experience is showing it is needed. But it is very wrong to delegate these powers to unelected, international institutions with no political accountability.
We have a Securities and Exchange Commission appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, both of whom are elected by the American people. It is with the SEC, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve that financial accountability must take place.
The European Union achieved this massive subrogation of American sovereignty the way it usually does, by negotiation, gradual bureaucratic encroachment, and without asking the voters if they approve. What's more, Bush appears to have gone down without a fight, saving his debating time for arguing against the protectionism that France's Nicolas Sarkozy was pushing. By giving Bush a seeming victory on a moratorium against protectionism for one year, Sarkozy was able to slip over his massive scheme for taking over the supervision of the U.S. economy.
All kinds of political agendas are advancing under the cover of response to the global financial crisis. Where Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism by regulating it, Bush, to say nothing of Obama, has given the government control over our major financial and insurance institutions. And it isn't even our government! The power has now been transferred to the international community, led by the socialists in the European Union.
Will Obama govern from the left? He doesn't have to. George W. Bush has done all the heavy lifting for him. It was under Bush that the government basically took over as the chief stockholder of our financial institutions and under Bush that we ceded our financial controls to the European Union. In doing so, he has done nothing to preserve what differentiates the vibrant American economy from those dying economies in Europe. Why have 80 percent of the jobs that have been created since 1980 in the industrialized world been created in the United States? How has America managed to retain its leading 24 percent share of global manufacturing even in the face of the Chinese surge? How has the U.S. GDP risen so high that it essentially equals that of the European Union, which has 50 percent more population? It has done so by an absence of stifling regulation, a liberation of capital to flow to innovative businesses, low taxes, and by a low level of unionization that has given business the flexibility to grow and prosper. Europe, stagnated by taxation and regulation, has grown by a pittance while we have roared ahead. But now Bush -- not Obama -- Bush has given that all up and caved in to European socialists.
The Bush legacy? European socialism. Who needs enemies with friends like Bush?
23 November 2008
By Merrill Matthews.
President-elect Barack Obama says his plan to ensure universal health-insurance coverage will lower family premiums by about $2,500 a year by the end of his first term - a roughly 20 percent reduction in the $12,000 cost of an average comprehensive family health-insurance policy.
While most health economists agree there is waste in the system - perhaps as much as 30 percent - the question is where is it and how to remove it? The Obama team suggests at least three areas for savings:
-- Computerizing medical records would save $77 billion.
-- Reducing administrative costs would cut out $46 billion.
-- Improving prevention and chronic disease programs would reduce spending by $81 billion.
How did Mr. Obama come up with those figures? Is he inflating those numbers (rather than his tires)?
The New York Times published a story recently outlining how some of his advisers reached these conclusions. Let's just say the process wasn't what you'd call academically rigorous. And it's certainly not the kind of hard numbers one would want to build a health care reform campaign around - unless no one is willing to exercise the audacity of inquiry.
Take Mr. Obama's $77 billion savings on computerizing medical records. The campaign pulled this figure from a study by the well-respected RAND Corp., which says that widespread (90 percent) adoption of health information technology would cost perhaps $8 billion a year to implement, but "annual savings from efficiency alone could be $77 billion or more." But the study goes on to say, "Because process changes and related benefits take time to develop, net savings are initially low at the start of the 15-year period, but then rise steeply." In other words, no help early on.
And now the Congressional Budget Office has raised questions about whether aggressive efforts to adopt health information technology would create any significant savings.
Of course, the fact is doctors and hospitals are increasingly computerizing their medical practices on their own - or at least mine are - without threats from the government.
Even shakier is Mr. Obama's hope of saving $46 billion in administrative costs. Government-run health care proponents claim that Medicare has a 2 percent administrative cost, while private health insurers spend 20 percent or 25 percent - or more. Both numbers are wrong.
As the Council for Affordable Health Insurance showed in a study by a Milliman actuary, that 2 percent is simply the cost of processing Medicare claims. The figure doesn't capture rent on the buildings, management, monitoring for fraud, etc. - all the things that private insurers must include in administrative costs. Medicare's real administrative costs are nearly three times the official figure, while the administrative costs of large groups in the private sector, which can maximize economies of scale, are only a little higher than Medicare's.
Finally, with regard to prevention and chronic disease, about 75 percent of our health care dollars go toward such diseases as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and others. Since many - though clearly not all - of the chronic diseases can be a result of lifestyle choices, getting people to change their behavior could significantly reduce total health care spending and improve quality of life.
But how do we do that in a free society? Many employers and insurers are taking a carrot approach, exchanging premium reductions or other perks when employees participate in certain measures or programs. The government, by contrast, tends to use a stick - and a pretty big one at that. Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, for example, proposed requiring everyone to get preventive care and an annual physical.
To be sure, we can and should improve in the area of prevention and chronic care management, which could both improve health and save money. But be very skeptical of any proposal that claims it can save $80 billion a year. People just aren't that fond of tofu.
What Mr. Obama's plan really lacks - and why it will certainly fail - is a way to get the economic incentives aligned correctly so that consumers have a reason to be value-conscious shoppers in the health care marketplace. Instead, he distorts incentives even more than they are by imposing more mandates, regulations and price controls.
We probably can cut health insurance by $2,500 a year, as Mr. Obama suggests, but only by giving consumers, not bureaucrats, more control over their health care dollars.
22 November 2008
Kentucky Executes Child-Killer Who Asked for Death
EDDYVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky has executed a confessed child-killer who resisted all appeals.
In the state's first execution in nine years, 37-year-old Marco Allen Chapman was given a lethal injection Friday at the Kentucky State Penitentiary. He was pronounced dead at 7:34 p.m. CST.
Chapman pleaded guilty in 2004 to killing two children in their northern Kentucky home in a 2002 attack that wounded their mother and another child.
He asked to be put to death and fought for the right to fire his attorneys to clear the way.
Kentucky's last execution was in 1999, when Eddie Lee Harper died by lethal injection.
By Philip Klein
Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran and is prepared to take military action to prevent the possibility of the Islamic regime obtaining such weapons should diplomacy fail, according to a senior Israeli security source.
"If you consider the prospect of military action, you have to consider the alternative of a nuclear Iran, and that reality is worse than the consequences of any military action," the source said in an interview conducted last week in Tel Aviv.
In the United States, there is a vibrant debate over how seriously to take the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power. In the wake of the Iraq War, there is little appetite among Americans to launch a military strike on another nation in the Middle East in the name of preventing it from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. Some American analysts argue that the Iranian regime would never risk its own demise by using nuclear weapons, and they have dismissed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that Israel should be "wiped off the map" as mere rhetoric.
But in Israel, the issue is a lot less muddy. While dangers from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups persist, a nuclear Iran would threaten Israel's very existence. A majority of the country's population resides on a narrow strip of land along the coast, north and south of Tel Aviv, making the prospect of a nuclear blast in the area catastrophic. With the memory of the Holocaust seared into the minds of Israelis, they don't have the luxury of debating whether or not to take Ahmadinejad at his word.
"There's no margin of error, because you can't take the risk that they have the capability, and that it's only a matter of intentions," the security source explained. Iran could decide that they "have the ability to finish the Jewish problem once and for all…so this is something we cannot tolerate."
The source said "the international community's pressure on Iran isn't efficient" and predicted that "the window of opportunity will close, and soon. We're not talking about decades, but years. Perhaps months."
Asked specifically whether or not Israel would resort to military action, the source responded by saying that "all the options are on the table and relevant."
Noting reports that Iran had learned a lot from Israel's air strike on Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 and had spread out its nuclear facilities and buried them under bunkers, TAS asked, "Do you think there is a viable military option?"
The source then repeated the earlier statement about keeping all options on the table, but placed special emphasis on the words "and relevant," later adding that, "there is a point that we may be forced to take action because of the alternative."
Meanwhile, an Israeli official familiar with the ongoing diplomatic efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran argued that there were still tools that could be employed against Iran to resolve the issue without military action, but said that at the moment, Iran seems intent on continuing its nuclear program.
"You don't find a lot of countries on Earth as determined as Iran," the official said.
According to the source, the combination of diplomatic and economic warfare could be effective in thwarting the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian regime, especially with the price of oil declining, and given the fact that Iran imports a majority of its refined oil. The problem is that at the moment, the UN Security Council process remains "frozen" and Russia and China have prevented sanctions that would have had more teeth.
Over the course of the campaign President-elect Barack Obama called for engaging Iran, even famously vowing to hold unconditional talks directly with President Ahmadinejad. The position makes Israelis nervous because it could allow Iran to buy more time to perfect its uranium enrichment capacity.
"Israel is not ideologically opposed to engagement, but we don't want to put the cart before the horse," the official said.
Citing a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the official explained that Iran had overcome many technological challenges, and once it mastered the nuclear fuel cycle, it could be well on its way to obtaining nuclear weapons should it decide to go that route.
"Iran is trying to run out the clock, and the international community keeps struggling for a magic formula, and it hasn't found one yet," the official said.
21 November 2008
By Robert Nelson
Barack Obama promised change. Here is a good prospect. Few areas of public debate have been as stale - as barren of substance, focused instead on powerful emotional symbols - as the oil development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeast Alaska.
For the environmental movement, ANWR development long ago became a sacred cause that served above all as a litmus test of whether "you are with us or against us." It is time to move past all that.
The proponents of ANWR development have also distorted the picture by themselves making false arguments. First, it should be acknowledged that ANWR oil production will not in itself come close to achieving energy independence for the United States. Second, ANWR production alone will not affect oil prices significantly. Even the large reserves that ANWR possesses are not large enough, relative to the total world oil market, to have much effect on future world prices.
The real issue in ANWR is the proper use of the fiscal assets of the U.S. government. The oil there is worth, minimally, $500 billion in gross value and, potentially, $1 trillion dollars or more - depending obviously on the future world price of oil. With the current dire economic situation, and federal deficits projected to approach a trillion dollars in the next year or two, the United States can no longer afford to leave this immensely valuable economic asset to simply sit idle.
The best estimates available, released by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1998, concluded there was a 95 percent probability of finding at least 5.7 billion barrels of "technically recoverable" oil, a 5 percent probability of finding 16.0 billion barrels, and a 50 percent "mean" probability of finding 10.4 billion barrels. For the mean probability, this includes 7.7 billion barrels actually inside ANWR on federal lands, and 2.7 billion barrels owned nearby by Alaska Native Corps. and the state of Alaska (which could be economically produced only in conjunction with the development of the ANWR federal reserves).
World oil prices have been changing so rapidly that any prediction is uncertain. But at assuming for purposes of discussion a future world oil price of $50 per barrel, the mean expectation for the federal and nonfederal ANWR oil reserves is a cumulative gross market value of more than $500 billion - and it would be worth more than $1 trillion at prices of $100 per barrel. It might cost $20 to $30 per barrel to produce most of the ANWR oil, but the net revenues (after costs) would still probably be greater than $300 billion (and could turn out to be much higher, depending on the future price of oil). To put this in perspective, the United States could have paid most of the interest payments on the national debt in 2008 with the likely future oil revenues obtainable from ANWR.
The objection will no doubt be raised that ANWR production would benefit oil companies, not the federal government or average American citizens. As noted above, however, three-quarters of ANWR oil is on federal land, and the rest is on Native American and Alaska state land. Like existing federal oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), the ANWR oil would probably be made available to oil companies by competitive auctions and the government would also charge a large royalty on any future production. Throughout the world, the true beneficiaries of petroleum resources are not the oil companies who may physically extract the oil but the actual owners of the resource.
It is true that the residents of Alaska might benefit disproportionately - one reason virtually every Alaska politician, Democratic and Republican alike, has strongly favored ANWR production. In past proposed legislation to make ANWR oil available for exploration, any future revenues derived from the federal part of the oil resource would be shared 50/50 with the state of Alaska. However, if oil prices stay as high as they have been recently, it would be reasonable to reduce the Alaska share - say to 25 percent or less.
But what about the environmental costs? Remarkably enough, considering the widespread opposition to oil development, they are modest. In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences released the most authoritative study to date of the environmental consequences of oil development on the North Slope of Alaska. The study concluded that in the Prudhoe Bay area (on lands owned by the state of Alaska) the extensive past oil development "had not resulted in large or long-term declines in the size of the Central Arctic Herd" of caribou (which had in fact increased in numbers). Ironically, some animal species increased in numbers due to the oil company presence. It might not represent the ideal of wild nature but brown bears, Arctic foxes, ravens, and glaucous gulls had benefited from "the ready availability of new sources of food from people in the oil fields."
The proponents of ANWR oil development have signaled a willingness to divert a share of future revenues to other environmental purposes. Even if this is only a small percentage share, many billions of dollars of ANWR revenues could be committed to building new trails, providing greater visitor services, and otherwise upgrading the National Parks. Additional billions could be made available to compensate private land owners and otherwise taking more steps to protect endangered species.
Seen in this light, the net environmental impacts of ANWR oil development from the perspective of the nation as a whole would be overwhelmingly positive.
Instead, the environmental movement seeks to maintain ANWR as a quasi/religious symbol of isolated nature supposedly "untouched by human hand." Given all of today's other fiscal needs, a cathedral in the Arctic worth as much as a trillion dollars is more than the nation can afford.
Robert H. Nelson is a professor of environmental policy in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland and an affiliated senior scholar with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
20 November 2008
by Michelle Malkin
Before Election Day, national media handwringers forged a wildly popular narrative: The right was, in the words of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, gripped by "insane rage." Outbreaks of incivility (some real, but mostly imagined) were proof positive of the extremist takeover of the Republican Party. The cluck-cluckers and tut-tutters shook with fear.
But when the GOP took a beating on Nov. 4, no mass protests ensued; no nationwide boycotts erupted. Conservatives took their lumps and began the peaceful post-defeat process of self-flagellation, self-analysis and self-autopsy.
In fact, in the wake of campaign 2008 there's only one angry mob gripped by "insane rage": left-wing same-sex marriage activists incensed at their defeat in California. Voters there approved Proposition 8, a traditional marriage initiative, by 52 percent to 48 percent.
Instead of introspection and self-criticism, however, the sore losers who opposed Prop. 8 responded with threats, fists and blacklists.
That's right. Activists have published on the Internet an "Anti-Gay Blacklist" of Prop. 8 donors. If the tables were turned and Prop. 8 proponents created such an enemies list, everyone in Hollywood would be screaming "McCarthyism" faster than you could count to eight.
A Los Angeles restaurant whose manager made a small donation to the Prop. 8 campaign has been besieged nightly by hordes of protesters who have disrupted business, intimidated patrons and brought employees to tears. Out of fear for their jobs and their lives, workers at El Coyote Mexican Cafe pooled together $500 to pay off the bullies.
Scott Eckern, the beleaguered artistic director of California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, was forced to resign over his $1,000 donation to the Prop. 8 campaign. Rich Raddon, director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, is next on the chopping block after the anti-Prop. 8 mob discovered that he had also contributed to the "Yes on 8" campaign. Calls have been pouring in for his firing.
Over the last two weeks, anti-Prop. 8 organizers have targeted Mormon, Catholic and evangelical churches. Sentiments like this one, found on the anti-Prop.8 website "JoeMyGod," are common across the left-wing blogosphere: "Burn their f---ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers."
Thousands of gay-rights demonstrators stood in front of the Mormon temple in Los Angeles shouting "Mormon scum." The Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City received threatening letters containing an unidentified powder. Religion-bashing protesters filled with hate decried the "hate" at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif. Vandals defaced the Calvary Chapel in Chino Hills, Calif., because church members had collected Prop. 8 petitions. One worshiper's car was keyed with the slogans "Gay sex is love" and "SEX." Another car's antenna and windshield wipers were broken.
In Carlsbad, Calif., a man was charged with punching his elderly neighbors over their pro-Prop. 8 signs. In Palm Springs, Calif., a videographer filmed unhinged anti-Prop. 8 marchers who yanked a large cross from the hands of 69-year-old Phyllis Burgess and stomped on it.
In San Francisco, Christians evangelizing in the Castro District needed police protection after the same-sex marriage mob got physical and hounded them off the streets. Enthusiastically shooting themselves in the foot, anti-Prop. 8 boycotters are now going after the left-wing Sundance Film Festival because it does business in Mormon-friendly Utah.
Also targeted: Cinemark Theaters across the country. The company's CEO, Alan Stock, donated just under $10,000 to the traditional marriage measure. Never mind that Cinemark theaters are hosting the new biopic about gay icon Harvey Milk. They must pay for the sins of the company head who dared to exercise his political free speech.
Corporate honchos, church leaders and small donors alike are in the same-sex marriage mob's crosshairs, all unfairly demonized as hate-filled bigots by bona fide hate-filled bigots who have abandoned decency in pursuit of "equal rights." One wonders where Barack Obama -- himself an opponent of Proposition 8 -- is as this insane rage rages on. Soul-Fixer, Nation-Healer, where art thou?
by Guy Benson
The election is over, and the results aren't pretty for Republicans. Barack Obama won the presidency by a fairly comfortable margin, Democrats expanded their majority in the House, and the GOP is hanging onto the filibuster by a hair in the Senate. Now that the rallies have died down, the attack ads have been pulled off the air, and Americans are facing a new political reality, it may be instructive for those who supported the McCain-Palin ticket to revisit a slogan with which they're quite familiar: "Country First."
Throughout the general election season, this catchphrase adorned thousands of McCain rally signs, stump speech podiums, and election banners. It summed up, in two simple words, the essence of McCain's candidacy—the Republican ticket would put the nation's interests above all else, including partisan consideration and personal ambitions. Many of the 57 million citizens who pulled the lever for McCain have at some point waved a placard featuring this motto, and countless more have chanted it at campaign stops. Now that the votes have been cast and the people have spoken, what does "country first" mean for those who are disappointed with the results of November 4th? The Republican post-election manifestation of this noble creed should take several forms.
First, it should mean respecting the President of the United States, and the office he holds. The Left has attacked, defamed, belittled, and mocked the current president for the better part of eight years. They often carp about America's standing in the world without suspecting for an instant that their ceaseless efforts to tear down their own country's leader may well have contributed to the negative perception abroad. The Right should prove itself to be better than that by affording the new president the respect he deserves. Conservatives should do so not merely to foster a smug sense of superiority, but because it's the right thing to do. We face a dangerous and hostile world, rife with regimes and organizations that would like nothing better than to see the United States unravel. A modicum of national unity and solidarity could go a long way to put the country in the best position to confront these challenges.
President Bush's harshest critics vowed to move overseas after his election, and renewed the same silly pledge four years later. Disappointingly, precious few followed through on their immature threats, opting instead to undermine the sitting commander in chief at every turn. Many seemed to take a bit too much pleasure in American economic and military setbacks over the last eight years, so long as they could be laid at the feet of the man they so despised. When Katrina hit, prompting a woefully inadequate federal response, the near-joy with which the Left pilloried the Bush administration seemed to outstrip any real concern for the actual victims. Conservatives ought not fall into this political trap. Actively rooting against a presidency to the point of hoping for widespread suffering leading up to the next election is shamefully political and, indeed, unpatriotic.
Furthermore, the GOP cannot simply become the Grand Obstructionist Party. Knee-jerk opposition and partisan gridlock marked the Tom Daschle era in the US Senate from 2002 to 2004. What did these tactics earn them? A slew of lost seats, and a one-way plane ticket back to South Dakota for minority leader Daschle. Sen. John Thune successfully challenged Daschle, in part, by employing the rallying cry of "Stop the Obstruction" against a Democratic leader who orchestrated filibusters to thwart everything from Republican-sponsored legislation to a long roster of judicial appointments. The public viewed the Democrats as a party that had cornered the market on complaining and obstructing while proposing few proactive remedies. Sound familiar 2008 Republicans? With the roles now reversed, Republicans cannot simply be the party of "No!" over the next few years, as tempting as it may be. Not only do they lack the power or numbers to stop everything they'd like to, voters will continue to be unimpressed with a party whose main aim appears to be blocking and frustrating their political opposition.
On the other hand, a final—and crucial—element of embracing a "Country First" mentality is adhering to another McCain slogan, "No Surrender." It demonstrates neither good will nor patriotic fervor to simply lay down political arms and capitulate on essential values and principles. Granted, considering its weakened state, the Republican apparatus in Congress will be forced to pick its spots carefully to avoid the aforementioned obstructionist image, but when a cause is deemed worth fighting for, conservatives ought to battle to the political death.
A few examples come to mind. The possible attempt by the Left to silence talk radio through the Orwellian "Fairness" Doctrine is an abomination to the First Amendment and worthy of vigorous opposition. Card check, otherwise known by its misleading "Employee Free Choice Act" moniker, also merits a fight. Denying workers a private ballot on which to decide of whether or not to unionize represents an appalling transfer of power and intimidation tools to union bosses. Finally, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which Obama once cited as a top priority, must be stopped. Pro-life and pro-choice Americans can agree that some reasonable restrictions on abortion are acceptable. Bans on partial birth abortions and parental notification laws, for example, are widely supported by Americans of all stripes. FOCA would wipe away virtually all democratically-implemented checks on unfettered abortion, and would introduce taxpayer funded abortion. This must not be tolerated, and should be resisted every step of the way.
In his election night victory speech, President-elect Obama quoted Abraham Lincoln's words, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." Obama then pledged to listen to the voices of the tens of millions who opposed him, explaining that he needs their help and promising to be their president, too. These Americans should heed his call for unity and give him the benefit of the doubt until he gives them reason to believe otherwise. They should also remind him of this promise, and make sure that their voices are heard loudly, clearly, and respectfully for the next four years.
19 November 2008
By Jonah Goldberg
By now you’ve probably heard: The GOP is becoming too regional, too white, too old to compete at a national level. Democrats look like a merging of the cast of Rent and Up With People, while Republicans look like diehard fans of Matlock and Murder, She Wrote.
Fine, fine. The GOP needs to win over more Hispanics, young people, suburban women. That sounds perfectly plausible. But what does “win over” mean?
To listen to many pundits and analysts, it means Republicans must become Democrats. The GOP has become too socially conservative, and if it wants to win the support of mainstream voters, it will need to become more socially liberal. To be “economically conservative but socially liberal” is the beginning of wisdom for this school of thought.
Or, put another way, if only the party could be more like former New Jersey Gov. and Bush EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, these voices have been saying for years, the GOP would truly become the majority party. Remember the Alan Alda character on NBC’s blessedly defunct West Wing? We were told that his pro-choice stance on abortion would make the Republican Party vastly more competitive in places like California and New York.
The problem is that Alda’s TV character is only marginally more fictional than Christine Todd Whitman. Economically conservative social liberals are the “jackalopes of American politics,” in the words of the National Review Institute’s Kate O’Beirne. The press keeps telling us they exist out there in huge numbers, but when you go looking for them, they refuse to emerge from the bushes.
In fairness, many people do describe themselves this way. Most of the time we simply call them “Democrats.” Those who call themselves Republicans should more properly be called “confused.”
This is not to say that one can’t be a moderate on this issue or that and be a Republican. But the idea that social liberalism and economic conservatism can coexist easily is not well supported by the evidence. For example, in Congress and in state legislatures, the more pro-life you are, the more likely you are to be a free-market, low-tax conservative. The more pro-choice you are, the more likely it is that you will be remarkably generous with other people’s money.
Former Sen. Phil Gramm, the best deregulator of the last 20 years, was adamantly pro-life. Sen. John Sununu, who just lost a brutal campaign in New Hampshire, is a champion of economic liberty and social conservatism. Even Ron Paul, the arch-libertarian congressman from Texas, almost surely would lose his seat if he weren’t ardently pro-life.
One objection is that “economic conservatism” and “fiscal conservatism” are different things. One can be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, in the sense that you’re only willing to constrain your statist do-goodery to the extent you’re able to pay for it. This is certainly an intellectually defensible position.
But politically, this is hard ground to defend. It turns out that people who buy into the logic of social liberalism, not just on abortion but racial and other issues as well, usually find themselves ill-equipped ideologically to say no to additional spending on causes they care about. They even find it difficult to stay Republicans, as we can see from recent example Colin Powell, who endorsed Barack Obama for president for largely ethereal reasons.
It should be noted that it’s also difficult to be fiscally conservative and socially conservative if you’ve jettisoned the conservative dogma of limited government. We saw this in spades as President Bush embraced “activist government” and ended up wildly increasing government spending over the last eight years.
And that should serve as a warning to those, on the right and left, who would like to see the GOP defenestrate millions of actual, living, breathing members of the party — e.g., social conservatives — in order to woo millions of largely nonexistent jackalopes. The GOP would simply cease to exist as a viable party without the support of social and religious conservatives. But not so the other way around. We’ve seen what happens in this country when the passionately religious abandon love for limited government and instead embrace social liberalism and government activism. The results have been good, as in the abolition movement. And the results have been more mixed, like during Prohibition and the Progressive Movement.
The religious right is much more likely to stop being “right” than stop being religious. And secular conservatives and libertarians who passionately believe in limited government should be very grateful indeed that most of today’s religious conservatives believe in it, too.
18 November 2008
by John Hawkins
After a second crushing defeat in a row, it's not surprising that there is a debate in the GOP about whether the party should move to the right or even further towards center.
Like many conservatives, I'm of the opinion that we should move back to the right and try to formulate some new ideas and messaging using conservative principles. However, some people disagree. For the people who do, I have some pertinent questions for which no convincing answers have yet been offered.
If you're going to argue that the party needs to move even further away from conservatism, especially on issues like fiscal conservatism and illegal immigration, I'd suggest that these are questions that need to be answered first.
#1) If both the GOP and the Democrats support bigger government, how does the country survive long term given the size of the debt we already have and the deficits we're running right now? In other words, how can running massive deficits possibly be sustainable over the long haul?
#2) If the GOP were to officially become a big government party, wouldn't there be a real danger of having a large third party spring up that would represent the considerable number (I'd say a majority, at least in the abstract) of Americans who do want smaller government and less spending?
#3) If the GOP becomes a big government party, how do you see us differentiating ourselves from the Democratic Party? Do we spend almost as much as they do, but not quite as much? Do we spend even more? Do we favor deficit spending, but just on different things? Isn't there a real danger that Democrats -- since their base tends to generally be OK with excessive spending -- could simply outbid us on anything we offered to the American people?
#4) Since the majority of the GOP's core supporters don't agree with "moderate" positions like big spending or amnesty, feel very strongly about it, and feel those positions harm the party politically, how can the party continue to hew to those positions over the long term without being permanently at odds with the people who should be their strongest supporters?
#5) Let's do the math on amnesty: there are roughly 12-20 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are Hispanics. Hispanics broke 70/30 for the Democrats in 2006 and 69/31 for the Dems in 2008 according to the latest exit poll data. If the split stayed at 70/30 and 12-20 million new illegals were made citizens, that would mean the Democrats would add another 4.8 to 8 million potential new voters as a result of amnesty. The top end of that scale is a larger margin than what Barack Obama won by in 2008.
Additionally, even if the GOP improved our numbers with Hispanics -- which we certainly need to do -- we've never come close to getting 50% of the Hispanic vote. With all that in mind, isn't amnesty political suicide for the GOP?
#6) Some people tend to assume that Hispanics vote almost entirely on the illegal immigration issue, but I would assert that there is very little objective evidence for that. George Bush and John McCain are the two biggest proponents of amnesty in the Republican Party and neither of them is particularly popular with Hispanics today. In fact, according to exit polls, against a candidate who was thought to be weak with Hispanics, John McCain only got 31% of the Hispanic vote. So, what objective evidence convinces you that Hispanics vote largely on illegal immigration and that if the GOP supports amnesty, it will get us over the 50% threshold with Hispanics?
#7) Given that the mainstream media overwhelmingly supports the Democrats, it's extremely important for the GOP to have the support of conservative talk radio hosts, magazines, and the RightRoots. Since the new media is overwhelmingly comprised of conservatives, how does a moderate GOP gain their genuine support over the long haul?
#8) Follow-up question to #7: If the GOP can't get the new media back enthusiastically on its side -- which is likely to be the case unless there are changes on spending and illegal immigration policies -- how does the GOP get the base fired up? In other words, if Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, etc., etc., are telling everyone who'll listen that the Republicans stink, how does the Republican Party work around that?
#9) Setting aside the conservative media, obviously the conservative movement is lacking energy and passion right now. Many people, myself included, would say that this has a lot to do with the position that the GOP has been taking on immigration and spending issues. How does the GOP get conservatives supporting the GOP again, instead of just opposing the Democrats, if the party continues to pursue big government policies and amnesty?
#10) If amnesty, big government, and deficit spending are winning issues for the Republican Party, why did we take such a huge beating in 2006 and 2008 despite pursuing those very policies?
#11) Over the last two elections, moderate Republicans haven't quite been wiped out, but percentage wise, they've suffered much higher losses than conservative Republicans. If moderate Republicans can't even win elections in moderate districts now, why would we want to adopt that losing philosophy across our whole party when conservatives are winning at a much, much higher clip across the country?
#12) As moderate columnist David Brooks has said,
There is not yet an effective Republican Leadership Council to nurture modernizing conservative ideas. There is no moderate Club for Growth, supporting centrist Republicans. The Public Interest, which used to publish an array of public policy ideas, has closed. Reformist Republican donors don't seem to exist. Any publication or think tank that headed in an explicitly reformist direction would be pummeled by its financial backers. National candidates who begin with reformist records -- Giuliani, Romney or McCain -- immediately tack right to be acceptable to the power base.
So, there are no moderate think tanks, no moderate donors, the new media is overwhelmingly conservative, the Republican base and activists are overwhelmingly conservative -- shouldn't that tell people something about whether the idea of a moderate GOP is workable?
#13) Follow-up question to #12: If a moderate Republican Party is workable, how do you make it work without the new media, think tanks, money, or an excited base on your side?
#14) John McCain was the most moderate candidate the GOP has run since Richard Nixon. In fact, he's the standard bearer of the "moderate Republican" wing of the party and yet the media trashed him, he had trouble raising money -- and other moderates, including prominent moderate Republicans like Colin Powell and Christopher Buckley, voted for Obama. In the end, McCain received almost 4 million less votes than Bush did in 2006. Doesn't that suggest that moderate Republican candidates may have trouble raising money, retaining moderates, and generating the enthusiasm from the Republican base that will be needed to win?
#15) When the Democratic Party was out of power, the party moved to the left, not to the center. They obstructed the GOP at every opportunity, put hard-core left-wingers in charge of everything, and ran an extremely liberal candidate in 2008. Granted, they also had moderate Democrats that they ran in states and districts that leaned red, but those people are almost completely locked out of power and their agenda is largely ignored. Since that strategy worked so well for the Democrats, doesn't it make more sense for the GOP to pursue the same strategy instead of continuing the move to the center that has done so much damage to the party over the last two elections?
Got this from American And Proud
White Guilt Emancipation Declaration
White Guilt Emancipation Declaration
We, black American citizens of the United States of America and of the National Black Republican Association, do hereby declare that our fellow white American citizens are now, henceforth and forever more free of White Guilt.
This freedom from White Guilt was duly earned by the election of Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, to be our president by a majority of white Americans based solely on the color of his skin.
Freedom is not free, and we trust that the price paid for this freedom from White Guilt is worth the sacrifice, since Obama is a socialist who does not share the values of average Americans and will use the office of the presidency to turn America into a failed socialist nation.
Granted this November 4, 2008 - the day Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the first black president and the first socialist president of the United States of America.
17 November 2008
By Andrew C. McCarthy
It is time for Barack Obama to pay the piper.
For years, he and his fellow Democrats delighted in demagoguing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the military is still holding approximately 250 alleged enemy combatants men (down from over 800). Now, after all their bombast about the urgent need to close the facility — the better, they harangued, to improve our standing in the “international community” (compared to whose prisons Gitmo is actually a model of humaneness) — the president-elect must face a harsh reality.
For the American community, Gitmo was never the problem, and closing it will not solve anything.
Candidate Obama called for a return of pre-9/11 counterterrorism thinking, meaning full-blown civilian trials for all captured terrorists. Come January 20, though, President Obama’s principal task will be to protect the national security of the United States, not to secure the admiration of Human Rights Watch. Thus he will confront the stubborn fact the not every jihadist who poses a danger to American lives can be brought to trial and proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in accordance with our civilian due process standards.
When he finally assumes the Oval Office, the realization will come quickly — if it hasn’t already — that international terrorism fueled by Islamic extremism is different, not just in degree but in kind, from even the worst waves of violent crime. The criminal justice system is simply not capable of apprehending and neutralizing everyone we need to capture and sideline.
A certain component of human nature — the one that watched the Left mercilessly drub President Bush as he tried to protect the country — yearns to revel in Obama’s self-induced straits. That impulse needs to be resisted. The president-elect promised a host of things he won’t be able to deliver. For those seeking to score political points, it’s not like there won’t be opportunities aplenty. National security, however, is something we need him to get right.
PROTECT LIFE OR PROVE GUILT?
So here is some unsolicited but earnestly offered advice: Mr. President-elect, you and your emissaries should not make any more public commitments about what will happen with Gitmo and the detainees until your transition team has ample opportunity to study each individual combatant case. There has already been way too much uninformed commentary. This only hamstrings your maneuvering room and stands to damage your credibility when, as is inevitable, you find disproportion between a detainee’s actual dangerousness and the courtroom provability of his dangerousness.
In ordinary criminal investigations, we leave suspects at liberty until enough evidence has been amassed to make out a prosecutable case. Terrorists, however, are plotting mass-murder, not fraud or some other mundane offense. We can’t afford to let them play out the string. We know some of them mean us grave harm — 9/11-type harm — because of intelligence that cannot be revealed in court lest precious sources be compromised. We know others pose equal peril thanks to interrogation statements that can’t be relied on at trial — not, as Lefty lore has it, because of “torture,” but simply because the statements were not elicited after Miranda warnings (making them inadmissible under the criminal-friendly warping of the Fifth Amendment favored by the type of jurists Obama promises to seed throughout the federal bench).
The excruciating problem of danger that can’t responsibly be proved in court is everyday life for a president. Senators and law school profs can bloviate with impunity about “American gulags” and “legal black holes.” Not presidents.
The president-elect’s resume identifies him foremost as an activist lawyer. I come to it from the other ideological side, but I know the feeling. It is painful for those of us who revere the law, who have been schooled in the illusion that legal processes are society’s final word on issues of great public importance, to learn that there are more consequential things.
“Justice” does not necessarily mean convicting the guilty. A president’s paramount duty is to protect innocent life. Sometimes, you can’t do both. You have to choose. As a practical matter, sometimes it is more vital to maintain secrecy — to refrain from disclosing, say, the existence of a wiretap that is yielding valuable intelligence about terrorist plans — than it is to convict a terrorist by using (and thus exposing) the fruits of the wiretap. Sometimes, it is more essential to keep a promise of confidentiality than to prosecute a terrorist but risk losing the cooperation of the foreign intelligence service that gave us the evidence — especially when that intelligence service has assets we lack in the badlands where the threat to us originates.
GET JUSTICE INVOLVED BEFORE POLICY IS SET IN STONE
The combatants held at Guantanamo Bay are military prisoners. They have been detained based on military combatant status review tribunals, and a select few are being prosecuted by military commission. This means the Department of Defense has dominated the process. There has been relatively little Justice Department involvement. That is an unacceptable state of affairs for a new president contemplating a decision of grave consequence.
Obama needs to know the facts. That’s where experienced prosecutors can help him. Prosecution is not ideological. It is a matter of applying law to facts. It is not “conservative” or “liberal” by nature. Its defining ingredient is competence.
Fortunately, President-elect Obama has an abundance of competence at the ready. I happen to have worked on a bipartisan Patriot Act reauthorization project with John Podesta, the Clinton administration chief-of-staff who is heading up the Obama transition. We often differed deeply on where lines between privacy and security should be drawn, but this was no ACLU la-la land. The Democrats Podesta brought to the table — former law enforcement and intelligence pros — were impressively serious about making sure our agents had the legal tools necessary to collect intelligence and prevent attacks.
President-elect Obama will have resort to those and other advisers, several of whom were superb federal prosecutors. Moreover, he will soon have the benefit of the Justice Department’s wealth of top legal talent — law-enforcement professionals, not Republican or Democrat partisans. If the president-elect is going to be successful on this crucial national security matter — a matter on which all of us need him to be successful — he needs to put that talent to work now, before making any more commitments about the fate of the detainees.
With no disrespect to military lawyers, they are not schooled in the intricacies of civilian terrorism cases. The proof against each of the remaining detainees should be scrubbed by experienced prosecutors, current or former, who have the security clearances necessary to learn any relevant classified information. These lawyers should advise President-Elect Obama, case-by-case, whether we have enough admissible evidence to try each combatant in civilian court. That detailed advice must account for (a) the fact that we are still in a hot war and must not give our enemies insights about the state of our intelligence, and (b) civilian due process rules, which give defendants generous discovery rights, requiring an assessment not only of the intelligence needed to prove the government’s case but also the intelligence a detainee might seek to disclose in defending against charges.
President Obama should have his transition team and his eventual Attorney General nominee work closely with Attorney General Michael Mukasey, one of the nation’s preeminent authorities on terrorism prosecutions. The president-elect should further take special care in choosing an appointee to lead the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The bill should be filled by a well-respected, experienced former (or current) prosecutor who can evaluate the detainee cases and report to the AG and the president on the viability of prosecution in civilian court.
Whether Gitmo is closed or not, President-elect Obama is going to have to decide what to do with the detainees — to say nothing of future combatants who may be lethally dangerous but non-triable. His decision should be informed by comprehensive, accurate information. In his haste to make good on campaign posturing, Obama must not move detainees into the U.S. and consign all of them to the criminal justice system only to learn afterwards that a paltry percentage at best can be successfully tried. That would bring discredit to him and his Justice Department when they should be establishing credentials for competence and counterterrorism seriousness. It would embolden our enemies and endanger our country.
THE “RULE OF LAW” INCLUDES DETENTION
Finally (at least for now — there is so much more to say about all this), President-Elect Obama must not merely repeat his trope about our commitment to the “rule of law.” He must come to terms with what that ideal really means. The phrase is not the equivalent of “trial by jury in federal court.” It means doing what is lawful — a critical distinction for the commander-in-chief responsible for our security.
The rule of law includes, and has always included, detention without trial for wartime captives. Leaving its common sense aside (how do you win a war if you keep releasing the other side’s fighters?), such detention has long been proper under the laws of war. Furthermore, it was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the 2004 Hamdi case — a ruling that approved the wartime detention without trial of an American citizen combatant.
Holding combatants until the conclusion of hostilities, or at least until they can be repatriated in a way that renders them no longer a threat, is not just appropriate; it has been the default state of affairs in every war ever fought by the United States.
There is much to debate, and much work to be done, over the process due to combatants who are held but not tried. Neither our military nor ordinary American citizens want us to be detaining innocent people. But let us not start from the premise that we are doing something wrong by capturing and holding our enemies. That’s backwards.
In truth, we are taking necessary and proper measures to protect American national security. With that as our starting point, we are working out a process — whether it’s a new system or a refinement of the current system — to weed out inevitable mistakes. That’s what we must do. President-elect Obama would help himself immeasurably if, from here on, his rhetoric matches that reality.
16 November 2008
Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign slogan, "the audacity of hope," should have instead been "the audacity of deceit." After months of telling the American people that he supports the Second Amendment, and only hours after being declared the president-elect, the Obama transition team website announced an agenda taken straight from the anti-gun lobby--four initiatives designed to ban guns and drive law-abiding firearm manufacturers and dealers out of business:
"Making the expired federal assault weapons ban permanent." Perhaps no other firearm issue has been more dishonestly portrayed by gun prohibitionists. Notwithstanding their predictions that the ban's expiration in 2004 would bring about the end of civilization, for the last four years the nation's murder rate has been lower than anytime since the mid-1960s. Studies for Congress, the Congressional Research Service, the National Institute of Justice, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found no evidence that gun prohibition or gun control reduces crime. Guns that were affected by the ban are used in only a tiny fraction of violent crime-about 35 times as many people are murdered without any sort of firearm (knives, bare hands, etc.), as with "assault weapons." Obama says that "assault weapons" are machine guns that "belong on foreign battlefields," but that is a lie; the guns are only semi-automatic, and they are not used by a military force anywhere on the planet.
"Repeal the Tiahrt Amendment." The amendment--endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police--prohibits the release of federal firearm tracing information to anyone other than a law enforcement agency conducting a bona fide criminal investigation. Anti-gun activists oppose the restriction, because it prevents them from obtaining tracing information and using it in frivolous lawsuits against law-abiding firearm manufacturers. Their lawsuits seek to obtain huge financial judgments against firearm manufacturers when a criminal uses a gun to inflict harm, even though the manufacturers have complied with all applicable laws.
"Closing the gun show loophole." There is no "loophole." Under federal law, a firearm dealer must conduct a background check on anyone to whom he sells a gun, regardless of where the sale takes place. A person who is not a dealer may sell a gun from his personal collection without conducting a check. Gun prohibitionists claim that many criminals obtain guns from gun shows, though the most recent federal survey of convicted felons put the figure at only 0.7 percent. They also claim that non-dealers should be required to conduct checks when selling guns at shows, but the legislation they support goes far beyond imposing that lone requirement. In fact, anti-gun members of Congress voted against that limited measure, holding out for a broader bill intended to drive shows out of business.
"Making guns in this country childproof." "Childproof" is a codeword for a variety of schemes designed to prevent the sale of firearms by imposing impossible or highly expensive design requirements, such as biometric shooter-identification systems. While no one opposes keeping children safe, the fact is that accidental firearm-related deaths among children have decreased 86 percent since 1975, even as the numbers of children and guns have risen dramatically. Today, the chances of a child being killed in a firearm accident are less than one in a million.
No wonder we are ransacking the gun stores. God help us.
15 November 2008
From Fox News
Handguns and rifles are flying off the shelves at Ted Sabate's gun shop in Kensington, Md.
And while it's not uncommon for gun sales to spike when the economy takes a downturn, Sabate says that's not what he's hearing from customers. According to Sabate, gun enthusiasts are stockpiling because they say they're afraid the incoming Democratic administration will impose new gun bans.
"People are afraid that if there's another ban imposed ... they won't be able to buy them at all," Sabate said. "So they want to get something now before they don't think that they can."
Sabate's shop is not alone. In gun shops across the country, federal background checks are up 9 percent nationally over the last year, suggesting gun sales are increasing as Inauguration Day nears.
"Y2K and 9/11 were real busy, but it pales in comparison to what we've had going on here in the last week," said one Colorado gun dealer. "I've been doing this type of business for about 10 years and I've not -- I've never seen anything like this before."
Though President-elect Barack Obama said repeatedly during the campaign that he supports Second Amendment rights, some gun buyers still are not convinced.
"There's always questions any time there's a new president whether you vote for him or against him. There's gonna be questions about somebody new coming into office, what they're gonna bring into office with him," gun owner Larry Starks said.
Vice president-elect Joe Biden, for instance, was a strong supporter of the assault-weapons ban, signed into law by President Clinton in 1994. Under the ban, domestic gun manufacturers were required to stop making semi-automatic assault weapons and ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds (except for military or police use). The ban expired four years ago.
Some Democrats say the fear-mongering is simply a ploy by the gun lobby.
"It's pretty clear this has been worked up by the NRA and the gun-shop owners, you know, when they're having 'Obama Sales Days.' I don't think that's coming from Barack Obama," said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional delegate from Washington, D.C.
The head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, foresees a split in the Democratic party.
"What you're going to see is a real struggle between the elite wing of the party -- the Manhattan, Georgetown cocktail party circuit, the Los Angeles -- versus the union, rank-and-file members ... the members that are going to (say) wait a minute, my district likes to hunt, my district respects the Second Amendment," LaPierre said.
A spokesman for Obama's transition team said, in a written statement to FOX News, that Obama "respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms," and that he will "protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns."
14 November 2008
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
Candidates cannot live by the Internet alone, but there was something clever about former Tennessee Republican senator Fred Thompson’s media approach to running for president. The former star of Law and Order could have flooded every frequency there is. Instead, he went straight to his core audience.
Thompson favored Internet videos and talk radio, generally refusing to bend over backward for hostile media, such as the evening news shows and papers of record. Some would call that lazy. I’d call it smart.
Michelle Bachmann learned her lesson the hard way. The Minnesota mother of five, foster mom of 23, and tax lawyer, serves as a member of the House of Representatives. But she almost lost her bid for re-election, and the reason is MSNBC, a network that’s become a playground of the rabid Left.
Bachmann made the mistake of appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball in mid-October. Host Chris Matthews berated her for daring to suggest that the mainstream media do its job and report on some of the radical anti-American associations of the man who has now been elected president of the United States. Congresswoman gone wild? Hardly.
But Matthews was a softie compared to left-wing radio talk-show host Mike Malloy, who outrageously said of Bachmann.
She’s a hatemonger. She’s the type of person that would have gladly rounded up the Jews in Germany and shipped them off to death camps. She’s the type of person who would have had no problem sending typhoid-smeared blankets to Native American families awaiting deportation to reservations. . . . This is an evil bitch from hell. I mean, just an absolute evil woman.
What exactly did Bachmann do to deserve this?
She said to Matthews, when asked about domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, who has played more than a cameo role in President-elect Barack Obama’s life and career:
This is an unrepentant terrorist who says he wishes he would have bombed more people. Remember, this is a man who bombed the Pentagon and was happy to be bombing Americans, as well. This is not a person that the president of the United States would want to be associated with.
She continued to insist that, had former Republican presidential nominee John McCain been hanging out with Ayers, “It would have been a nightly story. It would have been everywhere.”
Bachmann and others were right to push the issue, which, sadly, didn’t have enough of an impact. Obama’s links with Ayers, much like his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, speaks directly about his judgment. Bachmann knows this and tried to point it out, calmly and with reason. And for doing so, she was pilloried, held up to widespread ridicule and nearly deprived of her role as a public servant.
I’ve spent a little time with Bachmann and know her at least well enough to be able to combat this “hatemonger” nonsense. Death camps?! She and her husband care for as many disadvantaged children as they possibly can.
As she recently told my friend, radio talk-show host Mark Levin, it’s amazing that any “normal American” would want to have anything to do with politics after the “public flogging” Bachmann endured in the final weeks of her reelection campaign. Her story of overcoming the megaphone of the mainstream media — an entity that proved a tremendous fundraising boon for her opponent — and speaking directly to the voters via talk radio and old-fashioned campaigning should serve as an inspiration to good Americans who want to serve — and have their voices heard over the noise.
13 November 2008
You two have a nice time...in HELL.
HUNTSVILLE — A contrite Houston-area man was executed Wednesday for killing the 16-year-old sister of his estranged girlfriend during an attack that wounded a third sister, then 5, and the sisters’ mother.
George Whitaker III, 37, expressed love to family members and asked for forgiveness.
"I apologize for your pain and suffering," he said, mentioning the parents of his victim, Shakeitha Carrier, by name. None of her relatives were present.
Whitaker asked that the Lord give them strength, adding, "I pray, Lord, please forgive me."
He asked his stepfather, brother and a friend who watched through a window to take care of his two daughters.
"Continue to pray for me. I am fine. I’ve made peace with God. Please don’t ever forget me," he said.
As the lethal drugs began flowing, Whitaker said: "Take care. I’m going on to sleep." He was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m.
Whitaker had exhausted his appeals and also lost a clemency bid before the state parole board, clearing the way for him to become the 16th Texas prisoner executed this year.
Whitaker declined to speak with reporters as his execution date neared.
Tonight, Denard Manns, 42, is to be executed for killing Michelle Robson, 26, a Fort Hood soldier, in 1998 at her apartment in Killeen. Manns was on parole from New York after serving nearly six years of a five- to 10-year term for armed robbery.
You two have a nice time...in HELL.
Cross-Bearing Elderly Woman Attacked by Gay Marriage Supporters, May Press Charges
I guess these freaks are only passive when it is convenient. If the world was right, the Feds would process this as a hate crime. Too bad the world is not right.
An elderly woman bearing a cross who attended a gay marriage protest to voice her support of the California ban was attacked by demonstrators and may now press charges.
Carrying a large, Styrofoam cross, 69-year-old Phyllis Burgess showed up at a rally last Friday against Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that was passed on Election Day in California.
She was there to show her belief in traditional marriage, she said.
Within minutes, however, angry protesters swarmed around the Palm Springs resident, yanked the cross from her hands and trampled on it.
The incident was videotaped and posted on YouTube.
Now, Burgess says she might press assault charges, according to The Desert Sun.
“I guess I didn’t see the gravity of the whole thing and how it was being portrayed to the public,” Burgess told the paper. “People are incensed. They seem to want some kind of justice.”
Palm Springs police have made no arrests yet, but said they spent time Sunday trying to convince Burgess to file charges against some of the demonstrators.
I guess these freaks are only passive when it is convenient. If the world was right, the Feds would process this as a hate crime. Too bad the world is not right.
By William Tucker
I subscribe to an Internet newsletter called Energy Central and the news is getting more depressing every week. Every time I scan the headlines I realize I'm looking at another piece of a gathering energy debacle.
Take last Thursday's edition. Right at the top of the page was the story, "Xcel Energy, eXco Join in Major Wind Farm Developments in Minnesota, North Dakota." It's like this every day. Wind farms of sprouting up all over the country like 65-story mushrooms. The North American Reliability Council estimates we will have 175,000 megawatts of new capacity by 2017 (that's the equivalent of 175 major coal or nuclear plants). Unfortunately, it admits, "only approximately 23,000 MW…is projected to be available on peak." That means these windmills will be idle most of the time. Coal plants operate at 65 percent capacity, nuclear rims at 90 percent. But at best windmills produce only 30 percent of their "nameplate capacity" and they are almost useless on torpid summer days. California has found its windmills running at only 3 percent capacity on hot summer days.
Never mind, we are forging ahead anyway. Right under the Minnesota story is a report that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has laid down a "wind farm code of ethics" governing dealings between wind companies and municipal officials. It seems that several windmill manufacturers are following the tried-and-true pattern of bribing municipal officials by hiring them as "consultants" in seeking zoning and other approvals. Although you'd never know it, there are actually folks out there in the hinterland that don't like the idea of littering the landscape with these nearly useless monstrosities. However, those folks are being steamrolled in the march toward alternate energy utopia. As Attorney General Cuomo remarks, "Wind power is an exciting industry that will be a cornerstone of our energy future."
Next comes a story, "More Study is Ordered Before Savannah River Dredging Starts: An NRC Board Says the Environmental Impact Has Not Been Addressed." The Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station in Burke County, Georgia, has two 1,200-MW reactors sitting on the Savannah River, directly across from the federal nuclear processing facilities in South Carolina. Now Southern Nuclear, which owns Vogtle, wants to build two new 1,000-MW reactors as part of the nuclear renaissance.
Environmental groups have immediately taken up the challenge, arguing that dredging the Savannah River to allow barge delivery of reactor parts will damage the river. The Savannah was dredged regularly for more than a century until the Army Corps of Engineers gave up in 1980 because nothing much was happening on the river. Now environmental groups say a renewal will ruin the environment. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has nodded agreement and will require an environmental impact statement before early site clearance can begin. That will probably add three years to the project.
I hadn't been following Vogtle so I googled it and discovered a manifesto from the Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), a major anti-nuclear opponent. WAND was issuing a call to other organizations around the country to join their crusade. The appeal appears on the Community Blog page of "My Barack Obama," the campaign's effort to organize community groups in support of the candidacy.
IT'S EASY TO SEE where this is leading. President-elect Obama says he supports nuclear "in principle," but then so does the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has opposed reactors for 35 years. Obama also opposes Yucca Mountain, which is a shibboleth among opposition groups. Ironically, Yucca Mountain only became necessary when Jimmy Carter canceled nuclear fuel reprocessing in 1977, creating the so-called problem of "nuclear waste." France has pursued reprocessing and stores all its high-level waste from 40 years of producing 75 percent of its electricity in one room at Le Havre.
Rather than heeding this example, however, the Obama Administration is much more likely to do exactly what California did during the 1980s and 1990s -- stall both coal and nuclear construction while adopting huge subsidies and mandates for "renewable energy." Within a decade we could find ourselves where California was in 2000 -- saddled with huge quantities of expensive "alternate" energy while not having enough electricity to run its traffic lights.
Is this depressing enough? Well, try the next story on Energy Central, "Russia Offers to Cooperate With Brazil in Nuclear Sector." The rest of the world, you see, is forging ahead with nuclear power. France is already at 80 percent nuclear, Korea is planning 11 new reactors, China is building four plants with a Japanese technology named "Westinghouse." India is exploring thorium technology, France is penetrating the Middle East, Russia is powering Siberian villages with small reactors built on barges. Japan Steel Works, the only company in the world that makes steel reactor vessels, has a four-year waiting list. France, Russia, and Japan are all reprocessing. Now Russia is selling Brazil a whole package that will include uranium mining, small reactors for remote areas, and probably eventually reprocessing as well.
In 1982, President Reagan lifted Jimmy Carter's ban on fuel reprocessing but, given the climate in this country, American industry has never been willing to reinvest. In speaking before groups about the possibilities of a nuclear renaissance, I am often asked, "What would it take to revive reprocessing in this country?" In all honesty, I have to respond, "I think we'll have to ask the French to do it for us."
Reading the latest, I realize I may be wrong. It may be the Russians we have to ask instead.