Friday, December 16, 2005


Todd Manzi Says We Should Cut And Run

In an opinion piece at, Todd Manzi says that it's time to acknowledge defeat, because The War just isn't working:
It is time to admit the war on poverty is a quagmire and the federal government should withdraw. The Constitution never authorized us to enter this war in the first place. Let’s send a strong message to the individual states: we are going to cut and run from the war on poverty. There is no need to point fingers about who lied us into this war. We don’t have to highlight the numerous mistakes that were made. Nor do we have to identify who benefited themselves by getting elected to office under the cover of fighting poverty. All we need to do is assess the situation and act accordingly.

Does anyone want to defend the progress or accomplishments we have made with our efforts fighting the war on poverty? Anyone?
He makes a great point -- why do Democrats insist that the Iraqis can handle themselves, with no support from the U.S. Government, less than three years after their brutal dictator was deposed... while the same Democrats insist that welfare recipients should receive benefits from the same U.S. Government forever?

Make up your minds, folks. Should struggling people, trying to stand on their own two feet, be cut off at the first opportunity ("tough love"), as the Democrats are advocating in Iraq? Or should they be supported indefinitely, as in American welfare?

Or, as Mr. Manzi puts it: is fighting terrorism somehow easier than finding a job?

Read the whole thing; it's a crackerjack.

In a similar vein, it looks like I've been neglecting Scrappleface lately; Scott's on a roll over there. For example:
(2005-12-14) — President George Bush today, confirmed a recent Newsweek magazine cover story, admitting that he’s “living in a bubble” — isolated and aloof.

“I confess that I don’t wake up each day on the same planet as Newsweek’s editors,” said Mr. Bush. “So, I guess I’m isolated from the world where the U.S. is always wrong, terrorists have legitimate rights, Cindy Sheehan formulates sound foreign policy, record employment figures and falling gas prices signal imminent economic doom, civil rights are endangerd by preserving heterosexual marriage, abortion is the most valued freedom for women and the federal government fulfills the role of the father, the mother, the church and the local government.”
Yup, sounds like a different planet all right...

On the subject of the recent New York Times leakage of government-authorized wiretaps -- which Michelle Malkin and Powerline are justifiably outraged about -- Scott is deadly serious, and deadly accurate:
(2005-12-16) — President George Bush today apologized to the American people for signing an order in 2002 that allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) to secretly listen in on international phone calls in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The New York Times today broke the story that after 9/11 the NSA tapped phonelines of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Americans without court orders in an effort to trace communication networks discovered on computers and cellphones confiscated from terror suspects.

“I want to apologize for allowing the NSA to do these wiretaps after 9/11,” the president said. “I’m sorry that I violated the privacy of some of these folks after terrorists launched attacks from our soil that killed 3,000 people, destroyed two skyscrapers and four jumbo jets, and punched a gaping hole in our military headquarters.”

“My biggest regret,” the president added, “is that the NSA didn’t secretly tap these lines before 9/11. I hope my fellow Americans can forgive me.”


There comes a time, while fighting a desperate enemy, when sacrifices are made, in the theory that endangering specific civil liberties in the long-term is preferable to losing a war -- and endangering countless lives -- in the short-term.

Sometimes this is mild, as in the much-maligned Patriot Act, which essentially gave the FBI the same tools to use pursuing terrorists as they'd long had for pursuing common criminals. Sometimes it's more serious, as in President Lincoln's temporary suspension of habeas corpus during the War Between the States.

Lincoln was much criticized for that decision, even within his own Cabinet; did you know that? And in response, he told one of his legendary anecdotes, about a leaky ship in stormy seas. The captain of the ship tried to keep the ship afloat, but the leak poured water in faster than his sailors could bail it out. In desperation, the Captain prayed to his plaster statue of the Virgin Mary, pleading for her intervention to save him and his crew. But he got no response... so, in fury, he threw the plaster statue overboard. Suddenly, the leak stopped! The ship was saved! When the ship pulled in to port, they found that statue of the Virgin Mary, plugging up the leak from the outside, headfirst.

Lincoln then explained his story, saying "I don't precisely intend to throw the Virgin Mary overboard, and by that I mean the Constitution... but I will stick it in the hole if I can." In other words, he used the extraordinary powers of a wartime President to use the Constitution in unusual ways, aimed at saving the Republic.

(Lincoln did not violate the Constitution with this act, as he is sometimes depicted as doing. Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution says: "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." The War Between the States was nothing if not a rebellion, and it was treated as such. Lincoln simply took the unusual -- and controversial -- step of asserting a Presidential prerogative that nobody expected of him, partly because it had never been done before.)

Similarly, we now find that the White House authorized limited wiretapping, on some land-line and cell-phone conversations between the United States and points overseas, back in 2002. Michelle Malkin makes a good case for saying that this action prevented at least one major terrorist attack on American soil after 9/11.

Call me banal, but I much prefer thwarted terrorist attacks, even if it means that some of my overseas phone calls may have been monitored. Even if I found that outrageous -- which I don't, actually, under the circumstances -- I'm still alive to be outraged, am I not?

Michelle also points out the perfidy of the New York Times, by the way --
The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.
That's awfully nice of them, isn't it?

This isn't the first time national security, and American lives, have been compromised by the New York Times -- for the dubious benefit of making the President look bad. What on Earth are they thinking? Have they forgotten that, as recently as WWII, exposing such wartime strategies (and tipping our hand to the enemy) might well have been considered high treason, and treated as such?

Somebody's living in a bubble, all right; Newsweek is correct on that point. The New York Times is similarly correct that, in this wartime era, someone is playing dangerously fast and loose with private information.

Perhaps they should both consult a mirror.


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