Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Norman Podhoretz on Iran

I continue to wonder, and worry, what will happen vis-a-vis Iran. Is President Bush simply too tired to confront Iran, as some have suggested? Have the appeasers in Washington won?

Norman Podhoretz wonders this too. And he clearly has not forgotten what is at stake:
The Iranians, of course, never cease denying that they intend to build a nuclear arsenal, and yet in the same breath they openly tell us what they intend to do with it. Their first priority, as repeatedly and unequivocally announced by their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is to "wipe Israel off the map"--a feat that could not be accomplished by conventional weapons alone.

But Ahmadinejad's ambitions are not confined to the destruction of Israel. He also wishes to dominate the greater Middle East, and thereby to control the oilfields of the region and the flow of oil out of it through the Persian Gulf. If he acquired a nuclear capability, he would not even have to use it in order to put all this within his reach. Intimidation and blackmail by themselves would do the trick.

Nor are Ahmadinejad's ambitions merely regional in scope. He has a larger dream of extending the power and influence of Islam throughout Europe, and this too he hopes to accomplish by playing on the fear that resistance to Iran would lead to a nuclear war. And then, finally, comes the largest dream of all: what Ahmadinejad does not shrink from describing as "a world without America."
As Mr. Podhoretz points out, a nuclear Iran would be only the beginning:
According to a recent news story in the New York Times, for example, [...] "officials from 21 governments in and around the Middle East warned at a meeting of Arab leaders in March [...] that Iran's drive for atomic technology could result in the beginning of 'a grave and destructive nuclear arms race in the region.' " Which is to say that [...] local resistance to Iran's bid for hegemony in the greater Middle East through the acquisition of nuclear weapons could have even more dangerous consequences than a passive capitulation to that bid by the Arab countries. For resistance would spell the doom of all efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and it would vastly increase the chances of their use.
In other words, the rest of the Middle East might accept Iran as its new leader -- but it is much more in keeping with recent history to think otherwise. If a nuclear Iran sounds frightening, what can we say about a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race?

Mr. Podhoretz notes the growing tendency to kowtow to Muslim demands, wherever they may surface:
Consider, for example, what happened when, only a few weeks ago, the Iranians captured 15 British sailors and marines and held them hostage. Did the Royal Navy, which once boasted that it ruled the waves, immediately retaliate against this blatant act of aggression, or even threaten to do so unless the captives were immediately released? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, using force was the last thing in the world the British contemplated doing, as they made sure to announce. Instead they relied on the "soft power" so beloved of "sophisticated" Europeans and their American fellow travelers.

But then, as if this show of impotence were not humiliating enough, the British were unable even to mobilize any of that soft power. The European Union, of which they are a member, turned down their request to threaten Iran with a freeze of imports. As for the U.N., under whose very auspices they were patrolling the international waters in which the sailors were kidnapped, it once again showed its true colors by refusing even to condemn the Iranians. The most the Security Council could bring itself to do was to express "grave concern."

. . .

According to John Bolton, our former ambassador to the U.N., the Iranians were testing the British to see if there would be any price to pay for committing what would once have been considered an act of war. Having received his answer, Ahmadinejad could now reap the additional benefit of, as the British commentator Daniel Johnson puts it, "posing as a benefactor" by releasing the hostages, even while ordering more attacks in Iraq and even while continuing to arm terrorist organizations, whether Shiite (Hezbollah) or Sunni (Hamas).

So Iran believes it can proceed with a free hand. Indeed, we are encouraging Iran to think so, with Ambassador-level negotiations.

So what on Earth can the President be thinking? One thought I had -- which sounded Polyannish, even to me -- was that Bush was, again, pursuing negotiation before threatening war. He did so in Afghanistan, remember, and again in Iraq. Mr. Podhoretz thinks so too:
Why is [President Bush] spending all this time doing the diplomatic dance and wasting so much energy on getting the Russians and the Chinese to sign on to sanctions? The reason, I suspect, is that--to borrow a phrase from Robert Kagan--he has been "giving futility its chance." Not that this is necessarily a cynical ploy. For it may well be that he has entertained the remote possibility of a diplomatic solution under which Iran would follow the example of Libya in voluntarily giving up its nuclear program. Besides, once having played out the diplomatic string, and thereby having demonstrated that to him force is truly a last resort, Mr. Bush would be in a stronger political position to endorse John McCain's formula that the only thing worse than bombing Iran would be allowing Iran to build a nuclear bomb--and not just to endorse that assessment, but to act on it.
There's no way to know if this is, in fact, what President Bush has in mind. Obviously, if he's trying to lull the Iranians into thinking they have nothing to fear from the United States, it'll look the same to us as well.

But we do know that that would be very much in character for him. As I said, he's done this before.

And we should remember the three American aircraft carrier groups, sitting nearby quietly in international waters.

Mr. Podhoretz concludes his essay thus:
Much of the world has greeted Ahmadinejad's promise to wipe Israel off the map with something close to insouciance. In fact, it could almost be said of the Europeans that they have been more upset by Ahmadinejad's denial that a Holocaust took place 60 years ago than by his determination to set off one of his own as soon as he acquires the means to do so. In some of European countries, Holocaust denial is a crime, and the European Union only recently endorsed that position. Yet for all their retrospective remorse over the wholesale slaughter of Jews back then, the Europeans seem no readier to lift a finger to prevent a second Holocaust than they were the first time around.

Not so George W. Bush, a man who knows evil when he sees it and who has demonstrated an unfailingly courageous willingness to endure vilification and contumely in setting his face against it. It now remains to be seen whether this president, battered more mercilessly and with less justification than any other in living memory, and weakened politically by the enemies of his policy in the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular, will find it possible to take the only action that can stop Iran from following through on its evil intentions both toward us and toward Israel. As an American and as a Jew, I pray with all my heart that he will.

By all means, go read the whole thing.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Does It Pay To Be Nice?

I believe that it does. All my life I've believed, without proof, that being kind to others, by default, was the right way for me to live.

(Please note that I said "by default". Knowing nothing about a person, my initial tendency is to treat them kindly. If they respond otherwise, I feel no obligation to continue being kind. "Turn the other cheek" has never appealed to me.)

In general, I've seen this work for me in my own life. By being kind to others, most people seem inclined to want to be kind to me -- and, as a result, when I need help and ask for it, I'll often get it -- not by persuading, and not by pleading, but because there will be people who genuinely want to help me. I've seen people in similar situations who have no compunctions about burning their bridges behind them -- and I've seen what a difficult time they have getting help when they truly need it.

But I never had proof of any sort that this worked. I was content to try to follow this path anyway; it suited me and my temperament to try to work with other people, rather than against them. But I did wish, from time to time, that there was a way I could reassure myself that my strategy was a winning one. (Call it the reluctance to be played for a sucker -- which, I suppose, must be the primary motivation for the opposite approach.)

It looks as though I'm not the only one wondering about such things. Bill Whittle has written about it at length, discussing it in the context of the Prisoner's Dilemma. (The Prisoner's Dilemma, and the computer simulations of it, have actually provided a neat way of experimenting with social policies: does it make more sense, in the long run, to work hard to be nice and fair? Or does "get him before he gets you" provide better results? Read Bill's essay; the answer may surprise you.)

On the way, Bill also discusses a very important concept that was new to me: The Remnant. He quotes from Isaiah's Job, by Albert Jay Nock, as follows:
[T]he Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. "Tell them what a worthless lot they are." He said, "Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life."

Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job – in fact, he had asked for it – but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so – if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start – was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
Quite the sobering thought, that -- and a powerful argument in favor of Fighting the Good Fight, even when you know in advance that it's hopeless.

Please do take some time and read the whole thing.



Whither Iran?

From LGF, this morning:
BAGHDAD - The United States and Iran broke a 27-year diplomatic freeze Monday with a four-hour meeting about Iraqi security. The American envoy said there was broad policy agreement, but that Iran must stop arming and financing militants who are attacking U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi told The Associated Press that the two sides would meet again in less than a month.
. . .
The talks in the Green Zone offices of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were the first formal and scheduled meeting between Iranian and American government officials since the United States broke diplomatic relations with Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the seizure of the U.S. Embassy.

An AP reporter who witnessed the opening of the session said Crocker and Kazemi shook hands. ...

Speaking later at a news conference in the Iranian Embassy, Kazemi said: "We don’t take the American accusations seriously."

Crocker declined to detail what Kazemi had said in the session, but the Iranian diplomat — formerly a top official in the elite Revolutionary Guards Quds Force — said he had offered to train and equip the Iraqi army and police to create "a new military and security structure" for Iraq.

Kazemi said U.S. efforts to rebuild those forces were inadequate to handle the chaos in Iraq, for which he said Washington bore sole responsibility. He said he also offered to provide what assistance Iran could in rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, which he said had been "demolished by the American invaders."

Charles Johnson sees that as being pretty grim, and I have to agree. Are we really negotiating with the world's top terror-supporting regime, one that is actively killing American soldiers in the field, and talking with them about turning Iraqi security over to them?

I'm tempted to wonder if this is the same sort of "negotiation" that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had with Bashar Assad in Syria. But no, this had to be authorized and official. The U.S. was represented by our current Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and it took place in the offices of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. It's hard to imagine a more official meeting than that.

Then again, just a week ago, ABC was crowing about this:
Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

To me, these two stories are mutually exclusive. What gives?

Is one intended to be a feint to distract from the other? (And, if so, in what direction?) Or has the Bush Administration thrown in the towel, after yet another top-secret program is splashed across the headlines, and decided to work from Pelosi's playbook?

Mr. Johnson is buying the latter scenario, wondering if the President is "simply getting tired". I very much hope he's wrong about that. As Margaret Thatcher famously told President Bush's father in 1990, this is no time to go wobbly.

UPDATE: Joining Charles Johnson in the pessimistic outlook is Scott Johnson of Powerline:
I would love to know what the Bush administration has in mind for the mullahs' nuclear program. My guess is runs more along the lines of a whimper than a bang.
I'd love to know too.

Cox & Forkum aren't happy either:


Monday, May 28, 2007


What Was That About Ron Paul Again?

As seen at Extreme Mortman:
Ron Paul, who was born with a duck, raised taxes while invading Grenada. Ron Paul does not know what habeus corpus abuse is, but is pretty sure it is not one of Baskin Robbins 31 flavors and is therefore against it. Ron Paul has never actually been wrong, except for one time when he thought he was, but he really wasn’t. Ron Paul also likes Hot Pockets.
Many thanks to Brian D! I needed that.

And a peaceful Memorial Day to both of my regular readers out there. Have a look at this as well -- sometimes it takes someone on the outside to see ourselves more clearly.

These formidable people think freedom is so valuable that it is worth dying for. May it ever be thus.


Friday, May 25, 2007


Impeach Bush!

The Anchoress suggests, in all seriousness, that if people really want to impeach President Bush, they should go ahead and do it.

She sums up the arguments far better than I could. By all means, have a look.

(hat tip: Prof. Glenn)

And while you're there, please don't miss an unforgettable letter from a Black Hawk pilot in the Iowa National Guard: "Hello media, you are killing us".


Thursday, May 24, 2007


Fredrick Kagan: "Don't Abandon the Iraqis"

Courtesy of Michael Totten -- who freely admits that he almost wishes the United States would withdraw from the mess that is Iraq -- here is the article that forces him to reconsider:
From time to time, nations face fundamental tests of character. Forced to choose between painful but wise options, and irresponsible ones that offer only temporary relief from pain, a people must decide what price they are willing to pay to safeguard themselves and their children and to do the right thing. America has faced such tests before. Guided by Abraham Lincoln, we met our greatest challenge during the Civil War and overcame it, despite agonizing doubts about the possibility of success even into 1864. The Greatest Generation recovered from the shock of Pearl Harbor and refused to stop fighting until both Germany and Japan had surrendered unconditionally. A similar moment is upon us in Iraq. What will we do?
What, indeed?

America has vital national interests in Iraq. The global al Qaeda movement has decided to defeat us there--not merely to establish a base from which to pursue further tyranny and terror, but also to erect a triumphant monument on the ruins of American power. Al Qaeda claims to have defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and its recruiting rests in part on that boast. If America flees the field of battle against this foe in Iraq, al Qaeda will have gained an even more powerful recruiting slogan. That is why al Qaeda fighters from across the Muslim world are streaming into Iraq and fighting desperately to retain and expand their positions there. Al Qaeda does not think Iraq is a distraction from their war against us. Al Qaeda believes Iraq is the central front--and it is.
(emphasis mine)

I might add: Iraq is the central front because al-Qaeda thinks it is. They have made their stand in Iraq, and it is up to us to defeat them utterly there -- or wait with dread for the day when we must fight them elsewhere.

It does not matter if we believe that an American withdrawal from Iraq is not admission of defeat. They would see it as an American defeat... and they would believe that they had scared us away. If they can frighten mighty America, what can they not accomplish?

Do we really want to embolden the terrorists who bomb schools and mosques, who hide behind little children, who kidnap innocent people and cut off their heads? Is this the sort of behavior we want to encourage?

That's the American vested interest in seeing this through. But there's more. Mr. Kagan reminds us that victory or defeat in Iraq will affect the other countries in the region for decades to come -- which will give hope, or despair, to tens of millions of people. Isn't that more important than yet another "symbolic" Congressional bill for the President to veto?

But there's more. Mr. Kagan shows us some of the human side of the struggle. Iraqis are fighting this battle every bit as hard as we are, with much higher casualty rates -- and with considerably higher stakes. Many brave Iraqis, their lives (and the lives of their families) in daily danger, have put their trust in us. Their lives are forfeit if we turn our backs on them. Can we permit ourselves to do that? Could we ever face ourselves if we let that happen?

And, as if that weren't enough, there's more.

Please do read the whole thing. It won't take you long.


Monday, May 21, 2007


Has Jimmy Carter No Shame?

May 19, 2007: Carter says the Bush Administration is the 'worst in history':
Asked by BBC Radio how he would judge Blair's support of Bush, Carter said: "Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient. And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world."

In his interview with the Democrat-Gazette, Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, criticized Bush for having "zero peace talks" in Israel. Carter also said the administration "abandoned or directly refuted" every negotiated nuclear arms agreement, as well as environmental efforts, by other presidents.

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter said. "The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations . . . has been the most disturbing to me."

May 20, 2007: The White House responds sharply:
A White House spokesman called Carter's criticism "reckless" and "unfortunate" and said "he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."
May 21, 2007: Carter backtracks:
On NBC's "Today" show Monday morning, the former president said his words were "perhaps careless or misinterpreted." He says he was only responding to a question about foreign policy, comparing the Bush administration to that of Richard Nixon.

"I wasn't comparing the overall administration and I certainly was not talking personally," Carter said in the interview Monday. "I'm careful not to criticize any president personally."

Carter said Bush's foreign policy is "much worse" than Nixon's.

Not careful enough, Mr. President.

So first he lambasts the current Administration -- and the President directly -- while talking to the BBC, no less! Then, when called to task for his words, he allows as how his words were "perhaps ... misinterpreted". (In other words, if you interpreted his May 19th statement as critical of the President, that's your fault, not his.)

So the man clearly sees no need to apologize for trashing an American President -- a sitting American President -- while speaking to foreign journalists. Unbelievable. Worse yet, he seems to think that we won't remember what he said only two days ago, or won't bother to look it up. (As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, it's as though he thinks we don't know how to use Google.)

The man could have rested on the accomplishments of his four-year presidency (which, by all accounts, he seems to be proud of), and his work with Habitat for Humanity on top of that. But that wasn't enough, was it?

UPDATE: James Taranto thinks Carter should run again... and Prof. Glenn has the numbers. As of Monday afternoon, 76% of responses from Instapundit readers said that Carter should run for President in 2008... and 97% said they wouldn't vote for him if he ran. (Ah... can you feel the love tonight?)

UPDATE II: Ya'akov Kirschen, of Dry Bones fame, puts it concisely:

Perhaps I should have said that Carter was never that highly regarded by Israelis, even when he was President. The general feeling was that he had no inkling of who he was dealing with, or what he was doing. This 30-year-old Dry Bones cartoon, which I remember vividly from when it first appeared, sums things up nicely:

UPDATE III: As long as we're having fun with Carter Cartoons, here's the Cox & Forkum take on it:



Mitt Romney & the Mormons

I caught the tail end of an interesting segment on the Mike Gallagher radio show this morning; Mike was interviewing Gov. Mitt Romney. (I seem to have missed some of the more interesting stuff, unfortunately.)

As I tuned in, Romney was answering questions about his Mormon faith, and to what extent it should be a factor in Americans deciding whether or not to vote for him. Romney's answer, I thought, was right on target: "Well, gosh, I think Americans should pay attention to any issues they want; that's the beauty of the pluralistic society we live in".

He went on to say that, when it comes to judging someone else's religion, he once got some good advice from a Lutheran minister on the subject, in the form of three steps. One: learn about the religion from someone who believes in it, not somone who opposes it. Two: compare the best in a religion to the best in another, not the best to the worst. And finally, leave room for envy -- as he put it, it's not uncommon to see someone else's religion and say, "I wish my religion did that!". Nor is there anything wrong with saying that -- it doesn't compromise your faith in your own religion to say it.

I think that's a fascinating way to look at it. Me, I remember reading somewhere or other that we should judge another religion, not on whether we'd like to practice it, but on whether the adherents of it are good people as a result. By that standard, the Mormons measure up pretty well -- they make fine neighbors, in my experience, and they work well with others.

In fact, it has often seemed to me that Mormons use this as a subtle -- and extremely effective -- form of proselytization. You see your neighbors, who are Mormons; they have lots of kids, all of whom are clean-cut and well-behaved. They don't smoke, they don't swear, they hate drugs so much that they don't drink caffeine... and you start to wonder if maybe they're doing something right.

(I wanted to call in to the show and comment on that, actually. I didn't, because I arrived at work before Mike could take my call. Come to think of it, this has happened to me before; one of the downsides of a short commute, perhaps.)

If anything, it sounded to me as though Mike Gallagher had something of a beef with Mormonism. He did take a call from a lapsed Mormon, one who was trying to get re-established with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the formal, full name of the Mormon Church) -- and Mike insisted on quizzing the caller about Joseph Smith, and was the Garden of Eden really located in Missouri, as Joseph Smith claimed. Now that's inappropriate, in my opinion... because any religion looks silly from the outside.

Personally, I don't think it's any of my business whether or not Gov. Romney believes in this or that aspect of Church doctrine. His beliefs are between him and God, and I trust him to handle that relationship as he sees fit. What does matter to me -- and the only way I'd consider his religious background relevant -- is the extent to which this speaks to issues of character and ethics. Does he do what he promises to do? Does he follow through on what he believes? Are his core ethical beliefs compatible with mine?

If he follows Leviticus 19:18, for example, that's a heck of a lot more important to me than whether or not he follows John 3:16.

For some more thoughts on the prospects of a Mormon Presidential candidate, from someone who, unlike me, actually is a practicing Mormon, have a look at this. There are some interesting insights about how the LDS Church is run, too.

UPDATE: 22 May 2007: this morning Mike Gallagher confirmed what I suspected yesterday; he openly admitted that he didn't think he could vote for Mitt Romney for President -- because Romney is a Mormon.

The amazing thing is that he doesn't seem to see the problem with this. Would it have been acceptable to refuse to vote for John Kennedy in 1960, because he was Catholic? Or for Joe Lieberman in 2004, because he was Jewish? Or for Keith Ellison in 2006, because he's a Muslim?

(Let me add that I have my own issues with Rep. Ellison, and I heartily wish that he had not been elected. But that's not because he's a Muslim. It's because he actively supports radical Islamic organizations; it's because he publicly associates himself with supporters of terrorism, and possibly with actual terrorists. That's not the sort of man I want in Congress, regardless of how he prays.)

As I said above, a person's religion is, or should be -- particularly in the United States! -- a matter between themselves and God. Rejecting a candidate, just because you can't swallow the religious doctrines he believes in, makes no sense at all. Hopefully, he's trying to win your vote, not convert you.

Mike, you are, as you said, perfectly able to vote for someone, or refuse to vote for someone, for any reason you want. It's a secret ballot; you can vote for President based on religion, or age, or gender, or hair color, or shoe size, or anything you want. If Gov. Romney's Mormonism truly bothers you, and you can't bring yourself to vote for him, that's your choice.

But it's not something to be proud of.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Islamic Irony

As seen on LGF:

Al-Qaeda group threatens attacks in France

DUBAI, May 15, 2007 (AFP) - An Al-Qaeda front group in Europe threatened on Tuesday to launch bloody attacks in France in response to the election of "crusader and Zionist" Nicolas Sarkozy as president.

"As you have chosen the crusader and Zionist Sarkozy as a leader ... we in the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades warn you that the coming days will see a bloody jihadist campaign ... in the capital of Sarkozy," the group's "Europe division" said in an Internet statement addressed to the French people.

Uh, correct me if I'm wrong... but weren't the Islamists the ones who protested so loudly when the West refused to acknowledge Hamas as the newly-elected government of the Palestinians?

Now they're threatening bloodshed... because of an electoral outcome they didn't like. Swell.



Bubba Gets A Gun

Okay, I'm generally very much in favor of the right of American citizens to own weapons. I'm also in favor of "shall-issue" laws, intended to prevent local police from vetoing a gun-license application for arbitrary reasons.

But this is just silly.

10-month-old Howard "Bubba" Ludwig fondles
his Illinois Firearm-Owner Identification card.

So how did a 10-month-old toddler get a legal FOID? (And in Illinois?) His daddy filled out the form and sent in the $5 fee, that's how... and the Illinois State Police had no cause for denying it, since there isn't a lower age limit for FOIDs in Illinois. (I'll bet that will change because of this.)

As the article points out, the father had every expectation of getting a letter from the Illinois State Police: "Dear Father Of The Year, we do not issue gun licenses to infants". Nope -- if Bubba wants one, then Bubba can have one.

(The form is pretty straightforward, too -- basically one page of personal information. I note that Massachusetts prefers to err in the other direction: the equivalent form is four pages long, and must be accompanied by a Firearms Safety Certificate, a fingerprint card, two character references, and probably a cartridge in a pear tree. Sheesh.)

And yes, Bubba has a gun as well -- a 12-gauge Beretta shotgun, bought for him by proud Grandpa. (Don't worry, it's safely locked up in Grandpa's gun safe. Hopefully it will remain there for a few years. Even after Bubba learns to walk, a 12-gauge can have quite a kick to it.)

Interestingly, Illinois does appear to have an age restriction in place for buying some types of weapons -- you must be over 18 to purchase a long gun (e.g. rifle), and you must be over 21 to buy a handgun. But apparently, getting one as a gift is fine, so long as the recipient also has his FOID.

(Hat tip: my lovely wife, who thought I'd be amused by this. She was right.)



Monday, May 14, 2007


An Iraqi Call: Stay The Course

As seen at the indispensable, a pointer to a guest editorial in the New York Daily News.

This editorial -- by Mohammed Fadhil, one of the blogging brothers of Iraq the Model -- is so extraordinary that I feel I must quote it in full:

A Baghdad plea: U.S. should stay and fight

Thursday, May 10th 2007, 4:00 AM

Be Our Guest

I wasn't surprised when I saw Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, appear on Al Jazeera to announce America's defeat last week, not long after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did. Zawahiri claims Al Qaeda has won, and Reid claims America has lost.

But from here in Baghdad, I see only a war that's still raging - with no victory in sight for Al Qaeda or any other entity. In fact, I see Al Qaeda on the ropes, losing support among my fellow Iraqis.

In the midst of such a fierce war, sending more wrong messages could only further complicate an already complicated situation. It would only create more of a mess inside Iraq - a mess that would then be exploited by Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia for their own purposes: more iron-fisted control of the peoples and treasures of the region, more pushing the Middle East to crises and confrontations, and more spreading of their dark, backward ideologies.

And so, as an Iraqi, I say without hesitation: the American forces should stay here, and further reinforcements should be sent if the situation requires them. Not only that, these forces should be prepared to expand their operations whenever and wherever necessary to strike hard at the nests of evil that not only threaten Iraq and the Middle East, but seek to blackmail the whole world in the ugliest way through pursuing nuclear weapons.

It is up to us to show tyrants and murderers like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, Syria's Bashar Assad, and their would-be imitators who seek to control Iraq's people and wealth that we, the people, are not their possessions. They can't take out our humanity and they can't force us to back down.

The world should ask them to leave our land before asking the soldiers of freedom to do so.

The cost of liberating Europe in the last century was enormous in blood and treasure. In fact, it took half a century of American military presence thereafter to protect those nations from subsequent threats. If that made sense during a Cold War, and it did, then I don't understand why anyone would demand a pullout from Iraq (and maybe later, the entire Middle East) when the enemies are using every evil technique, from booby trapped dead animals to hijacked civilian aircrafts, to kill innocents.

And so, my friends, I will call for fighting this war just as powerfully as the bad guys do - because I must show them that I'm stronger than they are. The people of America need to understand this: the enemies of a stable Iraq are America's enemies, and they simply do not understand the language of civilization and reason.

They understand only power. It is with power they took over their countries and held their peoples hostage. Everything they accomplished was through absolute control over the assets of their nations through murder, torture, repression and intimidation.

Those who prefer to bury their heads in the dirt today, and withdraw from this difficult fight, will be cursed forever for abandoning their duty when they were most capable. I don't understand why someone who has all the tools for victory would refuse to fight an enemy that reminds us every day that it is evil - with all the daily beheadings, torture and violations of all humane laws and values.

With America's help - and only with its help - the decent people of Iraq can still prevail.
(emphasis mine)

Yes, extraordinary.

Please note that, other than his plea for American troops to be permitted to finish what they started, Mr. Fadhil is not asking for anything. Have another look at his fifth paragraph -- he understands fully that he, and his Iraqi countrymen, must win this fight. He does not ask that America win his battles for him; he asks that America help, as America has done elsewhere, many times before.

He's not even asking the nay-sayers to shut up. He's simply saying that, if you demand that U.S. troops must leave Iraqi soil, you're ignoring the murderers and the terrorists from Iran and Syria and elsewhere... and it would make far more sense to eject them first.

And I don't know about you, but I'm haunted by the nightmare vision in his second-to-last paragraph:
Those who prefer to bury their heads in the dirt today, and withdraw from this difficult fight, will be cursed forever for abandoning their duty when they were most capable. We gave our word to the Iraqi people that we would help them; we also gave our word to the terrorists and Islamofascists that we would defeat them. How will history see us, if we walk away from our promises now?

I'm reminded of the powerful words of Winston Churchill: "Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, and still yet if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you, and only a precarious chance for survival. - There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

I don't think there was ever a time when we could depose Saddam "easily, without bloodshed" -- but we have been fighting, and can continue to fight, "when [our] victory will be sure and not so costly". (Yes, I'm quite willing to speak of a "sure victory". How long did the military occupation of Germany last? How about Japan? It took more than ten years, in both countries, to achieve true stability and peace, but achieve it we did -- and we have troops in both countries to this day. As for "not so costly", 3000 fallen American troops is indeed a heavy price to pay... but it pales in comparison to the butcher's bill for WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or any other major conflict we've ever fought.)

For the day may yet come when foreign terrorists, emboldened by their apparent success in driving American troops back home, will strike again at an America cowering within its own borders. (Some of our own elected representatives seem to be doing all they can to bring that day closer.) If we shudder now at the thought of daily car-bombs in Fallujah, how will we feel about them in Minneapolis?

I'm glad that Mr. Fadhil saw fit to write this, and see it published. And I'm deeply sorry that it was necessary for him to do so.



Tuesday, May 08, 2007


"Concealed" Carry Permits?

Did you know that something over 300,000 Tennessee residents are licensed to carry a concealed weapon?

Neither did I. But that's how big the Tennessee Department of Safety database is... and, thanks to a Nashville newspaper, we can now see a listing of all of them -- by name and community.

As seen today on Instapundit:

THE NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN has published a list of CCW permit holders.

SayUncle is contacting their advertisers to complain.


This isn't the first time this has happened. In March 2007, Christian Trejbal, writing for the Roanoke Times, published a list of concealed-carry weapons permits in Virginia. (The list was later taken down.)

And now, no doubt with that debacle in mind, the Nashville Tennessean has published a searchable database of Tennessee gun owners with valid CCW permits -- with no editorial-writer's name on it, apparently.
As SayUncle points out, this amounts to a "steal me" list. Anyone who wants to steal firearms from law-abiding citizens now knows where to look. Worse, we can look up who is not on the list -- and who therefore might make for a more tempting target.

Do I really need to explain why this is a singularly bad idea? The whole purpose of concealed-carry permits is for someone to be able to carry a concealed weapon. Perhaps you don't like the idea that your neighbor might carry a gun without telling you about it -- but that's your problem. If your state's laws permit your neighbor to do it, then she's obeying the law. If you want to try to change the law, go ahead -- but subverting a law because you don't like it is unacceptable.

(So what do you do if you really are afraid of guns, and feel that you need to know if your neighbor has them or not? Ask! I've never yet known a gun-owner to lie about it.)

On a purely practical level, concealed-carry means that a criminal doesn't know who is armed and who isn't. This raises the risk factor considerably -- for the criminals! If a criminal knows that a certain percentage of the population is likely to be armed, this means that a mugging carries with it a certain risk of being shot at (and at point-blank range); contrariwise, criminals need not fear armed citizens in so-called "gun free zones". (Are you listening, Virginia Tech?)

And, as has been pointed out repeatedly, having people licensed to carry-concealed makes the community safer, including the neighbors who want nothing to do with guns. Because the criminals don't know where the guns are, they are at risk from being shot at by anyone, and they will act accordingly. Once criminals have a good idea where the guns are, this advantage disappears.

Making such a list public, it seems to me, is the action of someone who fears his law-abiding gun-owning neighbors more than he fears armed criminals. And that's not only misplaced (and irrational) fear, it's also extremely immoral... because it penalizes people who are trying to obey the law (by going to the trouble to obtain a valid permit), while not penalizing law-breakers at all.

Oh, and a comment for the Tennessean: do you really want such a large constituency of potential readers as enemies? Armed enemies, I might add?

If Prof. Glenn's posting on the subject seems a bit terse, there's a good reason for it. I looked, and -- yep -- there he is: Glenn Harlan Reynolds, of Knoxville TN. I'm sure he did not appreciate being outed.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. The list has been taken down.

Prof. Glenn has quite a few comments:

ANDREW SULLIVAN ASKS: "If gun rights are civil rights, why would anyone feel the need to hide the fact that they own one?"

I think the short answer is that gun rights are about security, and we'd rather keep the criminals guessing. In addition, doubt about who owns guns generates what economists call "positive externalities," meaning that if a substantial proportion of homeowners have guns, or if a nontrivial number of people out-and-about are carrying concealed guns, potential burglars or assailants have to allow for the possibility that a victim or someone in the neighborhood might be armed. That produces a deterrent effect that benefits even those who do not possess guns This is why, for example, we see fewer burglaries of occupied homes in the United States than in countries like Britain with strict gun controls -- breaking into an occupied home is dangerous. Meanwhile, on a more personal level, those who are armed would prefer to have the advantage of surprise. I should also note that there's a difference between owning guns (the "keep and bear" business) and carrying guns, which is what the whole CCW permit thing is about. That distinction is explained at some length here.

But I'll turn the question around: If abortion is a civil right, why would anyone object to having a newspaper publish a searchable database of people who've had one?

I'm not ashamed! But some people might worry about prejudice from the "unenlightened and unsophisticated."

I'm surprised that Andrew Sullivan, of all people, would make such an argument. It's easily extended to a subject near and dear to his heart, after all. Why would anyone object to a statewide list of homosexuals, complete with names and addresses? It's not something to hide, is it?

Answer: publicly revealing personal details about someone, which they had until then explicitly kept hidden, is in extremely poor taste, at best. Doing it en masse doesn't make it any better.

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Monday, May 07, 2007


New Presidents, Potential Prime Ministers

The Wall Street Journal featured an interview on Saturday with Tzipora ("Tzipi") Livni, the Foreign Minister of Israel, amid speculations that she might become the next Prime Minister:

On Wednesday, Tzipi Livni gave a press conference calling for Ehud Olmert's resignation in the wake of the Winograd Commission's sharp critique of his performance during the Lebanon war. She also announced she would be challenging him in the Kadima Party primary elections. Mr. Olmert fumed, but stopped short of firing the minister of foreign affairs, aware of her popularity within the party and striving to keep his government above water.
Frankly, I've lost any confidence I used to have in Prime Minister Olmert. The man is a cheap political hack, a shady lawyer who had greatness thrust upon him when Ariel Sharon fell into a coma. He had an opportunity to rise to the occasion last year, when Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hamas and Hizbullah, and Hizbullah started raining rockets down on the northern Galilee -- and he muffed it completely. The fact that Olmert demanded the invasion of Lebanon doesn't bother me; that he agreed to a withdrawal, without getting the prisoners back, bothers me a great deal. But what thoroughly disgusts me is that he publicly insisted that it had never been his ultimate goal to get the prisoners back, and that if Israeli citizens believed him when he said otherwise, that they were foolish to do so.

As far as I'm concerned, the man has been in ofice at least a year too long, and I'll be happy to see him go; I'm glad that the Winograd Commission's report has implicated him, along with Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. But would Ms. Livni be a reasonable replacement?

It's a difficult question. As points out, it's by no means certain that Olmert's government will fall -- or that, if he's forced out, that Ms. Livni would be the one to take over. (She likely would not, for example, if new elections are called, or if a vote of no-confidence against the government succeeds; Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party is currently ahead in the polls. For Ms. Livni to take over, Olmert would have to step down -- which he currently seems grimly determined to avoid for as long as possible.)

I'll admit that Ms. Livni's foreign-policy views are a bit too soft for me. (This is consistent with her current role as Foreign Minister; she must be the country's primary diplomat, and she clearly takes that role seriously. I would expect her, therefore, to focus on diplomacy, and to let other ministers deal with other matters, leaving the Prime Minister to decide, for example, if a diplomatic or a military solution is called for. She does this quite well as Foreign Minister; would she be able to let go of that diplomatic single-mindedness as a Prime Minister? There's no way to know for sure, unless she actually gets the job.)

Her background is impressive enough -- a lieutenant in the IDF, a four-year stint with the Mossad, a practicing lawyer, a mother of two, and almost ten years of duty in Israeli parliament and government. (Not bad for a woman who, as of this writing, is not yet 49.) But that doesn't mean much -- Ehud Barak, the most decorated soldier in Israel's history, was a lackluster Prime Minister from 1999 to 2001; he will be remembered chiefly for offering the Palestinians just about everything they asked for, only to watch them reject it.

Israel has had a series of lackluster Prime Ministers, most of whom could do no more than maintain the status quo in Israel's never-ending war with her neighbors. Moving forward requires a true statesman, something that has been lacking in most of Israel's history. Would Ms. Livni rise to that challenge? Again, we won't know unless she gets the chance.

In other news, France has a new President, it seems -- Nicolas Sarkozy has won the election runoff with 53% of the vote. In response, French "youths" are rioting:

Isn't it nice to see the democratic process in action?

Or, as the Ace of Spades snarkily puts it:
The official tally:

730 cars torched.
592 "people" (youths of magically indeterminate ethnic origin perhaps?) arrested.
28 Police Officers injured.

But at least Sarkozy hasn't surrendered.

Which, for France, is saying something.


(In all seriousness, let's hope for some renewed sanity in France -- or some new hope for Parisian can-owners, at least.)

UPDATE: Michael Totten, and his friend and guest-blogger Noah Pollak, have a lot to say in re the Winograd Commission report; and, having traveled extensively in Lebanon at the time, their voices should be heard.

Please note Mr. Pollak's photos also of the recent 100,000-thousand-strong demonstration in Tel Aviv, calling on Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz to step down. (For perspective, that's almost 2% of Israel's entire population, the equivalent of five million American demonstrators.) And don't miss the unforgettable picket-sign, in three words of combined Hebrew, English, and French, at the beginning of this post.

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Friday, May 04, 2007


Thoughts on a New Day

No, I wasn't able to watch the first Republican Presidential-candidates debate last night, unfortunately. (It would have been difficult -- we don't have cable-television access at home.)

I would have enjoyed listening to it on the radio, had I been available. But it's been busy at home; heck, I wasn't even able to sneak over to MIT to watch this. (It was an Air Force ROTC event, with a parade and an F-15 flyby.)

So I'll be reading the capsule summaries and looking online for the transcripts. (Of the debates, that is, not the flyby.) So far, this summary appeals to me; and you can't beat this one for conciseness.

In the meantime, thanks to the Powerline guys, there's this gem from Lawrence F. Kaplan at The New Republic, which really deserves quoting in full:
Maybe it was a slip of the tongue. But, when Nancy Pelosi confessed last year that she felt "sad" about President Bush's claims that Al Qaeda operates in Iraq, she seemed to be disputing what every American soldier in Iraq, every Al Qaeda operative, and anyone who reads a newspaper already knew to be true. (When I questioned him about Pelosi's assertion, a U.S. officer in Ramadi responded, incredulously, that Al Qaeda had just held a parade in his sector.) Perhaps the House speaker was alluding to the discredited claim that Al Qaeda operated in Iraq before the war. Perhaps. But the insinuation that Al Qaeda's depredations in Iraq might be something other than what they appear to be has become a staple of the congressional debate over Iraq. Thus, to buttress his own case for withdrawal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "We have to change course [away from Iraq] and turn our attention back to the war on Al Qaeda and their allies"--the clear message being that neither plays much of a role there....
(emphasis mine)

Do prominent Democrats honestly believe that al-Qaeda is not in Iraq, and has nothing to do with Iraq? (Perhaps: James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web" has a lot of fun citing AQWHNTDWIIIWHNTDWAQ -- which, of course, stands for "al-Qaeda (which has nothing to do with Iraq) in Iraq (which has nothing to do with al-Qaeda)".

Granted, the argument has been made -- so often that it's too old to be a cliche -- that al-Qaeda was never in Iraq before America invaded. (In other words, al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq, according to some, is America's fault. If you accept that argument, though, I'd think you'd want America to get rid of al-Qaeda in Iraq; shouldn't we clean up our own messes?)

Even if it's true that al-Qaeda wasn't in Iraq before 2003, let's face it -- it no longer matters. We had good and sufficient reasons for invading Iraq... and if al-Qaeda was never in Iraq before, they're certainly there now. If al-Qaeda decided, for their own reasons, to make Iraq the front-line of their battle against the West, we should be grateful -- they went where our troops are, instead of forcing us to hunt them down elsewhere in the world. And we'll continue to hunt them down there, if Congress can be prevented from pulling the plug.

In short, Ms. Pelosi, your efforts -- and those of your colleagues -- to claim that Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror, well, they make me sad. I'm sad because I wish you'd take your blinders off, gain some understanding as to who your nation's enemies are, and remember your duty to your country -- as its third-highest elected representative -- and remember also that, between your country and your party, your country should come first.

This is not about who will inhabit the White House in 2009 -- although current rhetoric makes me wonder if I'll ever vote for a Democrat again. This is about keeping America safe. If we can't do that, then little else matters.

If the Democrats and Republicans can ever unite on the need to fight this war and win it, and convince me that they're serious about it, then I'll make time to worry about health care and gay marriage and teacher's unions. Right now, I have more pressing things to think about... and so does Ms. Pelosi.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007


We Win, They Lose

"We win, they lose" -- sounds to me like a much better idea than anything Nancy Pelosi et al are proposing.

No doubt this sounds, to some, to be overly simplistic. Why must it be one or the other? Because, unfortunately, that's the way it works. When wars are fought, you either win -- meaning that your enemies will agree to anything you say, as long as you stop hurting them -- or you lose, meaning that you're the one willing to do anything to make it stop. Win or lose -- those are the choices. Anything else simply postpones the fight for another day, with no guarantee that it won't be much worse for you than it is now.

"Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, and still yet if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you, and only a precarious chance for survival. - There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."
-- Sir Winston Churchill

If the petition below appeals to you, please do feel free to sign it. I did.

First Name*
Last Name*
State ZIP
Yes, I'd like to receive updates about staying involved.
I'm a blogger and I'd like to help.
Blog URL:
To: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
Harry Reid, U.S. Senate Democrat Leader

Congress has passed and President Bush has vetoed H.R. 1591, the Iraq Surrender Act of 2007.

This legislation, which you worked to pass, sets a timetable for surrender. It pulls the rug out from under our troops. That is shameful and wrong.

Your actions have already emboldened the enemy. Violent jihadists now know that the elected leadership of Congress would undermine the troops by holding their funding hostage to demands for surrender.

This Congress would bring us back to the dark days of the 1970s, when the world doubted our staying power. Except only much worse. Withdraw in April 2008, and on May 1, Iraq becomes an unchecked den of terrorism at the heart of the Middle East -- a new base for the same people that struck our homeland on September 11th.

I stand with our troops. I stand for victory. I support the President's veto and will urge my representatives to vote to sustain it.

There can be one and only one outcome in Iraq: We win, they lose.

Embed this petition on your blog. Cut and paste below:

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Iraqi Parliament Wants To Take Summer Break; US Congress Outraged

Sorry, but this just made me laugh...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers divided over whether to keep U.S. troops in Iraq are finding common ground on at least one topic: They are furious that Iraqi politicians are considering a lengthy break this summer.

"If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight -- that would be the outrage of outrages," said Rep. Chris Shays, R-Connecticut.
Keep your shirt on, Congressman Shays.

Granted, nobody likes to work hard while the person next to you is goofing off. And I can easily see how Congressional Republicans, smarting under accusations from Democrats that it's past time for Iraq to stand on its own (without US troops, that is), might resent Iraqi leaders taking a long break.

But for goodness' sake, people! Where do you think they learned this? Who, exactly, do you think their role models were?

As Bill Gresham reputedly used to say, let's take a look at the record. In 2006, the U.S. Congress (House and Senate) were in session for 104 days. That's less than 21 work-weeks! (By way of comparison, my company allows me four weeks' paid vacation per year, plus 10 national holidays off. In other words, I only need to work 46 weeks per year, which comes to 230 working days.)

Now, mind you, 2006 was a mid-term election year, so perhaps that's an unfair example. How about previous years?

2006: 104 days
2005: 122 days
2004: 110 days
2003: 138 days
2002: 126 days
2001: 146 days
2000: 139 days
1999: 139 days
1998: 119 days
1997: 134 days

(My source for all these numbers was the link above, at the Library of Congress website. I trust their figures.)

It does look as though election years see a lighter schedule for our dear Congresscritters. (In all fairness to them, campaigning for reelection is part of the job.) Nonetheless, the heaviest schedule they've had in the past ten years was 2001... and that wasn't even two-thirds of the schedule I'm supposed to keep.

And now Congress is in an uproar because the Iraqi Parliament wants to take nine weeks off?? They could do that, and then take an additional thirteen weeks off... and still be ahead of the best year we've had on Capitol Hill in the past decade.

We have issues aplenty to get worked up about, particularly concerning Iraq. This isn't one of them.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


An E-mail from Howard Dean

First, the screen shot:

Hey, how about that! How did I ever get in Mr. Dean's address book?

Oh, now I remember. On April 26th, I saw a listing online to a Democrat petition, spearheaded by Howard Dean; he objected to something Rudy Giuliani had said the day before, and wanted people to flood him with angry messages. Well, the form didn't dictate what the message should say... so I sent him an "attaboy" message. And now I'm on the Dean's list; isn't that special!

(And no, the petition never promised to keep my e-mail address secret. So call it a slightly subversive method of accumulating e-mail addresses for the Democrats. Never mind, I didn't give him my primary address... and it's nice to be able to see what the Democrats are up to now and then.)

So. Let's take a closer look at this, shall we?

Dear Daniel,

President Bush has hit a new low -- and I'm not talking about his 28% approval ratings.

Today, he ignored the majority of Americans and he defied the majority of Congress. And what's worst, he told our brave men and women in uniform that they will be the ones to pay the price.

First and foremost -- defying the majority of Congress, in issuing a Presidential veto, is part of his job. That's why the President has the power to veto a Congressional bill -- so that, when Congress tries to undermine the President, or usurp some of his authority, he can stop them from doing so. And, as it turns out, that's exactly what Congress is trying to do -- by threatening to pull the funding for a war that they authorized.

Nor did the President "ignore the majority of Americans". The majority of Americans didn't vote for this pork-laden power-hungry defeatist bill; the majority of Congress did. If Dean wants to claim that the President defied the majority of Congress, well, okay, I can buy that -- but, again, that's part of his job.

As for the troops having to pay the price -- spare us, please. The President made it clear, when this bill was still being debated on the floor of the House and Senate, that he would veto it -- and he explained exactly why. In other words, the Democratic leadership of both houses decided to send the President a spending bill he couldn't sign. So who's playing politics with the troops, exactly?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: a Democratic president wouldn't veto that bill. We put forward a thoughtful plan and the President rejected it.

Dean, you're revealing more than you know. Of course, a Democratic President wouldn't veto that bill -- one of the most disgustingly pork-ridden spending bills seen in recent years. Lots of people accuse Democrats of spending us to oblivion, Dean; you're just confirming it.

Only a Democratic victory in 2008 will ensure that this war comes to a responsible end.

Ah, now we get down to brass tacks! This isn't about the troops, Mr. Dean; it's about ending the war. And it's not even about ending the war as a viable end in itself; it's about ending the war as a way to recapture the White House in 2008. (We should be grateful to Dr. Dean for being so blunt about it.)

The President has said it many times, as have many other people -- but let me just restate the obvious: you don't tell your opponent when you plan to walk away. That's as true for major warfare as it is for any competitive sport. If one team announces that they're ready to leave, then the other team has already won -- for they know that all they have to do is wait. Once the first team is gone, the second team can score points with no opposition, as long as they want, until they are the undisputed victors.

By demanding specific withdrawal dates, the Democrats are telling the terrorists, the ones who saw off people's heads, the ones who set off bombs in kindergartens and hospitals, that all they have to do is wait -- and they'll soon be able to terrorize Iraq to their heart's content. And, having proven that America can be persuaded to cut and run, they'll know that they can do it again.

What Howard Dean is saying -- and, make no mistake, as DNC chairman, he is the voice of the Democratic Party -- is that the Democrats have given up. Whether the war is winnable or not isn't the issue; they're no longer interested in fighting.

(Well, they're not interested in fighting the war, anyway. They seem quite interested in fighting President Bush.)

Dean is living up to the worst stereotypes that Osama bin Laden ever had about Americans. He is saying that, since the war is taking longer than some people expected, and we're suffering more casualties than we'd like, it's time to quit and go home. He's saying, in short, that America can be beaten, and sent home with its tail between its legs, by anyone -- anyone -- with good P.R. and a little patience.

Have we had enough? Or shall we listen to some more?

To ensure a Democratic victory, we have to build our election operation now -- we just can't afford to wait until there's a nominee. Make a contribution and help take back the White House today:

Here's what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had to say about the Democratic plan to start bringing our troops home:

"The debate in Congress...has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited. The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable has had a positive terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment."

But President Bush's veto sends the opposite message. It refuses to allow the Iraqi people to stand up for their own country. It blatantly disregards the need for a political solution. Worst of all, it puts the lives of our troops right in the middle of it.

That's not a road to victory. It's a road to nowhere.

"Refuses to allow the Iraqi people to stand up for their own country"? Just what, exactly, do you think our troops are doing in Iraq, Dr. Dean? They're training the Iraqis to stand on their own.

Of course, this can take time, particularly for a country shattered by war and years of a brutal dictatorship. How long did US troops stay in Germany after WWII? How about Japan?

The United States has done this before, after all. Japan became peaceful, prosperous, and democratic, in a radical break from their earlier history -- under a constitution that we wrote for them. And there were die-hard Japanese aplenty, ready to continue fighting after the war was over. But we didn't give up then, and the results were amazing.

So why, Dr. Dean, do you think it makes so much sense to give up now?

The Democratic Party is working overtime to stop this madness. We're doing all we can to change course in Iraq and to elect leaders who are accountable to the American people.

Can you help support the Democratic Party's 2008 election operation? The stakes are so high, we can't afford to wait.

When President Bush rejects a troop withdrawal plan supported by nearly two-thirds of the country, he's not working for the American people -- he's working for himself.

Put your money where your mouth is, Dr. Dean. If two-thirds of the country supports ending the war, then you'll have no problem overriding the President's veto, will you?

The wave of support to end this war won't stop.

Too bad. I truly wish it would.

The Democratic Party is ramping up the pressure on President Bush every day, and we're working hard to make sure that none of his Republican allies will continue his legacy.

Now there's a scary thought! "We intend to make sure this war ends in an American defeat, one way or another."

This country has suffered through President Bush's failed policies for long enough. Help us put an end to this terrible chapter in American history:

One veto isn't enough to stop us. The Democratic Party brought change in 2006, and with your help we'll do it again in 2008.


Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

The "terrible chapter", Dr. Dean, is the one that will be written about you -- and Nancy Pelosi, and Jack Murtha, and Harry Reid, and the rest of the defeat-America-if-it-helps-the-Democrats crowd.

History has not been kind to Neville Chamberlain. He had many accomplishments as Britain's Prime Minister, but the only one people remember is the nonaggression pact he signed with Hitler, calling it "peace in our time".

History will not be kind to you either.



Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Keep An Eye On Mr. Thompson

Fred Thompson is beginning to impress me. Yes, I know he's the most popular undeclared candidate in the upcoming 2008 Presidential race, at least on the Republican side. (Are there any popular undeclared Democrats? I haven't heard of any.) Yes, I know there are issues.

And yet, I find myself liking him, as a candidate. I think he's playing it very smart -- being very up-front about himself (in re his recent revelations about his health, for example). I think it was wise of him to stay out of the fray at this early stage, while multiple candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, batter each other senseless. (I did not understand why candidates felt it necessary to work so hard so early this time. Was there any reason for it, other than following Hillary's lead?) I'm also reminded of another recent dark-horse Presidential candidate, one who didn't announce his candidacy until relatively late in the process.

True, Mr. Thompson's not getting the free press that the other candidates are getting. But it's not like the man lacks for name recognition -- he's been in two dozen movies and a great many TV episodes, in addition to his six-year term as Senator from Tennessee. And if that weren't enough, his day-job as occasional replacement for Paul Harvey, in addition, has given tens of millions of Americans daily access to his voice -- and his opinions, the kind of access any other candidate would kill for.

Speaking of which, Mr. Thompson has an article in yesterday's online National Review that's just a crackerjack. I urge you to go and read the whole thing -- but let me excerpt just a little:
It bothers Americans when we’re told how unpopular we are with the rest of the world. For some of us, at least, it gets our back up — and our natural tendency is to tell the French, for example, that we’d rather not hear from them until the day when they need us to bail them out again.

But we cool off. We’re big boys and girls, after all [...]

In the meantime, let’s be realistic about the world we live in. Mexican leaders apparently have an economic policy based on exporting their own citizens, while complaining about U.S. immigration policies that are far less exclusionary than their own. The French jail perfectly nice people for politically incorrect comments, but scold us for holding terrorists at Guantanamo.

Russia, though, takes the cake [...]

President Vladimir Putin, though, shows no sign that he feels defensive about his remarkable string of luck. He knows who’s really to blame for "meddling" in Russian "internal affairs." It’s the United States.

He’s lambasting us for yielding too much power. One example of this excessive power is the missile defense radar system we want to install in Poland and the Czech Republic — to give the free world early warning of a missile attack by terrorists or a rogue nation like Iran. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the Russians have been supplying Iran with both nuclear and missile technology while using their U.N. veto to block sanctions that would force Tehran to back down. Regardless, we’re clearly at fault, he says, for putting a defense system close to Mother Russia.

(I think he meant "wielding", not "yielding" -- if you think about it, that changes the meaning of the sentence. But that's okay. Lord knows, I've forgiven our current President for much worse slips of the tongue than that.)

Go check it out. And let's hope that we haven't seen the last of this guy.

UPDATE: Instapundit helpfully links to this political biography of Fred Thompson. I found it a worthwhile read; you might want to have a look.

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