Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. -- Winston Churchill

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. -- Galileo Galilei

I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell. -- Harry Truman

Location: Wichita, Kansas

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Trouble with Katrina Recovery

The Hurricane was a natural disaster, not a partisan event. The administration did a very poor job of responding, as did the Mayor of New Orleans, and the Governor of Louisiana. A look at the approval ratings for Nagins show him placing last of four candidates for a March election. Blanco stands at a 32% approval rating. This shows that blame is an equal opportunity punisher.

This is not a defense of the administration. Chertoff's original handling was and continues to be unacceptable.

The recovery effort has the potential to both waste huge sums of money and fail to do the job well. The recovery needs a strong leader dedicated to that job, with authority commensurate to the responsibility. We don't have that. Remembering the impact that General Honroe quickly had when he appeared on the scene, perhaps we should look to a sharp no-nonsense retired general to take on the job.

Bush appointed Donald E. Powell, as federal coordinator of Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in November. A former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, he is probably a fine fellow with great financial expertise. But he says, “This job is not a chief executive," he said. "This job is more of listening . . . getting opposites together and motivating folks to do the right thing.”

That sounds more like a man who would be a wonderful asset to a “chief executive”. We need a person with direct management skills and an on the ground, get it done orientation. Someone who says, “I want 1,000 trailers moved to that location in 10 days”, and holds people's feet to the fire to make sure it got done.

Particularly in Louisiana, which makes Chicago look like a model of clean government, listening is not enough. A recovery Czar is going to have to knock some heads together. Appointed in November, Powell does not seem to be fitting that bill. In talking with people who have recently been in New Orleans, they were shocked that even basic clean-up efforts are not underway in enormous areas of the city, and essential services such as electricity have not been restored.

Making grand plans and developing visions for the future of New Orleans are wonderful things, but at the moment, we need someone who will get the debris hauled away.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Diagnosing the Democratic Party

We recently commented on the state of left wing politics, the liberal wing of the Democratic party, and the party in general in the articles “Liberals and Lemmings” and “Far Left Morphing and the Impact on the Democratic Party”. An assessment by a BBC correspondent comes to similar conclusions.

“The Democrats need a message and a new way of communicating that message to a mass audience. They have neither. And do not be fooled by those who say this malaise is structural, at this stage of the electoral cycle there isn't a presidential candidate etc. No, it is more than that. The American left has faded away.

Only their bumper stickers remain, like cockroaches after a nuclear holocaust. "Re-defeat George Bush," they whine. Not knowing, not caring that the world has changed.”

This is a bit surprising considering the liberal leanings of the BBC. The overall tone of the article was a lament for failing to effectively seize the opportunity being handed to the Democrats by “Republican's misfortunes”. We agree that the Democrats have so far failed to marshal a plan. Even if they should do so, however, voters are unlikely to flock back to the banner.

The Democrats have not only their internal problems to contend with, but the reality that George Bush is not the key to Republican success. The biggest issue is that there is a long term trend of conservatism in the country, and a gradual exodus of moderates and conservatives from the Democrats. There is a greater resonance of many Republican positions with independent voters. Both short and long term polling results indicate that a shift is occurring.

"A new Zogby poll strongly suggests that Democrat Congressional leaders are no longer listening to the majority of their base. Instead, the poll confirms that Democrat leaders appear to be led by the left-wing “fringe” faction of their Party."

"Zogby poll results say that 58% of self-described Democrats said they think their leaders should “accept their lower position in Congress and work together with Republicans to craft the best legislation possible.” Only 6% said the top goal for Democrats should be to defeat Republican legislation, while nearly one-quarter of Democrats – 23% – said they think Republicans do a better job running Congress."

"The Harris Poll also found that conservatives continue to outnumber liberals by 36 to 18 percent but that the largest number of people think of themselves as moderates (41%). However, the long term trend for party identification has changed over the last 40 years, with the Democratic lead declining from 21 percentage points in the 1970s, to 11 points in the 1980s, seven points in the 1990s, and (so far) five points in this decade."

The longer term trending is the real story. As the number of people self-identifying as Democrat dwindles, it leaves a party with fewer moderates. The further left this skews the remaining party, the less hospitable more moderates find it. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Death by extremism.

Unless the Democrats reverse this trend of 40 years, they are in for further bad news. Pulling the left wing “core constituency” to the center will only get more difficult as time passes. Meanwhile, Republicans are looking hard at John McCain and Rudy Giuliani as their next Presidential nominee. Putting up either of these would only broaden the appeal of the party to that big slice of 41% moderates.

Is there any hope recovering for Democrats? Certainly, and we'll discuss that in Part II of this topic.

Kansas Illegal Immigrant Tuition Bill Gets Second Vote

It sounds like we were not the only one that thought Rep. John Edmonds, R-Great Bend, was attempting a dubious move with a specious excuse. The issue is the bill sponsored by Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, to reverse illegal immigrant in-state tuition at state universities and colleges. Edmunds, who is Chairman of the Federal and State Affairs Committee, killed the bill, breaking his assurances to Hutchins. His excuse was that he “didn't want to force colleagues in the House to face the politically difficult choice of voting to keep the law in place.”

Now we learn that caused so much controversy that House leaders have taken the unusual step of pushing the Chairman into allowing a re-vote on the bill. The AP quotes Edmonds - "Any vote on this bill is a bad vote in some of our members' districts, and I think there's no point in putting those votes on record if it's not even going to clear the House," said Edmonds, R-Great Bend. "But I'm going to reconsider this bill again because my speaker asked me to."

We have the same reaction to this latest quote as we had to the first. It is the responsibility of our legislators to both vote on “difficult choices” and put their votes “on record”. To suggest otherwise – let alone subvert that process from happening - is nonsense. Such political gaming and running from accountability for decisions is exactly what we should not tolerate from any Kansas legislator.

In this case at least, they did not get away with it. How HB 2615 proceeds from this point should be under close scrutiny. Regardless of whether you support the bill or not, it should be decided in the open with our legislators having the opportunity to vote on it and and their constituents having the opportunity to know what their vote was. That is called representative democracy.

Saddam Ends Hunger Strike

The BBC reports that Saddam Hussein has ended an 11-day hunger strike for "health reasons". Hussein had lost 4-5kg (9-11 lbs), and his morale was said to be high. Sounds more like he went on a diet than a hunger strike.

With the new judge presiding over his trial, less theatrics and nonsense have been tolerated. That is certainly a positive development. The trial needs to proceed in an orderly and expeditious manner. As long as Hussein is given a stage, it can only aggravate tensions and hold out hopes to his Baathist Sunni supporters for his return to power.

There was no word on what his first meal consisted of. His favorite dinner is said to be fresh gazelle, though in captivity reports of guards are that he is fond of Cheetos and eats a family size bag of Doritos in 10 minutes. No wonder he went on a diet.

Iran and Russia Deal for Real?

Iran and Russia are said to have agreed in principle to a deal on nuclear enrichment. The devil is often in the details, so we'll have to wait to see what this will really mean. The Russians were said to be holding firm on a requirement that Iran cease it's own enrichment program for a deal to go through. If it all works out, this will be a major breakthrough, and a retreat by Iran from its firmly stated position.

A key to any deal will have to include unfettered access for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which as of today is stating that Iran is not cooperating. Unless that changes, we will be right back where we started. Hopefully Iran is responding to international pressures and will back down. If it is just another stall tactic, the international response needs to be swift and firm.

Normally the chances of that occurring on any issue is between slim and none. The Iranian nuclear issue might be one of the rare instances in which that is not true.

Take a break

I often despair of the increasing vitriol and hatred one sees in the polarized political climate in our country. When one looks at a snapshot of the world by looking at stories being posted at Reuters, it changes the perspective. Here is a quick list of where political, racial, and religious violence and killing are being reported:

Sri Lanka
Palestinian Territories
Western Sahara

This is just a sample, on another day many other countries would be on the list. That the United States was missing from this list is significant. We have our problems, but other than in rare instances, we do not take to the streets in violent riots or bomb each other to resolve our differences.

We should not take that for granted. Much of the world, unfortunately, cannot say the same. That is all the more remarkable given the great diversity in our country. It might be a good thing to just once in awhile look up from the fray to consider this, and the many other blessings that we in America enjoy.

It's not in our national character to do too much positive reflecting. We want to get back to our debates, the many things we need to improve, and our competing visions for the future. Thats as it should be. But once in awhile its helpful to take stock of what is right about our nation, and appreciate it. It improves my mood and outlook every time I do.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Far Left Morphing and the Impact on the Democratic Party

The far left has made an interesting set of deductions. It goes something like this:

Premise: We Hate Bush and conservatives. Bush the fascist is evil. Bush always lies.
Conclusion: Anything Bush supports is evil. Because he always lies, whatever he says is a conspiracy to do just the opposite.

Issue: Bush says he wants an independent democratic Iraq.
Conclusion: The war in Iraq is evil. Bush invaded Iraq because of an imperialist oil grabbing conspiracy and really wants the government to fail.

Issue: Bush says he wants a unified Iraq.
Conclusion: Bush wants civil war so that he can grab the oil and make his imperialist invasion permanent.

Issue: Bush condemned the bombing of the mosque in Sammara and called for an end to sectarian violence.
Conclusion: Bush bombed the mosque and is conducting psy-ops to incite civil war.

Issue: Bush says we must fight terrorism and Jihadist extremists.
Conclusion: Bush really created the war on terror as an excuse to create an imperial presidency, take over the Supreme Court, and achieve imperialist global domination. Those who fight against the Jihad are fascists.

This thinking came from far left wing bloggers. The logic or lack thereof is difficult to follow, so we attempted to organize them here to make them clearer. Anti-Bush hatred has reached a fevered pitch in which any failure of a Bush policy or initiative is cause for celebration. That is true even when it means harm or defeat for American interests.

The views of the fringe would have little practical importance, except that similar influences seem to be affecting the attitudes and behavior of the larger liberal wing of the Democratic party. We are not hearing liberal activists speaking out on the virulent anti-gay aspects of Islam and plight of women in Islam. Nor is the left leading condemnation of Islamic anti-semitism and anti-Israeli rhetoric.

Howard Dean as Chairman meant "a lot of mainstream, middle-of-the-road, centrist Jewish Democrats would be very turned off and concerned and would be left wondering whether they have a home in the Democratic Party" -- Jay Footlik

Many more must be disenchanted now, with the retreat on the left for the support of Israel and the current failure to respond to Islamic anti-semitism.

The attempts to censor western press by Islamic threats, rioting, and fatwas are mainly met by the left with meek excuses about politically correct sensitivity. Hillary Clinton is regarded with distrust in this quarter because of her support of the war and anti-terrorism. Joe Lieberman, the Vice-Presidential candidate in 2000, is now being treated like a traitor to the party with liberal hate sites devoted to him.

Al Gore is scoring points and making a comeback with his consistent opposition to the Iraq war, and his speech in Saudi Arabia where he denounced the U.S. government for committing "terrible abuses" against Arabs after 9/11, and that Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. Pollsters say he is now in second place behind Hillary among Democrats, and analysts project he would take away half of her support in primaries.

It's tough to see how any of this bodes well for the chances of Democrats in the 2008 Presidential election. Right now the Democrats are so focused on their anti-Bush mantra that they act like they will be running against him again in 2008.

Some Signs of Hope in Iraq

It is still too early to draw a conclusion on whether sectarian violence will spread to send Iraq in to civil war. There are continuing provocative incidents of violence. There are also heartening indications that the Iraqis may be too smart to fall for insurgent efforts to inflame Sunni and Shiite populations into mutual destruction.

On the negative side, here is a brief run down of the violence from Reuters:

A security man was killed after gunmen opened fire on Saturday at the funeral procession in Baghdad of an Al Arabiya correspondent killed in Iraq.

Gunmen stormed a house near the Iraqi city of Baquba on Saturday and killed 12 members of the same Shi'ite family, Interior Ministry sources said.
Gunmen opened fire on Saturday at the house of the head of Iraq's leading Sunni Muslim religious organization, in an attack he blamed on government forces.

On the positive side from Reuters:

Iraq's most influential Shia political leader, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, said the bombers who attacked the shrine in Samarra "do not represent Sunnis in Iraq". In a televised statement, Mr Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, blamed the militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and loyalists of former leader Saddam Hussein. "We all have to unite in order to eliminate them," he said.

Followers of radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr attended his sermon in the Sadr City district, hearing him urge restraint. "We are not enemies but brothers," he told them. "Anyone who attacks a Muslim is not a Muslim."

Several large joint Sunni-Shia protests were held on Friday in Basra, Kut and Mosul to appeal for calm and national unity.

Envoys of Sadr, whose militiamen were accused by some Sunnis of attacking Sunni mosques in reprisal for the attack in the city of Samarra, met members of the Sunni Muslim Clerics Association and the Iraqi Accordance Front, the biggest Sunni political bloc. Sadr's representatives reiterated denials that his Mehdi Army militia attacked Sunnis and their mosques. "There is no way we will be divided no matter what the conspiracies," said Fadil al-Sharaa, a cleric who represented Sadr in talks at a Sunni mosque in Baghdad.

Iraq's top political leaders held talks on Saturday to discuss the formation of a new government as they tried to ease sectarian tensions that have raised fears of civil war. The talks, which included Shi'ite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, and leading Sunni and secular politicians, followed a meeting of influential religious leaders who vowed to end sectarian violence. Arab Sunni politicians who had suspended their participation in negotiations on the formation of a new government attended the meeting, as did U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

That both the Sunni and Shiite leadership, including the inflammatory Sadr, are out front calling for peace is important. Just as important is that all parties are attributing the acts of provocation to al-Zarqawi, recognizing the Al-Qaeda ploys for what they are. The sudden attack on the revered mosque may turn out to have been too transparently over the line.

Domestic sectarian feelings just would not account for such a desecration. Despite all their other bombings and killings, things were continuing to move toward an government in Iraq succeeding. It may be that al-Zarqawi miscalculated in his gamble of blowing up a holy shrine. This was an act of desperation by the insurgents.

Peace may not prevail, but at least there is the possibility that in the end Sunni and Shiite factions may pull together against a foreign insurgency attempting to harm their country.

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

From the life is stranger than fiction department, a story from the BBC:

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal. The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders.

They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi. "We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said.

Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat. "When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up".

Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case. "They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.

I have always wondered where the expression "that really got his goat" came from.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Leaders, Writers, and Quarterbacks

George Will once told a story in a column about President Ronald Reagan, who after listening to detailed scientific and budgetary presentations on an ambitious $4.4 billion atom smasher project, recited Jack London's personal credo:

I would rather be ashes than dust,
I would rather my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze,
Than it should be stifled in dry rot,
I would rather be a superb meteor,
With every atom of me in a magnificent glow,
Than a sleepy and permanent planet.

Then Reagan said that London's credo was read to Ken Stabler, the NFL quarterback, who was asked what it meant. Stabler said: “Throw Deep.” Reagan supported the project.

Today we seem to be woefully lacking leaders with a “throw deep” mentality and vision. Some spout speech writer rhetoric that tries to sound like it, but genuine article can't be faked. I heard it in person once. In my college days, as the student responsible for bringing in guest lectures and speakers, Former Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey, then a Minnesota Senator, agreed to make a speech.

Senator Humphrey was a populist Democrat born of the old Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, who earned his political stripes as a reformer cleaning up corruption in Minneapolis. He was also one of the last barn burner speakers, in the Chautauqua tradition. The man was a believer with a vision that could make even his opponents smile and cheer before he was through. He had the deserved nickname of the “Happy Warrior”.

The “Great Communicator” and the “Happy Warrior” were political opposites, but strikingly similar as men. Both had an innate optimism, fighting their battles without malice or mean spiritedness. Both placed being an American before partisanship. Both had the ability to cut through detail and short term thinking to see the goal posts, and the courage to go for it. They had the ability to inspire and uplift.

We need such men in both parties today, as real leaders are needed in difficult times. If we are fortunate, perhaps one or two will surface before the next presidential election. We could use some inspiring and uplifting from a positive voice. We need someone with the vision to throw deep.

"Blogger Scale" Needed

After reading many blogs and the comments that accompany them, there seems to be a need to better describe political bloggers. The convention of party affiliation or words like right or left doesn't always capture the character of their writing. Perhaps something on the order of a logarithmic scale – such as the Richter Scale is in order. Here's what is proposed:

1-3 on the Scale might be described as “Independents”. This includes people who are not politically inclined, and have no particular ideological bent. They are often the pragmatic folk who post on the meat and potatoes issues they think might affect their daily lives. Though they are a large group, say about 30% of the American population, they are under-represented on blogs. Posting requires more energy than these low scorers on the Blogger Scale usually care to expend.

4-6 on the Scale encompasses many Republican and Democrats. They have a political philosophy, and can articulate their position on issues based on fact and analysis. The tone of the writing usually stays within the bounds of reasoned discourse. They may defend a point with passion, but not so much so that they cannot see all sides of an issue and other points of view. An exchange of ideas occurs within this range.

7-8 on the Scale begins to depart from logic, and here is where posting starts to reflect zealotry more than reason. The thinking process begins to assume a one dimensionality, often expressed in anger, personal attacks, name calling, and profanity. Right now, the far left seems to be over-represented in this range. It may be that frustration at the current Republican dominance of most Governorships, both houses of Congress, the Presidency, and the new Supreme Court Appointees have pushed more on the left to this extreme. Bloggers in this range trade salvos from their entrenched positions.

9 is where the blogging gets nuts. Here reside the true Bush hating conspiracy theorists, the White Supremacists and other fringe denizens of the blogging world. The posts are readily identifiable by the high degree of hatred they contain. Single issue obsessives on both sides of “hot button” issues find a home here. Tirades and rants are all that remain. The skewed reality of these unfortunates precludes any attempt at discussion. They are grossly over-represented in blogs as they seem to never tire of their “serial blogging” posts.

10 is reserved for the just plain insane. Reverend Phelps and Harry Belafonte live together in their own little universe. The posts of a 10 are so extreme that they reach toxic levels. Reader beware, exposure may be hazardous to your health.

This new system has practical value for the blogger. Blogs themselves can be assigned a numerical rating on the Blogger Scale, giving potential readers a useful insight into the contents. Some may prefer the interplay and thoughts of a “5-er” blog, while others may like the heat of a good “7.5-er”. “10” blogs might be accompanied by a warning before entering the site.

It can be helpful in dealing with individual bloggers as well. Comments of bloggers might be rated and averaged on their profiles. “Oh, I made the mistake of responding to an “8's” post, boy did I flamed.”
It might even help to moderate the discourse on blogs a little. No E-bay member wants a bad rating. Maybe bloggers would try to avoid being a “8”. Of course “9” and “10” raters are beyond redemption, but perhaps many “7” or “8's” could be saved.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bennett and Dershowitz Team Up on Failure of the Press

Strange bedfellows politically, William J. Bennett and Alan M. Dershowitz wrote a column together in the Washington Post. This pairing is like a journalistic version of the Odd Couple. Though from the conservative and liberal wings of American politics, they united for what they agree is a critical failure of the media in dealing with Islamic intimidation.

“When we were attacked on Sept. 11, we knew the main reason for the attack was that Islamists hated our way of life, our virtues, our freedoms. What we never imagined was that the free press -- an institution at the heart of those virtues and freedoms -- would be among the first to surrender.”

This is worth reading in it's entirety. You may have already read our take on the issue. It is heartening to see that Americans of some influence are coming out on this one, particularly when it is in the form of that rarity of rarities in this day; true bi-partisanship.

Save the Children!

Tag is bad for children. At least that is what a number of schools have decided in Washington, California and Wisconsin, that have banned the game from the playground. Thank goodness, it is about time educators began to recognize the dangerous practice too long tolerated as innocent play. Principals and educators correctly point out that tag is physically dangerous, forces children to participate by their being tagged, and engenders negative feelings because the game has winners and losers.

One of the schools is only partially on board, allowing a modified version under supervision in gym class. They justify this by saying children are not allowed to run, and can't touch each other, tagging only with a nerf ball. This half measure should not be tolerated. Tender self-images and psyches are still at risk. "There's potential for some victimization," said Mary Beth Klotz, a psychologist with the National Association of School Psychologists. It's comforting to know we have such clear minds advocating for our children.

Now that tag is is finally on it's way out of childhood experiences, we should take this important crusade further. School officials have long neglected the evils of “Ring Around the Rosie”. It is well known that the verse is based on the Black Plague. The "ring around a rosie" refers to the round, red rash that is the first symptom of the disease. The phrase "a pocket full of posies" alludes to carrying flowers to mask stench, "Ashes" of course means the ashes of burning bodies, and "we all fall down" describes the many dead resulting from the disease. It's time we banned this awful dance of death on playgrounds. The damage it has reeked on children is staggering.

Next, there is the horrible game of “Blind Man's Bluff”. That we should allow such an insult to the visually challenged is scandalous. The psychological consequences of sensory deprivation causes severe mental and emotional stress on a child. The other children in the game learn cruelty and insensitivity to those less physically able than themselves. The danger entailed in having children move about with their eyes shut is even worse. Any activity that puts our children at such a high risk of injury should be eliminated. There is also of course the issue of school liability to consider.

Clearly, we are in need of a national commission to study the issue of playground behavior, which could formulate guidelines for acceptable play and model policies on games to be prohibited. Our children deserve nothing less. The report of the commission findings can provide the basis for national legislation to protect the psycho-social development and physical safety of children across the country.

Get involved now by demanding action from local school boards, state education boards, the federal Department of Education, and your Congressman and Senators. You can make a difference, so join the cause now. After all, child's play is no laughing matter.

Dutch Schools Ban Flag Fearing Muslim Reaction

Most Dutch schools have banned displays of their own Netherlands flag by students, including on clothing or book bags. The ban is in response to Muslim immigrants who feel the flag is racist and fascist. Some school officials deny the ban is out of fear, saying they have merely acted with the security of the students in mind. Other school officials said it was to prevent problems between students, and to work on a good atmosphere and safe environment. One school says they need to do this because of the new social climate.

Apparently many Dutch citizens, and members of the Netherlands parliament are a bit upset after the biggest Dutch newspaper the Telegraaf made the story public. How unreasonable of them not to understand “the new social climate” requires banning their national flag.

Jihad Goes Cyber

The New York Post is reporting that Islamic hack-attacks on websites have escalated, opening another front in their war on free expression.

"Muslim computer-hacker gangs have launched a massive attack on Danish and Western Web sites as part of the mass protests across the Arab world over the publication of cartoons making fun of the Prophet Mohammed.

The cyber-crime monitoring group said in a statement that more than 1,000 Danish, Israeli and European sites were defaced or shut down by Islamic hackers in the last week.

And experts fear that's just the beginning of what could be a massive cyber-jihad stretching from the Middle East and Europe to the United States and dominating cyberspace for weeks, costing millions of dollars. "We have definitely seen a spike in the number of attacks. This definitely appears to be the result of the controversy over the Prophet Mohammed cartoons," said Jim Melnick of the cyber-security firm iDefense. "A full-blown e-jihad is a real possibility."

In Denmark, where the cartoon crisis first erupted, more than 578 Web sites have been struck by hackers, reported. Web targets included Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that published the 12 cartoons, a Danish country-music site, a gambling site and a motorcycle-fan site, experts said.

Most of the attacks are "defacements," in which sites are hacked and sprayed with messages.

The e-graffiti mixes profanity with calls for an Islamic boycott of Danish goods and warnings of suicide bombings..."

Numerous other reports are surfacing of blogs being attacked. This is a serious issue. The Internet has been used by Jihadists for some some time to spread propaganda, communicate with each other, and many believe coordinate terrorist activities. There has also been talk of disruption to information systems infrastructure such as financial markets, banking, and defense department systems as intended targets. Now repression has been added.

Still, at least the specter of an e-Jihad leaves a little room for levity. Imagine the headlines we may be facing in the near future:

"Senseless Slaughter of HTML in Terrorist Attack"
"E-Jihad Brings Down Porn Sites - Millions Mourn"
"Muslims Hackers Hold Microsoft Code Hostage, Demand Open Sourcing - Millions Applaud"

Feel free to add your own headline predictions in comments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Shiites Waste No Time In Reprisal Attacks

Looks like the bombing of that Sammara Shiite mosque succeeded. Already the AP is reporting more than 90 attacks on Sunni mosques with automatics weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. "We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity," said President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd. "We should all stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war."

The U.S. Ambassador is being blamed by at least one Shiite leader. How you may wonder, did he arrive at that conclusion? The Ambassador has been blunt this week in telling the government that the U.S. will not support them if they continued to allow sectarian militia's to run amuck.

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the former commander of its militia said, “These statements ... gave green lights to terrorist groups. And, therefore, he shares in part of the responsibility." So apparently calling for stopping sectarian violence is an invitation to such violence. Shooting the messenger is still a time honored tradition, even when you have to turn the message on it's head to justify it.

What would happen if full-scale civil war breaks out? Sunnis and the Shiites would start killing each other en masse while Jihadist insurgents egg them on and cheer. Americans would likely find themselves ducking bullets from all three. Kurds in the north would likely see it as the time to make their bid to declare independence. That might trigger Turkey to get involved, who has feared that would happen all along. Iran would do their best to incite all the trouble they can get away with, and Syria would likely throw some rocks as well.

In other words chaos, killing, and disintegration of American efforts for a stable, unified, democratic Iraq. Who benefits from that is obvious. Keeping a lid on things to prevent this just got a lot harder. Whether it turns out to be a big bump in the road, or the end of the road, should become clear in a week or two.

Iraqi Mosque Attack – A Bid for Civil War?

The golden dome of a revered Shiite mosque was blown up in Sammara, Iraq. A Sunni cleric was subsequently shot and killed entering a mosque, and Sunni – Shiite militia groups clashed with gunfire. It is the latest escalation of sectarian violence in Iraq, or what appears to be sectarian violence.

It's possible that it is indeed a result of the hatred between Sunnis and Shiites. It is also possible that it is the work of those who want it to appear to be so, wanting to start civil war in Iraq. We need not recap the long conflict and enmity between the the two groups. The important issue is whether that rancor can be exploited to destroy the chances of the new Iraqi government to succeed.

Reuters reported that the trouble making Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had a spokesman issue a threatening statement: "We will not only condemn and protest but we will act against those militants. If the Iraqi government does not do its job to defend the Iraqi people we are ready to do so." Al-Sadr is the kind of opportunist who will certainly use the violence to further his own agenda.

In the strange world of Muslim factional rivalry, blowing up the holiest mosques can apparently be justified in the cause. More bloodshed will surely follow, no matter if the bombing is the work of Iraqis or foreign insurgents. The incidents are bad for us by destabilizing our efforts in Iraq. It also means that at least some Islamic radicals are busy bombing and shooting themselves up instead of attacking western targets. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Abortion is the Supreme Court's Gordian Knot

The conundrum of abortion decisions in the courts is an insoluble one. That is because the federal courts are an inappropriate place to fight this one out in the first place. The Constitution of the United States simply does not address the issue. It took an activist court to create the legal grounds for Roe vs. Wade, and that creation reflected the personal views of the Justices, not well founded constitutional principle. That is always trouble.

Both sides on abortion would like the Supreme Court to decide that all Americans must adhere to their respective views, imposing it's will as it has since Roe vs. Wade on us all. Neither outcome would reflect the views of most Americans.

A little over half of Americans support the availability of abortion in general. A little over half also oppose abortion when it is solely for the purpose of terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Both sides of the abortion zealots are unhappy with this. They want either completely unfettered abortion as a “constitutional right” or they want all abortions to be illegal.

The courts and congress need to get out of this thicket of thorns and turn the issue back to where it belongs – to state legislatures or ballot initiatives. That would make the lobbies on both sides unhappy, and the American people the winners. A novel proposition.

As a practical matter, it will take a long time, if ever, before common sense prevails. You may recall the endless questions in confirmation hearings regarding stari decisis. Why all this attention to a Latin term most people have never heard of? Because it boils down to the principle that previous court decisions should be respected and rarely overturned. It was a code word for “Will you leave Roe Vs. Wade alone?” It makes reversing even bad decisions of unduly activist courts difficult.

The larger the issue in a case, the less likely a conservative court is to throw it out. Even when the decision is horribly pernicious, the court often feels compelled to follow stari decisis. The classic example was the famous Dred Scott decision on slavery, that in the words of Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes, was a “self-inflicted wound” from which it took the court at least a generation to recover.

Dred Scott v. Sandford was never overturned by the Supreme Court, it was overturned by the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship to former slaves. The lesson is that even the worst decisions die hard.

The late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, in his book “The Supreme Court”, discussed “when the court is working within the bounds of the Constitution and when it is going beyond these bounds to impose on the country its own views in the guise of constitutional doctrine..” Roe Vs. Wade is just such an excess, but we will likely have to live with it for some time to come.

Partial-Birth Abortion Goes to Supreme Court

Hold on to your hats, the abortion issue and the Supreme Court will be taken up again. The predominate liberal/conservative litmus test in nominee hearings for decades will be tested for the the first time by the court since it's two newest members were confirmed. This case will be limited to partial birth abortions, but it will be an important case. The 2003 legislation has been hung up in the lower courts since it's passage.

The abortion war is a polarizing one, in which neither side has left any room for compromise. Partial birth abortion is the low hanging fruit for abortion opponents, and with good reason. More than any other abortion procedure, it takes the question of whether a human life is at stake out of the equation. Kansas is one of 15 states that supported the appeal.

The legal point of the case hinges on the lack of an exception for the health of the mother, though an exception for saving the life of the mother is included in the legislation. As in many Supreme Court decisions, it is likely to revolve around a narrow point of law, rather than on more sweeping grounds.

Even so, it will be the first test of the hopes for the newly formed court by abortion opponents, and the fears of advocates.

Rewarding Illegal Immigration in Kansas

A bill sponsored by Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, to reverse illegal immigrant in-state tuition at state universities and colleges looked like it would pass the Federal and State Affairs Committee by a vote of 12-10. According to Hutchins, it was defeated by the Chairman John Edmonds, R-Great Bend, when he reneged on an agreement and tied the vote at 11-11.

"I'm surprised. I had the chairman's word that if there was a tie vote he would vote to support it," Hutchins was quoted by the AP. "How good is anyone's word?" The AP piece further reported, “Edmonds later said he didn't want to force colleagues in the House to face the politically difficult choice of voting to keep the law in place.”

Obviously there are two issues here. The bill sought to rectify an important issue. Mr. Edmunds has some real explaining to do on this one. Did he break a promise to Hutchins, pulling a Barack Obama act? Since when is it his job to spare his colleagues from being able to vote on an issue they and their constituents care about? There is a whiff here of something that needs to be investigated further. Public policy is too important to be decided by shenanigans and transparent nonsense.

As for the issue itself there are three reasons the repeal still needs to be pursued.

First, there is the small matter of enforcing immigration laws and not rewarding law breakers. Just because someone has succeeded in breaking the law does not entitle them to subsidies.

Second, it violates a 1996 federal law providing that, if a state allows in-state tuition rates at its public colleges and universities to its resident illegal aliens, it must also permit in-state tuition for citizens and legal residents of other states.

Third, it encourages more illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants for the most part come here due to economic incentives. Adding to those incentives just makes an already out of control problem worse.

We need as a nation to get serious about halting illegal immigration. The costs are enormous. It is at least 36 billion in federal services alone. Every state pays the lion's share of the cost, such as California where the cost is put at 10.5 billion. No one even knows the total when one adds health care, prisons, education, drug trafficking, other crime, unpaid taxes, and a myriad of other costs. Estimates range from 130 billion to 400 billion. The number is certainly staggering.

Beyond the fiscal issues, the crime, and the overburdening of service providers, a total lack of control of our own borders makes the term “homeland security” a joke.

The Kansas tuition law is a part of one of the most serious problems we have, and our legislature continuing to make it worse should not be tolerated. Kerry Healey, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts put it well concerning that state's debate on the same issue.

“America continues to be a beacon of freedom and opportunity, welcoming people from around the world. We are all the sons and daughters of immigrants who came here to realize the American dream, but we must insist that immigrants follow the law and immigrate legally. Similarly, elected officials must be reminded, too, that we all took an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution and the law of the land. To do less would be a violation of that oath.”

Monday, February 20, 2006

Supporting a Nazi Lover

David Irving, a British “historian”, was called “an active Holocaust denier ... anti-Semitic and racist” by a British Judge in a civil case. And that may be putting it mildly. But I'm supporting him. To be more accurate, I am not defending him, but condemning the criminal trial in which he is a defendant in Austria. His “crime” was to “publicly diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust”. Under an Austrian law that could put him in prison for 10 years.

Austrians are understandably rather sensitive about Nazis and the holocaust. They want to make sure that the world sees that they are repentant about the crimes of the third Reich, and to prevent a resurgence of neo-Nazism. Nothing wrong with that.

There is something wrong with criminalizing ideas, thought, and opinion. It is ironic that in their effort to condemn fascism, they are employing one of the fascist's favorite tools – banning free expression and imprisoning those who dissent. It is wrong no matter how laudable the intent, nor the noxiousness of the thought they wish to suppress.

Some Americans might feel a bit superior to the Austrians and point to our fidelity to free speech. They shouldn't - we tread down the same path in our own way. We allow universities to have policies that ban and punish “hate speech”. So much for their commitment to free expression. We create special criminal penalties for “hate crimes”. A hate crime statute adds punishment for the motivation – the thoughts and feelings – of the defendant.

If we tolerate the criminalization of thoughts and feelings, we abandon our basic belief in intellectual freedom. The intent may be good, but the proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

McCain Bombs Obama

The Volokh Conspiracy brought an interesting item from the Weekly Standard to our attention. Seems Harry Reid and more directly, Barack Obama, tried use John McCain as a patsy to play partisan games on lobbying reform. Now partisan games are the daily manna in Washington, but this time Obama went over the line by lying to McCain in private, and then crossing him in the press.

Not cricket, even in the capital. The amusing part is the deft way McCain skewered Obama over the affair. From the Standard:

"Democratic senators Harry Reid and Barack Obama tried to pull a fast one on John McCain and got hit with the literary equivalent of a B-52 strike. McCain's been working on a bipartisan lobbying reform bill. Obama, Reid's designee on reform, told McCain he wasn't a partisan hit man and wanted to help out. So, at McCain's invitation, Obama attended a meeting on the bill and let McCain know the next day that he appreciated working together. But that night Obama's office, evidently at Reid's request, emailed, and released to the press, a letter to McCain, then en route to Germany, mourning Wash-ington's "culture of corruption," and lamenting that a bipartisan reform wouldn't be "effective"; only the Democratic leadership's bill, which has no Republican cosponsors, "represents a significant step in addressing many of the worst aspects of corruption."

McCain arrived back in his office on February 6 and responded with his own letter, also released to the press:

I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. . . . Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter. . . . I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. . . . But I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party's effort to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman Senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness."

Looks like a direct hit.

Tiny Election has Global Impact

A little less than one million Palestinians votes were cast in their election. By comparison, one New York Senator, Charles Schumer, received over a million and three quarters votes in 2004. Not to say that Mr. Schumer's votes were not important, but the impact of the Palestinian election is having is incredible by comparison.

Israel and the United States have taken steps to cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority after the election victory of Hamas. The EU is threatening to do the same if Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and abide by previous peace accords.

Some have characterized cutting off funds as a “hard line” response. Who in their right mind would even consider funding a group dedicated to killing you. It is the only option to take. Unfortunately, as is usually the case in the Middle East, it is a matter of choosing between bad options.

The only prospect for a reasonable outcome is for Hamas to make a fundamental shift from a terrorist organization with an avowed goal of destroying Israel, to a political entity that works peacefully to promote the future of the Palestinian people. That is an enormous leap, as the Hamas position is founded on the Muslim “duty” to reclaim the land that in 1948 created the state of Israel. Their terrorist attacks on Israel were intended to derail the Oslo Peace Accord, and it succeeded.

No other issue is more likely to fan the flames of the Muslim world than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This will be even more true under Hamas. The PLO under Arafat was primarily a secular movement. Hamas is a militant Jihadist movement. This will result in Islamic hatred burning brighter with every violent incident.

Since the escalation of a worldwide Jihad against the west, and our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, the stakes in the Israeli conflict have been raised ten fold. There are many Muslim extremists who would like nothing better than to see the powder keg ignited. Avoiding this will take walking a tight rope of applying economic pressure while developing a longer term solution that is at this point difficult to see. The saving element may be the moderating effect of internal Palestinian rivalry, which will likely ratchet up as their finances worsen.

In the past America could act as a moderator and broker for peace. The new role of Hamas makes that a very unlikely possibility. It shifts our position to an outright big stick defending Israel. That too is unfortunate in the sense of playing into Jihadist rhetoric. It seems as if this is a chess game which is drawing toward an end with fewer options and more dangerous consequences with each move.

If nothing else, the Palestinian election proved one thing. For good or ill, voting in elections does matter.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

One Newspaper Shows Courage

The good folks at Instapundit note that our neighbor to West, the Rocky Mountain News, had the testicles to publish the notorious Muslim offending cartoons. Maybe a new Pulitzer prize category is needed - a courage in editing award.

It seems that their readership has applauded their action. Journalistic ethics have not been sufficient motivation to get most newspapers to do the right thing in standing up to intimidation. Perhaps a realization that having courage on this issue is good business will be a more effective impetus.

John Temple of the Rocky Mountain News had this to sum up: "This whole experience of publishing these cartoons has been enough for me to want to wear a Danish flag pin in solidarity with that country and to regret - at least during this test of journalism's commitment to free speech - my membership in the American Society of Newspaper Editors."

Islamic Genocide of Gays

Many gay people in the United States are left to far left in the American political spectrum. They tend to view conservatives and particularly conservatives of the Christian stripe in stark terms of disdain and even fear. Some of the extremist Christians admittedly give a basis for this in their anti-gay views and rhetoric.

The “orthodox” gay view is one that sees the Republican party as their greatest threat, going to extremes of typifying them as fascist, a view without accuracy from any rational political comparative analysis. While it is true that social conservatives are generally opposed to gay agenda issues such as gay marriage, the demonization of conservatives has an unfortunate and ultimately dangerous effect. That danger is in being blinded to the most lethal threat to gay people, which is Jihadist Islam.

While many Christians believe homosexuality is a sin, the Christian theological foundation stone of hating sin but not the sinner, has meant that all but the “lunatic fringe” such as Fred Phelps, believes that homosexuals need to be redeemed and saved. There are numerous examples of Christian groups that try to convert gay people to heterosexuality. Most gay people view this as misguided, unrealistic, and insulting. Compared to Islamic belief and practice, however, it is benevolent and caring. For example:

Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association in Britain, George Broadhead, commented that all Muslim countries outlawed homosexuality, and the penalties for those convicted ranged from prison, flogging, and execution by a variety of perverted methods – such as throwing the victim off a cliff or pushing a stone wall on to them to bury them alive. "The record of these countries on human rights in general is bad enough, but when it comes to gay human rights, they are disgusting".

NSS Newsline 2003 Apr 25

The one attempt to form an Islamic group by gay men, Al-Fatiha, resulted in a "fatwa," or religious edict.. "The very existence of Al-Fatiha is illegitimate and the members of this organization are apostates," the decree said. "Never will such an organization be tolerated in Islam and never will the disease which it calls for be affiliated with a true Islamic society or individual. The Islamic ruling for such acts is death."

This attitude is not limited to fundamentalist Islamic countries. Even in democratic societies, Islam remains overwhelmingly anti-gay. Dr Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of North America, says "homosexuality is a moral disease, a sin, a corruption… No person is born homosexual, just as nobody is born a thief, a liar or a murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education."

Sheikh Sharkhawy, a cleric at the prestigious London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, compares homosexuality to a "cancer tumour." He argues "we must burn all gays to prevent paedophilia and the spread of AIDS," and says gay people "have no hope of a spiritual life." The Muslim Educational Trust hands out educational material to Muslim teachers – intended for children! – advocating the death penalty for gay people, and advising Muslim pupils to stay away from gay classmates and teachers.

Gay people would do well to pay more attention to the real danger confronting them. The goal of Islamic Jihad is no secret. Jihadist leaders throughout the world are vocal in stating that they will seek to rule every country on earth, and will not cease their holy war until this is achieved.

Media Surrendering to Terror

By a strategy of rioting, killing, and cash bounties for murder, Jihadists are waging a war of intimidation and fear to censor western media. Journalists, authors, and politicians everywhere are increasingly afraid to say anything that might offend Muslims. Those that do find a million dollar price on their heads, as a Danish cartoonist just did, or they are silenced by their own organization or government out of fear of reprisals.

An Italian reform minister angered Muslims by wearing a T-shirt decorated with Western media cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad. The Muslims responded by attacking and burning the Italian consulate in Libya, with ten deaths. The reform Minister resigned. Libya suspended its interior minister and other officials, not for failing to protect the consulate, but for using force in trying to prevent it. It declared Sunday a day of mourning for "our martyr sons".

On Friday, Denmark temporarily shut its embassy in Islamabad after days of violent protests in Pakistan. This is the fifth embassy that Denmark has closed since the cartoon row sparked off.
The strategy is working.

Journalists and media who would normally be screaming censorship are instead issuing nonsense that their deep respect for Islam is dictating their decision not to publish content that might offend. We know it's nonsense because they certainly don't hesitate to publish words and images deeply offensive to other religions, such as Christians. They are just plain afraid, either that they will be blamed for riots and killing or that they will be targets themselves.

Silence and censorship is not “being responsible”. When the non-Muslim world's press submits to terror tactics, they hand the Jihad an enormous victory. The responsible thing to do is obvious. Tell the truth about the Jihadists, their beliefs, and their tactics. Encourage free expression of opinions regardless of threats and intimidation.

The Islamic campaign for the repression of ideas and truth cannot be allowed to succeed. Freedom has always had a high cost. It remains to be seen if we still have the courage to pay that price.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Another Muslim Murder for Hire Offer

“A Pakistani Muslim cleric and his followers offered rewards amounting to over $1 million for anyone who killed Danish cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, Reuters reported.
Maulana Yousef Qureshi said he personally had offered to pay a bounty of 500,000 rupees ($8,400) during Friday prayers, and two of his congregation put up additional rewards of $1 million and one million rupees plus a car.”

If Islamic countries had any serious legal systems, this behavior would result in an arrest and conviction – soliciting murder for hire is a crime in any rationale society.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

When Conservatives Aren't

The principle of protecting individual liberty by limiting governmental intrusion into personal freedom has been a bedrock of conservative principles. We have long believed that it is important to keep such intrusions to a minimum, and when it is necessary, to do so at the lowest practical level of government. This helps keep decision making as local as possible, maximizing the extent to which our laws reflect the desires of the people living under them.

Many conservatives have gone astray from this principle, seeking to federalize social and moral issues, just as liberals do. The only difference is which pet issues and positions on issues they endorse. The substitution of limiting governmental intrusion for a “conservative social agenda” has contributed to the “culture wars” and increasing polarization we see today.

The victory of either the Democrats or the Republicans has come to mean that one large part of the population will have another large segment attempt to force their personal mores upon them. This change in philosophy is reactionary and in part understandable. The liberals had so dominated the Supreme Court and Congress for so long that they had succeeded in imposing a federal government with an extreme liberal agenda upon the entire country.

So many issues that are rooted in a person's core personal values and religious beliefs have been incorporated into a liberal “win” in the federal courts or national legislation that those on the other side of these issues felt besieged and attacked. As a shift toward more conservative beliefs in this country has occurred, more and more people have found themselves in a nation where government policy and the law no longer represents them, and seems in fact to be hostile toward them.

The current environment of “litmus test” elections on social issues is not, however, the right answer. It can only lead to further divisiveness. Conservatives need to eschew the liberal approach, and return to fighting for the more fundamental belief that the government that governs least governs best.

New York should not have to live with the views of Alabama ruling their lives, and vice versa. If people in Chicago believe school vouchers give inner city children a better shot at a quality education, and parents in San Fransisco do not, let them go their own way. That is called democracy and freedom. If parents in Phoenix think that saying the Pledge of Allegiance is the best thing since sliced bread, and those in Minneapolis don't, so be it.

The principled course of conservatism is to continue to reign in courts that unnecessarily impose their own beliefs and take away the right of our people to decide through elections. At the same time, we must avoid pushing strategies that impose socially conservative values on everyone. A constitutional ban on gay marriage, for example, is a bad idea. Let Vermont do what Vermont chooses.

A pragmatic cost of small tent thinking is that we stand to lose some of our own best candidates. A case in point is the viability of Rudy Giuliani as a Republican candidate for President. He is just about universally acknowledged as a terrific leader and possessing the qualities of which strong President's are made. Many believe he could never get the nomination, and they may be right. The reason is that he fails a few “litmus test” issues. Specifically, he is not anti-abortion and supports gay rights.

John McCain has the same “problems” as a candidate. Either one would whip Hillary or any other Democrat in the election with room to spare. Enforcement of a conservative social orthodoxy is not only a loss of principle, it is a loser at the ballot box.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sheriff's Have Sex in the Line of Duty

In their dedicated effort to bust massage parlors in Virginia, local cops are first having sex with the women. Apparently pretty good sex, as in one instance an officer left a $350 tip! Sheriff Howard Smith of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office said the detectives are only doing what has to be done in order to put a case together and nail down a conviction.

He stressed that only unwed officers get to have sex. That certainly makes it alright. We can only hope that our area law enforcement does not get wind of this novel "tool" in fighting sin. We could not afford the overtime and tips.

The "undercover probe" points out how ludicrous things get when we allow supposed morality efforts to get out of hand. Before we laugh too hard at Virginia's errant effort being stripped bare to public scrutiny, Carlos Mayans bookstore busting efforts in this regard shows that we are hardly immune.

Michael Chertoff Needs to Go

Michael Chertoff was grilled before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, over his handling of Hurricane Katrina. This as a sharply critical committee report from House Republicans is to be released.

Chertoff, you may recall at the time of Katrina, told us that everything was being done as it should be, in disdainful bureaucratic double talk. We could all see for ourselves from live reports that was patently untrue.

Blame extends beyond Chertoff. The Mayor of New Orleans was woefully incompetent, only outdone in ineptitude by the Louisiana Governor. Hopefully the voters will take care of Negin and Blanco.

President Bush, who ultimately should have been on top of the Federal effort, deserves blame as well. He should have stepped in early when it became clear to anyone with eyes that it was a fiasco. Now he should fire Chertoff, and not just as an exercise in post facto blame fixing.

The Homeland Security Secretary is a critical position for our country. We will sustain another terrorist attack. It's just a matter of time, no matter how well our intelligence and law enforcement agencies perform. It's impossible to have perfect results all the time, and it only takes one miss.

His performance in Katrina has shown him to be incompetent to handle an actual major crisis in real time. Our country can't afford that, it's a matter saving people's lives. Chertoff is probably a great infighting bureaucrat. But we need more. We need a true leader in his role.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Liberals and Lemmings

Help me understand what is going on with the political left. They seem to be caught in a rigid path of self-destruction. It's like watching Lemmings marching off a cliff. It's painful to see.

Liberals frame themselves as intellectuals, culturally sophisticated, and sensitive souls who "feel your pain". But listen to them talk or read their words. The arguments they put forth often lack any semblance of logical foundation or well framed discourse. The tone of delivery seems to swing between childish petulance and someone needing an anger management course. Actually hatred management might be more accurate. The level of sheer meanness is difficult to fathom.

When you look past these issues to the content, there seems to be very little left. Subtract the rage, minus the pouting, delete the wacky conspiracy stuff, ignore the insults, and what remains? Far too often, nothing.

I don't think it has always been this way. There used to be some articulate, bright, and reasoned people who spoke for the Democratic party. Now we have the last Presidential candidate, Al Gore, who seems to be ascending into a higher orbit from earth each day. We have the Chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, doing his best to alienate the mainstream with his red-faced tirades. And of course, there is the constant but predictable fuming hyperbole of Ted Kennedy. Teddy Kennedy, for goodness sake.

When a Democrat is heard that sounds like something other than a caricature, like Joe Lieberman, his fellow Democrats descend on him like a pack of cannibalistic wolves. Until something rather basic changes in the liberal camp, the Democratic party seems headed for further marginalization.

Democrats desperately need a positive, proactive, intellectually sound agenda brought forth by a reasonable, credible voice. That image does not even appear on the distant horizon of national Democratic leadership. If it does, they will probably shoot it on sight.