Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Politico paints a portentious picture pertaining to presidential prospects

We've seen these sorts of stories recently, and it's no surprise that this one comes out on the heels of Senator Clinton's pitiful display last night. According to a recent Pew poll cited by The Politico in a head-to-head match-up, Rudy would lose against Hillary:

One year before voters go to the polls to select the next president, the Republican Party is as weak as it has been in a generation, a detailed new poll suggests. In a hypothetical matchup between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, bloc after bloc of traditionally Republican voters break for Clinton: She wins the South.

She polls evenly with voters who attend church at least once a week. She splits families with a household income above $100,000.

She loses rural voters and men — but only by a narrow margin.

All are constituencies Republicans have dominated for decades; George W. Bush won each by double-digit margins.

The findings from The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press remain preliminary, considering even the primaries are still two months off.

But Pew questioned an unusually large number of voters to try to paint the most accurate picture possible of where the presidential contest stands today.

Should the race continue down its current trajectory, the poll finds Clinton defeating Giuliani by eight percentage points.

Other recent polls, however, have placed Giuliani ahead of Clinton in a head-to-head race.

But those polls predict Clinton would beat Fred Thompson, John McCain or Mitt Romney.

And Barack Obama would defeat Giuliani — though narrowly — according to at least four polls taken in October. In fact, Democrats hold a marked advantage over Republicans in the eyes of voters.

Problem number one with this poll is that it's being taken one year before the elections. Problem number two is that most Americans don't pay attention to election politics until after Labor Day of the election year. Third problem is that this joins a growing number of stories coming our showing the Democrats winning the White House despite their low approval numbers. Those numbers -- the ones defining Congress right now -- are the albatross around the neck of the Democrats.

Hillary loses the rural vote. Know why that's heartening? Because of this map which shows that John Kerry couldn't break through on the rural vote either. I can't believe that the South would go for Hillary because she is diametrically opposed to them ideologically on virtually every issue. They're taking a liking to Rudy because of what he has said (honesty is the key element to his appeal), and for his promises (regarding jurists, he is more in line with their thinking).

Hillary has proposed a tax increase that would rival her husband's which was instituted back in 1993. Need we be reminded of this quote from the junior senator from New York?

"We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

How about this one?

She defended that decision yesterday, saying she is focusing on proposals with more political support and she is not formally proposing anything she can't fund without increasing the deficit: "I have a million ideas. The country can't afford them all."

The Pew guys can speculate and examine answers from those they phone all they want, but the idea she will raise taxes is the tip of an iceberg her campaign is going to run into when it comes to the run in the general election. Given her statements (like those last night) concerning illegal immigrants, the comments made with regard to the war and the missions abroad, and the fact that several concerned citizens in the 'Sphere are demanding that the FEC investigate the dirty money trail to her campaign she is wounded badly and reeling. Last night's beating was just the beginning. I do hope the junior senator has her vest on because the shots are going to keep coming, and not just from the right. Last night, her fellow Democrats smelled blood in the water, and they bled her live on TV.

Welcome to Politics 2008 Hillary. We play for keeps.

Publius II

Reeducation camps, University of Deleware style

I came across this story on Little Green Footballs, and it's got me kind of ticked off. See, readers know that my lovely wife is currently attending law school at ASU. We all know that the vast majority of college campuses are hotbeds of liberal thought. But when I saw this story, I went from being concerned to nearly irate:

The University of Delaware subjects students in its residence halls to a shocking program of ideological reeducation that is referred to in the university’s own materials as a “treatment” for students’ incorrect attitudes and beliefs. The Orwellian program requires the approximately 7,000 students in Delaware’s residence halls to adopt highly specific university-approved views on issues ranging from politics to race, sexuality, sociology, moral philosophy, and environmentalism. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is calling for the total dismantling of the program, which is a flagrant violation of students’ rights to freedom of conscience and freedom from compelled speech.

“The University of Delaware’s residence life education program is a grave intrusion into students’ private beliefs,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “The university has decided that it is not enough to expose its students to the values it considers important; instead, it must coerce its students into accepting those values as their own. At a public university like Delaware, this is both unconscionable and unconstitutional.”

The university’s views are forced on students through a comprehensive manipulation of the residence hall environment, from mandatory training sessions to “sustainability” door decorations. Students living in the university’s eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a “diversity facilitation training” session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that “[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.”

If I were a parent of a student going to UD, they'd be yanked in a heartbeat, and there'd be a tongue-lashing towards an administrator that would be very intolerant and very non-PC. See, I come from the viewpoint that people will be people. Some are going to be insensitive asses. Others will fill a company of people with hateful, vile thoughts. Still more will pass on ideas that aren't reflective of society's morals. And instead of people walking away from those that don't want to listen to, we get colleges stepping in and forcing this on students.

It's wrong to do. If people don';t like how blunt and forthright I may be; if they don't like the fact that there may be an F-bomb dropped in the course of a conversation (I don't usually, but mistakes have been known to happen); if they don't like the fact that I dislike associating with certain individuals because of their lifestyle choices, then tough. I'm my own person. That is what life is about -- locating who we are, and abiding by society's rules.

Society states we're to be tolerant of others. Society states that we are all integral in it's functions. Society states that we are all important and all equal. But the Left doesn't like it when such decisions are left up to us. They want it rammed down our throats.



Sorry folks, but we don't play this game. If the Left wants to do this, they can do it elsewhere. Colleges are for higher learning; achieving the education one needs to be a productive member of society. It's not for touchy-feely feelings education. Idiots that subscribe to this sort of mindset are going to be given the rudest awakening of their lives when life kicks kn their heads, and scoops out their brains for lunch.

I hope the alumni for UD throw a fit. I hope parents who have kids attending UD throw a tizzy. Their money is supposed to be spent on making UD a better campus, not a reeducation camp.

Publius II

Hillary bombs badly

That's the consensus amongst the pundits this morning (at least among the HONEST ones), and it's well placed as Roger Simon explains today:

We now know something that we did not know before: When Hillary Clinton has a bad night, she really has a bad night.

In a debate against six Democratic opponents at Drexel University here Tuesday, Clinton gave the worst performance of her entire campaign. It was not just that her answer about whether illegal immigrants should be issued driver's licenses was at best incomprehensible and at worst misleading.

It was that for two hours she dodged and weaved, parsed and stonewalled. And when it was over, both the Barack Obama and John Edwards campaigns signaled that in the weeks ahead they intend to hammer home a simple message: Hillary Clinton does not say what she means or mean what she says.

And she gave them plenty of ammunition Tuesday night.

Asked whether she still agrees with New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to give driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, Clinton launched into a long, complicated defense of it.

But when Chris Dodd attacked the idea a moment later, Clinton quickly said: “I did not say that it should be done.”

NBC’s Tim Russert, one of the debate moderators, jumped in and said to her: “You told (a) New Hampshire paper that it made a lot of sense. Do you support his plan?”

John Edwards immediately went for the jugular. “Unless I missed something,” he said, “Sen. Clinton said two different things in the course of about two minutes. America is looking for a president who will say the same thing, who will be consistent, who will be straight with them.”

Barack Obama added: “I was confused [by] Sen. Clinton's answer. I can't tell whether she was for it or against it. One of the things that we have to do in this country is to be honest about the challenges that we face.”

Earlier, when Clinton was asked whether she had made one statement on Social Security publicly and a conflicting answer privately, she ducked the question, saying she believed in “fiscal responsibility.”

And when Russert asked her if she would make public certain communications between herself and President Clinton when she was first lady, she responded weakly: “Well, that’s not my decision to make.”

Everyone has off nights. But judging from this piece, the reaction at NRO's The Corner last night, and what we were able to watch of this train wreck, things didn't go well for the anointed one. She really looked bad; not only in how she answered questions and handled herself, but head on over to Politico and see the photo of her on the roger Simon story. It's not pretty. It's not flattering. She looks like a miserable old hag. (Appropo, one would say given what today is.)

Some will say that this debate is irrelevant. That it's one misstep by her, and one that the media will try to hush up. The problem is that the media isn't trusted by most people anymore. They know that the people behind the scenes are going to cover for her. But how can you cover for someone who seemed to be stepping on rakes all night long?

Granted, it's true that the other candidates went after her. Of course that's going to happen because she's the main frontrunner. Welcome to Mayor Giuliani's world, Senator Clinton. It's not so much fun when you become the punching bag. And the whole attempt to weasel out of flip-flopping by claiming that everyone's looking for a "gotcha" moment is pathetic. It's politics. Suck it up and admit you got caught being indecisive, unless the wind changed direction.

People in America aren't stupid. They see a performance like this, form a person wishing to be the leader of the free world, and it sticks with them. With Hillary, we'll get a different version of her husband, and one that more closely resembles the politics she embraces surrounding socialism and Marxism. She can't come right out and tell people this because she knows if she does -- if she comes clean and is absolutely honest about it -- she'll be about as electable as Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul.

Publius II

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A new Murtha challenger

Give props to Diana Irey for giving it the old college try in 2006 to unseat the lying windbag from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, she was trounced in the general election by the slandering congressman. This time, however, Murtha may have his hands full:

A career Army member left the service two years short of retirement to move here and try his hand at politics by challenging longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha.

First-time candidate William T. Russell, 45, a Republican, acknowledged that taking on a popular, 18-term congressman in the 2008 election will be "an uphill battle."

"But it's one that must be fought," Russell told the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown.

Russell plans to formally announce his candidacy within weeks. Murtha has declined comment on the challenge.

Murtha, 75, has served in the House since 1974 and is known for bringing money and jobs — especially in the defense industries — to his district in rural Pennsylvania. A decorated Vietnam veteran and Marine Reserves colonel who previously had been hawkish on war issues, Murtha has criticized the Iraq war and pushed for the troops to be brought home. He became chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee last year.

Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey ran against Murtha last year, trying to capitalize on the backlash against Murtha's views among conservatives. She was soundly beaten in the general election.

Russell, who moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Murtha's district specifically to take on the congressman, has a long Army and Army Reserve career that includes tours of duty in the Balkans and both Iraq wars. He and his wife, Kasia, were in the Pentagon when a hijacked airliner slammed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001. Both escaped unhurt.

Murtha's call for troop withdrawal from Iraq "is just flat-out wrong," Russell said. Like Irey, Russell also criticized Murtha's public allegations that unnamed U.S. soldiers committed "cold-blooded murder and war crimes" against innocent Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005.

A small-business owner, Russell said he wants a local economy dependent on the free market. But he acknowledges some jobs may be lost if government contracts disappear.

While Mr. Russell will have a serious fight on his hands, he's not shrinking from the challenge. He knows that Murtha shouldn't be serving in the House after his appalling comments regarding the Haditha Marines, and despite their exoneration, his flat-out refusal to apologize. (Which if he had done so, he'd avoid the defamation lawsuit that's been filed against him.)

Here is Lt. Col. Russell's campaign site. If you're as amped as we are, and serious about getting rid of John Murtha from the hallowed halls of the House, then please contribute to his campaign, and support him.

HT: Michelle Malkin who also has Lt. Col. Russell's "What I Believe" statement on her site. Powerful, to say the least, and all our hopes go behind this man to help the GOP get rid of the nuts in the asylum.

Publius II

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mark Steyn on the war and Beltway elites

It's been awhile since we've highlighted Mark here, but today's column is well worth the read:

As far as I know, the movie "Deliverance" has been featured in political discourse just the once. Back in 1996, Pat Buchanan, hot from his triumph over Bob Dole in the New Hampshire primary, warned the country-club Republicans that he was coming to get them "like a character out of Deliverance." In the film, you'll recall, a quartet of suburban guys spend a nightmare weekend in the backwoods, in the course of which one of their number winds up getting sodomized by a mountain man. ("Squeal, piggy!")

At the time of Pat's remark, I remember thinking: What a great country! In how many other political cultures can a fellow identify himself with a stump-toothed inbred psycho hillbilly homosexual rapist as an applause line? I'd love to think he'd paid some demographic-positioning consultants to focus-group the thing, but it seems more likely it was an impromptu flourish by the candidate.

Now, however, Newsweek has attempted a more sustained political deployment of the movie. In a column headlined "War and Deliverance," their Middle East editor, Christopher Dickey, makes the picture the defining metaphor for "the Mesopotamian quagmire." The Atlanta suburbanites in the picture include Burt Reynolds as the obsessive wannabe back-to-nature survivalist and Jon Voight as "the perfectly ordinary man, the just-getting-by guy," but the one who, in the end, delivers his pals from the hell of their weekend in the country.

Unlike most of us, whose knowledge of the film relies on hazy memories from the 1970s and late-night TV screenings, Dickey knows the story in depth: His dad wrote the novel and the screenplay. And, as he sees it, the Burt Reynolds character with his "untested ersatz fortitude" is "Dick Cheney's closet fantasy of himself," and the Jon Voight character is "the rest of us, just scared and trying to get by." As for the river whose rapids they set out to negotiate, "that's the war in Iraq."

Christopher Dickey paints with a broad brush: "On a grand scale they [the administration] could reinterpret the Constitution until it became meaningless." (Monitoring jihadist phone logs being the reinterpretation into meaninglessness, unlike, say, partial-birth abortion, which is merely an ancient constitutional right the founders had cannily anticipated a need for.) So one's first reaction to this is a faint flicker of surprise that Dickey doesn't see Cheney as the mountain man and the Constitution as his rape victim. One's second reaction is that the metaphor is dishonest. When it comes to "closet fantasies" about toppling Saddam, it's not Dick Cheney versus "the rest of us." Throughout the 1990s and all the way up to the Iraq war resolution, there were a lot of folks auditioning for the Burt Reynolds role: Bill Clinton, Al Gore and almost every other prominent Democrat indulged in just as much "ersatz fortitude" about Iraq and its WMD as Dick Cheney ever did.

But the third and bigger point is that, enjoyable as they are, pop-culture metaphors aren't really of much use, especially when you're up against cultures where life is still defined by how you live as opposed to what you experience via media. It seems to me, for example, that when anti-war types bemoan Iraq as this generation's Vietnam "quagmire," older folks are thinking of the real Vietnam – the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and whatnot – but most anybody under 50 is thinking of Vietnam movies: some vague video-store mélange of "The Full Metal Deer Apocalypse."

Take the Scott Thomas Beauchamp debacle at the New Republic, in which the magazine ran an atrocity-a-go-go Baghdad diary piece by a serving soldier about dehumanized troops desecrating graves, abusing disfigured women, etc. It smelled phony from the get-go – except to the professional media class from whose ranks the New Republic's editors are drawn: To them, it smelled great, because it aligned reality with the movie looping endlessly through the windmills of their mind, a nonstop Coppola-Stone retrospective in which ill-educated conscripts are the dupes of a nutso officer class.

It's the same with all those guys driving around with "9/11 Was An Inside Job" bumper stickers. That aligns reality with every conspiracy movie from the past three decades: It's always the government who did it – sometimes it's some supersecret agency working deep within the bureaucracy from behind an unassuming nameplate on a Washington street; and sometimes it's the president himself – but when poor Joe Schmoe on the lam from the Feds eventually unravels it, the cunning conspiracy is always the work of a ruthlessly efficient all-powerful state. So Iraq is Vietnam. And 9/11 is the Kennedy assassination, with ever higher percentages of the American people gathering on the melted steely knoll.

There's a kind of decadence about all this: If 9/11 was really an inside job, you wouldn't be driving around with a bumper sticker bragging that you were on to it. Fantasy is a by-product of security: it's the difference between hanging upside down in your dominatrix's bondage parlor after work on Friday and enduring the real thing for years on end in Saddam's prisons.

That's the real flaw in Christopher Dickey's "Deliverance" metaphor: If Cheney is Burt Reynolds, and the rest of America is Jon Voight, and the river is Iraq, who are the hillbillies? Well, presumably (for he doesn't spell it out) they're the dark forces you make yourself vulnerable to when you blunder into somewhere you shouldn't be. When the quartet returns to Atlanta a man short, they may understand how thin the veneer of civilization is, but they don't have to worry that their suburban cul-de-sacs will be overrun and reduced to the same state of nature as the backwoods.

That's the flaw in the thesis: Robert D. Kaplan, a shrewd observer of global affairs, has referred to the jihadist redoubts and other lawless fringes of the map as "Indian territory." It's a cute joke but a misleading one. The difference between the old Indian territory and the new is this: No one had to worry about the Sioux riding down Fifth Avenue, just as Burt Reynolds never had to worry about the mountain man breaking into his rec room. But Iran has put bounties on London novelists, assassinated dissidents in Paris, blown up community centers in Buenos Aires, seeded proxy terror groups in Lebanon and Palestine, radicalized Muslim populations throughout Central Asia – and it's now going nuclear. The leaders of North Korea, Sudan and Syria are not stump-toothed Appalachian losers: Their emissaries wear suits and dine in Manhattan restaurants every night.

Life is not a movie, especially when your enemies don't watch the same movies, and don't buy into the same tired narratives. To return to that 1996 presidential race, Bob Dole, apropos Pat Buchanan's experience hosting a CNN talk-show, muttered testily at one point, "I was in the real crossfire. It wasn't on television. It was over in Italy somewhere, a long time ago." Happy the land for whom crossfire is purely televisual and metaphorical. But, when it turns real, it's important to know the difference.

As always, Mark hits the nail on the head. We can have these beltway fools talk about Iraq, and come up with every metaphor in the world for it, but in their rush to make a pithy line or a quirky column, they don't do readers any service in ignoring the overall threat we face.

Yes, people like Kim Jong-Il, Bashar Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mohammed Khatami, Robert Mugabe, and even Hugo Chavez all enjoy the jet-setter lifestyle; the fancy clothes, the ritzy dinner parties, etc. These aren't the people we're fighting and trying to kill abroad, or even those we maintain a vigilant watch for here in America. No, these are their enablers, and they wave and smile and pretend that they do no wrong, and these beltway fools buy it. they buy it, print it, and spoon-feed it to their idiotic readers -- the same ones that Mark keenly observes are likely to have that stupid bumper sticker on their car.

These people are playing the facade game, and we, unfortunately, have enough useful idiots in America willing to cover them up, whitewash their abhorrent records, and make them look like just your average politician; the sort we might even have in DC. Nothing could be further from the truth. And our enemy isn't going to relent until we either surrender or are destroyed to the point where we can't be a thorn in their side for years to come. Norman Podhoretz stated it best in a May 2007 Wall Street Journal column:

And then, finally, comes the largest dream of all: what Ahmadinejad does not shrink from describing as "a world without America." Demented though he may be, I doubt that Ahmadinejad is so crazy as to imagine that he could wipe America off the map even if he had nuclear weapons. But what he probably does envisage is a diminution of the American will to oppose him: that is, if not a world without America, he will settle, at least in the short run, for a world without much American influence.

That, next to our surrender, is the goal of our enemy. And by surrender, I don't mean we, as America, agree to be subjugated by the Islamicists, but rather we simply cede them the region. Europe is already well under way of ceding itself to them, but they want the region for their caliphate. That is the endgame that Ahmadinejad is playing for now, in addition to a Middle East without an Israel. He wants the whole region under a new Persian Empire, and no nation in the region can stand up to him. If he obtains nuclear weapons, the "quagmire" the beltway dupes will be looking at will be the smoking centers of power int he Middle East if those nations don't give into the Islamicists demands.

Forget Deliverance. Squealing like a pig will be the last worry on our minds if the Middle East becomes the center of nuclear blackmail.

Publius II

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Michael Yon on Scott Thomas Beauchamp

For most of us who have covered this affair, we gave Scott Beauchamp the scorn he rightly deserved. Yesterday the transcripts that Drudge put up painted The New Republic in the worst possible light given that both Foer and Scoblic were trying to get Beauchamp to not admit to lying or exaggerating. Today, Michael Yon's newest dispatch from Iraq defends Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Not for what he did when he maligned his fellow soldier, but for the guts it took for him to admit it, and then when given a choice to go home or stay in Iraq, he chose the latter. It's called making amends:

The soldier’s name was Beauchamp. He’d tried to hide his identity, but poor Beauchamp had no idea that the blog world would get on his trail and tree him like a coon. Beauchamp crawled up to the top of that tree, looked down into the snarling spotlight, and suddenly knew he was caught. His simple mask was no more effective than a coon’s, and that in itself might provide a little insight into how deeply Beauchamp had thought this all through. In any case, he was up in that tree, surrounded by hounds who’d done this plenty of times, yet always found this part exciting. The hunters would have written the last sentence if the choice was up to them.

Some wanted Beauchamp to go to prison; some were baying for blood. The fellas in his unit were unhappy, as were his commanders, since he’d made some of them look like immature dimwits while others he’d cast as deliberately cruel in the worst of ways. Nobody likes to risk life and limb in the hope they are doing the right thing only to be spat upon and accused of criminal acts.

It took a while for the truth to eek out; there was almost none of it in what was published. As the real story unfolded, The New Republic looked increasingly culpable and ridiculous trying to hide behind a fact-checking process that was clearly stuck on the difference between fact and fabrication. In the lingering spotlight, no one seemed to appreciate the soft shoe.

It was not a story I followed closely because then—as now—I was focused on the war. But what struck me as most important was not that Beauchamp wrote some bad combat stress fiction, but that a media organization printed it as truth.

And what of Beauchamp? Because he was the man who originally wrote the lurid overwrought fable of puppy-killing among the grave-desecrating cretins who made fun of a woman disfigured by bombs, the tepid outcome left many people unhappy. Especially those who wanted to see him humiliated (he has been plenty humiliated.) Beauchamp was allowed to stay in the Army and suffered only a minor administrative setback.

I was at a reconciliation meeting between Sunni and Shia in the West Rashid district of Baghdad on 24 October, and it happened by complete coincidence that I was with Beauchamp’s battalion. In fact, I was with his old company commander for much of the day, although I had no idea for most of it that I was with Beauchamp’s old company commander.

At the reconciliation meeting, Beauchamp’s battalion commander, LTC George Glaze, politely introduced himself and asked who I wrote for. When I replied that I just have a little blog, the word caught his ears and he mentioned Beauchamp, who I acknowledged having heard something about. LTC Glaze seemed protective of Beauchamp, despite how the young soldier had maligned his fellow soldiers. In fact, the commander said Beauchamp, having learned his lesson, was given the chance to leave or stay.

It can be pretty tough over here. The soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit have seen a lot of combat. Often times soldiers are working in long stretches of urban guerrilla combat dogged by fatigue and sleep deprivation. This is likely one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially when millions of people are screaming at you for failures that happened three years or more ago, and for decisions to invade Iraq that were made when you were still a teenager. Just as bad is the silence from the untold millions who have already written off your effort as hopeless. Add that to the fact that buddies are getting killed in front of you. (More than 70 killed in Beauchamp’s brigade.) I see what these young men and women go through, and the extraordinary professionalism they nearly always manage to exude awes me on a daily basis.

Lapses of judgment are bound to happen, and accountability is critical, but that’s not the same thing as pulling out the hanging rope every time a soldier makes a mistake.

Beauchamp is young; under pressure he made a dumb mistake. In fact, he has not always been an ideal soldier. But to his credit, the young soldier decided to stay, and he is serving tonight in a dangerous part of Baghdad. He might well be seriously injured or killed here, and he knows it. He could have quit, but he did not. He faced his peers. I can only imagine the cold shoulders, and worse, he must have gotten. He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right. Whatever price he has to pay, he is paying it.

Though Beauchamp is close, I’m not going to spend half a day tracking him down when just this morning I woke to rockets launching from nearby and landing on an American base. Who has time to skin Beauchamp? We need him on his post and focused.

As for The New Republic, some on the staff may feel like they’ve been hounded and treed, but it’s hard to feel the same sympathy for a group of cowards who won’t fess up and can’t face the scorn of American combat soldiers who were injured by their collective lapse of judgment. It’s up to their readers to decide the ultimate fate.

The New Republic treed like a bandit … personally, I think they would make a nice Daniel Boone hat.

After reading this, I can understand where Mr. Yon is coming from. But, then again, we were satisfied with the Army's investigation into him and his fables. What irritates us is that The New Republic seems to be getting away with this without an apology, or any heads rolling behind the scenes. They're slinking away, hoping that people will leave them alone and forget about their purposeful lapses.

That's not going to happen, though. There are still people "baying for blood" from The New Republic editors. If a couple people aren't fired over this, then the magazine's credibility is forever in the crapper. And honestly folks, it couldn't have happened to a nicer group of sh*t-birds.

Publius II

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BREAKING -- Drudge gets Army reports on Beauchamp

In a new development in a two-month old story, Drudge has released an overview of three documents surrounding TNR's investigation of the Scott Beauchamp pieces, and the Army's investigation into it. Needless to say, this doesn't look good for Franklin Foer and company. As a matter of fact, if you read the documents (linked below and in pdf form), you'll see that TNR tried to cover up the lies, and tried to coerce him to stand by his story despite the fact that he recanted the stories to Army investigators who couldn't corroborate a single admission from his diaries published by TNR:

WED Oct 24 2007 12:29:44 ET

The DRUDGE REPORT has obtained internal documents from the investigation of THE NEW REPUBLIC'S "Baghdad Diarist", Scott Thomas Beauchamp, an Army private turned war correspondent who reported tales of military malfeasance from the Iraq War front.

The documents appear to expose that once the veracity of Beauchamp's diaries were called into question, and an Army investigation ensued, THE NEW REPUBLIC has failed to publicly account for publishing slanderous falsehoods about the U.S. military in a time of war.

Document 1: Beauchamp Refuses to Stand by Story (Beauchamp Transcript Part 1)

THE NEW REPUBLIC has been standing behind the stories from their Baghdad Diarist, Scott Thomas Beauchamp, since questions were first raised about their accuracy over the summer. On August 10, the editors at TNR accused the Army of "stonewalling" their investigation into the stories by preventing them from speaking with Beauchamp. The DRUDGE REPORT has since obtained the transcript of a September 7 call between TNR editor Frank Foer, TNR executive editor Peter Scoblic, and Private Beauchamp. During the call, Beauchamp declines to stand by his stories, telling his editors that "I just want it to end. I'm not going to talk to anyone about anything really." The editors respond that "we just can't, in good conscience, continue to defend the piece" without an explanation, but Beauchamp responds only that he "doesn't care what the public thinks." The editors then ask Beauchamp to cancel scheduled interviews with the WASHINGTON POST and NEWSWEEK.

Document 2: Beauchamp Admits to "Gross Exaggerations and Inaccurate Allegations" (Beauchamp Transcript Part 2)

The DRUDGE REPORT has also obtained a signed "Memorandum for Record" in which Beauchamp recants his stories and concedes the facts of the Army's investigation -- that his stories contained "gross exaggerations and inaccurate allegations of misconduct" by his fellow soldiers.

Document 3: Army Investigation: Tales "Completely Fabricated," Beauchamp Wanted to be Hemingway

The third document obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT is the Army's official report on the investigation into the allegations made by Private Beauchamp. The Army concluded that Beauchamp had "completely fabricated" the story of mocking a disfigured woman, that his description of a "Saddam-era dumping ground" was false, and that claims that he and his men had deliberately targeted dogs with their armored vehicles was "completely unfounded." Further the report stated "that Private Beauchamp desired to use his experiences to enhance his writing and provide legitimacy to his work possibly becoming the next Hemingway."

The report concludes that "Private Beauchamp takes small bits of truth and twists and exaggerates them into fictional accounts that he puts forth as the whole truth for public consumption."

Paging Franklin Foer ... care to comment? How about that letter of resignation for blatantly and knowingly peddling lies, falsehoods, and slanderous comments about our soldiers? Granted, it's not as though those in the 'Sphere didn't know this when we started covering this story, but now that the documents are out, and the truth is being told, TNR can't simply hide behind this any longer. Their admission is needed now to save what little reputation they have left, and Franklin Foer's resignation needs to be included in that admission. There is simply no alternative for him or for the New Republic.

Publius II

UPDATE: The links to the documents at Drudge have been pulled and there's no word from Drudge as to why. For the documents in pdf form, head over to Little Green Footballs. He has them up and available for download. I would like to note that Marcie has finished reading over them, and she concludes that this is vaguely similar to the situation after Watergate.

Beauchamp just wants the story to go away, and TNR doesn't seem to be pushiing for anything further. They want this story to rest, and quickly. The feeding frenzy is gathering on the heels of this revelation. Check out Allah's post and updates (including trackbacks) to keep up on where this is going. Mark my words -- this is far from over.

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A knighthood for Kofi?

Just when we thought we'd seen it all, we spotted this story on Yahoo News:

The former UN secretary general Kofi Annan on Wednesday received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in London.

The Ghanaian diplomat was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (GCMG). The award was made during a private audience with the monarch at her Buckingham Palace residence.

The order, which was begun in 1818, is given to men and women of high office, or those who perform extraordinary non-military service in a Commonwealth or foreign country.

Annan, who won the Nobel peace prize in 2001, is not entitled to use the title "Sir" as he is not a British citizen.

So, this is his belated reward for covering up the Oil-For-Food (or is it fraud) scandal, the peacekeeper sex scandals, the covering up for thugs and dictators, and dawdling while the world's worst animals victimized innocent, freedom and peace-loving nations?

Personally, I'm a bit sickened by this. The man doesn't deserve a reward. He deserves admonishment and condemnation. He doesn't even deserve to be out walking free. His @$$ belongs in jail for the crimes he oversaw and covered up as the secretary general.

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What has compassionate conservatism given the nation?

Hell, I know a lot of people are sitting back right now and scratching their heads. I mean, after all, that title lobs a bomb of it's own and we all know the directions it's going. So let me just say, before you read further, that this post isn't throwing the president under the bus. In fact, we still do support the president on a number of things, but it can't be argued that "compassionate conservatism" was good for America. And to prove this, I'll refer to the piece in today's McClatchy paper where his spending numbers are compared to the likes of LBJ:

George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson. In fact, he's arguably an even bigger spender than LBJ.

“He’s a big government guy,” said Stephen Slivinski, the director of budget studies at Cato Institute, a libertarian research group.

The numbers are clear, credible and conclusive, added David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, a budget-watchdog group.

“He’s a big spender,” Keating said. “No question about it.”

Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors.

When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates.

That tops the 4.6 percent annual rate Johnson logged during his 1963-69 presidency. By these standards, Ronald Reagan was a tightwad; discretionary spending grew by only 1.9 percent a year on his watch.

Discretionary spending went up in Bush's first term by 48.5 percent, not adjusted for inflation, more than twice as much as Bill Clinton did (21.6 percent) in two full terms, Slivinski reports.

Defense spending is the big driver — but hardly the only one.

Under Bush it's grown on average by 5.7 percent a year. Under LBJ — who had a war to fund, too — it rose by 4.9 percent a year. Both numbers are adjusted for inflation.

Including costs for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense spending under Bush has gone up 86 percent since 2001, according to Chris Hellman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Current annual defense spending — not counting war costs — is 25 percent above the height of the Reagan-era buildup, Hellman said.

Homeland security spending also has soared, to about $31 billion last year, triple the pre-9/11 number.

But Bush's super-spending is about far more than defense and homeland security.

Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, points to education spending. Adjusted for inflation, it's up 18 percent annually since 2001, thanks largely to Bush’s No Child Left Behind act.

The 2002 farm bill, he said, caused agriculture spending to double its 1990s levels.

Then there was the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit — the biggest single expansion in the program’s history — whose 10-year costs are estimated at more than $700 billion.

And the 2005 highway bill, which included thousands of “earmarks,” or special local projects stuck into the legislation by individual lawmakers without review, cost $295 billion.

“He has presided over massive increases in almost every category … a dramatic change of pace from most previous presidents,” said Slivinski.

While he holds certain conservative principles close to his heart, such as national security, the sanctity of life, and getting federal judges right (minus the Harriet Miers snafu) the rest of the principles seem to have been placed in a broom closet somewhere in the White House, and forgotten about. Or, maybe they were never there. I don't know. Marcie scratches her head over what has happened to him.

I posit the notion that nothing happened to him. In 2000 we were looking at a choice before us between Al Gore and George Bush. Given Gore's predilections for the inane and insane, the choice was clear. In 2004 we were looking at an incumbent president, or a laughable, haughty, prima donna in John Kerry. Again the choice was clear. Both times we knew what George W. Bush was about. We knew that we already had a couple gripes about him by 2004 -- those listed above aside -- but we were confronted with the age old choice that we have dealt with for years. Who is the lesser of two evils?

With Gore on his Kooky Klimate Krusade, we know damn good and well that our taxes would have gone right through the roof. At least the president understood that the best way to dig us out of the Clinton recession and out of the tailspin the economy lurched into in the aftermath of 11 September was to issue tax cuts to the nation. That brought the economy back on track, bolstered consumer confidence, and it's been setting records ever since. Additionally, the unemployment rate in America hasn't seen levels this low since the middle of the Clinton years.

With John Kerry, the choice wasn't so much about dollars and spending as much as it was about national security. "The man from 'Nam" had talked repeatedly about pulling our troops out of Iraq, possibly Afghanistan, and trying a new Murtha-esque strategy of redeploying over the river and through the woods. (Problem is that grandma was safe from Islamofascists; she speaks softly, and carries an armory in the basement next to her jars of preserves.) John Kerry was the George McGovern of 2004, minus the 70's clothing and bad haircuts; exchanged for fine suits and an orange tan.

But did we know what we were getting when we elected Bush? If you say no, then you weren't paying attention. Anytime he was confronted with the question about his conservatism, he reminded people he was a "compassionate conservative." Folks, that's code for "I'm a moderate" or "I'm a big government conservative." I knew it then, and I knew it in 2004. (For the record, Marcie participated in her first election in 2004, and she still knew that he was a big government type.)

So what has compassionate conservatism given the nation? A big spender in Washington that didn't locate his veto pen until 2006. A man who tried to ram an amnesty bill down the taxpayer's throats. A man who has helped spend our money as badly as Congress has. And, a man who keeps trying to play nice with the crocodiles in the swamp known as Congress, and no matter how many times he gets bit, he keeps going back to them. (I know, he rises above the rhetoric, but still when you have idiots like Pete Stark, like John Murtha, like Harry Reid, and like Nancy Pelosi, you ought to be firing back once in a while.)

Don't get me wrong. In in no way, shape, or form do we regret our voting for President Bush. On the contrary, we accept it and will gladly admit it, but we also know we can't lay all the blame at the president's feet. Congress is his check, and they should have been doing their job. But on the flip side, the p[resident should have been taking care of the people's money and their best interests better than he has.

Publius II

Monday, October 22, 2007

You have the right to be misinformed

Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq is as important as any of his others that have come home thanks to his outstanding work. the difference between this dispatch and the rest is the fact that he not only refutes the MSM's myths about Basra falling into chaos, but also because he's fed up with the MSM's continually lying ways:

All describe the bizarro-world contrast between what most Americans seem to think is happening in Iraq versus what is really happening in Iraq. Knowing this disconnect exists and experiencing it directly are two separate matters. It’s like the difference between holding the remote control during the telecast of a volcanic eruption on some distant island (and then flipping the channel), versus running for survival from a wretch of molten lava that just engulfed your car.

I was at home in the United States just one day before the magnitude hit me like vertigo: America seems to be under a glass dome which allows few hard facts from the field to filter in unless they are attached to a string of false assumptions. Considering that my trip home coincided with General Petraeus’ testimony before the US Congress, when media interest in the war was (I’m told) unusually concentrated, it’s a wonder my eardrums didn’t burst on the trip back to Iraq. In places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Britain people hardly seemed to notice that success is being achieved in Iraq, while in the United States, Britney was competing for airtime with O.J. in one of the saddest sideshows on Earth.

No thinking person would look at last year’s weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery, that all Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, or are waiting for us to leave so they can crush their neighbors. This view allows our soldiers two possible roles: either “victim caught in the crossfire” or “referee between warring parties.” Neither, rightly, is tolerable to the American or British public.

Today I am in Iraq, back in a war of such strategic consequence that it will affect generations yet unborn—whether or not they want it to. Hiding under the covers will not work, because whether it is good news or bad, whether it is true or untrue, once information is widely circulated, it has such formidable inertia that public opinion seems impervious to the corrective balm of simple and clear facts.

Anyone who has been in Iraq for longer than a few months, visited a handful of provinces, and spoken with a good number of Iraqis, likely would acknowledge that the reality here is complex and dynamic. But in the last six months it also has been increasingly hopeful, despite what the pessimistic dogma dome allows Americans and British to believe. ...

... Several upcoming dispatches will focus on how the situation in Southern Iraq has dramatically improved over past months. Ironically, the character of this improvement is distinguished by the lack of violence, as well as the increasing order and normality as Iraqi Security Forces step up to greater responsibility for security in the region. Though the local leadership picture in downtown Basra is fuzzier now that British forces have pulled further back to begin performing their long-planned overwatch phase, it is clear that this natural progression in turning Basra over to Iraqi control has not catapulted the city into chaos.

No one who’s actually been to this area in the last month could honestly claim it was swarming with violence. I’ve been with the Brits here for more than two weeks, during which time there have been only a few trivial attacks that could easily have been the work of an angry farmer with extra time on his hands and a mortar in his backyard. As to serious attacks on British forces, in the last eight weeks, there have been exactly zero. So, any stories that make it sound like Basra is in chaos are shamefully false.

In addition to being sick and tired of the media lying about what's going on in Iraq, Michael Yon is ready to put his money where his mouth is. In an effort to curb the MSM's misreporting, he is going to offer his dispatches to the National Newspaper Association for free. Now I know a lot of people don't think that's such a big deal, but it is. He, like Michael Totten, Bill Roggio, and a host of other embeds, do this on their own dime. Typically they'd charge the papers to pick up their dispatches. Michael Yon has decided it's far more important to get the truth out -- especially with regard to Basra.

A few people might have missed Charlie Gibson's snafu last week when he signed off the evening news with a report out of Iraq. It went something like this: (I can't remember the exact quote, and I can't find the video clip anywhere on the 'Net, but this did happen because I heard a radio host play it last week.)

And the news out of Iraq is that there isn't any. No reports of violence, bombings or shootings today. I repeat, there is no news out of Iraq today.

Let me translate the above. Nothing bad happened today, so there's nothing to report. If it bleeds, it leads is a news outlet's motto. They don't want to report the good news. That's not sexy enough for them. They want to see dead or maimed soldiers or civilians.

and that, folks, is truly disgusting. One would think that with the turnaround in the last six months the MSM would be reporting on that, but we saw that getting them to report on the Surge's successes was like yanking teeth on a crocodile. Not only did they not want to report on it, but more than a couple outlets tried to deny it; some even stated it was "smoke and mirrors" perpetuated by the White House. (I've heard of living in denial before, but this is ridiculous.)

So, we give kudos to Michael Yon for not only reporting on the non-violence of Basra, but also for taking a stand on the MSM that is over in Iraq, resting on their laurels in the Green Zone. See, that's where the majority of these fools sit -- safe behind the protection of the US military -- instead of doing what Yon and his associates do, which is go out to get the stories. And if his idea about giving his reports to the media outlets works, great. (Though I'm fairly pessimistic about the MSM accepting such reporting; we know from experience that they're far from balanced and fair.)

Indie embeds don't do this sort of reporting on the cheap. It takes a great deal of money to keep the stories coming. Yon would normally charge a fee to the outlets, but he's not doing that anymore. So we encourage readers to head on over to his site, and scroll to the bottom of this page. We have, and we will again, because he is among the few that are actually telling the truth about this war.

For people like Michael Yon, it's not all about "if it bleeds it leads." It's about the war -- both good and bad -- and making sure the people here in America get the truth and the facts of what's really going on on the ground.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Never trust a guy on the Left to talk about guys on the Right

I respect Dick Morris, but his newest missive over at Real Clear Politics is off the mark. In fact, after reading it, I'd have to guess the guy is a bit ditzy. Excerpts:

Peel them away and, underneath, you have Mike Huckabee, the last survivor in the elimination tournament of the Christian right. And they could do a whole lot worse! ...

... So it became "Where have you gone, Newt Gingrich? The nation turns its lonely eyes to you." But Newt took one look at Hillary and decided he really wanted to head a nonprofit foundation educating voters on solutions for America instead of being president of the United States, so he pulled out before he ever got in. ...

... Now he churns his way to the forefront of the pack in the Republican primary. He's still broke, but still finished a strong second in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll with 18 percent of the vote.

Now in Iowa polls he has moved ahead of McCain and, in some trial heats, ahead of Romney. Rasmussen has him rising to 7 percent nationally. (Full disclosure: If he breaks 10, I win a dinner from Bill O'Reilly.) But he has the best of all possible worlds: Rivals who are falling of their own weight. So here comes Mike.

Let me address Gingrich first -- No chance in Hell that any conservative would have taken him seriously in a run. People can cite the baggage this man had, but I cite one simple snafu that would have turned conservative voters off to him. He debated John Kerry on global warming and climate change a few months back and praised him for his thoughts on the subject! Gingrich, the supposed small-government conservative actually praised John Kerry for his thoughts on global warming. Give me a break! That like agreeing that the Goracle is right, and his Nobel Peace Prize was warranted. Disappointment city, folks.

Second, Huckabee has no shot whatsoever at the nomination or even a veep spot right now. I like him. I respect him. I think it's great he lost a ton of weight (no pun intended), but since then he's become Mr. Health Nut. And Ames doesn't mean squat. It was a straw poll, nothing more and nothing less. nice barometer, but Ames doesn't signal who the nominee will be. (I'd like to remind Morris that Paul came in third, so it's not like Ames was any sort of serious poll.) We're at war, and this guy is preaching about losing weight and being healthier. What I think killed his chances more than anything is the fact that he went on MSNBC and called for a nationwide smoking ban. Now, I don't smoke anymore, but since when is it the government's job to outlaw smoking in public places.

I agree that smoking is bad for people, but it is their choice to kill themselves if they so choose. Additionally, the poor schlubs back in the nineties that jumped on the tobacco lawsuit bandwagon that claimed they didn't know smoking was dangerous are lying sacks. You're inhaling smoke, numb nuts. Did you actually think that was good for you, like the smoke had vitamin-C in it or something?

Granted, more and more places are banning smoking in public, such as restaurants, but that has been mandated, again, by the government. This appalls me to no end. If a business chooses to have smoking indoors, that should be the choice of the establishment, not the government., I don't care if the people are ticked about it. I've watched businesses in Arizona go under with these stupid smoking bans because their patrons have been driven off.

If Mike Huckabee wants to be the smoking Nazi, let him do it in his home state. But when he advocates further government intrusion in our lives, I've got a problem with him. Dick Morris can think that he's the best candidate on the Right for Christian conservatives, but in truth the best one is Mitt Romney. People like Morris are having pipe dreams if they think the also-rans have snowball's chance in Hell of winning the nomination.

This is a two way race in the GOP right now, and those two are Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. The rest of the pack are just strangers killing time until Super Duper Tuesday rolls around, and tosses them overboard.

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Around the 'net in five minutes

No, I haven't gone away. My hands, on the other hand, are virtually useless at this point. But I'll not shirk my duties as a blogger. We do have readers that have been patient with this (despite my lack of patience with a certain doctor who will remain nameless, but one that might be lifeless soon if this isn't fixed). You have no idea the amount of typos I go through in a single post right now. Count yourself lucky as I count myself lucky that Blogger has a spell check feature.

I'm going to go back to an old favorite and stand-by to update the site. Similar to that of Professor Reynolds at Instapundit, I'll be posting links to news stories. They cover MSM sources and blogs, so don't get all in a twitter over this. As soon as my hands recover, I'll go back to the usual posts I was doing before this happened.

Allah's got a juicy one today as Ann Coulter's website was hacked. Head on over and see the liberal-sounding letter that was left on her site where she admits -- the hacker admits -- that she's done with her career. I guess when you can't force her to shut up the Left has to resort to underhanded tricks and lying.

Captain Ed observes that the Armenian genocide bill is losing a quite a bit of support on the Democrat side. Good to see some Democrats actually have a brain in their head and they see this threatens the stability of relations with an ally.

Tim Wakefield got rocked last night as the Indians took a commanding three games to one lead in the ALCS. Can you say TRIBE TIME? (Granted, I'd prefer seeing my Cubbies and Yankees there in the end, but I despise the Red Sox, and could care less about the Rockies. So, go Tribe!)

A ton of sponsors got together and created the Ten Question Forum. You ask a video question to the presidential candidates. Those questions are voted on, and the top ten are voted on. Starting 17 November, the candidates are presented the questions and (hopefully) will answer them. Then we decide if the questions were answered. Forget the good ol' days of Q & A with a candidate. This is the wave of the future, baby, and the candidates can no longer hide in their shell from the public. You hear us knockin' yet Senator Clinton?

The WaPo is reporting that Benazir Bhutto is returning to Pakistan in a very public fashion despite the assassination threats and the warning from Musharraf to wait. This is the one person who could possibly help Musharraf keep the Islamofascists in his country at bay. Let's hope it works.

Gabriel at Ace of Spades takes note that the casting for the new Star Trek movie (to be helmed by Alias creator JJ Abrams) is complete. (Let's hope it's better than Mission Impossible Three, which he also directed and subsequently sucked.) IGN has a side-by-side comparison of original cast and new cast (this is a prequel before the original series even took place, supposedly) and the only one who looks remotely like their counterpart is Zoe Saldana who plays Uhura.

Be back later with more news ...

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New Issue Up!!!

It is the 16th of the month, and readers know what that means. Yes, it's another issue of Common Conservative where some of the best minds on the 'Net have tackled recent issues of politics and culture.

As always this post will remain at the top of the page for the next twenty-four hours. Any further posts will be below this (fat chance as it is difficult enough to type with numb fingers) so scroll down.

The Chief kicks off this issue with a question on Hillary's qualifications to be president.

Patrick Shanahan follows up with a discussion on diversity in the workplace contrived by human resources personnel that know little of "diversity."

Larry Simoneaux observes that sometimes justice is served in life on occasion, and when it is, it's the sweetest thing.

And Marcie and I deal with a potential schism in the GOP between Evangelical and Christian conservatives, and the Giuliani camp.

Chris Adamo leads the guest authors with his take on the "fauxny" liberal self-righteousness when it comes to Rush actually pointing out "fauxny" soldiers.

Robert Meyer gives his thoughts regarding the "great ideological divide in Christendom".

Sher Zieve takes on Congressman Waxman's "mission" to end free, political speech for talk radio hosts. (Memo to Waxman -- it WAS political speech the Framers were trying to protect.)

Jack Key throws cold water on the lies peddled by the MSM.

JJ Jackson takes a look at Rep. John Murtha and the fact that the slandering congressman will have to face the music in accusing United States Marines of murder in the Haditha incident.

And Nancy Salavato rounds out this issue with her thoughts on the fact that we are a mixed nation with opinions and ideas that may not mesh all the time, but ones nonetheless, that should be respected if we are to survive as a society.

Enjoy the fine writers that Mr. Lindaman has assembled here. We may not be the Weekly standard, but that doesn't mean we don't work any less harder than they do.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

DoJ: Investigation shows serious corruption problem in Congress

Newsflash, right? I mean Nancy Pelosi has claimed that the swamp has been drained. That the "historic" ethics reform legislation has ended the earmarks, the pork, and the corruption in the halls of Congress. As the Influence Peddler noticed, that isn't the case at all. Over at Roll Call they picked up on the story coming out of Justice that basically calls Speaker Pelosi a lying sack: (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED)

Federal investigators are hinting that a fresh wave of campaign-related theft and corruption investigations of Members of Congress are moving through the pipeline, signaling that indictments may be on the horizon.

According to multiple sources and independent confirmation from agency officials, the Justice Department currently is honing in on the possible misuse of campaign money by Members and political candidates for personal country club dues, health club fees, non-campaign-related travel costs and other expenses that candidates are prohibited from paying out of their campaign war chests.

The Federal Election Commission also confirmed that it currently is investigating 10 embezzlement cases involving federal campaign committees — four more than its entire caseload in half a decade.

Officials from both agencies declined to name the Members or candidates involved in the investigations, which were first revealed at a legal seminar for the Practicing Law Institute in Washington, D.C., late last week by Craig Donsanto, head of the Justice Department’s election crimes branch, and David Mason, the FEC’s Republican-nominated vice chairman.

A Justice Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday that corruption cases involving lawmakers and other public officials remain “a high priority for the Department of Justice.”

The swamp is drained? Is this some liberal vision of the glass-is-half-empty sort of view on the swamp? Sounds like it according to DoJ.

HT: Professor Glenn Reynolds

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Larry Sabato -- "We need a new Constitution"

I always cringe when people talk about this and it's due mostly to the fact that few understand the founding document, and most of that ignorance is due to the fact that it's not thoroughly taught in schools anymore. Yes, history teachers touch on it, remark on the Philadelphia Convention, and go over the Bill of Rights, but for the most part the rest of the Constitution is virtually ignored. It's not a hard document to read or understand, and too many when trying to interpret it make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Larry Sabato penned an opinion piece in today's LA Times where he offers up some suggestions. Needless to say I'm not too impressed, and I'll explain on the points that I believe he screwed up on:

* Restoring the war powers balance. The framers split authority concerning matters of war-making between the president (commander in chief) and Congress (declaring war). Does anyone seriously believe that they would have approved of the executive department waging years-long wars without the explicit approval of the legislature? Yet the advantages accruing to any president -- the unitary nature of the office, the swift action that only he can take in a hair-trigger world, his dominance of the televised public forum -- have created an emperor as much as a president. The constitutional balance of shared war-making must be restored.

The president should have the freedom to commit troops for up to six months, under procedures similar to that of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. But a new constitutional amendment should require that after six months -- and every six months thereafter -- both houses of Congress, by affirmative vote and without filibusters, would have to approve any extension. If one house votes no on extending, all combat troops must be withdrawn within a year.

The Congress and the president don't share "war-making" powers. Congress declares it and the president commands the soldiers, as per their enumerated powers. Once war is declared, Congress can do one of two things: Continue to fund it, or defund it, thereby bringing troops home. But the president calls the shots. If President Bush so chose he could go to Congress and ask for a declaration of war on Iran based on their incessant interference in Iraq. they have attacked and killed our soldiers, which in and of itself is an act of war.

As it was debated last night by the GOP candidates, the president, legally, could wage a limited campaign against a foreign power -- provided there is justification for it -- without Congressional approval. (That wouldn't happen, and we know it because the president would want to make sure his bases were covered.) But there is no need to "restore" what wasn't there to begin with. The powers of the Congress and the president were succinct and specific. Like the old saying goes, "Don't fix it if it ain't broken."

* Creating a more representative Senate. Stunningly, just 17% of the current American population elects a majority of the U.S. Senate. This is because even though California has about 70 times the population of Wyoming, both states get two U.S. senators. The larger states may have 83% of the nation's people, but they get nothing without the approval of the lightly populated states. In the beginning of the republic, the population differential between the large and small states -- and thus the unfairness -- was far less.

But today, the structure of the upper chamber of Congress is completely outmoded. Let's build a fairer Senate by granting the 10 states with the greatest population two additional senators each, and the next 15 most populated states one additional senator each.

At the beginning of the republic, senators were chosen from amongst the various state legislatures, not the people. Since the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, the populace began electing their senators. The Senate was meant to show equal representation for the States. The House, also known as "the People's House," was based on populace, and a better representation of the populace of the nation, and their respective States.

The Framers determined that because the House would directly reflect the people, they would be charged with revenue raising initiatives, i.e. taxes, etc. The Senate, being the far more deliberative body, would deal with much weightier issues, such as the ratification and approval of treaties, the confirmation of appointed federal officers, tries all impeachments, and deals with the election of the vice president if no majority exists in the electoral college. (If the same thing occurs for the president, the matter is left up to the House, being the official "voice" of the people in Congress.) The Senate should remain as it is where the States -- regardless of size or population -- maintain EQUAL representation.

* Ending second-class citizenship. We promote the cultural myth that any mother's son or daughter can grow up to be president, but it isn't even literally true.

The founders were concerned about foreign intrigue in the early days of an unsettled republic, so they limited the presidency to those who were "natural born" citizens. But the melting pot that is now the United States includes an astonishing 14.4 million Americans who were not born on U.S. soil and are therefore ineligible for the presidency -- a number sure to grow substantially. Among them are 30,000 members of the U.S. armed forces who risk life and limb to defend those enjoying first-class citizenship.

Any American who has been a citizen for at least 20 years should have the right to aspire to the White House.

While I can sympathize with the idea, I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea. Many people don't know that there are two people in the president's Cabinet that can't be president, should the line of succession go that far. Both Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao aren't natural born citizens. The provision was put into the Constitution exactly to avoid any sort of foreign intrigue. Can anyone imagine what a George Soros presidency would be provided he had been here for 20 years? How about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? I know there was a small movement back in 2004 with a consideration to change the Constitution to allow Governor Schwarzenegger the chance to run for president, but it died quickly when Constitutional scholars quelled the idea.

This is nation is exclusively American. We already have enough foreign ideas bouncing around the noggins of politicos in DC (and even a couple of jurists on the Supreme Court have foreign predilections) that we don't need more of this nonsense shoved on us by the president. We saw, in late spring this year, that the nation doesn't want some foreign ideas. The amnesty bill that the Senate cooked up and tried to slide under the radar is exactly what Mexico would prefer, and people were outraged by it. Likewise, Senator Clinton's health care ideas mirror that of Canada and Europe, where the government is responsible for it rather than the individual; this virtually guarantees substandard treatment and service.

We'll agree that some adjustments to the Constitution should be made. A federal marriage amendment and a term limit amendment would be welcome in our books. (For the latter, don't hold your breath.) But to change what isn't broken is idiotic. It's also presumptive; to believe that you knew better than the Framers is preposterous. Mr. Sabato cites Thomas Jefferson in the beginning of his piece:

Thomas Jefferson, for example, insisted that "no society can make a perpetual Constitution. ... The Earth belongs always to the living generation. ... Every Constitution ... naturally expires at the end of 19 years" (the length of a generation in Jefferson's time).

Except Jefferson wasn't involved in the crafting of the Constitution. He was in Paris at the time. And the Framers placed in the Constitution the provisions for amending it if needs be. To date there are twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution -- seventeen beyond the original ten, starting in 1795 with the ratification of the Eleventh Amendment. But the Framers created the Constitution -- Articles One through Seven -- to endure the test of time.

Constitutional scholars, like myself (twenty years of study on the document should at least qualify me as a "lay" scholar), agree on this fact. They agree that the document is probably one of the most perfect ones ever conceived, and what a radical idea it was for it's time. The world laughed at us when it was created, believing we had created nothing more than the method of our own destruction. Benjamin Franklin, upon emerging from the Philadelphia Convention, was asked what the Framers created.

"A republic," he quipped, "if you can keep it."

I think we've done a pretty good job maintaining it since then, and I really see no reason to fiddle with it now outside of a possible amendment or two. but certainly nothing that directly changes what are enumerated powers.

Publius II

Is the religious right relevant?

Today, EJ Dionne weighs in on this question. Here is his response:

I think the answer to that question is "Yes." I don't think evangelical Christianity is finished -- indeed, I think the evangelicals are flourishing and will get stronger as they disentangle themselves a political machine and broaden their agenda, as so many in their ranks already have, to issues related to poverty, AIDS and the environment. But as a political movement, the religious right is far less relevant to this moment than it was, say, in 1980 or even in 2004.

In part, we agree. But that agreement is based on the times we live in right now. In 1980, a mere seven years after the infamous decision by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (the driving issue of this demographic bloc) these people were just getting started. But as time moves on, and different issues rise to the forefront of a political debate, the voices rise and drop like the ebb and flow of the tides.

In 2000, they were key to the election of President Bush, and their message was clear and concise. Return honor, integrity, and morality to the white House after eight scandal-plagued years of the Clinton presidency. The only people unhappy with the Clinton's departure were their hardcore backers and supporters. the nation breathed a sigh of relief with the incoming president. In 2004, they had less of a role to fulfill given that the driving issue then was the war.

Recently people like Tony Perkins and Dr. James Dobson have stated a dissatisfaction with the current crop of GOP nominees. (I believe Mike Huckabee is the lone exception, and it's because he closely mirrors President Bush's "compassionate conservatism.") They have talked about and mildly threatened to support a third-party candidate is the chosen nominee doesn't represent them and their issues.

I'll save the analysis for the 16 October issue of Common Conservative. (This particular issue is one that Marcie and I address directly.) But I will say this: The "values voters" are learning a valuable lesson about political discourse. They can't always be the ones driving the bus. We love them in our tent, and it's mostly due to the fact that they serve as the de facto conscience of the party; a constant reminder that our party should be one based on the moral teachings that made this nation great.

No offense to Democrats, but there doesn't seem to be that type of voice in their party. It's taken up by special interest activists who continually "lobby" candidates and leaders to maintain their current track. (For example, do nothing to jeopardize abortion, don't give into school choice, always stand against cutting spending and taxes, etc.)

There comes a time in a political party's existence where another set of voices must take up the reins of leading the party through certain times. The values voters have had their chance. Now we are in a war where defense and national security are at the forefront of issues. They can continue to espouse their beliefs, and we won't ignore them, but we will take their suggestions in kind and place them where they belong at this current time.

At the risk of offending the values voters, their issue is on the back burner right now. We have a war to win and a nation to defend. Can anyone imagine if the values voters were around in World War II, and piped up to tell the nation that 7 December was just a part of history, and the nation needed to move on? No, we won't move on. Better yet, we'll do that just as soon as we finish off our enemies. Then we can go back to debating abortion, the environment, who does and doesn't suck in the government, and whether our taxes are too bloody high (for the record, they are), but if we fail to accomplish our task in this war, those issues aren't going to amount to much. They'll be the least of our problems.

Are values voters irrelevant? Hardly. Will they be needed in 2008? Definitely. But the question remains if they can set aside their differences with candidates and vote for what is needed in a leader rather than someone who will pay lip service to their supporters, and make mistakes in choosing justices for the high court.

The next president could have as many as four Supreme Court appointments in their first term. This is the only way their issue can be changed, and I'd rather have a president that has an idea of what an originalist jurist is rather than one that makes snafus as previous Republican presidents have done. When it comes to Rudy Giuliani, he has promised this and we take him at his word.

Publius II