Saturday, April 11, 2009

Read All About It!

When the Wall Street Journal downsized a couple of years ago, its quality dropped, notably its financial reporting. Happily, however, its opinion pages were unaffected, even growing from two to three pages (though incorporating the letters section took up part of that space).
It seems like every day there's at least one high value article in the WSJ opinion section. Today, (4/11) there's nearly a half dozen. Check out page A9. First there's Peggy Noonan's moving account of the Wall Street response to 9/11. In her best column in a some time she recalls how brokers, businessmen and government officials worked courageously, selflessly and tirelessly to get the NYSE back in operation only five days after the attack. This despite working in the shadow of ground zero and with the grief of the event weighing heavily on them.

Next is an article by Naval War College professor, Mackubin Thomas Owens explaining why the Obama administration is so very wrong about how it intends to treat detained terrorists. He notes how Obama is trying to have it both ways - appeasing his left wing base while maintaining much of Bush's successful antiterror apparatus. Owens also goes after those in Congress who feel compelled to criminalize the Bush administration despite its success. Here's an excerpt.

Some in Congress want to go further than the Obama team. Rather than focusing their attention on the terrorists, these politicians wish to criminalize the behavior of Bush administration officials for actions they took to protect Americans, and that fell well short of those taken by Lincoln in suppressing the Rebellion of 1861. Thus Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), aided and abetted by my own Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I), have begun hearings on Mr. Leahy's proposal for a "Truth Commission" to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation policies. [Shame on them].
The mantra of Bush critics has been that the previous administration "tortured" detainees. But this is nonsense. At issue is the CIA's waterboarding of three high-ranking latrunculi [the Roman term used for "pirates] who had been instrumental in planning and executing attacks that killed thousands of Americans. These individuals had been trained to resist conventional interrogation methods and were thought to have information about impending attacks.
What makes the Leahy-Whitehouse show trials most appalling -- and hypocritical -- is that Congress was briefed on the enhanced interrogation methods in September 2002. At the time, according to the Washington Post, members of Congress from both parties -- including current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- wanted to ensure that the interrogations were tough enough to get the necessary intelligence from the captured terrorists. As the Post reported, "there was no objecting, no hand-wringing," and according to a U.S. official present during the briefings, "the attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'" But of course, according to a source looking back on that period, "the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic."
And therein lies the problem. Too many of our leaders have forgotten that we are at war with latrunculi who wish to destroy us. Anyone who doubts this need only read the recent statement by the five detainees at Guantanamo charged with planning the 9/11 attacks in which they describe the charge that they murdered Americans very clearly -- as a "badge of honor."

The entire piece should be read. It will fail to persuade only those with intractable cases of BDS.

Then there's a short extract from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, "Lyndon Baines Johnson and the American Dream". This sounds all too familiar.
In his determination to get Congress and America moving again, Johnson demanded support for the Great Society and confidence in the capacity of government to improve all the conditions of society as matters of faith. . . . The intensity of his own belief strengthened his formidable persuasive powers. . . . In so expansive an era, filled with such benevolent intentions, the boundaries between fact and fiction, between the present and the future, no longer held. . . .
And so it went in message after message. The subjects might change, but the essentials remained the same: in the opening, an expression of dire need; in the middle, a vague proposal; in the end, a buoyant description of the anticipated results -- all contained in an analysis presented in a manner that often failed to distinguish between expectations and established realities. . . .
[T]he need for haste often resulted in a failure to define the precise nature and requirements of social objectives. Legislative solutions were often devised and rushed into law before the problems were understood . . . Pass the bill now, worry about its effects and implementation later -- this was the White House strategy.

See my posting, "Steele on Race" (March 17). To many on the left all that matters is intent, not results. As mentioned in that post, the results of Johnson's programs were catastrophic.

Also on page A9 is a funny little parody of what a government backed warranty for a GM car could look like. This originally appeared in the Weekly Standard (4/13/2009)

Then there's another moving piece by a mother who lost a son in Iraq. The term she uses to describe his death, "he gave his life", is the language of someone recognizing that her son made a conscious choice, knew the risks and assumed them because he felt he was fighting for something he believed in. Contrast that with Cindy Sheehan, who diminishes the memory of her lost son by claiming he was a victim - had his life taken, and died for no purpose. We know better. Casey Sheehan was a hero. He re-enlisted near the end of his active service knowing that he would be sent to Iraq. He gave his life for a noble cause.

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