Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Liberals' War Against Blacks

Kevin D. Williamson's cover story in the latest issue of National Review examines two potent weapons in the liberals' war against blacks - the minimum wage and racial discrimination in labor unions.

Williamson quotes Nobel laureate Milton Friedman on the minimum wage, “one of the most, if not the most, anti-black laws on the statute books.”

And Williamson cites the conclusions of a congressional survey of economic reasearch :

The minimum wage reduces employment. The minimum wage reduces employment more among teenagers than adults. The minimum wage reduces employment most among black teenage males.”...“The minimum wage hurts small businesses generally. The minimum wage causes employers to cut back on training. The minimum wage has long-term effects on skills and lifetime earnings. The minimum wage hurts the poor generally. The minimum wage helps upper-income families. The minimum wage helps unions.” Helping the affluent and high-wage union workers at the expense of the young, the poor, the unskilled, and small businesses: That amounts to a lot of different kinds of injustice, and it also amounts to a wealth transfer from blacks to whites.

Williamson notes that as recently as the mid-fifties young black men were more likely to be employed than their white counterparts. Though the minimum wage bill was passed in 1938, its initial effect was blunted by the war and by its application only to interstate enterprises. The war ended and the meaning of interstate commerce broadened over the years. The result is that now rampant unemployment among blacks, especially young blacks, is a national disgrace.

Nationally, the unemployment rate among blacks rose to 16.2 percent in the year-end numbers, while the rate for whites fell to 9.0 percent. For black youths, the numbers are startling: 50 percent for 16–19-year-olds, 26 percent for 20–24-year-olds. A study from the Community Service Society of New York puts actual work-force participation among black men 16–65 years of age in New York City at about 50 percent, and the number for young black men nationwide is just 40 percent.

Giving a practical example of how high minimum wages destroy jobs Williamson cites the recent plan to convert the massive Eighth Regiment Armory in the Bronx into a shopping mall. New York's city council insisted that all workers on the project be paid at least $10/hour plus benefits, effectively killing the project. Career liberal politician Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. proudly stated, “The notion that any job is better than no job no longer applies.” So over a thousand construction jobs and over a thousand retail jobs were lost in a community where the unemployment rate is 13.1%.

Williamson also blames white domination of labor unions for high black unemployment.

(Philadelphia's building trades) unions are 80 percent white and 99 percent male, and the numbers are similar in other cities.

Williamson says that in industries where blacks were employed before unions showed up, their representation is high. But blacks were effectively shut out if a union organized in an industry before they entered it.

In unions that have a lot of black membership, black workers got into those industries before the unions did. Henry Ford was hiring blacks before the UAW organized them. Steelmakers, same thing.


Even in the UAW and the steelworkers, they have the problem of discrimination within the unions when it comes to training for skilled work, promotions, and issues of seniority.” And it’s been that way for generations: In fact, (Hillsdale College Prof. Paul D.) Moreno estimates that if the National Labor Relations Board had properly enforced anti-discrimination rules against the unions starting back in the 1930s — when they were first required to do so — then there would have been no demand for affirmative action later. Instead, the NLRB became a classic captured bureaucracy, seeing its role only as empowering the labor unions while turning a blind eye to the ugly racial discrimination in their ranks.

Williamson concludes by savaging the Democrats' corrupt obeisance to the teachers' unions.

Black voters are a cheap date for Democrats, who know that they can sell out the interests of their most loyal constituency with impunity. One of Barack Obama’s first actions in office was to gut a hugely popular school-choice program in Washington, D.C., that benefited black students almost exclusively, and he did so at the behest of the one of the most destructive unions in the country, one that has done more to undermine the future of black Americans than any other and whose members have inflicted more damage on black Americans than Bull Connor and George Wallace ever dreamed of. But the teachers’ unions represent one in ten delegates to the Democratic National Convention,* so they have job security — something many, if not most, of the young black men in their classes will never have.

So where's this "conscience of liberals" that Paul Krugman writes about?

* Talk about overrepresentation! The number of public school teachers in the U.S. in 2005 was 3.1 million, or about 1% of the population. There are 1.2 million Walmart employees in the U.S. Think they have even a .0001% representation at the DNC?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Encouraging Jihad?

In a recent post (1/25) I mentioned a CNN discussion involving Christiane Amanpour, Phillippe Sand and Marc Thiessen on the subject of the handling of illegal enemy combatants. I neglected to mention a mindless comment (too many to track) made during the telecast by the buffoonish Sand. At one point he was asked about President Obama's failure to close the Guantanamo prison camp within a year as promised. With remarkable insight into the jihadist mind, Sand assured us not to worry. Islamists see Obama's intention to close the camp as a good faith gesture and they won't hold the delay against us. That's a relief, to be sure. The prison camp is a recruiting tool you see.

Put aside that Gitmo's actual closing will be far in the future, if ever. And never mind that Obama has committed to maintaining the much larger Bagram prison camp in Afghanistan (close to 700 inmates) and prohibited lawyers from representing any of its prisoners (unlike at Gitmo). Disregard also that Obama has greatly expanded the use of predator drones in Pakistan with their high civilian to combatant kill ratio. Incinerating innocent civilians is somehow preferable to confining murderous terrorists in what AG Eric Holder acknowledges is an exemplary prison. Pay no attention either to Obama's plan to move a significant portion of the remaining Guantanamo inmates to a retrofitted prison in Thomson, Illinois. That will change nothing about their incarceration except the comfort level of their winters.

These are inconvenient facts for Euro-leftists (and others) like Sand who continue their crusade to have George Bush and some officials in his administration declared war criminals. The ideologues who excoriate Bush while giving Obama a free pass are transparently hypocritical. But there's another left wing cohort that superficially at least appears to hold to a higher moral standard. These are "human rights" advocates who oppose any action that may involve "excessive" civilian casualties. One such is Gabor Rona, international legal director of the U.S. based group Human Rights First. "Even when you're attacking a legitimate military objective, you cannot cause civilian casualties that exceed the value of a legitimate military attack," he declares. Clearly, even Obama is guilty by this measure. So were the Allies in World War 2. Roosevelt, Truman and Churchill were contemptible war criminals by the Rona standard.

Contravening the validity of this standard are the following. First, most collateral civilian casualties of anti-terror military campaigns result from the terrorists' tactic of surrounding themselves with women and children. Second is international law. The Geneva Convention states that, "The presence of a protected person [civilian] may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations." Indeed, hiding behind the cover of the civilian population is itself considered a war crime.
No matter. The Israeli military (to cite one example) is to blame for civilian casualties in its 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. This despite taking extraordinary steps to safeguard innocent lives at the expense of jeopardizing the lives of Israeli soldiers and the success of its mission.

But back to the ludicrous contention that the spread of Islamic radicalism is facilitated by the aggressiveness of our efforts to eradicate it. Were this so, the Iraq surge was doomed to fail as Muslims, outraged by our intensified warmaking, rushed to join the insurgency. In reality, even Sunni Muslims flocked to our side, convinced that we were serious about winning the war.

As Charles Krauthammer has noted,

Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa commanding universal jihad against America cited as its two top grievances our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraqi suffering under anti-Saddam sanctions.

Well, both of those grievances have been satisfactorally addressed by our success in the Iraq war. The fatwa remains. It doesn't matter how we try to appease radical Islamists, they'll always have grievances against the West to use as "recruiting tools".

Krauthammer again.

Ayman al-Zawahiri often invokes Andalusia in his speeches. For those not steeped in the multivolume lexicon of Islamist grievances, Andalusia refers to Iberia, lost by Islam to Christendom — in 1492.

The mere existence of Western style democracy is what drives the jihad. Islamists hate our open society, tolerance of diversity and political freedom. Even if this were not true, it would be absurd to allow our enemies to dictate how we execute our war against them. Equally absurd is taking seriously the phony moralistic posturings of the likes of Phillippe Sand and Gabor Rona.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

That's Life

Leave it to the genius of Mark Steyn to invoke Frank Sinatra in his reading of President Obama's SOTU address.

First Steyn quotes Obama :

"They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It’s tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable — that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil-rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements; our hesitations and our fears; America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, and one people."

Then Steyn comments :

"It sounds like an all-purpose speech for President Anyone: We've met here in good times and bad, war and peace, prosperity and depression, Shrove Tuesday and Super Bowl Sunday, riding high in April, shot down in May. We've been up and down and over and out and I know one thing. Each time we find ourselves flat on our face, we pick ourselves up and get back in the race. That's life, pause for applause . . ."

George Will makes a few observations about the liberal ideology behind Obama's speech.

"It (a stimulus) will inject into the economy money that government siphons from the economy, thereby somehow creating jobs. And you thought alchemy was strange."

"Last Feb. 24, he said he (Obama) had an activist agenda because of the recession, "not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't." Ninety-seven days later, he bought General Motors."

"Obama's leitmotif is: Washington is disappointing, Washington is annoying, Washington is dysfunctional, Washington is corrupt, verily Washington is toxic -- yet Washington should conscript a substantially larger share of GDP, and Washington should exercise vast new controls over health care, energy, K-12 education, etc."

Shameful Omission

A few days ago I noted that Israel was one of the largest paticipants in the international aid effort for disaster stricken Haiti. Jay Nordlinger (NRO) cites this item from Martin Peretz writing in The New Republic. Though TNR is a left of center periodical, Peretz, a liberal, is known for his strong defense of Israel.

I’ve just read the transcript of the president’s remarks about Haiti, the ones he made on January 15. He noted that, in addition to assistance from the United States, significant aid had also come from “Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, among others.” Am I missing another country that truly weighed in with truly consequential assistance? Ah, yes. There it is. Right there “among others.” Yes, the country to which I refer is “among others,” that one.

The fact is that, next to our country, Israel sent the largest contingent of trained rescue workers, doctors, and other medical personnel. The Israeli field hospital was the only one on the ground that could perform real surgery, which it did literally hundreds of times, while delivering — as of last week — at least 16 babies, including one premature infant and three caesarians. . . .

Israel's omission from Obama's remarks was unquestionably intentional. I don't know what game he's playing - probably another shameful deep knee bend to the Muslim "street" - but whatever it is it's detestable, graceless, gutless, and disloyal. And, oh yes - anti-Semitic.

Monday, January 25, 2010

al-Qaeda's Got A Friend In The White House

Steve Hayes (Weekly Standard) and Marc Thiessen (NRO) detail the Obama administration's missteps in the handling of the Christmas bomber case.

Hayes :

The consequences of these mistakes could be huge. "The political decision to move terrorist interrogations to the White House has put Americans' safety in jeopardy," said Senator Kit Bond, ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. "If bin Laden were captured tomorrow, who would interrogate him? The White House doesn't have an answer."

It may be worse than that. The question may not be who would interrogate him but whether we would even have that opportunity. Senator Lindsey Graham asked Attorney General Eric Holder about this at a congressional hearing in November.

"Let me ask you this. Let's say we capture him tomorrow. When does custodial interrogation begin in his case? If we captured bin Laden tomorrow, would he be entitled to Miranda warning at the moment of capture?"

Holder responded: "Again, I'm not -- that all depends."

It depends. Eric Holder can imagine a scenario in which a U.S. government official reads Osama bin Laden his Miranda rights at the moment of capture.

Remember all of this the next time you hear an Obama administration official insist that we are at war with al Qaeda.

Thiessen laments our missed opportunity.

This is a massive intelligence failure on a number of levels. It cost us invaluable time-sensitive intelligence. From al-Qaeda’s vantage point, Abdulmutallab was supposed to be dead — vaporized with the plane that he was planning to explode. As soon as they learned that he was in custody, they began scrambling to cover his tracks — closing their e-mail accounts, cell-phone numbers, and bank accounts; putting terrorist leaders and operatives he knew about into hiding; and shutting down other trails of intelligence he might give us to follow. Every minute, every hour, every day that passed while Abdulmutallab exercised his “right to remain silent” cost us invaluable counterterrorism opportunities. Obama officials have said that they can still get information from him in the plea-bargaining process. Putting aside the question of why we should reduce his punishment in exchange for information, by the time we reach a plea deal it will be too late — the information will be useless.

Thiessen also says that when President Obama declassified the interrogation methods used by the CIA, we lost an extremely valuable tool in getting information from terrorists. Waterboarding - which had only been used in three cases anyway - had been removed from the CIA's list of approved interrogation techniques by President Bush. Only milder forms of coercion were allowed. But al-Qaeda operatives didn't know this.

In 2007, a terrorist named Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi was captured. He was the highest-ranking al-Qaeda leader taken alive in many years — a former member of Saddam Hussein’s military, he had joined al-Qaeda in the 1990s, served for a time as a member of al-Qaeda’s ruling Shura council, and risen to become a senior bin Laden adviser and a top paramilitary commander in Afghanistan. When he was taken into custody, agency officials told him, “We’re the CIA.” He replied, “I’ve heard of you guys. I’ll tell you anything you need to know.” And he did — because he was not aware that the worst he would face was a tummy slap and a little lost sleep.

Another worthwhile item is a video featuring Thiessen debating terrorist apologists Christiane Amanpour and Phillippe Sand on CNN. It was 2 v. 1 but Thiessen did a good job getting his points across. He countered Sand's assertion that coercive interrogation never works by listing specific instances in which terror attacks were prevented. And he corrected some nonsense put forth by Amanpour that waterboarding is equivalent to practices carried out in the notorious Cambodian S-21 prison camp (where thousands were murdered). But the silliest comment was made by Sand, who at one point asked Thiessen how he would like to be waterboarded. Thiessen showed great restraint and calmly responded that he isn't a terrorist. One could imagine Sand asking a civilian during World War 2 how he would like to be shot by an American soldier just like those poor Nazis.



Thiessen video (in two parts on the Weekly Standard blogsite)

Obama's Grade Inflation

In case you're wondering how the president spends his time when he's not making speeches. (This is actually the first photo on the White House Flickr page).

It's easy to see why the narcissist-in-chief believes he deserves a B+ for his first year performance. A more realistic assessment is provided by Conrad Black on NRO. Black's scathing review still allows that Obama has a chance for a successful presidency, but only if he changes course and aligns himself with the true wishes of the American people. Obama, as yet, shows no willingness to do this. Rich Lowry notes that, "...he seems willing to do everything -- reconstitute his political team from 2008, adopt fighting rhetoric, vilify the banks -- except move to the center." If Obama doesn't move right he risks transforming his self-delusion into self-destruction.

The Conservative Way

Liberal politicians and their cheerleaders in the media are fond of repeating the mantra that Republicans have no ideas of their own and are simply content with being obstructionist. (For example see the reference to the NY Times' Bob Herbert in my previous post). Senator Lamar Alexander (R - Tenn.) debunks this notion in an article written for NRO. Alexander states that Republicans understand that reform is necessary in many areas including health care, energy policy and immigration policy. However, he rejects the Democrats' "comprehensive" policy approach to problem solving, as it neglects the Law of Unintended Consequences. He argues that Republicans' contrasting incrementalist approach is more prudent and effective.

On health care, clean energy, debt reduction, and immigration, Republicans have been offering an alternative to thousand-page bills: going step-by-step in the right direction to solve problems in a way that re-earns the trust of the American people.

The Democrats’ comprehensive immigration, climate-change, and health-care bills have been well-intended, but the first two collapsed under their own weight, and health care, if it doesn’t do the same, will be a historic mistake for the country and a political kamikaze mission for Democrats.

What has united most Republicans against these three bills has been not only ideology, but also that they were comprehensive. As George Will might write: The. Congress. Does. Not. Do. Comprehensive. Well.

Alexander goes on to show that Republicans have offered alternative proposals only to have them dismissed without consideration by the majority Democrats.

If you examine the Congressional Record, you will find that Republican senators have been following (political scientist James Q.) Wilson’s advice, proposing a step-by-step-approach to confronting our nation’s challenges 173 different times during 2009. On health care, we first suggested setting a clear goal: reducing cost. Then, we proposed the first six steps toward achieving that goal: (1) allowing small businesses to pool their resources to purchase health-care plans, (2) reducing junk lawsuits against doctors, (3) allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, (4) expanding health savings accounts, (5) promoting wellness and prevention, and (6) taking steps to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse. We offered these six proposals in complete legislative text totaling 182 pages. The Democratic majority rejected all six, and ridiculed the approach — in part because it wasn’t “comprehensive.”

And in July, all 40 Republican senators announced agreement upon four steps to produce low-cost clean energy and create jobs: (1) create 100 nuclear power plants, (2) electrify half our cars and trucks, (3) explore offshore for natural gas and oil, and (4) double energy research and development.

This step-by-step Republican clean-energy plan is an alternative to the Kerry-Boxer National Energy Tax, which would impose an economy-wide cap-and-trade scheme, driving businesses overseas to look for cheap energy and collecting hundreds of billions of dollars each year for a slush fund with which Congress can play.

Many, if not most liberals don't understand conservatism. They believe that it's a reactionary ideology* espousing rigid adherence to the status quo and resistance to any change. A significant number of liberals go further and claim that conservatives are hateful, racist and lack compassion. This belief is reinforced when a fringe character like Pat Robertson makes idiotic comments about Haitians deserving their recent earthquake disaster. But Robertson isn't a serious mainstream conservative any more than the "truthers" who believe that George Bush planned the 9/11 attacks are serious mainstream liberals. I won't go so far as Ann Coulter and say that if Democrats had any brains they'd be Republicans. But many more would be if they seriously evaluated conservative ideas and policy prescriptions.


* In his latest column in National Review, John Derbyshire included this witticism.

André Gide liked to scandalize enquirers by saying: “Je ne suis pas tapette, monsieur, je suis pédéraste!” (“I am not a fairy, sir, I am a pederast!”) In a similar spirit I am sometimes tempted to assert: “I’m not really a conservative — more of a reactionary.”

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mark Steyn and Some Other Stuff

Today's lead item of interest is, without question, Mark Steyn's take on President Obama's take on Tuesday's election result. A few excerpts follow.

On Obama's blaming the result on people's frustrations over what's happened the past eight years.

Got it. People are so angry and frustrated at George W. Bush that they’re voting for Republicans. In Massachusetts.
...Presumably, the president isn’t stupid enough actually to believe what he said. But it’s dispiriting to discover he’s stupid enough to think we’re stupid enough to believe it.

On Obama's last minute attempt to prop up Martha Coakley's candidacy.

The Barack Obama who showed up last Sunday to help out Martha Coakley was a sad and diminished figure from the colossus of a year ago. He had nothing to say, but he said it anyway.
...The most striking aspect of his performance was how unhappy he looked, as if he doesn’t enjoy the job. You can understand why. He ran as something he’s not, and never has been: a post-partisan, centrist, transformative healer. That’d be a difficult trick to pull off even for somebody with any prior executive experience, someone who’d actually run something, like a state, or even a town, or even a commercial fishing operation, like that poor chillbilly boob Sarah Palin.

On Howard Fineman's (Newsweek) remark that Scott Brown's pickup truck is a racist symbol.

Ah, yes. Scott Brown has over 200,000 miles on his odometer. Man, he’s racked up a lot of coded racism on that rig. But that’s easy to do in notorious cross-burning KKK swamps like suburban Massachusetts.

Steyn's advice to aspiring writers.

Don’t just write there, do something. Learn how to shingle a roof, or tap-dance, or raise sled dogs. Because if you don’t do anything, you wind up like Obama and Fineman — men for whom words are props and codes and metaphors but no longer expressive of anything real.

There's much more.

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Bob Herbert, the uber-left columnist for the NY Times (one among many) writes of his disgust with the Democrats for wasting a year on an unworkable health care plan instead of dealing with our (as he puts it) "economic emergency".

While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.

Liberals like Herbert support socialized health care for this country. A large majority of Americans don't. How did he think the Democrats were going to square that circle without patching together an "ugly plan" with "backroom deals", "outlandish payoffs" and "abject capitulation" to large health care interests?
And, by the way, the Democrats did address the economic situation. They did precisely what's prescribed in the left's economic fix-it manual. Mortgage the future. Pass the bill to our children and their children. Their ill-conceived $787 billion "stimulus" package was enacted only a month after Obama took office and it was supposed to keep the unemployment rate below 8%. Herbert supported the bill, though he now thinks it was far too small. This despite it's being the costliest piece of legislation ever enacted.
Of course Herbert is still dismissive of the GOP.

The Republican Party has abandoned any serious approach to the nation’s biggest problems, economic or otherwise. It may be resurgent, but it’s not a serious party.

The people of Massachusetts (Massachusetts! - sorry, I have to keep doing that) have chosen to disagree. They think that Republican Scott Brown's tax-cutting message is a serious approach to solving the unemployment problem. It's the Democrats' close-minded insistence in repeatedly throwing boxcar loads of money at wasteful projects and special interest groups that warrants ridicule.

Another NY Times columnist who's pushing for more "stimulus" is Paul Krugman. Stephen Spruiell (NRO) dug up this quote by Krugman offering a solution for the 2002 recession.

To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

I'm sure we're all glad that advice was followed.

For some good advice read the editorial (link below) which appeared in the Lorain County Morning Journal. The small local paper lectured Obama while he was busy touring Ohio and feigning concern for its unemployed and underemployed masses. Pompous, elitist lefties at the prestigious Times should take note.

The president will show Lorain County he understands its needs by correcting his first-year mistakes. Lorain County doesn't need more government and more taxes. It needs government to get out of the way and clear a path for business to prosper and new jobs to grow.

It's a bad sign for the Obama administration that even the Washington Post now believes that its handling of the Christmas bomber case was botched. This is a sharp reversal of their initial position.

A new Rasmussen poll says that 61% of Americans want Congress to stop pushing for Obamacare, while 30% disagree. My advice to Obama and Democrats in Congress - Ignore the poll. Go for it!

More polling from Rasmussen. Obama's approval rating is now at a new low: 44%. This includes 24% who strongly approve (who are those people?). By contrast, 55% disapprove, 43% strongly. Obama's approval index - the difference between strongly approve and strongly disapprove - is also at a new low, -19. Bush didn't get down to Obama's level until well into his second term.

An AP news story yesterday -

An Israeli search team pulled a severely dehydrated 21-year-old man from the rubble of his bedroom a staggering 10 days after an earthquake leveled much of the Haitian capital.

That's right. An Israeli rescue team. Tiny Israel has one of the largest international aid teams in Haiti despite its location a third of the way around the world from the disaster site. This is the same nation maligned by much of the world (read - U.N.) for its "human rights violations". How about a U.N. resolution commending Israel's humanitarian efforts? Let those paragons of moral virtue, who lead the way for Israel's censure - Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran - now join with the rest of the world in singing it's praises.
What was it that Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner said the other day about pigs flying?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ignoring The Obvious

President Obama responded to Scott Brown's upset victory in the Massachusetts special senatorial election with this,

One thing I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done . . . that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people. . . . I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on the, you know, this provision, or that law, or are we making a good, rational decision here, that people will get it.

CBS News totalled up the few occasions that Obama found time to "speak directly to the American people".

Speeches, Comments and Remarks - 411 (52 on health care)
Interviews - 158 (including 90 TV, 11 radio)
Press Availability / Conferences - 42
Town Hall Meetings - 23

Charles Krauthammer noted that Obama was as ubiquitous as Big Brother. Yet the president thinks the problem was that he was too focused on working quietly behind the scenes, "getting stuff done". Alas, there was no time to communicate with his constituents.

Obama also said this.

Here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office. People are angry, and they’re frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.

Oh right. Bush again. The "people" have a generalized, irrational anger which was built up over the past eight years and they will take it out on any incumbent (or incumbent stand-in). This anger is so overwhelming, so pernicious, that they'll even elect (in Virginia and New Jersey also) members of Bush's own party! Silly, stupid people. They know not what they do.

Krauthammer (NRO) delivers a reality check for Obama.

...the Democrats are delusional: Scott Brown won by running against Obama, not against Bush. He won by brilliantly nationalizing the race, running hard against the Obama agenda, most notably Obamacare. Killing it was his No. 1 campaign promise.

Bull’s-eye. An astonishing 56 percent of Massachusetts voters, according to Rasmussen, called health care their top issue. In a Fabrizio, McLaughlin, & Associates poll, 78 percent of Brown voters said their vote was intended to stop Obamacare. Only a quarter of all voters in the Rasmussen poll cited the economy as their top issue, nicely refuting the Democratic view that Massachusetts was just the usual anti-incumbent resentment you expect in bad economic times.

Brown ran on a very specific, very clear agenda. Stop health care. Don’t Mirandize terrorists. Don’t raise taxes; cut them. And no more secret backroom deals with special interests.

But Obama (probably) doesn't read National Review. He reads...what? Why the New York Times, of course.

There are many theories about the import of Scott Brown's upset victory. To our minds, it is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama's presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform.

Keep believing that Barack (and Harry and Nancy). Follow the course you're taking. See where it gets you.

Krauthammer (on his game - as usual)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Extraordinary Incompetence"

Barack Obama should call Scott Brown again -- not to congratulate him, but to thank him for guaranteeing that this extraordinary incompetence does not get the coverage it deserves.

Steve Hayes (Weekly Standard)

So how did President Obama show his unfitness for his job this time?

Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security Committee grilled three top Obama administration national security officials - Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; Michael Leiter, chairman of the National Counterterrorism Center; and Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence. FBI Director Robert Mueller was also questioned.

Among the remarkable revelations that emerged from the committee session were :

None of the four officials were contacted to determine how to proceed with handling the case of the would be Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab;

There was no plan in place on how to treat a terrorist captured on U.S. soil;

The High-value Interrogation Group, [HIG], proposed one year ago to decide how to manage cases just like Abdulmutallab's was not up and running;

Blair did not even know it wasn't operational;

The questioning by the FBI in Detroit was carried out by agents largely ignorant about counter-terrorist matters - there was no co-ordination with National Counterterrorism Center which had substantial information about the bomber. Lacking this information, the agents didn't know the right questions to ask;

The questioning was carried out with the goal of gathering evidence for a criminal prosecution, not to obtain vital counter-terrorist intelligence;

At some point short of 24 hours from the time of his capture, Abdulmutallab was read his Miranda rights and stopped talking.

Senator Jeff Sessions, summing up the Committee proceedings noted that,

...we learned from FBI Director Mueller's questioning that responsibility for the decision to switch gears from intelligence collection to criminal processing lies with an unnamed high-ranking official at the Department of Justice.

Who might this high-ranking DOJ official be? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asks that and other important questions.

First, why were Miranda rights given to the obvious terrorist after only a brief session of questioning, which predictably ended his cooperation?

Second, at what level of authority was this decision taken to treat him as a criminal defendant instead of an unlawful enemy combatant? Who made this decision?

I asked this question last night of John Brennan, the President’s senior counterterrorism adviser, three times and he refused to answer. I think that the Senate is entitled to know precisely who authorized this.

A year ago the President decided to revise the Nation’s interrogation policies, and to restrict the CIA’s ability to question terrorists. The administration created a High Value Detainee Interrogation Group to question terrorists. Why wasn’t his group brought in once this terrorist was taken into custody?

Steve Hayes has a few other questions.

Does Brennan know who made those crucial decisions on Abdulmutallab?

If not, why not?

And if so, what reason would he have for refusing to share that information with McConnell?

It's apparent from all this that the Obama administration is scrambling to spin or even cover up the process behind its amateurish handling of the Abdulmutallab case. I'm very curious to see how high up the DOJ hierarchy was the decision made to Mirandize Abdulmutallab. Who's being protected? Mr. Holder perhaps?

Quote Of The Year (So Far)

The essence of contemporary liberalism is the illiberal conviction that Americans, in their comprehensive incompetence, need minute supervision by government, which liberals believe exists to spare citizens the torture of thinking and choosing.

George Will

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More On The Brown Victory

Two good election related articles - one by Stephen Spruiell, the other by Andrew McCarthy - are posted on the NRO website.

Spruiell argues that Scott Brown's victory is a blessing in disguise for Obama if…if! he now dissociates himself from the current health care reform bills in Congress. Spruiell provides a succinct explanation of why the bills are bad policy and expresses sadness that Republicans may not get to run on a platform promising repeal.

…the Pelosi-Reid health-care reform is objectively bad law. Mandates forcing individuals to buy coverage are hugely unpopular, even with the subsidies the bill would provide. Mandates forcing businesses to buy coverage for their employees would hit small and mid-size businesses hardest. There is no good time to saddle these businesses with additional costs and regulations, but right now is probably the worst time. More important, America’s reliance on employer-provided health insurance is one of the biggest problems with its health-care system. The third-party-payer problem drives the runaway cost of care. Meanwhile, Americans are often stuck with the jobs they have, fearful to strike out on their own and lose their health insurance.

The Pelosi-Reid legislation would not free us from this system; it would entrench it. It would exacerbate health-care-cost inflation by subsidizing insurance and expanding Medicaid. It would cut Medicare, not in a smart way that relies on competition to bring down costs, but by eliminating the private sector and relying on government’s power to dictate payment rates to doctors and hospitals. According to the bill’s own defenders, its other attempts at cost control amount to little more than a handful of pilot programs. And as if health-care-cost inflation weren’t bad enough, the Senate version of the bill includes an excise tax on health-insurance premiums that would, over time, hit an increasing number of middle-class premium payers — unless, of course, they belonged to a union, in which case the Democrats are hard at work carving out an exemption just for them.

McCarthy says that Scott Brown's most potent issue in his campaign wasn't health care but the government's treatment of enemy combatants. McCarthy praises the Bush administration's strong anti terror policies and registers his frustration that it shied away from defending them. The former prosecutor again presents his convincing argument that the Constitution gives the president not only the right but the duty to utilize his war making powers. And he dismisses as a pose the hand wringing over privacy concerns.

If you fret about privacy, it’s Obamacare that ought to give you sleepless nights. The lefties who’ve told us for nearly 40 years since Roe v. Wade that the government can’t come between you and your doctor are now saying you shouldn’t be able to get to a doctor except through the government, which will decide if you’re worth treating — that is an invasion of privacy. Penetrating enemy communications, on the other hand, is what Americans think of as self-defense. It’s what we’ve done in every war in our history.

McCarthy credits Brown for standing up forcefully for this principle.

Scott Brown went out and made the case for enhanced interrogation, for denying terrorists the rights of criminal defendants, for detaining them without trial, and for trying them by military commission. It worked. It will work for other candidates willing to get out of their Beltway bubbles.



Stepping Back From The Precipice

"As a woman who managed to hold at least a couple of Kennedy seats once sang: Happy Anniversary, Mister President!"
Mark Steyn (NRO)

A few thoughts on the retirement of "Ted Kennedy's seat".

Kennedy's career long dream of socialized health care was perilously close to being forced upon the American populace. That it may have been thwarted at the last moment because of his death is profoundly ironic.

Scott Brown didn't just run against the Democrats' health care bill. He also hammered them on their reckless spending, their proposed tax hikes, their job destroying cap and tax scheme, and their treatment of enemy combatants as common criminals. In other words, the entire Obama, Reid, Pelosi left wing agenda. And he won. In Massachusetts!

Some of Barack Obama's supporters claim that he's a kind of deity. (Newsweek's Evan Thomas - "I mean in a way Obama's standing above the country, above above the world, he's sort of God.") After yesterday's election I'm inclined to agree. The People's Republic of Massachusetts last elected a GOP senator in 1972. Only a supernatural power could have turned it Republican in just one year.

Obama's supporters also claim that their hero is highly intelligent. (Hoodwinked conservative Christopher Buckley - “a first-class intellect”). If he is, then he'll come to realize the truth of what the polls have consistently indicated - that the ideological breakdown of the country is 40% conservative, 40% independent and 20% liberal. And with independents now leaning hard to the right, if Obama's smart, he'll abruptly stop indulging his far left rooting section and start governing as a centrist. I'm guessing and hoping that he won't. Let his Party crash and burn in November.

Speaking of Obama's intelligence - The word he used to describe the health care bill's proximity to passage - "precipice" - was laughably inappropriate. If George Bush had said that the imminent passage of one of his initiatives was like standing at the edge of a cliff, late night comedians would have milked his faux pas for months. The word Obama, that master of language, was probably looking for was "threshhold", or "verge" or less aptly, "brink". Or maybe he was just being brutally honest.

It was important for Brown not only to win but to win by a margin that put the victory safely beyond the reach of the Democrats' lawyers. Remember that Norm Coleman won the 2008 Minnesota senatorial election only to have it stolen in a corrupted "recount" process. Democrats are aware of this weapon in their arsenal. A recent poll showed that 16% - one-sixth! - of Democrats - expected ACORN to steal the Massachusetts race. As Tweeter Andy Roth put it yesterday, "The polls close in Massachusetts at 7pm for Republicans. For Democrats and dead people...8pm." Fortunately, Brown's 5% margin of victory, 110,000 votes, is too big an obstacle for even the community organizer crowd to overcome.

Last Tuesday, Martha Coakley held a Washington fundraiser attended by representatives of health care interests - hospitals, large health insurers and large pharmaceutical companies. The list included drug companies Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, Sanofi-Aventis, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Astra-Zeneca, and large insurers Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, HealthSouth, and United Health. (Ah yes, those evil corporate Republicans).
Yesterday, in anticipation of the upset win by Scott Brown, the two top Dow percentage gainers were Merck and Pfizer. Even today, on a strongly down day for the market as a whole, they're holding up reasonably well. The question is - Why are health care companies spending lobbyist money on candidates who support Obamacare when the market is saying that its defeat is good for them?
The Wall Street Journal has editorialized that these large health concerns have entered into a Faustian pact with the Democrats, believing that if they co-operate, they'll be spared punitive sanctions under government run health care. A foolish belief, opines the WSJ, and the market agrees.

The stunning magnitude of Brown's upset victory is evident in this item about the race in the current issue of National Review (1/25/10). Even allowing that the magazine is put together several days before its issue date, (it's published biweekly), the suddenness of Brown's surge caught the editors by surprise.

Conservative enthusiasm aside, Brown’s chances remain slim — this is Massachusetts — but that he has a chance at all is a testament to the political climate that President Obama has created.

There's still some hope among Democrats (notably Comrade Pelosi) that they can somehow get the Senate health care bill through the House intact so that it wouldn't have to be revisited by the Senate. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) had this to say about that scenario. "There is no way that bill is going anywhere. . . . I bet it wouldn’t get 100 votes."
Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was more blunt. "They're talking as if, 'What our deal is, what our negotiators are at the White House' — yeah, and then the last line is, 'Pigs fly out of my ass.'"

My favorite line from the campaign came from a Brown supporter, "For the first time in my life I'm proud to be from Massachusetts".

Finally, from Scott Brown's victory speech,

No more closed-door meetings, no more backroom deals. . . . We need to start fresh and do the job right. We can do better. . . . Let me say this, our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation. They do not grant rights and privileges to our enemies. . . . They thought you were all on-board with all their intentions. . . . Tonight you set them straight. . . . What happened here in Massachusetts can happen all over America.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No Blood For Oil

For all those who take seriously the fatuous rantings of Michael Moore and his ilk, there's this from the latest issue of National Review (1/25/10).

"Of all the libels that were directed against Bush in relation to the Iraq War — and they were legion — the most offensive, and the least intelligent, was the calumny that he had engineered the war to enrich buddies in the U.S. oil business. Never mind the risible misreading of Bush and his agenda implicit in that belief; the simple economic fact is that if Bush had wanted to hand a juicy slice of Iraqi oil profits to American firms, he could have done so, at practically no cost, in exchange for lifting economic sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Iraq, as it happens, has lately completed a second round of bids on oil-development projects in the country, and U.S. companies are conspicuous by their absence from the list of winners. Sonangol, the state-run firm in Angola, was awarded a big contract, as were Royal Dutch Shell, the Russian giant Lukoil, and Norway’s Statoil. China’s CNPC won contracts in the first round, along with British Petroleum. Exxon Mobil and Occidental secured some relatively modest development business in the latest auction, but no American firm was given a contract. The Left’s slogan “No Blood for Oil” turned out to be accurate — as prediction."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coakley's Disgrace

I nominate this Martha Coakley attack ad as the standard against which all other deplorable, malicious and blatantly dishonest campaign garbage should be measured.
The ad refers to a 2005 Massachusetts bill requiring ERs to offer a morning after (abortion) pill to all rape victims. Scott Brown, Coakley's opponent for the Massachusetts senate seat made vacant by Ted Kennedy's death, had proposed a conscience clause to be added to the bill. His amendment would have allowed health care providers with religious objections to deny the pill to a rape victim. The amendment still required the provider invoking the clause to transport the victim free of charge to another facility to adminster the pill. The amendment was defeated but Brown voted for the bill anyway.

It gets worse. The Senate health care bill, which Coakley supports, contains a similar conscience clause.

Section 1303(a)(3)

(3) PROVIDER CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS. No individual health care provider or
health care facility may be discriminated against because of a willingness or an unwillingness, if doing so is contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of the provider or facility, to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

Ted Kennedy himself supported such language to be included in any health care package as he wrote in a letter to Pope Benedict.

"I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field and I'll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone."

Yet Scott Brown's advocacy for conscience protection is tantamount to "turning away rape victims" - making it sound as if he supported the denial of any treatment for all rape victims. Disgraceful.

Shame on Coakley for countenancing the ad and for her continuing failure to rescind it. This amoral behavior is consistent with her handling of the Amirault sexual assault case when she was a Massachusetts District Attorney in 2001. Dorothy Rabinowitz (WSJ) provides the details.

Coakley's lousy politics aside, the ad and her role in the Amirault case are reasons enough to hope for her ignominious upset defeat at the hands of Scott Brown in tomorrow's special election.
Red Sox fans, of course, have one other reason as stated by Shannen Coffin (NRO).

Screwing up who Curt Schilling is isn't just grounds for losing a Senate race; it's ground for expulsion from the Bay State. If Massachusetts had the death penalty, it would probably qualify for that too. But then, this is Massachusetts, so that's probably wishful thinking on both accounts.

Update (6 PM) Here's a funny comment on an NRO blog about Coffin's remarks.

Re: Why Schilling Matters [Stephen Spruiell]

Brace yourself, Shannen, for the inevitable Think Progress/Media Matters headline, "NRO Contributor: Coakley Should 'Probably' be Put to Death for Telling Admittedly Dry Schilling Joke." I would bet serious money that someone in the Soros-verse has teed it up as a draft post.

I would add that if Coakley's confusion was actually a joke, it was bone dry.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Septet Of Noteworthy Comments

Jonah Goldberg (NRO) on the campaign momentum achieved by Republican Scott Brown, running for the Massachusetts Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy, while emphasizing his opposition to Obamacare.

This is like a Democrat successfully running in Texas on tax hikes, gay marriage, and funding the Pentagon solely through bake sales.

Victor Davis Hanson (NRO) on President Obama fighting the wrong enemy.

...if one were to go back and count the times Obama has trashed his predecessor, and then collate that list with a list of his comparable slurs and slights against radical Islam, one would conclude that our present federal animus is directed against George Bush rather than Dr. Zawahiri and his cohort.

Mona Charen (NRO) taking pride in our country's response (much of it military) to recent natural disasters (most recently the earthquake in Haiti).

After the 2004 tsunami, when ports and roads were destroyed, the U.S. deployed 15,000 troops, a carrier task force, and a Marine expeditionary force. This flotilla supervised the delivery of tents, water, food, medicine, and other supplies to Indonesia and Thailand before any other aid could arrive. The chief of naval operations at the time, Adm. Mike Mullen, noted with justifiable pride: “We literally built a city at sea for no other purpose than to serve the needs of other people.”

The following year, the U.S. military deployed similar aid to Pakistan after an earthquake, to Bangladesh following a cyclone, and to the Gulf coast after Katrina. While we shouldn’t necessarily expect gratitude, we can, Michelle Obama notwithstanding, feel proud of our country.

Ann Coulter ( notes that in the same book that Harry Reid's, "negro dialect" quote appeared, there was also this from our first black president, Bill Clinton.

...Bill Clinton called Sen. Ted Kennedy to ask for his endorsement of Hillary over Obama, saying of Obama: "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."

Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard) to Massachusetts voters,

If you...go ahead and elect Scott Brown, I’ll make this pledge: No more jokes, no more aspersions, on your fine and upstanding state, if, on Tuesday, you follow in the footsteps of your brave ancestors and fire a shot heard round the world!

If you consider Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck to be vituperative flamethrowers, check out Burt Prelutsky (on his blog) telling it like it is.

...Barack Obama is the greatest menace America has ever faced -- a far graver danger than Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or Islamic fascism, simply because they all lacked the ability or determination to destroy our Constitution...

And finally, the Scott Brown campaign has effectively cited this quote from John F. Kennedy, arguing for his 1962 tax cut bill.

The billions of dollars this bill will place in the hands of the consumer and our businessmen will have both immediate and permanent benefits to our economy.

And it did.







Saturday, January 9, 2010

Low Probability; High Consequence

An essay in today's WSJ written by Paul Campos begins with this,

...I could definitely beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one. The game just needs to feature two special rules: It lasts until I score, and when I score, I win.

As this was an article discussing terrorism, I thought I understood the point Campos was about to make. Namely, we (LeBron James in his analogy) could ring up hundreds, even thousands of consecutive successes (points) in the war against terror (the game), but if the terrorists (Campos) are successful just once (and score) killing tens of thousands or more, then we lose the game.

Unfortunately Campos took his argument in a different direction.

The world's greatest nation seems bent on subjecting itself to a similarly humiliating defeat, by playing a game that could be called Terrorball. The first two rules of Terrorball are:

(1) The game lasts as long as there are terrorists who want to harm Americans; and

(2) If terrorists should manage to kill or injure or seriously frighten any of us, they win.

Point one is correct. Point two is not. Terrorists don't win if they kill any or even a limited number of us. They certainly don't win if they seriously frighten any of us. There was plenty of killing and many frightening moments in World War 2 and the Cold War. Our enemies didn't win those. What would constitute a win for our present enemy? Well, someone wrote some time ago that Islamic terrorists will win when a giant mosque occupies the former World Trade Center site. That aint gonna happen, unless we let it.

Campos goes on to ridicule what he sees as our current obsession with preventing terrorist attacks. He cites statistics that reflect the wildly irrational fears among the populace regarding everyday risks it faces. is full of risk, and that of all the risks we confront in America every day, terrorism is a very minor one. Taking prudent steps to reasonably minimize the tiny threat we face from a few fanatic criminals need not grant them the attention they crave.

Consider that on this very day about 6,700 Americans will die.

...that around 1,900 of the Americans who die today will be less than 65, and that indeed about 140 will be children. Approximately 50 Americans will be murdered today, including several women killed by their husbands or boyfriends, and several children who will die from abuse and neglect. Around 85 of us will commit suicide, and another 120 will die in traffic accidents.

The chances that one of those horrible things will be that you're subjected to a terrorist attack can, for all practical purposes, be calculated as zero.

Nate Silver in an accompanying article presents statistical support for Campos' point. the decade of the 2000s, only about one passenger for every 25 million was killed in a terrorist attack aboard an American commercial airliner (all of the fatalities were on 9/11). By contrast, a person has about a one in 500,000 chance each year of being struck by lightning.
Relative to the number of commercial departures world-wide, passenger deaths resulting from what I term "violent passenger incidents"—bombings, hijackings, and other sabotage—were at least five times less common in the 2000s than in any decade from the 1940s through the 1980s.
The years between 2005 and 2009 (313 fatalities), in fact, represents the second safest period on record since at least 1970. Surely some of this is because of improved vigilance and intelligence.

Surely it is.
Campos' and Silver's thesis is that we expend far too much effort, time and money to prevent an almost non-existent threat. We should be trying to minimize more prevelant threats - murder and auto fatalities - by outlawing handguns and mandating long prison terms for the former; lowering speed limits and promoting high tech auto safety features for the latter.

Let's not quibble about some of Compos' questionable assertions. A few fanatic criminals? I'm not sure just how few of these there are. Criminals? I guess that's one way of putting it. Just not an accurate way. How about calling them soldiers? Warriors? Also, note that we could implement Campos' suggestions regarding murder and traffic deaths without any changes to our current antiterror practices. They're not mutually exclusive. And put aside whether or not the recommended measures would actually achieve their desired effects. That's a subject for a separate discussion.

The main problems with the Campos-Silver analysis are as follows. First there's the apparent misreading of cause and effect. We are highly focused on preventing terror attacks and terror attacks are rare. True. And your point is what? The New York Times a while back bemoaned the increased level of prison incarceration. With a decreasing crime rate no less. Makes no sense at all! This thinking has the perverse effect of punishing success. President Bush was maligned for his pre-occupation with preventing another 9/11. Well, there were no other 9/11s (or any other terror attack) during his tenure - what a waste of time and money!

And how about this enlightening observation by Silver,

The chance of a Westerner being killed by a terrorist is exceedingly low: about a one in three million each year, or the same chance an American will be killed by a tornado. (The Department of Homeland Security's budget is 50 times larger than that of the weather service).

So maybe if we bring the level of the DHS budget down to that of the NWS, deaths by terrorism will only rise to 50 per three million each year.

The only way to know if the low incidence of terrorism is due to the measures we're taking is to stop taking them. Does anyone want to be responsible for making that call? Campos' article derides the "increasingly pointless and invasive searches and the resultant delays", that our security system imposes on travelers. What's the alternative? Campos suggests
"Taking prudent steps to reasonably minimize the tiny threat we face from a few fanatic criminals..."
What prudent steps might these be? Armed marshalls on some flights? Ethnic profiling of the most likely terror suspects? (Good luck with that). He doesn't say.
This isn't to say that the system as it exists now is as efficient or effective as it could be. Improvements are needed. By all means fix what's not working.

But the biggest problem with the Campos-Silver calculus is not the (alleged) miniscule benefit in reducing "the risk from an extremely small nonzero number to a slightly smaller nonzero number" as Silver puts it. If the price of delaying and inconveniencing the flying public is preventing only 1 or 2 (or 3 or 4) blown up passenger jets a year - then it might be worth not paying it (though I disagree). But what if one of these attacks, maybe involving WMDs, is targeted in such a way as to cause great loss of life (tens of thousands or more) and/or widespread destruction? Outcomes that would have devastating and long lasting effects on our economy? Our way of life? Silver tries to dismiss this possibility, "...if history is any guide, the next attack will probably not be like 9/11—it will be like NWA 253, something which threatens the lives of dozens or hundreds of people, not thousands..." Note the caveats sewn into this statement - if history is any guide...the next attack...probably...
That phrasing is not reassuring when the potential consequences are catastrophic. It was a near miracle that the 9/11 attacks took "only" 3000 lives. Two 110 story office buildings collapsing during a weekday during rush hour in the heart of New York's financial district could have resulted in a death toll ten times that. It's what al-Queda was hoping for. Without a briefcase nuclear device or a "dirty bomb" on board the planes.

We have to consider what the jihadists are striving to accomplish, not just what they've accomplished so far. Risk analysis is only valid with relatively stable parameters - traffic fatalities, murder rates, lightning strikes are all fairly constant year to year. One "outlier" as Silver calls a 9/11 type attack, distorts the equation. One or more outliers invalidates it. And multiple outliers constitute war. Jihadists aspire to commit multiple outliers.

Whether they know it or not, and I think they know it, Campos and Silver, with their actuarial approach to the war, are one with the Obama approach. That is, the Obama approach before its absurdities were exposed by his recent response to the attempted bombing of flight 253. Then came a policy "adjustment". Sorry guys. There's votes involved. So now the president says we're at war with al-Queda. As with most of Obama's proclamations, these are empty words - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is still going to be tried as a civilian in a civilian court. But it sounds good.

Campos gets the rules of the game right - one score by the terrorists and they win. Only he misunderstands what constitutes a score and what the implications of the victory are.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"A Great American Patriot"

JFK's feelings became abundantly clear during a reunion banquet at Harvard. When an after-dinner speaker remarked that he was proud Harvard had never graduated an Alger Hiss and even prouder that it had never produced a Joe McCarthy, JFK exploded in anger. Rising at his seat, he shouted, "How dare you couple the name of a great American patriot with that of a traitor!" The other diners lapsed into shocked silence, and JFK departed without hearing the rest of the program.
From the biography, "John F. Kennedy" by Joyce Milton

M. Stanton Evans' book about the life and times of Senator Joe McCarthy, "Blacklisted By History" helps explain JFK's outrage. Ann Coulter's verdict (Ann being Ann) - "The greatest book since the Bible!" Well, maybe. Its thesis is strongly revisionist, trashing the current distorted narrative of McCarthy as a devious destroyer of innocent lives. It's supported by exhaustive research - Evans spent more than a decade writing it. Rich in detail and documentation, it can be used as a source of information even by readers disagreeing with its conclusions.

Evans includes a brief biography of his subject and he debunks the caricature of McCarthy as a loutish, drunken brute. But the bulk of his efforts are devoted to an examination of McCarthy's cases - their merits, how they were investigated, handled and resolved. Indeed, McCarthy is absent from large portions of the narrative as Evans details the specifics and scope of Communist infiltration of the government during the 30s, 40s and 50s. He cites current accessible sources of information that were not available in the fifties. These include the Venona decrypts -Soviet messages intercepted and decoded by U.S. intelligence agencies beginning in the 40s; Soviet data obtained from Communist satellite countries after the fall of Communism; and voluminous FBI counterintelligence archives. Evans writes,

(What these sources) reveal about the clandestine Cold War record is remarkably consistent. Severally and jointly, all of them tell us that the Soviet Union was running a worldwide espionage and influence operation aimed at infiltrating the societies and governments of the West. These efforts were geared to obtaining diplomatic and other official information useful to the Kremlin, securing weapons technology and data, acquiring industrial know-how, and influencing the policies of target nations in favor of the Soviet interest.

Also confirmed by the new materials is something known from other sources but frequently contested: that the Communist Party USA was a faithful creature of the Soviet Union. Far from being mere indigenous radicals working for peace and social justice, as sometimes argued, the party and its members were subservient tools of Moscow—and those who weren’t subservient didn’t stay very long as members. The party was funded by the USSR, sent its delegates to Russia to be vetted and receive instructions, and was withal a functioning part of the Kremlin apparatus, enmeshed in spying, policy sabotage and disinformation projects at the behest of Stalin and his agents. From a composite of all these data, it’s evident the Soviet/Communist operation in the United States, as elsewhere, was vast, sophisticated, and effective, nowhere more so than in seeking positions of official influence. The Red networks reached into virtually every important aspect of the U.S. government, up to very high levels, the State Department notably included. All of which was obviously congruent with the warnings of McCarthy and others who sounded the alarm about such matters in the late 1940s and early ’50s. There was in fact an immense conspiracy afoot, there were secret Communists burrowing in the woodwork, and these Communists were, in case after case, devoted agents of the Soviet Union.

Whittaker Chambers had previously disclosed this vast CP involvement in Soviet infiltration in his 1950 autobiography, "Witness". "Blacklisted In History" adds to and elaborates this.
Key advisory posts were filled by Communist sympathizers or outright Soviet agents and there is ample evidence of their influence in policy decisions. Evans details several instances of these. Just a few examples - A potential pre-war peace deal with Japan was derailed on the grounds that we would be abandoning our alliance with Chinese nationalist Chiang-Kai Shek. Without a truce in place, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and directed their war efforts toward the Pacific rather than the Soviet Union.
Once the war was over, we flipped and did abandon Chiang, paving the way for the Communist takeover of China.
In Yugoslavia during the WW2, the decision was made to support the anti-Nazi, pro-Communist Marshall Tito. Support for the anti-Nazi, anti-Communist Serbian Draha Mihailovich was dropped despite Mihailovich having entered the fight against the fascists three months earlier than had Tito. After the war, Tito became ruler of Yugoslavia.
The Yalta and Potsdam conferences, with Communist advisors like Soviet agent Alger Hiss among the American contingent, produced results highly favorable for the Russians- control of half of Europe.
In each of these cases, as Evans shows, there were influential pro-Red forces in the government pushing for the outcomes that were ultimately realized. This disgraceful scandal is not mitigated by the (remote) possibility that these outcomes would have resulted even without those forces in place. McCarthy recognized the scandal for what it was and fought to prevent its continuation.
In late 1949, after the fall of China, Secretary of State Dean Acheson made a policy pronouncement which essentially conceded Korea and Taiwan to the Communists, saying it was inevitable and no big deal. That it did not happen may or may not have been related to Joe McCarthy's emergence onto the scene a few weeks later.

Providing the extensive backdrop to the McCarthy saga is one significant achievement of Evans' book. Another is the systematic detailing of the investigations and hearings with which not only McCarthy, but a host of other influential actors were involved - J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Dies (McCarthy's red-hunting predecessor), Pat McCarran, Richard Nixon, Millard Tydings, Hubert Humphrey, Scoop Jackson, Everett Dirksen, Barry Goldwater, and many, many more. Among these was Robert F. Kennedy who was so impressed with McCarthy that he named him godfather to his first child, Kathleen. In 1953 McCarthy was appointed chairman of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He chose Roy Cohn as chief counsel and Robert Kennedy as an assistant counsel to the subcommittee. Evans speculates about what a reversal of those roles might have meant.

The mind boggles at what might have happened if young Robert Kennedy (then twenty-seven) had become, as he and his father devoutly wished, the chief counsel to new committee chairman Joe McCarthy. Kennedy’s own political career would doubtless have been different in many ways, and Joe McCarthy’s would have been quite different also. And the historians who idolize the first and condemn the second would have an even more awkward task before them in squaring this improbable circle.

No patience to read the whole book? Try the chapter covering the case of Annie Lee Moss. Though not McCarthy's most important case it's his most famous, made so by TV and newspaper coverage which depicted her as a pitiful victim of McCarthyism. The legend of Annie Lee Moss (as Evans calls it) has also been propagated through the years by its association with CBS news correspondent Edward R. Murrow, recently in George Clooney's 2005 fantasy film, "Good Night and Good Luck".
The case is a microcosm of the McCarthy phenomenon. There's the blatant security breach, McCarthy's reliably well-informed and on-target accusation, the dishonesty and obfuscation practiced by his opponents, and the perpetuation of a myth that continues to this day.

Ann Coulter devotes part of her book, "Treason" to defending McCarthy. She brings up the Moss case and lays out a small portion of the evidence against her. (Evans is much more thorough). Dorothy Rabinowitz, in a Wall Street Journal column responding to Coulter's book, tore into her about McCarthy. In doing so, she tried to refute Coulter's argument against Moss. As Evans points out, Rabinowitz' op-ed was misinformed and misleading. The considerable respect I have for Rabinowitz' judgement took a hit after I read her piece.

Another revealing and entertaining episode in Evans' book is his narrative of the circumstances that led to Army counsel Joe Welch's famous (infamous?) line "Have you left no sense of decency, sir?!" The transcript of the back and forth between Welch and Roy Cohn and Welch and McCarthy is by turns hilarious and maddening. Welch comes across as a flamboyant demagogue, raising irrelevant issues and distorting others (sound familiar?). Yet, Welch was applauded after his contrived outburst and to many he remains a heroic figure.

One major shortcoming of "Blacklisted By History" is that while the author concedes that McCarthy made mistakes, he doesn't elaborate on their severity. For example Evans offers this summation.

That McCarthy made his share of errors, some contributing to his downfall, is true enough. A number of such have been noted in these pages: errors of detail in the presentation of his cases; the Marshall speech, a huge error of judgment and to some degree as well of fact; the unprovable “espionage” charge against Owen Lattimore; the emotional blowup with Zwicker; the use of harsh invective against various foes (though no harsher than the invective used against him). And errors, too, of omission: failure to tell the Senate he was mining data from the Lee list; not reining in Roy Cohn when he was badgering the Army about Schine.

McCarthy's speech about General George C. Marshall was a 70,000 word diatribe directed against a war hero with an impeccable record of loyalty. It was his most disastrous misstep and hastened his downfall. Yet Evans provides no excerpts from the speech which contained some truly outrageous claims - for example, that the Marshall Plan was inspired by U.S. Communist Party leader Earl Browder. [Correction, 1/11/10 - The preceding sentence is inaccurate - see comments below]

Marshall did deserve criticism for his laxity in managing the situation in China. As Evans writes,

FDR’s secret Yalta deal with Stalin, McCarthy noted, gave the Soviets control of Manchuria’s ports and railway system, while inviting them at virtually no cost to themselves to take possession of this all-important Chinese province. This handover of Manchuria, the speech asserted, was the basis for much that happened later in China, as the Soviets looted the province of Japanese arms and ammunition, then turned much of this plunder over to their Yenan allies. The speech spotlighted the role of Marshall in this disastrous sequence and the China debacle that followed, most notably his mission there in 1946 on behalf of President Truman.

McCarthy's excessively strident attack obscured all this, spotlighting his own demagoguery instead. Evans also writes of McCarthy's "invective against various foes" but gives no examples.
Evans may have wanted to counter the current overwhelming negative picture of McCarthy by de-emphasizing his darker side. However, his book would have been stronger, more complete, by including some evidence that that negativity was not wholly without merit. Evans' thesis would still be valid - that McCarthy, though far from perfect, was more right than not and certainly more right than his opponents. That the characteristics that made him reckless also equipped him with the qualities necessary to fight his noble cause.

That McCarthy was a flawed champion of the cause he served is not in doubt (and who among us isn’t?). It would have been better had he been less impulsive, more nuanced, more subtle in his judgments. On the other hand, somebody more nuanced and refined wouldn’t have dreamed of grappling with the forces deployed against him. Those forces were powerful, smart, and tough, and they played for keeps. Taking them on was the task, not for a Supreme Court justice, but for a warrior. McCarthy, to his dying breath, was that.
Measured by the total record of his cases and political battles, McCarthy, whatever his faults, was a good man and true—better and truer by far than the tag teams of cover-up artists and backstage plotters who connived unceasingly to destroy him. The truth he served, moreover, was of the greatest import—the exposure of people who meant to do us grievous harm, and of long-standing indifference toward this menace by many at high official levels.

And what were the beneficial results of McCarthy's efforts? Evans reels them off.

Had McCarthy done nothing more during his uproarious heyday in the Senate, his role in blowing the lid off the Amerasia scandal would deserve the plaudits of a grateful nation. This not only because of the intrinsic meaning of the case, but because it was the gateway to still other unthinkable revelations from the darker precincts of the Cold War. And let there be no mistake that it was McCarthy who led the charge—constantly hammering on the case, digging up security data on Service, and otherwise exerting pressure on the Amerasia crowd and those complicit in its doings. Hoover and his agents knew the facts—knew far more than did McCarthy—but had to do their fighting behind the scenes, in a secret war of dueling memos.
(Amerasia was a 40s Communist, Asian affairs periodical into which confidential State Department documents somehow found their way).

It’s true that, ultimately, they got him; but it’s equally true that, before this happened, he got them—or at least a sizable number of them. In case after significant case—Service, Vincent, Lattimore, Jessup, Brunauer, O. Edmund Clubb, and scores of others—McCarthy’s targets were driven from the field, and with them the Amerasia/IPR agenda for more Far East capitulations. It’s doubtful that any other American figure, outside the confines of the White House, had more impact on the course of Cold War history.

There were some other consequences also, in what might be viewed as collateral McCarthy damage. The Communist agent Mary Jane Keeney would finally lose her job at the United Nations, while the Soviet henchman Sol Adler decided in May 1950, at the fever pitch of the McCarthy furor, that the time had come to quit the Treasury and leave the country. Lauchlin Currie, though no longer holding a federal job, had been hanging around since 1945. He, too, departed in 1950. Perhaps it was mere coincidence that these two Soviet agents decided to skip precisely at this juncture; and perhaps it wasn’t.
Still other direct and indirect examples of McCarthy’s impact might be cited—most notably the firming up of security measures by the Truman administration in late 1951, switching from the unworkable “reasonable grounds” criterion to “reasonable doubt” (as recommended by Hiram Bingham), providing some realistic prospect of ousting egregious risks who lingered on the federal payroll. Such was the trend toward tougher McCarthy-driven security measures that developed in the early 1950s—aka the “reign of terror.”
There are more instances of the McCarthy effect, but a couple relating to the Ike age and McCarthy’s tenure as committee chairman are offered here by way of wrap-up. It’s a remarkable but generally neglected fact that every major McCarthy investigation in the period 1953–54 resulted in some significant change in governmental practice: the State Department files, the business about Baker West, books in overseas reading centers, the loyalty drill at GPO, the Pentagon security daze suggested by Peress and Moss, and so on. In every instance, the officials in charge admitted there had been enormous foul-ups, and moved to take corrective action.
And there were also, as in the Truman era, some indirect consequences of McCarthy’s hearings. As the executive sessions and backup committee records show, McCarthy beginning in mid-1953 was on the trail of Robert Oppenheimer, a fact well known to Ike and his lieutenants. There isn’t much doubt this helped force the hand of the administration, impelling it to move on Oppenheimer before McCarthy did so. Thus Oppenheimer, too, could be added to the list of those who were in some fashion “victims” of McCarthy.

In the end he perished, politically and otherwise, in the rubble he pulled down around him. Yet when the final chapter in the conflict with Moscow was written, amid yet another pile of rubble, he was not without his triumph.

Evans briefly discusses the motivations of McCarthy's enemies and speculates about the causes of McCarthy's near-universal vilification. One point he doesn't make and which I believe is a factor in McCarthy's demonization, is the blase attitude that most people have towards Communism. Despite deserving the title as the most murderous ideology in history, Communism is usually considered to be just an enthusiastic version of Progressivism. A couple of years ago, Mark Steyn wrote a column profiling Pete Seeger (good piece-link below). Steyn noted that the Washington Post had endearingly named the long time folk singer, "America's Favorite Commie". Steyn countered that we don't have a "Best Loved Nazi" or "Best Loved Fascist" or even a "Best Loved Republican". If McCarthy had been a Nazi hunter his image would undoubtedly be quite different today.
Instead we have the portrayal of McCarthy as monster and the term "McCarthyism" defined as "the politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence". (Wikipedia). Thus a book showing McCarthy in a positive light has about as much appeal to most people as a discussion of the positive aspects of child abuse.
Hillsdale College history professor John Willson had this to say about "Blacklisted By History",

Let’s predict a couple of things about this very important book. First, it will seldom be reviewed. It will be set up for target practice; that is, second, if it is not altogether ignored, becoming a non-book by the dictates of the heirs of the people who swept its subject into the dustbins of history, viciously spitting on his grave.

The scope of "Blacklisted By History" goes far beyond the meager synopsis I've given it. It's comprised of 600+ pages of fact dense material. It should be read even (especially!) by those intractably convinced of the conventional portrayal of McCarthy. Heed the bumper sticker wisdom, "A Mind Is Like A Parachute. It Works Only When Open".

Steyn's article

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why Isn't This Woman President?!

Sarah Palin on the Abdulmutallab fiasco.

"President Obama’s meeting with his top national security advisers does nothing to change the fact that his fundamental approach to terrorism is fatally flawed. We are at war with radical Islamic extremists and treating this threat as a law enforcement issue is dangerous for our nation’s security. That’s what happened in the 1990s and we saw the result on September 11, 2001. This is a war on terror not an “overseas contingency operation.” Acts of terrorism are just that, not “man caused disasters.” The system did not work. Abdulmutallab was a child of privilege radicalized and trained by organized jihadists, not an “isolated extremist” who traveled to a land of “crushing poverty.” He is an enemy of the United States, not just another criminal defendant.

It simply makes no sense to treat an al Qaeda-trained operative willing to die in the course of massacring hundreds of people as a common criminal. Reports indicate that Abdulmutallab stated there were many more like him in Yemen but that he stopped talking once he was read his Miranda rights. President Obama’s advisers lamely claim Abdulmutallab might be willing to agree to a plea bargain – pretty doubtful you can cut a deal with a suicide bomber. John Brennan, the President’s top counterterrorism adviser, bizarrely claimed “there are no downsides or upsides” to treating terrorists as enemy combatants. That is absurd. There is a very serious downside to treating them as criminals: terrorists invoke their “right” to remain silent and stop talking. Terrorists don’t tell us where they were trained, what they were trained in, who they were trained by, and who they were trained with. Giving foreign-born, foreign-trained terrorists the right to remain silent does nothing to keep Americans safe from terrorist threats. It only gives our enemies access to courtrooms where they can publicly grandstand, and to defense attorneys who can manipulate the legal process to gain access to classified information.

President Obama was right to change his policy and decide to send no more detainees to Yemen where they can be free to rejoin their war on America. Now he must back off his reckless plan to close Guantanamo, begin treating terrorists as wartime enemies not suspects alleged to have committed crimes, and recognize that the real nature of the terrorist threat requires a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Worthwhile Reading

Mark Steyn on the bumbling response to the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt.

Jonah Goldberg on the current misinformed capitalism-bashing craze.

Since 2000, hundreds of millions of people in China and India — home to a plurality of the world’s poor — have lifted themselves out of poverty and illiteracy thanks to capitalism.
China started to embrace markets as a last resort in the late 1970s. And by last resort, I mean last resort. First they tried murdering tens of millions of their own people through collectivism and oppression. When that didn’t work, they embraced markets, and the poverty rate dropped from 64 percent to around 8 percent today.

...Every good thing capitalism helps produce — from singing careers to cures for diseases to staggering charity — is credited to some other sphere of our lives. Every problem with capitalism, meanwhile, is laid at her feet.

And also, for the most current and best informed discussion of the goings-on in the war against radical Islam, follow the Dynamic Duo over at The Weekly Standard blogsite, Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn.
Michael Goldfarb on that site had this to say about Joscelyn.

If Obama would just replace Dennis Blair (Director of National Intelligence) with Tom Joscelyn, I'm pretty sure we'd never again have a "systemic failure" of the kind that let a known Nigerian terrorist onto a U.S. flight with a bomb in his underwear.

The S Word

In the latest issue of National Review (12/31/09) a series of essays profiles four influential Progressives (Richard Ely, John Dewey, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Herbert Croly) and examines how their ideas helped shape current liberal thinking. The piece on Dewey quotes him as follows.

“The greatest handicap from which special measures favored by the Socialists suffer,” Dewey declared, “is that they are advanced by the Socialist party as Socialism. The prejudice against the name may be a regrettable prejudice but its influence is so powerful that it is much more reasonable to imagine all but the most dogmatic Socialists joining a new party than to imagine any considerable part of the American people going over to them.”

One of the best kept secrets of the Democratic Party is their allegiance to core Socialist principles. They are restrained from openly naming their ideology by admonitions like Dewey's (and others). To the extent that they're prevented from implementing Socialist programs we can thank our Constitution and tradition of individual liberty. However, both of these protections are gradually wearing away under the Democrats' relentless assaults. Thus the unconstitutionality of the current proposed health insurance mandate will likely prove not to be an impediment to its enactment.

Apparently Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders never got the memo and calls himself a Socialist. But all the most powerful Democratic politicians, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Charles Rangel, Henry Waxman, Chuck Schumer, Christopher Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, et al, subscribe to the same ideology as Sanders and seek to advance the same agenda.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bringing A Knife To A Gunfight

Some recent comments about the near bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Bill Kristol (Weekly Standard blog):

The price we may be paying for the Obama’s administration knee-jerk decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal suspect rather than an enemy combatant could be stunning. As a friend -- an attorney with national security experience -- points out in an e-mail, “In Abdulmutallab, we have a terrorist in custody who's probably a lot smarter than the Richard Reids and Zacarias Moussaouis of the world, at least based on his educational background, and who therefore may be a rich source of intelligence --and we're letting him invoke Constitutional protections that he has only by virtue of coming to our country to murder hundreds of people!”

I’d add that this is a guy who’s been in very recent touch with important people in terror networks in -- at a minimum -- Africa, Yemen, and London. It’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have operational intelligence he could give us that would help us -- perhaps help us a lot. But we’re not treating him as an enemy combatant, and therefore not treating his capture as an intelligence and counter-terrorism opportunity, but instead as a matter for the criminal justice system!

Charles Krauthammer (NRO):

The reason the country is uneasy about the Obama administration’s response to this attack is a distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension. From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to downplay and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano renames terrorism “man-caused disasters.” Obama goes abroad and pledges to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence, Guantanamo will close, CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York — a trifecta of political correctness and image management.

...Obama referred to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as “an isolated extremist.” This is the same president who, after the Ford Hood shooting, warned us “against jumping to conclusions” — code for daring to associate Nidal Hasan’s mass murder with his Islamist ideology. Yet, with Abdulmutallab, Obama jumped immediately to the conclusion, against all existing evidence, that the bomber acted alone.

More jarring still were Obama’s references to the terrorist as a “suspect” who “allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device.” You can hear the echo of FDR: “Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — Japanese naval and air force suspects allegedly bombed Pearl Harbor.”

Obama reassured the nation that this “suspect” had been charged. Reassurance? The president should be saying: We have captured an enemy combatant — an illegal combatant under the laws of war: no uniform, direct attack on civilians — and now to prevent future attacks, he is being interrogated regarding information he may have about al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Instead, Abdulmutallab is dispatched to some Detroit-area jail and immediately lawyered up. At which point — surprise! — he stops talking.
This absurdity renders hollow Obama’s declaration that “we will not rest until we find all who were involved.” Once we’ve given Abdulmutallab the right to remain silent, we have gratuitously forfeited our right to find out from him precisely who else was involved, namely those who trained, instructed, armed, and sent him.

This is all quite mad even in Obama’s terms. He sends 30,000 troops to fight terror overseas, yet if any terrorists come to attack us here, they are magically transformed from enemy into defendant.

The logic is perverse. If we find Abdulmutallab in an al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen, where he is merely preparing for a terror attack, we snuff him out with a Predator — no judge, no jury, no qualms. But if we catch him in the United States in the very act of mass murder, he instantly acquires protection not just from execution by drone but even from interrogation.

Andrew McCarthy (NRO) says lay off Janet Napolitano :

Napolitano is an apt representation of Obama-style detachment from national security: She doesn't know where the 9/11 hijackers came from; she doesn't know illegal immigration is a criminal offense; she won't utter the word "terror" (it's a "man-caused disaster," just like, say, a forest fire); she thinks the real terrorists are "right-wing extremists" aided and abetted by our soldiers returning home from their missions; when a jihadist at Fort Hood massacres more people than were killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, she won't call it terrorism and worries mostly about racist blow-back against innocent Muslims; she doesn't see any indications of a larger terrorist conspiracy even after a captured — er, arrested — terrorist tells agents he was groomed for the airplane operation by al Qaeda in Yemen; she thinks the "system worked" on Christmas when every element of it failed; and even her walk-back on the "system worked" comment — i.e., that it worked after the fact because all the planes then in the air were notified to take extra precautions "within 90 minutes" of the attack — is pathetic. You may recall that on 9/11, the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. and the second at 9:16 a.m.; the Pentagon was struck at 9:37 a.m., and, thanks to the heroic passengers of Flight 93, the last plane went down a little after 10 a.m. — about 20 minutes from its target in Washington. A lot can happen in 90 minutes.

When DHS came into being, a good friend of mine put it perfectly: "We already have a Department of Homeland Security and its address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." It is there, not at DHS, that the problem resides. The President has in place exactly the team he wants. To clamor for Napolitano's firing when she is just carrying out the boss's program is to shift the blame from where it belongs.

Michael Goldfarb (Weekly Standard blog) :

On Monday I posted a question from a friend and suggested Scott Rasmussen might want to put that question to the American public. Here's the question as it was emailed to me:

Do you think most Americans prefer that this guy is A) Watching cable tv is a warm cell funded by taxpayers and enjoying his right to remain silent (i.e, BHO reality); or B) At an undisclosed location being waterboarded to learn about his little friends back in Yemen and their plans to kill us. I'd say 65% + of Americans would prefer B.... But just a guess.

Ask and ye shall receive. Rasmussen releases a poll today showing that 58 percent of Americans "say waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques should be used to gain information from the terrorist who attempted to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day." My guess was off by a few points, but then again Rasmussen probably framed the question a little bit differently than we did above.

Perhaps most startling, just 30 percent of Americans oppose the use of such enhanced interrogation techniques, but among those 30 percent is the President of the United States, who allowed law enforcement to arrest the Nigerian and read him his rights, including the right to remain silent, though somehow we are supposed to be comforted by the fact that even after he was told of his right to remain silent, law enforcement can still try and interrogate him. Not surprisingly, that turns out to be an ineffective approach. As the Washington Post reported yesterday, "Abdulmutallab remains in a Detroit area prison and, after initial debriefings by the FBI, has restricted his cooperation since securing a defense attorney, according to federal officials."

Other interesting numbers from the Rasmussen poll:

Should the attempt to blow up the airliner be investigated by military authorities as a terrorist act or by civilian authorities as a criminal act?

71% By the military as a terrorist act
22% By civilian authorities as a criminal act
7% Not sure

Only 22 percent believe that this should be handled by law enforcement! This isn't even an argument anymore, the Cheney view is now the dominant view among the American public.