The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Iran: running out of time

Oliver Guitta makes a solid case that diplomacy is dead in Iran. Is revolution next?

Time is running out and Iran is getting closer by the day to getting the Bomb. The diplomatic option is dead in the water. According to many military experts, the military option is not looking too good either, because of bad intelligence assets on the grounds, dispersed underground sites and potential disastrous repercussions. Two recently formed Washington DC think tanks, the Iran Freedom Foundation and the Iran Policy Committee (IPC), are advocating a third solution: regime change initiated by Iranians. At a recent AIPAC conference, Defense expert Richard Perle advocated a mix of tough economic and diplomatic sanctions combined with help to dissidents. This looks like the only realistic option to solve this thorny, dangerous and most pressing issue.

One wonders just how realistic this option is; can the world afford to take the risk of a Nuclear Iran selling its nukes to our enemies. A great place to keep an eye on this is the blog Regime Change in Iran.
DiscerningTexan, 5/31/2005 08:52:00 PM | Permalink | |

McCain's heavy burden

As I have been saying for days, John McCain may have cost himself the one thing he's always wanted: the Presidency. Brendan Mintner agrees:

Now, however, the answer to the question is obvious: Conservatives can and do win elections for the Republican Party. What the McCain Myth ignores is that for now a majority of voters nationwide embrace conservative principles. Talk of being a "compassionate conservative" notwithstanding, it wasn't maverick moderatism that handed President Bush victories in 2000 and 2004. Nor has the McCain Myth been responsible for padding Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Indeed, Republicans have been winning by sticking to their principles and not bucking their party's ideas on tax cuts, national defense or reforming the judiciary.

What's changed since 2000 is that it's become clear that the conservatives have become the Republican establishment by being able to claim credit for almost every ballot-box victory since 1980--including that of Vice President Bush, who in 1988 had the support of the conservative wing, which hoped--futilely, it turned out--that he would continue the Reagan revolution. After Mr. Bush's 1992 defeat, conservatives took over Congress in 1994, and a moderate Republican lost the presidential race in 1996. No one represents the changing of the guard better than George W. Bush himself, who is now pushing revolutionary conservative ideas in every arena from defense to Social Security to tax reform.

Having come this far, what Mr. McCain and the other Republican Senate "moderates" in last week's compromise would have the party do is give up on the very principles that is winning elections. All in the name of appealing to the "middle" of the electorate that is already voting for the party.

This is really a lesson better served up to Democrats, who have been losing elections despite record turnouts among base voters. The Democratic Leadership Council, a moderate group that helped elected Bill Clinton in 1992 as a "new Democrat," is doing just that. In the current issue of the group's bimonthly magazine, Blueprint, former McCain aide Marshall Wittmann, now a senior fellow at the DLC, urges Democrats to use the Arizona senator as model in bucking the party's principles. He's surely right that the party would be well served by putting the nation's interests ahead of the party's ideology. Other articles in the issue spell out a few specific areas in which Democrats who bucked party orthodoxy would likely be rewarded for it: national defense, religious faith in politics, even Social Security reform.

Noticed the highlighted portion of the quoted paragraph. If that doesn't say it all about McCain, what does?
DiscerningTexan, 5/31/2005 08:36:00 PM | Permalink | |

A way around "the betrayal"

Tod Lindberg, writing in the Washington Times, argues that there may be a way the Republicans can benefit from the recent "deal" with the Dems:

To recover, the White House needs exactly the right nominee for chief justice should William Rehnquist step down. That would be Justice Antonin Scalia. (Justice Clarence Thomas would solve the problem with the right, but would create an opportunity for Democrats to try to block the appointment in a way that Justice Scalia doesn't.)

It will then be up to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to persuade the seven GOP dealmakers that a Democratic filibuster of Justice Scalia would be unacceptable under the terms of their deal. After all, Justice Scalia's elevation would do nothing to the balance on the court, and the idea that the constitutionally mandated position of chief justice of the United States would sit vacant because of a Democratic filibuster of a nominee who is already on the court and commands majority support in the Senate is outrageous. It will be up to the GOP seven to make that position clear to their seven Democratic counterparts.

Who, then, takes the Scalia seat? From the vantage of optimal GOP political impact, one of the three who get through according to the terms of this deal. They will just have been confirmed in accordance with it; it would be difficult for the Democratic seven to switch sides and now argue "extraordinary" unacceptability.

That's the point at which Democrats might begin to regret (and Republicans grudgingly accept) last week's deal.

I do see his point, however it would be a pretty bold move for Bush to immediately nominate Owen or Brown...
DiscerningTexan, 5/31/2005 08:20:00 PM | Permalink | |
Monday, May 30, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 5/30/2005 03:56:00 PM | Permalink | |

Remembering WHO...but also remembering WHAT

Great essay on the American Thinker site, from a 21 year old attorney in California, in which she describes events that brought home the real meaning of Memorial Day to her.

In this wonderful story about a young woman's discovery of the real meaning of sacrifice, the author quotes Reagan's 1985 speech at Arlington National cemetery. Moved by her piece, and by Reagan's words that she cited, I followed her link to that speech; and it was then that the words of the Gipper hit me right between the eyes as being hugely relevant to our situation today:

It is, in a way, an odd thing to honor those who died in defense of our country, in defense of us, in wars far away. The imagination plays a trick. We see these soldiers in our mind as old and wise. We see them as something like the Founding Fathers, grave and gray haired. But most of them were boys when they died, and they gave up two lives -- the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for our country, for us. And all we can do is remember.

There's always someone who is remembering for us. No matter what time of year it is or what time of day, there are always people who come to this cemetery, leave a flag or a flower or a little rock on a headstone. And they stop and bow their heads and communicate what they wished to communicate. They say, ``Hello, Johnny,'' or ``Hello, Bob. We still think of you. You're still with us. We never got over you, and we pray for you still, and we'll see you again. We'll all meet again.''

In a way, they represent us, these relatives and friends, and they speak for us as they walk among the headstones and remember. It's not so hard to summon memory, but it's hard to recapture meaning.

And the living have a responsibility to remember the conditions that led to the wars in which our heroes died. Perhaps we can start by remembering this: that all of those who died for us and our country were, in one way or another, victims of a peace process that failed; victims of a decision to forget certain things; to forget, for instance, that the surest way to keep a peace going is to stay strong.

Weakness, after all, is a temptation -- it tempts the pugnacious to assert themselves -- but strength is a declaration that cannot be misunderstood. Strength is a condition that declares actions have consequences. Strength is a prudent warning to the belligerent that aggression need not go unanswered.

Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we're little more than the crust of a continent.

Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God's first intellectual gift to man: common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.

We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds. Peace is imperiled when we forget to try for agreements and settlements and treaties; when we forget to hold out our hands and strive; when we forget that God gave us talents to use in securing the ends He desires. Peace fails when we forget that agreements, once made, cannot be broken without a price.

Are you listening New York Times? Are you hearing this Newsweek? Are you haters of this country who nevertheless enjoy its fruits and who profit from its freedoms every day coming anywhere near understanding what is being said here?

What these words mean is that these fallen heroes have sacrificed far too much for us to now permit our freedom be threatened by despots who do not keep their word, or worse, by those who live here whose inaction, twisted half truths and incessant negativity in the face of those who would gladly kill us all, sends a message of surrender and appeasement that can only be interpreted by our enemies as weakness, as an open invitation to embolden their efforts against us.

If you have ever walked through a Civil War battleground, if you have seen the miles of crosses at Normandy, if you have grown misty eyed at the rows and rows and rows of the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery, you know that far too many young and noble soldiers have paid the ultimate price--for any of us who do feel this sacrifice in our bones, who do understand the enormity of what has been paid for us in blood already, to ever even consider allowing these weak-kneed America-hating appeasers to threaten our freedom now.

We owe the fallen an unimaginable debt of gratitude. But we also owe them our own pledge to not allow those who would tear down everything that these men and women in the prime of their lives have died for to succeed in the destruction of all we hold dear. Today is not merely a day to remember those who died, but to hold high the ideals they died for -- and for each of us to renew our own commitment to those ideals--and finally to stand up to anyone or anything who would tear apart this magnificent experiment we call America.

We are at war with those people today, and every day. The enemy sits in the ivory towers of places like the New York Times and Reuters and Newsweek and every day looks for ways to weaken the ideals and values that this country was built upon. To demean the job our men and women are staring down death every day to do. And like those who have heeded the call and paid the ultimate price in the past, we too must now step up and must not allow their deaths to have been in vain. These men and women, killed in the prime of their youth, call to us--they call for us to carry on, to carry that torch, to light the way for those who will follow. God bless them and God bless all who continue in that noble crusade.
DiscerningTexan, 5/30/2005 11:23:00 AM | Permalink | |
Sunday, May 29, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 5/29/2005 06:40:00 PM | Permalink | |

Halting the Runaway Court

A very timely piece, bordering on the "must-read", is up on the US News site today from John Leo, entitled "Time to fix the Court".

In light of the "compromise" this week over judicial filibusters, it would be disingenuous for Democrats to immediately revert back to this unprecedented tactic simply because they would prefer that the President to nominate so called "moderates" to the Court (e.g. if Ruth Bader-Ginsberg is a "moderate", then I am a communist..).

Leo correctly points out that Court nominations are so critically important to Conservative thinkers not because the laws they "enact" will be more Conservative in nature; but rather because Originalist judges alone understand that it is not the Constitutional right of the Supreme Court to enact laws at all. And for Democrats to filibuster simply because they cannot win at the ballot box needs to be shown for what it is: blind partisanship and shallow disregard for the Law of the Land.

The Constitution clearly intended for the people to enact the laws and for the Court to interpret the laws strictly in the light of whether they violate the one legal document that IS the law of our land, the Constitution:

As soon as the filibuster deal was announced, we began to hear the argument that President Bush should sustain the spirit of compromise by naming a moderate as his first selection to the Supreme Court. This suggestion, floated mostly by Democrats and faithfully carried in headlines and news reports as a neutral idea, boils down to this: It would be needlessly provocative for Bush to name a Supreme Court justice who reflects his party's basic conviction that something is very wrong with the courts.

Here is the dominant Republican concern in two short sentences, as framed by blogger Mickey Kaus (a conservative Democrat, as it happens): "In the post-Warren era, judges . . . have almost uncheckable antidemocratic power. The Constitution has been durably politicized in a way that the Framers didn't anticipate."

Burt Neuborne of New York University law school said recently that his fellow Democrats may be making a mistake by depending so heavily on judges to establish law without seeking true public support.

Well, that's one way of putting it.

Another is simply to say that the Democrats consistently rely on judges to impose legislation that they can't get through the normal democratic process because majorities don't want it. As a result, our politics and our courts have been deformed. A contempt for majorities keeps growing on the left, and contempt for the courts keeps rising on the right.

Megan McArdle, the sensible blogger at Asymmetrical Information, says Republicans are determined to pack the court because "it is the only way Democrats have left them to undo the quasi-legislation that liberal judges wrote."

Don't blow it. Democrats try to frame their case by saying that Republicans are attacking the independence of the judiciary. Not true. They are attacking the process by which the policy preferences of the left are removed from the democratic process and written into the Constitution. The current moment may be the one historic opportunity that the Republicans will have to halt and reverse this severe damage to the courts. If they blow this chance out of timidity or bipartisan niceness, many of us will conclude that the GOP is not really a serious party entitled to our support.

If it is true, as I believe, that the basic structure of the American government--an experiment that has been the most noble and durable form of governing ever divised--relies on the continuing integrity of our Constitution, and not the whims of a runaway Supreme Court to determine what the rule of law really means, then it is then imperative at this crossroads of history that the President not flinch from the duty he owes--not only to those who placed him into office with a Senatorial majority, but to the heirs of this great country--he MUST appoint Originalist judges to the Court--judges who will interpret, not try to re-write our Constitution, even if in doing so forces a historic confrontation in the Senate that shuts down the filibuster once and for all.

For this is how this country is designed to work. Anything short of a strict separation of powers, with three co-equal branches, and that oath the President took becomes empty and meaningless.

We have a historic opportunity to stop the bleeding now, before the patient is lost forever. We must not waver from this duty. And that goes for all of us: for the people who blog; and for people who should write newspapers, Senators, and even to the President himself--telling any and all who will listen that the time to fix this thing is now. Before it is too late for all of us and for those who will come after us.

The President took an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, so help me God." If those words mean anything to President Bush (and I still happen to believe they mean everything to him...if not to quasi-traitors like John McCain and Arlen Specter), then we must not only support the President in expecting him to nominate only justices to that court which will respect the integrity of our Constitution, and who will return the lawmaking powers to legislators who must answer to the people for their acts, rather than to justices who must answer to no one; we must also bring whatever level of pressure we can muster on the Republicans in the Senate, particularly the "Benedict Arnold 7".

For an "interpreting" judiciary, rather than a "legislating" judiciary wholly replects the intent of the Founders, and it is indeed the very heart of the difference between a Democratic Republic and a Judicial Dictatorship.
DiscerningTexan, 5/29/2005 04:47:00 PM | Permalink | |
Saturday, May 28, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 5/28/2005 07:32:00 PM | Permalink | |

Remembering men who mattered

A very moving Memorial Day remembrance from Daisy Cutter. Be sure and read it all.
DiscerningTexan, 5/28/2005 05:41:00 PM | Permalink | |

Moyers in Free Fall

Ann Coulter aims her tractor beam this week at PBS, and more specifically the one man who seems to be the spokesman for their politics, a man who quite simply appears to be losing his mind. Yes, I am talking about Bill Moyers.

Bill Moyers, the lamented, demented former host of the PBS program "Now With Bill Moyers," referred to the American-led war in Iraq as doing "to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us."

He called American flag pins "a little metallic icon of patriotism" comparable to Mao's Little Red Book being displayed on every Communist Party official's desk in China. This is silly. The metallic icons of patriotism that Mao used to keep the masses in line were considerably longer and sharper, and were usually applied to the back by a fellow "comrade."

Moyers denounced Condoleezza Rice for her ineptness in not preventing the 9/11 attack, despite a clearly worded memo stating: "Bin Laden determined to attack the United States." In other breaking news: Waitress in L.A. Determined to Become Actress. As Condi said, "I don't think you, frankly, had to have that report to know that bin Laden would like to attack the United States."

In his lengthy diatribe against Rice, Moyers said she had cried wolf, intentionally misleading "America and the world about the case for invading Iraq." Apparently Rice had said Iraq was "a part of the war on terror" on the grounds that Saddam was: (1) supporting terrorists, (2) a weapons of mass destruction threat and (3) "a tremendous barrier to change in the Middle East."

But as regular viewers of PBS know, in fact, we invaded Iraq for oil. Yes, precisely. That's why U.S. forces seized Iraq's oil fields right after Baghdad fell, confiscated their vast oil reserves, and now we can buy all the gasoline we want here at home for just pennies a gallon any time we want. Sorry, we what? Folks, my switchboard is completely lit up and this isn't even a radio show.

And it just keeps getting better from there...
DiscerningTexan, 5/28/2005 04:10:00 PM | Permalink | |

"Saving the country", "new spirit of cooperation", yada, yada...

Captain Ed's take on last week's Senate fiasco is pretty in sync with my own:

The AP's David Espo gets behind the scenes in the hours after the announcement of the compromise on judicial confirmations that the Gang of 14 heralded as a new era of Senate comity. Far from an emergent period of truce and trust, Espo reports that Harry Reid and the Democrats immediately began planning the exploitation of the pact to their advantage even as the indulgent backslapping still echoed in the hallways:

The signatures of 14 Senate centrists, seven from each party, spilled across the last page of a hard-won compromise on President Bush's judicial nominees. But whatever elation the negotiators felt, the Senate's Democratic leader did not share it.

In the privacy of his Capitol office last Monday night, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked for commitments from six Democrats fresh from the talks. Would they pledge to support filibusters against Brett Kavanaugh and William Haynes, two nominees not specifically covered by the pact with Republicans?
Some of the Democrats agreed. At least one, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, declined.

Details of Reid's attempt to kill the two nominations within minutes of the agreement, as well as other events during this tumultuous time, were obtained by The Associated Press in interviews with senators and aides in both parties. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing confidentiality pledges.

It didn't take more than a few minutes for Reid to read between the lines of the MOU to see how to exploit it. In that, one has to give him a tip of the hat; he instinctively knew what seven Republicans couldn't grasp with two hands and a map. It also tells us that the rest of Bush's nominees have no chance of making it to a floor vote, not without going back to the Byrd option.


Any of those seven Republican senators who honestly thought that the Democrats were interested in a "new spirit of bipartisanship" ought to have their heads examined. And if Harry Reid's broken promise to Frist over the Bolton cloture vote doesn't slap them back into step with the constituents who put them in office, then perhaps those constituents should think about replacing them with someone who will
DiscerningTexan, 5/28/2005 03:35:00 PM | Permalink | |
Friday, May 27, 2005

Is Syria next?

Using a bit of logical and deductional kung-fu, Tiger Hawk makes a good case that Syria has all but admitted guilt in backing the Iraqi "insurgents":

Condoleezza Rice has been hammering away at Syria in recent weeks, at one point saying that "Syria that needs to understand that it should not think itself immune from the way that the region is going." This is widely understood as an accusation that Syria has been supporting the reactionaries in Iraq, at least to the extent of ignoring their use of its border as an entrance and an exit.

Syria has responded with extended whining, finally declaring that it would no longer share intelligence or otherwise cooperate with the United States. Presumably to bolster the point that the United States would regret losing that cooperation, Syria announced yesterday that in recent weeks it had arrested 1,200 would-be insurgents who were attempting to cross from its territory into Iraq.

"We gave a lot of information to the United States on these issues, which prevented many attacks, but regrettably, the United States did not recognize such kind of help," [Syria's ambassador to the United Nations, Fayssal Mekdad,] said in an interview.

The Associated Press, it seems, has written this story upside down. If Syria has, in fact, been able to arrest more than a thousand insurgents in just the last few weeks, why hasn't it been doing that for the last two years? Syria, in its braggodocio, has implicitly confessed that it has been able to stop insurgents from crossing the border all along, and effectively admitted the charges against it.

UPDATE: Ooops. I spelled the Secretary of State's first name wrong. That's something that definitely would not happen in the mainstream media, so they have that going for them!

Excellent point! After 9/11, Bush stated that you are either with us or you are with the terrorists. And the left blew a gasket. But now that Syria has removed all doubt about assisting the US in the terror war, and indeed seems to have been supporting the "insurgents" all along, perhaps it is time for the "road to Damascus" to begin to feel the weight of F-16's, cruise missiles, and M-1 tanks... Wouldn't bother me a bit.
DiscerningTexan, 5/27/2005 05:10:00 PM | Permalink | |

A "United States of Europe"? Dream On

It seems the elitist French are almost certainly going to vote down the EU Constitution Sunday, effectively killing the dream of a "United States of Europe". No suprise here: France may a great place for food and wine, but the phrase "united we stand" never has and never will apply to their national psyche.

This is the same country that became "instant Nazis" and assisted with Jewish deportations rather than firing a shot in anger against Hitler; they could hardly be expected to muster real national will, especially if it meant they had to step down from their delusions of Napoleanic grandeur and become a part of something bigger.

The country of France is a has-been, a wonderful, beautiful place to visit if you want to turn back the clock, but a mere shadow of the once grand power that it was. This has never been clearer than over the last 5 years, when they have not only repeatedly bit the hand that freed them from German rule (twice), and kept them from becoming a Soviet puppet state (...and bit that hand because they were being paid off royally by a mass-murderer to do so...)--but by voting "no" they now too are biting the collective hands of their European neighbors who have just been freed from the tyranny of communist rule and long to become a part of a large European democracy. But from where I sit, the end of this "dream" is for the best: the Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, and Romanians can do much better without the snooty French albatross dragging them down. And the Brits are no doubt rejoicing that their old foes have once again emerged as a "can't do" nation. Surprise, surprise...
DiscerningTexan, 5/27/2005 04:07:00 PM | Permalink | |

VDH Skewers anti-American elites

When you are looking for good source material for one's blog, guys like Victor David Hanson and Mark Steyn are great places to check first because their arguments are always well reasoned, their opinions are usually spot on, and their prose is a pleasure to read. Today VDH (via National Review) was my first stop, and he did not fail to deliver a resonating blow to the elites who would take us down with their sinking ship:

Our Spoiled and Unhappy Global Elites
From hypocrisy to tedium.

Not long ago Pepsi Cola’s chief operating officer, Indra Nooyi, gave an
address to the graduating class at Columbia Business School. In it, she metaphorically likened America to the middle finger on the global hand.

Denunciations and anger arose from her use of the silly metaphor (e.g., “This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, the United States.…However, if used inappropriately — just like the U.S. itself — the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I'm talking about… So remember, when you extend your arm to colleagues and peoples from other countries, make sure that you're giving a hand, not the finger.”)

Then came her employer’s obligatory explication that she really did not mean what she said. And soon her defenders claimed hypersensitive Americans could not take well-meaning admonishment. Pepsi is a $27 billion company. Those who run it, like Nooyi, make big money from its global sales and take-no-prisoners marketing approach. Pepsi is not known for worrying too much about putting indigenous soft-drink makers out of business. Here at home it does not often allow small businesses to offer both Coke and Pepsi in a spirit of consumer convenience and choice. Roughshod, no-holds-barred business gets such a company to the top — and allows multimillion-dollar salaries for its grandee hardball officers.

Former cricket-star-turned-Pakistani-politician Imran Khan in some ways jumpstarted the Newsweek-induced frenzy when in a May 6 press conference he demanded an apology for the alleged slight to the Koran. “This is what the U.S. is doing,” Khan boomed, “desecrating the Koran.” His mischaracterization, based on a lie, was then beamed across the Middle East — and, presto, Mr. Khan got the anti-American outburst he apparently wanted.

Khan may have made his fortune and name in the British tabloids as a cricket star and international playboy of the London salons, a lifestyle that had strong affinities with the West rather than the madrassas. But now he is back in Pakistan crafting a political career and catering to the Islamists, even though religious extremism is antithetical to what allowed him to succeed and prosper abroad. Yet this same demagogue earlier urged Hindu extremists to remain calm during a recent cricket match between India and Pakistan.

After all, religious extremism is valuable to beat up the West and the United States — but not to the point that such fervor might endanger playing a Western sport amid frenzied Hindus. Left unsaid is that there is no place for an Imran Khan in the world of the Taliban, where soccer stadiums were used to lynch moderate Muslims, not enrich pampered athletes.

Arundhati Roy, the Booker-prize-winning novelist, has developed a second career critiquing the United States, especially its promotion of the free markets and capitalism that she believes are the catalysts for righteous hatred against America.

Roy doesn’t quite get that the reason that the UK recognizes an Indian novelist like her, writing halfway across the globe — and that she is able to jet over to the United States for lucrative speaking engagements, and that her books are mass-produced and hawked aggressively over global Internet book marts — is precisely the system that this child of capitalism so vehemently detests.

Pakistan, well before 9/11, was the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, and, in response, its intelligence services created the Taliban that in turn helped al Qaeda pull off September 11. India is making billions from an American free-trade policy that encourages outsourcing business overseas, even if it means the loss of U.S. jobs. Neither country has much of a legitimate gripe against the United States, and surely has not objected that its elites are going to the West to be educated, to profit — and, in these above cases, apparently to master the easy anti-Western rhetoric.

But note the anti-American two-step. Immediately after her silly remarks, the corporate mogul Nooyi provided a recant. Neither Khan nor Roy has vowed to stay out of the U.K. or the U.S., where the Koran is supposedly not respected and where the homeless starve as a result of capitalism — a system that both created and enriched them all and which they apparently love to chide. The anti-Americanism that we frequently see and hear, then, is often a plaything of the international elite — a corporate grandee, a leisured athlete, or a refined novelist who flies in and out of the West, counts on its globalizing appendages for wealth, and then mocks those who make it all possible — but never to the point that their own actions would logically follow their rhetoric and thus cost them so dearly. We might expect that a chagrined Ms. Nooyi would resign from Pepsi since it is the glossy fingernail of the American middle finger that apparently so bothers her. We pray that Mr. Khan will stay among the mobs and rioters of the madrassas and mosques he stirred up. Perhaps novelist Roy can write in an indigenous Indian language, peddle her books at home, and thereby disinvest from this hegemonic system that drives her to fury.

Then there is the director of anti-American films from Denmark, Lars von Trier, who whined, “Mr. Bush is an a**hole. So much in Denmark is American. . . America fills about 60 per cent of my brain. So, in fact, I am American. But I can't go there to vote and I can't change anything, because I am from a small country. So that is why I make films about America.”

Memo to poor head-pounding Mr. von Trier: There is no compelling reason to have anything American in your country — except in the past to expel German invaders you either could not or would not keep out. Simply stop buying American. Don’t watch American movies. Admonish not us, but your own leaders to get out of NATO, pronto — the faster the better. Deny entry to all American troops — and tourists. Embrace the EU. It’s bigger and more populous than the U.S. Create an all-EU defense force. Go for it all!

Above all, be sure that your films are not marketed through any global organization that is either American-financed, directed, or substantiates a Westernized hegemony in the promulgation of intellectual property. Perhaps there are plenty of Danes who would see your films about Denmark at home — and that might cleanse your brain of what you hate, if make you a little less money.

There are easily identifiable constants in these sad examples. Rhetoric is always at odds with lifestyle: A novelist who tours and writes in English is the epitome of the Western liberal tradition that allows freedom of expression, promotes book sales through open markets, and enjoys unfettered peer review. Ms. Roy will always operate deeply embedded in the system she ridicules, and Western grandees will always pay her well for making them feel badly for a few hours. Islamists, Communists, and theocrats — in a Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cuba, or China — would not only not pay her, but might well issue a fatwa, jail time, or a death sentence for what they didn’t like to read or hear.

As a cricketer Khan made a fortune doing what most normal Westerners do not do. By some reports, corporate grandee Nooyi took in $5 million-plus a year — and lives a life that most Americans outside of Greenwich, Connecticut, and without her access to a globalized captain’s seat at PepsiCo could only dream of.

So it is not just the West per se that has enriched these megaphones, but the hard-driving, over-hyped culture of the West, as exemplified by marquee sports, highbrow publishers, and the Pepsi Corporation.

In other words, Khan, Roy, and Nooyi are, by their own volition, knee-deep in the supposed greed of the West in a way that most ordinary Americans surely are not. Maligned Americans on the tractor in Kansas or walking the beat in the Bronx have not a clue about the privileges that a Roy or Nooyi enjoy — and they are not whining, complaining, or biting the hand that feeds them far less well.

No, these ungracious operators all seem to gravitate to, profit from, and then spite the paradigm that created rich global business, media, publishing, and entertainment conglomerates — and themselves.

A second constant is illustrated by director von Traer’s remark: “America fills about 60 percent of my brain.” There is a sort of schizophrenia also common among the “other” who bumps up against the U.S. The extreme example of this syndrome can be seen in bin Laden and Mohammed Atta, who seemed mesmerized and yet repelled by their own thralldom to things Western.

In the case of von Trier, does he ever ask why the U.S. is so obtrusive in his gray matter, and why, for instance, Scandinavia is not — or for that matter a larger France or an even larger Russia? Instead in his movies and outbursts he retreats into the usual racist or exploitative mantra that serves a psychological need of reconciling what you want and enjoy and won’t give up with a feeling of unease and guilt about your own expanding appetite — or exploding brain.

A final suggestion for these unhappy and privileged few: To end your obsessions with the pathologies of America and the West, find a way to create your own alternative sports, literature, corporations, soft drinks, and filmmaking in the non-West.

It is not that we Americans are mad at what you say. It is just that you have all become so hypocritical, then predictable, and now boring — you are all so boring.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the
Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is
DiscerningTexan, 5/27/2005 03:54:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, May 26, 2005

Galloway lied to the Senate

Hat tip to Charles Johnson for finding this superb and thorough bit of detective work by SEXION, in which Labor MP (and ultra-leftist) George Galloway, who is neck deep in the UN Oil for Food scandal (basically he is awash in Saddam's payoffs...), flat out lied to the United States Senate while the disgusting lackeys of the US mainstream press literally seemed to be breathlessly hanging on his (Galloway's) every utterance...

If this yahoo ever sets foot in the US again, he needs to be indicted for perjury.
DiscerningTexan, 5/26/2005 08:15:00 PM | Permalink | |

Zarqawi: Injured? definitey...DEAD? Maybe.

It has been 13 days now since the little snippet I found in which Zarqawi was rumored to have been seriously injured. This has since been confirmed again and again by more "mainstream" sources (and not to blow my own horn here: but in general, isn't it interesting how the blogs are regularly publishing truly extraordinary and relevant news days and even weeks ahead of the "watchdogs" of all that is "true"...)...

Anyway, today we are hearing from the Austin Bay blog that the radicals appear to be preparing the "faithful" (faithful to murder and slaughter of innocents...) for the an announcement of Zarqawi's death. Not saying he IS dead of course...we need to wait on CNN for that announcement, now don't we... Power Line comments on this also.

If this slimebag is dead, a big "hoo-ah!" to the excellent forces involved in Operation Matador. And just remember where you heard it first when the "mainstream" finally gets around to this...
DiscerningTexan, 5/26/2005 07:37:00 PM | Permalink | |

Don't cry for me, Voinovich...

Fraters Libertas had the perfect take on Voinovich's crocodile tears over the Bolton nomination:

Tears of a Clown

I'm not sure why, but Senator George Voinovich is taking the nomination of an Ambassador to the United Nations very, VERY personally:Ohio Republican George Voinovich came close to tears as he implored fellow senators yesterday to think hard before voting to approve John Bolton as UN ambassador.

Does this guy have an autographed picture of U Thant in a heart shaped frame on his desk or something? Maybe stock in one of Kojo Anan's business ventures? Or does it have something to do with a US Senator just not getting his way and stomping his little feet and holding his breath isn't a part of the sacred Senate rules (yet). Either way, I'm sure on beautiful this day a Backstreet Boy is laughing.

Voinovich, get a hold of yourself man! You're supposed to be a dignified member of the worlds greatest deliberative body. And now you're blubbering over the fact that a majority of your distinguished colleagues may approve the promotion of a civil servant - to the world's worst deliberative body. Is this any example to set for the fine folks from North Korea and Sao Tome and Principe?

Two quotes from the Godfather would seem to apply:

Now you listen to me, you smooth talking son-of-a-bitch. Let me lay it on the line for you and your boss, whoever he is. [Harry Reid] will never get that rejection. I don't care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork.

Oops, wrong one (although I appreciate the veiled reference to John Corzine). I meant these two:

Sonny: You're taking this very personal. ... this is business and this man is taking it very personal.

Don Coreleone: You can act like a man! What's the matter with you. Is this how you turned out? A Hollywood fannuchio that cries like a woman. [Don Corleone imitates him sobbing]

Maybe the real Godfather (Karl Rove) can call Voinovich and deliver this message personally. Failing that, I nominate the Misanthropic Frat Boy.
DiscerningTexan, 5/26/2005 07:13:00 PM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Best Explanation Yet

Of all the analysis I have seen regarding the betrayal in the Senate, the very best explanation I have seen came from the Wall Street Journal op-ed section. Basically these are 14 men who are literally scared to death to go on the record. Is this what "the most exclusive club in the world" has come to?:

Judging by all of the self-congratulation, you'd think the 14 Senators who reached a deal Monday on judicial nominations were the moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers. "We have kept the Republic," declared Democrat Robert Byrd, with all due modesty. "The Senate won" and "the country won," added Republican John McCain. All 14 are apparently destined for Mount Rushmore, as soon as Mr. Byrd can stuff the money for the sculpture into an appropriations bill.

What a charade. This ballyhooed "compromise" is all about saving the Senators themselves, not the Constitution. Its main point is to shield the group of 14 from the consequences of having to cast difficult, public votes in a filibuster showdown. Thus they split the baby on the most pressing nominees, giving three of them a vote while rejecting two others on what seem to be entirely arbitrary grounds, so Members of both parties can claim victory. Far better to cashier nominees as a bipartisan phalanx, rather than face up to their individual "advice and consent" responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the statesmen and women are able to postpone any real fighting over the filibuster until the inevitable Supreme Court nomination later this Congress. We don't often agree with North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan, but he had it about right when he called the deal "legislative castor oil. It averts the showdown vote tomorrow, but I doubt it's over." All in all, we can't recall a more cynical Senate performance since the phony impeachment trial of Bill Clinton.

And it's cynicism squared in the case of the three nominees who will now finally be confirmed. Yesterday, 81 Senators voted to give Priscilla Owen a vote on the floor, after four years of Democratic filibusters. Apparently she isn't such a grave "extremist" threat after all. The same also applies to Janice Rogers Brown (22 months in the dock) and Bill Pryor (25 months). Monday's deal exposes the long Democratic campaign against them as "extremists" as nothing more than a political sop to People for the American Way and their ilk.

Henry Saad and William Myers aren't so fortunate. They'll be denied a vote because the Republican Seven had to give their Democratic co-signers some trophies to take back to their Senate caucus. The text of the agreement is mum on other nominees, but AP quoted anonymous Democrats as saying that the nominations of both Brett Kavanaugh and William Haynes are also in jeopardy, again for purely arbitrary reasons. And don't forget the highly qualified choices--Miguel Estrada, Carolyn Kuhl, Claude Allen, Charles Pickering--who previously withdrew their names rather than keep their careers in suspended Senate nomination.

As for the future, the deal's impact hangs on the exquisite ambiguity of the phrase "extraordinary circumstances." The seven Democrats promise to filibuster only if a nomination reaches that threshold, which will of course be in the eye of every beholder. Taken at face value, and if the Democrats mean what they say, this should rule out a filibuster against anyone but a crook or incompetent. The political costs of opposing a Supreme Court nominee are also higher than for an appeals-court judge because the country is paying closer attention. Thus a filibuster will not be easy for Red State Democrats to support.

But there is a cynical irony here, too. To defeat a Supreme Court nominee, liberal interest groups will now be obliged to manufacture the very "extraordinary circumstances" that would give Democrats among the Gang of 14 an excuse to filibuster. Thus they will have even greater incentive than before to dig through a nominee's personal and professional life for any mud they can throw against him. In the name of consensus and comity, in short, these 14 "moderates" have increased the chances that the Senate will witness a future, bloody Borking.

The fervent hope of these 14 is that President Bush will spare them from such controversy by nominating someone acceptable to the left--say, another David Souter. Their agreement therefore warns Mr. Bush that he is obliged "to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration."

We hope he ignores them. Mr. Bush is under no obligation to reward Senators who have mistreated his nominees in this fashion. He owes far more to the supporters who helped him win re-election and his party pick up five Southern Senate seats last year. To vet his nominees with this Gang of 14 is a virtual guarantee of judicial mediocrity--of a lowest-common-denominator choice or a philosophic cipher.

Especially in the wake of this deal, our advice is the same as it was after Election Day last year. If Chief Justice William Rehnquist retires, promote Associate Justices Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas, and replace him with a distinguished conservative jurist such as Michael Luttig, Ted Olson, Michael McConnell, Sam Alito or for that matter Miguel Estrada. The President is granted the power to nominate judges under the Constitution because he is the only official elected by the entire nation. He shouldn't cede that authority to 14 Senators in desperate search of political cover.

My advice to the States that placed these cowards into office (especially to Republicans in those States): you would be very well served indeed to find a better alternative. Because when the going gets tough, these guys simply haul ass.
DiscerningTexan, 5/25/2005 09:45:00 PM | Permalink | |

Streamlined Intelligence or GM redux?

Former Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence (and periodic contributor to The American Thinker) Herb Meyer is not liking what he's seeing when it comes to the way the US Intelligence community is reorganizing. And it is hard to argue with his reasoning:

If your objective were to place a beacon atop a mountain, would you:

A: Get a beacon and place it atop the mountain, or

B: Get a beacon, suspend it in mid-air near the mountain using poles, wires and helicopters, then shove the mountain under the beacon?

If you chose Option A, you should consider a career in the private sector, where common sense often is rewarded. If you chose Option B – your future lies in Washington. For this is precisely the approach the Bush administration and Congress have taken to fix our country’s broken intelligence service and get it back into action. And no, I am not exaggerating.

After the 9-11 intelligence failure and the CIA’s failure to provide an accurate picture of Iraq’s weapons-of-mass-destruction program, official Washington concluded that the structure of our intelligence service lay at the core of these failures. More specifically, Congress and the Administration concluded that the Director of Central Intelligence lacked sufficient management authority over the 14 agencies other than the CIA itself that comprise our intelligence service, and that it was this lack of control over budgets and programs that led to poor coordination, which in turn led to all the failures. Assuming this were an accurate assessment of the problem – and keep in mind that this lack of budget and program authority never kept great DCIs like Allen Dulles, John McCone and William Casey from doing the job brilliantly – the obvious solution would be to enhance the DCI’s authority through a combination of executive orders and legislative reorganization, then appoint a new DCI to take charge.

Instead, after two presidential commissions and a half-dozen Congressional inquiries, the Administration and Congress decided to create a new position of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), to sit on top of the DCI. He will be supported by a Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and an associate director who will serve as chief-of-staff. But since the new DNI and his two aides would be suspended in mid-air, so to speak, several positions that had been in the DCI’s office have now been shifted to the DNI’s office. These include a Deputy Director for Management, another Deputy Director for Collection, a third for Analysis, and a fourth to be in charge of “customer service.” (This last one sounds like a job more appropriate for an executive at a cell-phone provider than for one at an intelligence service. What’s the poor guy supposed to do – run around Washington assuring that key consumers of intelligence are happy and not thinking of switching their accounts to another country’s intelligence service?) It’s envisaged that up to 1,000 officials will be required to support this new bureaucracy, and rather than locate the DNI and all these people at CIA headquarters – from which most of the 1,000 officials required for the new bureaucracy will be taken – they will be housed at Bolling Air Force Base, just outside Washington DC, until permanent headquarters can be established somewhere else.

Putting aside the sheer fecklessness of all this reorganizing – and the cost, time and energy it drains from the business of actually doing intelligence -- the real problem is that by focusing on structure rather than on people, we are building a new intelligence service that won’t be better than the one it replaces. That’s because it emphasizes management over talent. Once you grasp how this combination works, you will understand why our country’s intelligence service has sometimes been razor-sharp and playing offense, and other times has just stumbled along behind the curve.

When I read analyses like this from men I admire such as Herb Meyer, and when I take one look at the height of hypocritical pretense coming from both sides of the aisle concerning "Border Security", one wonders, as does Meyer, just how bad it has to get for us finally to snap out of our collective funk:

In the aftermath of 9-11, we had a chance to build a new intelligence service that looked like the OSS. Instead, we are building one that looks like General Motors. No doubt it will enjoy some successes, because the top-level officials are honorable and decent people who will be working very hard to protect our country. And they will be supported by some lower-level intelligence analysts and operations officers who really are world-class, and whose recent actions against al Qaeda have been very impressive. But it’s clear from the structure of the new service, and from the personnel choices made thus far, that our new intelligence service is based on the model that fails, rather than the one that succeeds.

Judging from all the telephone calls and emails flying around right now among intelligence veterans, the mood is one of disappointment and genuine concern. A common thread in all these conversations is that – alas -- it will take another horrific attack before the political will is there to create the kind of light, fast, razor-sharp intelligence service we used to have and now need. Perhaps. Or perhaps Washington has become so muscle-bound and partisan that even should Dallas, Chicago or another of our great cities become a pile of radioactive rubble its only response will be yet another Presidential commission which probably will conclude once again that “structure” was the problem -- and will recommend that we create a Director of Inter-Galactic Intelligence, to sit atop the Director of National Intelligence, who sits atop the Director of Central Intelligence.

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization has become an international best-seller.
DiscerningTexan, 5/25/2005 09:01:00 PM | Permalink | |

Leaving the Left

Before the monumental betrayal of the "Republican 7" stole all the headlines, I noted this uplifting piece from last Sunday's SF Chronicle, written by a former leftist who has seen the errors of his ways. I saved it to put up on the Blog and promptly forgot all about it when the "McCain" hit the fan on Tuesday.

Rereading this today, it is cause for renewed hope, in light of so much disappointment; there are people everyday who are waking up and smelling the coffee, even in intellect-challenged zones like San Francisco.

This should be required reading in all public schools' Political Science courses:

Leaving the left I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity

Keith Thompson
Sunday, May 22, 2005

Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.

Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point. The time has come to walk in a different direction -- just as I did many years before.

I grew up in a northwest Ohio town where conservative was a polite term for reactionary. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of Mississippi "sweltering in the heat of oppression," he could have been describing my community, where blacks knew to keep their heads down, and animosity toward Catholics and Jews was unapologetic. Liberal and conservative, like left and right, wouldn't be part of my lexicon for a while, but when King proclaimed, "I have a dream," I instinctively cast my lot with those I later found out were liberals (then synonymous with "the left" and "progressive thought").

The people on the other side were dedicated to preserving my hometown's backward-looking status quo. This was all that my 10-year-old psyche needed to know. The knowledge carried me for a long time. Mythologies are helpful that way.

I began my activist career championing the 1968 presidential candidacies of Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy, because both promised to end America's misadventure in Vietnam. I marched for peace and farm worker justice, lobbied for women's right to choose and environmental protections, signed up with George McGovern in 1972 and got elected as the youngest delegate ever to a Democratic convention.

Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, although I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.) All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.

A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.

Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.

Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.

All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.

These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.

I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left.

In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style." The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts ...).

Wait, it gets better. When actor Bill Cosby called on black parents to explain to their kids why they are not likely to get into medical school speaking English like "Why you ain't" and "Where you is," Jesse Jackson countered that the time was not yet right to "level the playing field." Why not? Because "drunk people can't do that ... illiterate people can't do that."

When self-styled pragmatic feminist Camille Paglia mocked young coeds who believe "I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's room without anything happening," Susan Estrich spoke up for gender- focused feminists who "would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing 'yes' as a sign of true consent is misguided."

I'll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America's political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today's best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback?
He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators.

Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as King did when he insisted on justice for "all of God's children."

My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic.

In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders' talk -- and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.

America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.

At the heart of authentic liberalism lies the recognition, in the words of John Gardner, "that the ever renewing society will be a free society (whose] capacity for renewal depends on the individuals who make it up." A continuously renewing society, Gardner believed, is one that seeks to "foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women and give them room to breathe."

One aspect of my politics hasn't changed a bit. I became a liberal in the first place to break from the repressive group orthodoxies of my reactionary hometown.

This past January, my liberalism was in full throttle when I bid the cultural left goodbye to escape a new version of that oppressiveness. I departed with new clarity about the brilliance of liberal democracy and the value system it entails; the quest for freedom as an intrinsically human affair; and the dangers of demands for conformity and adherence to any point of view through silence, fear, or coercion.

True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.

Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality.

A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.

Keith Thompson is a Petaluma writer and the author of "Angels and Aliens" and "To Be a Man." His work is at Contact us at

DiscerningTexan, 5/25/2005 08:06:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, May 24, 2005

More reactions to Republican "appeasement"

John Cornyn is spinning this as a Democratic "Admission of guilt". And while I agree with him about Justice Owen, I do not think the public sees it like Mr. Cornyn does. I think they see this as I see it: Republicans who were afraid to do something daring lest they be called names by the mean old Harry Reid, Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy. Pass the airsick bag, please.

Meanwhile Thomas Lifson is looking at things from the John "Benedict Arnold" McCain angle and not liking it much. But I don't think there is much to worry about there; I now think it will be a cold day in hell when McCain gets anywhere near a Republican nomination for President. The base (read: the South) will never allow that to happen. But Lifson does have a point that this will temporarily allow McCain to eclipse Frist in wielding more power in the Senate. I do not expect the country, nor the Republican party, to benefit from such an exercise.

The American Spectator's Washington Prowler thinks it won't be long before Bush has a Supreme Court nomination to make, with Renquist set to step down, and Gonzales appears to be the money pick. We may find out pretty quickly whether the Democratic definition of "extraordinary" is as maleable as their definition of the word "is". And if the Dems do decide to fillibuster Alberto, we will find out what kind of backbone these 7 traitors in the Senate really have.

Finally, Hugh Hewitt has two great posts, just chock full of the kind of political analysis we have come to expect from him:

Post one, filed this morning, in which Hewitt joins me in officially declaring the McCain candidacy DOA and also agrees with me that if Frist can't hold a 55-45 majority together, it doesn't say a hell of a lot about how he would handle foreign leaders and a hostile press.

Post two, filed later in the day, in which the turncoat Lindsey Graham is given both barrels, and in which we also get Hugh's educated guesses on which Republicans actually benefit from this fiasco (a good case is made for Thune). Oh, and Hillary gets off easy too, because now she doesn't have to go on the record about up or down votes. Nice...

In the meantime, I think it is time for a Newcastle Brown Ale, because this is about as much thinking about this betrayal that I can take right now. I'm taking the rest of the night off. Our Constitution has been sold down the river to Kleagle Robert Byrd, Ted "I shop at Scuba World" Kennedy, the whole lot of their fellow band of merry socialist activists, and the turncoat Republicans who gave the minority the majority by handing them an undeserved and unearned victory out of the jaws of defeat. Nice work guys. We won't forget this, either; you can put that in the bank. Enjoy your time with Katie Couric while you can because your day is coming too.
DiscerningTexan, 5/24/2005 08:23:00 PM | Permalink | |
Monday, May 23, 2005

Et tu, Neville?
DiscerningTexan, 5/23/2005 09:40:00 PM | Permalink | |

That sickening feeling...

So the Senate has decided to back down...until an unnamed day down the road...if then... Stinks to high heaven: smells to me like a total cave-in by the Republicans. Hugh Hewitt is not overjoyed to say the least, and his site also has the text of the agreement:


We respect the diligent, conscientious efforts, to date, rendered to the Senate by Majority Leader Frist and Democratic Leader Reid. This memorandum confirms an understanding among the signatories, based upon mutual trust and confidence, related to pending and future judicial nominations in the 109th Congress.

This memorandum is in two parts. Part I relates to the currently pending judicial nominees; Part II relates to subsequent individual nominations to be made by the President and to be acted upon by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

We have agreed to the following:

Part I: Commitments on Pending Judicial Nominations

A. Votes for Certain Nominees. We will vote to invoke cloture on the following judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown (D.C. Circuit), William Pryor (11th Circuit), and Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit).

B. Status of Other Nominees. Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (9th Circuit) and Henry Saad (6th Circuit).

Part II: Commitments for Future Nominations
A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

[DT Note: Rule XXII I believe is the rule that allows them to change the rules. Fair enough; this indeed may be the legaleese Republican "out", but it smells to me like a Clinton invocation of "is"... I am not a happy camper about this. I think ultimately, it will give the libs ammuntion should they suddenly find an "extraordinary" circumstance..]

We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “Advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.

Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate.

We firmly believe this agreement is consistent with the traditions of the United States Senate that we as Senators seek to uphold.

As I see it, this only delays the inevitable showdown until the intitial Supreme Court nominee comes forth. At that time, I would imagine that the Democrats will suddently see "extraordinary circumstances" once again.

John Hindraker of Power Line agrees that this smells of a Republican sell-out.

Meanwhile Scared Monkeys headline is: "Compromise Reached, Republicans Screwed".

Ace of Spades: "Bipartisan group caves to Liberals"

But the guy that chronicles the source of my own outrage the most is Radio Blogger, who argues for the thing we are supposed to fight to preserve, protect, and defend: the Constitution of the United States:

Deal is up, and the Republicans fumbled the ball.

The deal everyone is scrambling for is up at Good job on their part. Here's the parts where we've shot ourselves in the collective foot again.

B. Status of Other Nominees. Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (9th Circuit) and Henry Saad (6th Circuit).

Two judges, who've enjoyed majority support previously in Committee, and have been stalled on the floor, do not get Constitutionally required votes of advice and consent. They get thrown under the bus, all in the name of the Senate moderates being able to eat lunch together without throwing food.
A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

So it's up to those sane members like Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Chuckie Schumer, & Barbara Boxer to exercise discernment and judgment. The Democrats have not exercised good faith up to now, and the Republicans are agreeing to let Lucy put that football down and hold it one more time.
Here's where we really lost, however. Republicans signed their name to an agreement that says nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances. That means there are at least 6, and maybe as many at 8 Republicans who either don't have a clue in the world what the Constitution means, or they don't care, because they have to try to work with these people on a daily basis. What these Republicans have done is condone the unconstitutional practice that the Democrats have done. They haven't just cowered away from a fight. They haven't just screwed over two judges for now. They've condoned and ratified a move, with only a 14 member vote. Usually, to amend the Constitution, to put in something that isn't there, you have to have a supermajority vote and have 3/5ths' of the states ratify it. What has happened now is 14 out of 100, or a 14% vote, get to alter the Constitution, and now there is a 60% requirement to approve judges, as long as the Democrats try to pretend to be cooperative in the process.

14% - the new supermajority in the United States Senate. It's now up to 14% to determine which people require 60%.

It stinks.

Thank God the tiki bar is open.

What a bunch of prima donnas: Byrd, McCain, the lot of them. And what exactly did Lindsey Graham think he was doing? Is this what the fine State of South Carolina elected him to do? I am disgusted. It makes me wonder where that money I gave to the RNC is going. Because these guys have put themselves above the Constitution. And McCain thinks he has a hope in hell of winning the Republican nomination, he is in for a rude awakening.

Zell, where are you?

UPDATE: Fellow Texan Beldar hits the nail on the head:

Sometimes you look at the results of a negotiation — supposedly made by bright, well-informed and -motivated adults on both sides — and you shake your head and point to one side the the deal and say: "Them suckers just got robbed blind."

This is grand larceny masquerading as a "deal." Only a complete idiot would think that this —

Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

— is a fair trade for this —

In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

The seven suckers are Senators
John McCain (R-AZ), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), John Warner (R-VA), Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).

Gutless. That's the least profane and most applicable adjective I can come up with to go along with "sucker." Now, "gutless" is a harsh word to apply to a genuine war hero like John McCain. And I don't question his, or any of the other seven's, patriotism. But we're specifically talking about political principle and courage here, and this is a politically gutless act.

These seven, in the "spirit of compromise," have guaranteed that at least two judicial nominees — William Myers (9th Cir.) and Henry Saad (6th Cir.) — will be successfully filibustered. As a direct and intentional result of their "deal," the United States Senate will deliberately violate its constitutional responsibility to either consent, or to refuse to consent, to at least two of the President's judicial nominees.

I don't claim to have thoroughly researched these two nominees — and their comparative merits, or lack of merits, in an absolute sense or as compared to other nominees is frankly irrelevant. I don't know if these two nominees would have, or should have, been confirmed by a simple majority vote. If these same seven senators had voted against both of these nominees — or for that matter, against all seven of the renominated candidates — I might disagree with them, but I would not ridicule and condemn them.

These nominees, and every other judicial nominee submitted by the President of the United States — whoever he may be, of whatever party, because he is the President of the United States — are entitled to that vote. And these two — at a minimum — won't get it.

And in exchange for giving their promise to violate their constitutional duty — their clear, written, unequivocal promise to guarantee that the Senate as a whole defaults on its constitutional duty — these seven senators got exactly nothing. I defy any of these gutless suckers to lay out a scenario in which the "promise" by the Democrats to only filibuster "under extraordinary circumstances" can be enforced, even in the hypothetical "court of public opinion."

Jonah Goldberg
writes, "if the Democrats filibuster in something which Republicans don't consider to be an 'extraordinary circumstance' won't the deal be broken and then the Republicans will be free to change the rules[?]"

Umm, no. Whoever drafted this piece of larceny extracted a concession which guarantees that the Republicans can never "cry foul" unless they can plead and prove that the Dems are not acting in "good faith" — and not objective "good faith," as measured by the law's proverbial "reasonable man" standard, but subjective "good faith," as measured by each senator's "own discretion and judgment." No one can ever prove, or even make a compelling argument, that this standard will ever be violated.

Only three are guaranteed not to be filibustered. Two at a minimum will be filibustered. But the important question is: How many more will be filibustered?

Beldar confidently predicts: At least one more judicial nominee will be successfully filibustered in the 109th Congress — specifically, anyone that Dubya nominates to the United States Supreme Court. These seven gutless senators — nominally Republicans — have just handed the Democratic Party an absolute veto over the next Supreme Court nominee, which will likely be for the Chief Justice slot.

At least Jack, of Beanstock fame, could eat the handful of beans if his own fairy tale didn't come true. These seven senators got far less than he did. They got nuthin'.

I'm not surprised. But I'm thoroughly disgusted.
DiscerningTexan, 5/23/2005 08:39:00 PM | Permalink | |

Uday's Oil for NEWS program

Kudos to Charles Johnson for ferreting out the latest revelation of the Oil for Food Scandal--it wasn't just for food: it turns out that Oil was buying positive media coverage as well...

So much for the "free" press...
DiscerningTexan, 5/23/2005 07:54:00 PM | Permalink | |
Sunday, May 22, 2005

DiscerningTexan, 5/22/2005 04:39:00 PM | Permalink | |

Mark Steyn on the Newsweek fallout

This guy is just so damn good that it is sometimes difficult to not stand up and wave one's fists after reading his wonderful prose. Today is no exception (from the Chicago Sun-Times via Steyn Online):

By my reckoning, just five American newspapers mentioned the name of Imran Khan last week. Who? Well, he's a world-famous -- wait for it -- cricketer. No, hang on: Don't all stampede for the exits, this isn't a column about cricket. He is, as it happens, a beautiful cricketer, the first great fast bowler from the Indian subcontinent and -- whoops, no, honestly, it's not a cricket column. But the point is he's a household name in England, Australia, India and everywhere else where the summer game means the thwack of leather on willow.

And in the same week a mere handful of American media outlets mentioned Imran, over a hundred newspapers mentioned Michael Isikoff of Newsweek. Isikoff was the guy who filed the phony-baloney story about some interrogator at Guantanamo flushing a Quran down the toilet. But Imran was the guy who, in a ferocious speech broadcast on Pakistani TV, brought it to the attention of his fellow Muslims, many of whom promptly rioted, with the result that 17 people are dead.

To date, reaction has divided along two lines. Newsweek has been hammered for being so flushed with anti-Bush anti-military fever that they breezily neglected the question of whether their story would generate a huge mound of corpses.

Which is true. On the other hand, there are those who point out it's hardly Newsweek's fault that some goofy foreigners are so bananas they'll riot and kill over one rumor of one disrespectful act to one copy of one book.

Christians don't riot over ''Piss Christ'' and other provocations by incontinent ''artists.'' Jews take it in their stride when they're described as ''a virus resembling AIDS,'' which is what Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris said a week ago in his sermon on Palestinian state TV, funded by the European Union. Muslims can dish it out big-time, so why can't they take it, even the teensy-weensiest bit?

All of which is also true, but would be a better defense of Newsweek if the media hadn't spent the last 3-1/2 years bending over backwards to be super-sensitive to the, ah, touchiness of the Muslim world -- until the opportunity for a bit of lurid Bush-bashing proved too much to resist.

In a way, both the U.S. media and those wacky rioters in the Afghan-Pakistani hinterlands are very similar, two highly parochial and monumentally self-absorbed tribes living in isolation from the rest of the world and prone to fanatical irrational indestructible beliefs -- not least the notion that you can flush a 950-page book down one of Al Gore's eco-crazed federally mandated low-flush toilets, a claim no editorial bigfoot thought to test for himself in Newsweek's executive washroom.

Watching the media circling the wagons around the beleaguered Isikoff this week, Martin Peretz of the New Republic described them as ''a profession that is complacent, self-righteous, and hopelessly in love with itself.'' The media are the message: But, hey, enough about the war, let's talk about me.

As for the wackiness of Muslim fanatics, well, up to a point. But, you know, we've been told ever since 9/11 that the allegedly seething ''Muslim street'' was about to explode, and for four years it's remained as somnolent as a suburban cul-de-sac on a weekday afternoon. Invade their countries, topple their rulers, bomb their infrastructure from the first day of Ramadan to the last, arrest their terrorists, hold them at Gitmo for half a decade, initiate reforms setting the Arab world on the first rung of the ladder to political and economic liberty, and the seething Muslim street gives one almighty shrug.

In October 2001 Faizal Aqtub Siddiqi, president-general of the International Muslims Organization, warned that the bombing of Afghanistan would create 1,000 Osama bin Ladens. In April 2003, Egypt's President Mubarak warned that the bombing of Iraq would create 100 bin Ladens. So right there you got a 90 percent reduction in the bin Laden creation program -- just by bombing a second country! Despite the best efforts to rouse the Muslim street, its attitude has remained: Start the jihad without me. The short history of the last four years is: They're nuts but not that nuts.

Until, that is, Newsweek's story of Quran-flushing prompted bloody riots from Yemen to Afghanistan to Indonesia. To get a rise out of these guys, it took a peculiarly vivid combination of disrespect: the literal word of Allah plus the flushed toilet, a quintessential symbol of Western decadence to the remoter parts of the Hindu Kush. Message to Bush: You can do anything, but lay off of my holy book.

And even these riots wouldn't have happened if Imran Khan hadn't provided the short fuse between Newsweek's match and those explosive mobs. Imran is a highly Westernized, wealthy Pakistani who found great fame and fortune in England. He palled around with the Rolling Stones, dated supermodels and married Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of billionaire businessman Sir James Goldsmith. Jemima was hot but of Jewish background and therefore, like much of Imran's stereotypical playboy lifestyle, not particularly advantageous when he decided to go into Pakistani politics. So, having demonstrated little previous interest in the preoccupations of the Muslim street, Imran then began pandering to it. I doubt whether he personally cared about that Newsweek story one way or the other, but he's an opportunist and that's why he went out of his way to incite his excitable followers.

It's not the mobs, so much as the determination of the elites to keep their peoples in a state of ignorance. The most educationally repressive form of Islam, for example, is funded and promoted by Saudi princes who, though not as handsome as Imran, also spend a lot of time in the West -- gambling, drinking, womanizing and indulging other tastes that even the wildest night on the tiles in Riyadh just can't sate.

Whereas most advanced societies believe that an educated population is vital to the national interest, many Muslim elites seem to have concluded than an uneducated population is actually far more useful. And, when you look at Saudi funding of radical madrassahs in hitherto moderate Muslim regions from the Balkans to Indonesia, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that they're having great success de-educating hitherto relatively savvy parts of the world.

This disaster took a combination of factors. We can't do much about Muslim fanatics; we probably can't do much about our self-worshipping vanity media whose reflexive counter-tribalism has robbed it of all sense of perspective or proportion. But we ought to apply pressure on the link between the two worlds: the self-serving elites who enjoy the privileges of the West even as they exploit their co-religionists' ignorance of it. That's just not cricket, is it?
DiscerningTexan, 5/22/2005 04:29:00 PM | Permalink | |