The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Thursday, June 30, 2005

Germans to raze Checkpoint Charlie -- on the Fourth of July

Fresh off his visit to Washington to see President Bush, Gerhard Schroeder is now going to bulldoze a symbol of America's resiliance and strength in keeping Berlin free during the Berlin Airlift, and will simultaneously besmirch all those who lost their lives trying to escape East Germany's monstrous regime for freedom.

So Gerhard, what is it exactly? Is it because it was your side that built the Wall in the first place, Mr. Baader-Meinhoff? Or is it because you are acting like a spoiled child who didn't get his teddy bear when Bush told you he would not allow you a seat on the UN Security Council. As if! Did you really expect that to happen?
DiscerningTexan, 6/30/2005 09:56:00 PM | Permalink | |

A Fourth of July Geopolitical Reality Check: Why we are fighting and why we must keep on fighting

I always am glad to see guys like Herb Meyer weigh in on current events, because it is men like Meyer, Thomas P.M. Barnett, and (to a lesser extent) George Friedman of Stratfor who offer us viewpoints of the "big picture" that you will rarely see in the dumbed-down mainstream media. I have just finished Barnett's earth-shaking book "The Pentagon's New Map"--amazingly insightful.

After Bush's speech the other night, and the beyond-ridiculous reaction to it by our disgraceful news media -- and considering the looming threat we face from Iran and Global Islamofascism in general -- I thought it would be particluarly relevant to quote from Barnett's' book, specifically from Chapter 6 "The Global Transaction Strategy", because it truly is difficult to put into words for my multi-national friends what it is and feels like to be an American. I find it somehow important to at least try to explain to them why I feel that our unique experience of freedom and prosperity is so worthy of their own aspirations:

"Americans have long debated whether our good fortune imparts to us special obligations to share this dream with others beyond our shores. [....] I will argue that America has served ably as globalization's ideological wellspring: each and every day we put on display--for all to see--the almost unlimited utility of broadband economic connectivity, freedom of action within minimal rule sets, and the unbridled ambition afforded by the apparent certainty of long-term peace. Thus, the American experience speaks to globalization's advance because we have come closest to perfecting its historical equation: the individual pursuit of happiness within free markets protected from destabilizing strife by the rule of law."

"But the question remains: Does America owe the world anything more than its example? Over the Cold War we stood up to Communism and all the threats to our good life that it represented, and by doing so we successfully encouraged the spread of that good life in the form of a global economy resurrected from the ashes of two world wars, and expanded beyond any previous high-water mark. This effort took several decades [....], but it has culminated in half the world's population being invited to the same good life we have long enjoyed--the same fundamental freedoms, the same sense of security, the same belief in a future full of potential. And yet roughly one-third of humanity--more than two billion souls--remains on the outside, noses pressed to the glass. What more do we owe them?

I belive America owes them nothing more and nothing less than the same basic peace we have long enjoyed. Not a Pax Americana, because we seek not to extend our rule but merely our rules. We claim no power over others on this basis, because to extend these rule sets is to expand the Core's membership and enable globalization's continued advance. It is to issue a standing invitation to all nations currently trapped within the Gap: embrace these rules and join our community. What is so special about the globalization that America has nurtured and protected these seven decades is that it represents the active exportation of the same liberty we have so long enjoyed within these United States--a fundamental connectivity that empowers individual ambition through the provision of choice and thus opportunity. It is our liberty road show, or the promise of freedom made universal. [....]"

"But many forces within the Gap are threatened by the rising connectivity engendered by globalization's creeping advance, because it imperils their ability to control the lives of others. Beleiving humanity's paths to happiness are single, and thus enforceable by all-knowing elites, these forces demand that their particular definition of the good life hold sway no matter how much violence is required, how much freedom is repressed, or how many lives are wasted. And they will constantly dangle before our weary eyes the same deceptively seductive bargain that all dictators offer: Just grant me these for my own and I will trouble you no further. It was all the Taliban in Afghanistan asked. It is all Osama bin Laden asks. It is all the forces of disconnectedness will forever ask. [..and it is all the mullahs in Iran and monsters like Zarqawi are asking...-DT] And to all such pacts America's answer should always be no!"

We should not be in the business of building up firewalls between the Core's good life and the Gap's sorry existence, offering the latter merely our charity as a lifeline. To deny anyone in the Gap access to the same bright future we may presume as our birthright is to engage in the same sort of exclusionary ideology that dictators of all stripes have long employed to enslave their subjects. In the end, our sin of omitting the Gap from a future worth creating will be as reprehensible as any committed by the forces of disconnectedness we now engage in this global war or terrorism. [....]

[....]In this increasingly interconnected world, our vulnerability is not defined by the depth of our connectedness with the outside world, but by the sheer existence of regions that remain off-grid, beyond the pale, and unconnected to our shared fate. For it is only within such disconnectedness that the "logic" of 9/11's destructiveness can be accessed: If I cannot enjoy your good life, then neither will you. To bring these regions online with globalization's expanding rule sets is to engage in the only stragegic transaction worth pursuing in the twenty-first century--offering the Gap freedom in exchange for the Core's security."

It has been a while since words I have read have struck me with such profundity. We truly should be thankful over this Fourth of July weekend that we are fortunate enough to have lived under the most advanced and civilized system ever known to man.

The power we have acquired as a result of our Constitution and the brilliance of our system of governance are almost an afterthought to the way of life itself, but this power is no accident: indeed it the very fruit of the system and the inherent individualistic morality within it. With that said, we nevertheless are the only country in the world which can take the steps necessary to ensure the forces of darkness do not take the rest of our planet back to the dark ages -- and us as well, all because some psychopathic barbaric zealots don't "get it". We cannot sit back and watch this pestilence infect our fellow human beings: we must intervene, with force and perserverence when necessary, to ensure these "walls" are knocked down forever. For only then can the world truly understand what we take for granted everyday: Freedom is everything.

Happy Fourth of July, America. I will be blogging lightly over the next week or so, but I hope you will return to this post and read Barnett's words again and again. I beleive this is the vision of our President and Secretary Rice. Better yet, to get a real version of this "big picture" you can purchase Barnett's book here. A great read: Joe Bob says "Check it out."
DiscerningTexan, 6/30/2005 07:37:00 AM | Permalink | |

Iran's new "President", back in the "good old days"...
DiscerningTexan, 6/30/2005 07:36:00 AM | Permalink | |

"Love notes" from Iran's new "President"

Via Charles Johnson, we've learned quite a bit about the new Iranian President (you know the one -- that "election" where less than 10% of eligible voters showed up at the polls: all hardliners...).

For one thing we now know the Ahmadinejad was the man who was the mastermind behind the hostage taking in the American embassy back in the 70's. And, from the sound of things, he hasn't changed his tone one bit.

This is from the "inauguration speech" Ahmadinejad made yesterday:

“Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen and the Islamic revolution of 1384 [the current Iranian year] will, if God wills, cut off the roots of injustice in the world,” he said. “The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.”

This is not a person who will give up the quest for nukes. No way, no how. Furthermore, this is a guy who would gladly USE them. On us.

My own opinion: the US has no choice but to take this regime out NOW, whatever it takes.
DiscerningTexan, 6/30/2005 07:18:00 AM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Great Speech: but time to match tough talk with tough-NESS

I have to admit that I really liked both the tone and content of President Bush's important speech tonight about staying the course in Iraq. I especially liked the toughness in it. I haven't seen a lot of that kind of toughness coming from the Republicans lately, not even the President. Mostly I have seen judicial compromise sell-outs, acting defensively in the face of outrageous hyperbole about Gitmo, and in general giving in here, giving in there, giving in in general to "get along". Caving on Social Security. Fearing to play the "nuclear option" in the Senate. Self-recrimination to the point of going completely soft in Gitmo. Enough is Enough!

So tonight, I was encouraged for a change. That was my President speaking tonight. That was the man who refuses to lose, that was the man who stood on that pile of rubble with the bull horn. It is good to see that man again: becasue it is time to "go to the matresses", Mr. President. The Iranians are about to get nukes, and they and the Syrians are openly helping the insurgency that are killing our soldiers and Marines. Enough. We are so afraid of what Vincente Fox might say that we are not protecting our border. Enough. And you can't even think about "consulting" with the Senate Democrats over the Supreme Court nominations. The country is at war at home too, and it requires nothing less that strict originalists across the board. And if you have to "go nuclear", so be it...

In short, we are going to need a lot more toughness from the White House in the coming days: the survival of our Republic may indeed depend on it.

And, as always, Herb Meyer puts it much more effectively than I ever could -- and his is a message that bears repeating, over and over again, until every single Republican up on that Hill gets it, especially the President: we are in ENDGAME. It is time to go to war at home too: the Democrats are out for blood -- your blood, our soldiers' blood, and ultimately, MY blood -- how about making them pay with THEIR blood for a change. I'm talking about Kennedy, and Durbin, and Pelosi, and Schumer, and Levin, and Hillary, the whole rotten traitorous lot of them. Mr. President we have to WIN this thing; and that also means soundly defeating your enemies here at home; it does not mean cowering before them.

Great speech tonight. I admit I was very encouraged by your words. But words are cheap if they are not followed with tough action. And the unfortunate fact is: there is no more time to waste. But don't just take it from me:

An Open Letter to the President
June 27th, 2005

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve no idea what your advisers are telling you, but based on my own experience in Washington I suspect they are talking more bluntly among themselves than they are to you. So I’m writing to deliver an unpleasant message you must hear, and hear now: We are in danger of losing the war in Iraq.

To understand why, think back for a moment to what happened in Vietnam. Even as our troops did better and better on the ground – as they killed more and more North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers and secured more and more of South Vietnam itself – support for that war eroded here at home. For example, the Tet offensive was a huge military victory for our forces – but a decisive political defeat in the US. Simply put, we didn’t lose the Vietnam war in Vietnam. We lost it in Washington.

In just the last week, a ferocious national debate has erupted over the war. Your political enemies have launched a public-relations offensive to convince Americans that we are losing in Iraq. You and members of your administration are responding by arguing that despite the visible setbacks, such as all those horrific bombings in and around Baghdad, the war in Iraq is going well. The truth lies somewhere in between.

In some ways the war really is going well. For example, the new Iraqi government is making a remarkable amount of progress every day, reconstruction projects are forging ahead, and the Iraqi security forces are starting to make their presence felt throughout the country. But in other ways, the war isn’t going very well. The level of physical security remains abysmal, and it isn’t just those car-bombs and drive-by shootings; it’s been more than two years since we overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime, and we still haven’t secured the road to Baghdad International Airport. The honest assessment, which neither your enemies nor your supporters want to publicly offer, is that we are still in the middle of the war – which means it could go either way.

The Numbers that Matter
From what I see on television and read in the press, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense and our top generals are convinced that the war in Iraq has turned decisively against the terrorists, and that they are doomed to military defeat. The numbers they provide on terrorists killed or captured are impressive, so what they say about our prospects for victory may well be true.

Unfortunately, these numbers aren’t the only ones that matter. In business, when a company has bet its future on a new product, it’s very common for the company’s sales force to be optimistic because they have the numbers to prove that this new product is steadily gaining market share. What the sales force doesn’t see – but what the CEO does – are the numbers which show that the company is hemorrhaging cash. So the question isn’t whether the new product will be a success, but whether this new product will succeed fast enough, before the company goes bust. In other words, it’s a race against time. As I’m sure you learned at Harvard Business School, in real life cash flow can dry up faster than it does in the spread-sheets and Power-Point presentations the company’s financial geniuses gin up for the securities analysts.

In war, public support is the equivalent of cash flow. So the question isn’t whether a war is going well, but whether a war is going well enough, and fast enough, to end in victory before public support gives out. And it’s obvious that public support for the war in Iraq has begun to erode, which means that from now on we are not only in a battle against our enemy overseas, but in a race against time here at home.

I don’t know how much time is left before public support for this war erodes to the point when victory will lie beyond our grasp. Your judgment will certainly be better than mine, because only you can combine the top-secret intelligence reports on your desk with your own superb “gut feel” for public opinion to estimate just when these two trend-lines will intersect.

My only suggestion is that whatever projection you come up with – Three months? Nine months? Two years? – you cut it in half. History teaches that once public support for a war starts to erode – no matter what may be the actual, on-the-ground situation – it erodes at an accelerating rate. But what matters most isn’t so much the actual date you project for when the two lines will intersect. Rather, what matters most is that you recognize these two lines now are on a collision course, and that you understand what this means:

You have less time to win this war than you thought you had. So to win, you will need to fight harder.

Get Real with the Generals
First, you need to fight harder in Iraq. You keep saying that you are giving our generals all the troops they want. With all respect, sir, this couldn’t possibly be true. In the history of the world there has never been a general who thought he had enough troops. If your generals are telling you they have all the troops they want to finish the job in Iraq, either the generals are idiots – or they have gotten the word that asking for more troops will end their careers. Sit down with your generals privately – just you and them -- and find out how many troops they really think they need. If they still insist they don’t want more troops on the ground in Iraq, then get yourself a new bunch of generals. If they tell you they need another 250,000 soldiers and Marines – then fly them over from Korea, Germany or wherever they are stationed just as fast as possible.

If we haven’t got them to send – then order a draft. One way or another, put enough troops on the ground in Iraq to secure that country -- fast. And while you’re at it, give the orders to either take out the governments of Syria and Iran or to hit them with so much force that they quit playing footsie with al Queda and the Baathists, because we cannot win in Iraq so long as Syria and Iran are providing support and sanctuary. In short, do whatever is necessary, and do it now.

Second – and in my judgment, even more important -- you need to fight harder in Washington. To explain why this will help win the war in Iraq, let me tell you about how one of your predecessors acted domestically in a way that had a huge foreign impact. Shortly after President Reagan took office, our country’s 13,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike. Reagan ordered them back to work, and when they refused he did the one thing neither the controllers nor anyone else ever imagined he would do: he fired them all.

The ensuing political explosion is well known, but what isn’t well known is what effect the President’s decision had on the Soviet Union’s leaders. It terrified them, because they realized that in Ronald Reagan they were confronting a President who was willing to put all his chips on the table and go for broke no matter what might be the political consequences. I had access to a lot of top-secret intelligence in those days, and I can tell you that during the next few years there were several very dangerous things the Kremlin wanted to do, but refrained from doing purely out of fear over how President Reagan would respond. (You needn’t take my word for all this. After the Cold War ended quite a few of Gorbachev’s now-unemployed foreign-policy advisers earned some pocket-money on the European and American lecture circuits, and they all made this point. If you hadn’t heard this story before, it’s because the episode reflected so well on President Reagan our press didn’t trouble to report it.)

With all respect, sir, your performance in Washington has been too weak. You are letting Congress get away with stiffing John Bolton, you cut a compromise in the Senate that got a few judges confirmed but that left the Democrats in a position to filibuster whichever future nominees they choose, you haven’t vetoed a single bill despite all the budget-busting pork that is mortgaging our children’s future, and while you are out giving speeches to Rotary Clubs about how to save Social Security, your proposal to privatize a portion of future payments is being strangled in its crib by the Democrats.

Whatever may be the domestic effects of all this, the foreign effects are catastrophic. The terrorists in Iraq, their leaders who are hiding in caves, the mullahs in Teheran, the creep in Damascus and the nut in North Korea – they all see what is happening to your programs and your people, and the judgment they are reaching is this: if you aren’t willing to fight to the death in Washington, you aren’t willing to fight to the death in Iraq.

Turning the Potomac Red
Forget all the super-sophisticated, geo-political baloney. War is a very personal business. Look, when you send a platoon of soldiers or Marines out on patrol in Baghdad, or Tikrit, or Fallujah, you don’t expect that second lieutenant to come back to base and report that he reached a “compromise” with the terrorists; that they agreed our guys would kill or capture no more than five of their guys, but in return our own casualties would be light, or that the second lieutenant decided not to engage the enemy because he thought it best to save himself and his platoon for whatever the next battle might be. You expect that young officer to engage the enemy, kill them all – or go down shooting.

Well, so should you. You need to start fighting in Washington just as hard as you expect our troops to fight in Iraq. And you need to keep fighting until the Potomac flows red with the blood of your political enemies. Personally, I think you’ll win more of your domestic battles than your advisers seem to think you’ll win. But what really matters is that by fighting to the death for your domestic programs, our country’s enemies will get the message that you are a man who will risk everything – everything – to win. And by itself this will markedly increase our chances for victory in Iraq.

The war is now entering its most dangerous phase, by which I mean that period of time during which we will either secure our victory or lose so much public support that our defeat becomes inevitable. The outcome will be determined by the decisions you make – both foreign and domestic – in the coming weeks.

God bless you, sir, for all you have done to keep us safe. Now, go get ‘em.

Herbert E. Meyer

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, 6/28/2005 07:53:00 PM | Permalink | |
Monday, June 27, 2005

Cutting its very heart out (via PrestoPundit via Scott Collier -- click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 6/27/2005 09:01:00 PM | Permalink | |

Bono gushes over Bush

You won't read about this on the front page banner of the NYT... (From Power Line). I always did love these guys. I can still see the scrolling names when Bono played the Super Bowl after 9/11. Now there is a "star" who actually gets it... :

This is U2's Bono on Meet the Press yesterday:

Well, I think [President Bush has] done an incredible job, his administration, on AIDS. And 250,000 Africans are on antiviral drugs. They literally owe their lives to America. In one year that's being done. … Yes, there's a lot of pressure on President Bush. If he, though, in his second term, is as bold in his commitments to Africa as he was in the first term, he indeed deserves a place in history in turning the fate of that continent around.
DiscerningTexan, 6/27/2005 07:52:00 PM | Permalink | |

Blaming America First as a matter of "principle"

Fred Barnes has a wonderful way of cutting to the chase: Liberals see their own country as the root of all evil; Conservatives see it as the greatest experiment in world history, and the economic engine that fuelse the rest of the planet. And they wonder why we don't trust the Democrats with the keys to power. It is really this simple: it is because the Democratic party, a party that once believed in protecting this nation even if it meant standing up to the big bullies on the block -- the party of John F. Kennedy staring down Nikita Khrushchev with the whole world holding its breath -- is dead. Some excerpts from Barnes' historical analysis of this demise:

Democrats don't have a death wish. It just seems that way. What they actually have is a habit of falling into the national security trap. They did it in 1972. They did it in 1984. They did it in 1994. They did it in 2002. And they're doing it again this year as they prepare for the 2006 midterm elections, in which they hope to produce a breakthrough as sweeping and decisive as Republicans achieved in 1994.

The national security trap is simple. When faced with a choice between supporting or criticizing the use of military force along with a strong national security policy, Democrats often side with the critics. Which is how they fall into the trap, which leads to electoral defeat. When they back a vigorous defense of America's national security, however, the opposite happens. They usually win. Even when Democrats merely neutralize the national security issue--this happened in 1996 and 1998--or the issue is peripheral, they stand a good chance of winning.

At the moment, Democrats are convinced the country has turned against the war in Iraq. So House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is quite comfortable declaring the war a "grotesque mistake" and boasting that she has thought so from the start. Senator Edward Kennedy felt confident enough last week to inform American generals home from Iraq that the war is an "intractable quagmire." This prompted a sharp rebuke from General George Casey, the top commander in Iraq. "You have an insurgency with no vision, no base, limited popular support, an elected government, committed Iraqis to the democratic process, and you have Iraqi security forces that are fighting and dying for their country every day," Casey said. "Senator, that is not a quagmire."

Kennedy lost that exchange. And Democrats did no better on a related issue, the treatment of terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin was forced to apologize for likening the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to that of the Soviet gulag, Hitler's death camps, and the Cambodian killing fields. What was striking was the matter-of-fact manner in which Durbin drew the parallel in the first place. He seemed to be oblivious to the possibility he might be seen as worrying more about the detainees than about America's national security.
Democrats haven't learned the lesson on national security from elections over the past 30-plus years.

In 1972, Democrats thought the public had turned strongly against the war in Vietnam. So they nominated a fervent antiwar candidate, George McGovern. He lost in a landslide to incumbent Richard Nixon. [...]

In 1980, Ronald Reagan ousted Jimmy Carter at least partly because he took a tougher position toward the Soviet Union and Iran. Four years later, Democratic candidates spent the primaries arguing over who had endorsed the nuclear freeze first. Reagan won reelection easily. [...]

In 1994, after Clinton had responded weakly in Somalia and Haiti, Republicans captured the Senate and the House. Clinton responded strongly in Bosnia in 1995 and won reelection in 1996 and Democrats picked up a few House seats in 1998. [...] I

n 2002, Democrats voted 11 times against the creation of a Homeland Security Department, insisting the wishes of federal employee unions be accommodated first. They were pilloried by Republicans, who gained congressional seats.

Finally, in 2004, Democrats concluded a majority of voters were anti-Iraq. John Kerry acted accordingly, voting against funds to continue the war. And Democrats spent much of the year attacking Bush also over the conduct of the war on terror. They fell in the trap. Bush was reelected in large part because voters trusted him more than Kerry to keep the country secure.

Democrats are optimistic about the 2006 election and with some reason. The country is in a sour mood. The public may have grown tired of Bush. Democrats believe they can sell the idea Republicans are abusing their power in Congress. But Democrats can't win if they're caught in the national security trap. In an era in which America is threatened by terrorists, voters are unlikely to abandon a party that's muscular on national security for a party that isn't.

Every two years, the Democrats try to dress themselves in "conservative clothing", pretending to embrace the values they in fact despise. Witness John Kerry promising to "hunt the terrorists down and kill them..." Riiight... Especially if they go into Cambodia, right John?

But in between each election they spend a majority of their time defunding the military, railing against any military interventions, and ignoring global threats in favor of social programs. Lately we've been hearing words like Nazi and quagmire and Gulag from the over-the-top hyperbolic left. If history is any judge, the Dems are once again setting themselves up for a big fall.

UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh really nailed it today with a comparison regarding the anti-war Democrats:

LIMBAUGH: US lawmakers witnessed interrogations, toured cell blocks, and ate the same lunch given to detainees on the first congressional visit to the prison since criticism of it intensified in the spring." A Senate delegation also was visiting this weekend, but guess who wasn't there? Senator Durbin! Senator Dick Durbin was not there. He was in Peoria, and he was telling the VFW in Peoria that he didn't do anything wrong except hurt people's feelings and that his words were misinterpreted and it's really those people's fault. "Lawmakers from both parties agree that still must be done to ensure an adequate legal process is in place to handle detainee cases, but Republican representative Joe Schwartz said, 'I think they're doing the best they can to define due process down there.' Republicans and Democrats alike fear the prison is hurting our image."

This is just getting so frustrating. You know, we talk about Zarqawi. Abu Mussab Zarqawi. Now, theoretically, ladies and gentlemen, Zarqawi is operating in Iraq, right? Zarqawi is running his terrorist insurgents and they're launching suicide bombing missions and so forth, and those attacks are assumed to be taking place in Iraq. But you know where Zarqawi's attacks are really succeeding? Right here in Washington, DC. Every time a member of the US Congress stands up and belittles our effort in Iraq, claims we're losing, claims we're in a quagmire, Zarqawi has hit gold. Zarqawi has his own useful idiots in the United States of America and his attacks in Iraq are doing more damage in the United States than his attacks in Iraq are doing in Iraq, and that's the dirty little secret.

Spot-on. And that is why these guys absolutely cannot be trusted with the keys. Period.
DiscerningTexan, 6/27/2005 06:54:00 PM | Permalink | |
Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hat Tip PrestoPundit
DiscerningTexan, 6/26/2005 11:47:00 PM | Permalink | |

Iraq: Separating the reality from the anti-US rhetoric

Belmont Club has a balanced and realistic assessment of the status of our mission in Iraq. A good and thoughtful read. Here is the gist, but the entire essay (and comments) are worthy of your attention:

Glenn Reynolds links to Karl Zinmeister's article in American Enterprise Online, The War is Over, and We Won where Zinmeister claims that:

Your editor returned to Iraq in April and May of 2005 for another embedded period of reporting. I could immediately see improvements compared to my earlier extended tours during 2003 and 2004. ... With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over. Egregious acts of terror will continue -- in Iraq as in many other parts of the world. But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerilla war.

Gregory Scoblete thinks it is premature to declare victory in Iraq because "guerilla wars" take decades to conclude; and since this one is only entering its third year, declaring the outcome makes as much sense as calling the result of basketball game in the first quarter. He further argues that by declaring the proceedings settled, Zinmeister is setting up the public for a cruel disappointment when the next flare-up occurs.

Don't get me wrong, I think on the whole, the trends are indeed positive in Iraq and that they can be sustained assuming continued American involvement and savvy leadership on behalf of Iraq's political class. I hope Zinsmeister is correct, and I'm optimistic about the longer-term prospects for our success in Iraq. But I'm actually amazed that after "Mission Accomplished," "cake walk" et. al. conservatives aren't more reserved when declaring victory.

Indeed, Zinsmeister's proclamations are irresponsible. Guerilla wars are notoriously long, bloody affairs. Expectation setting is crucial. Fault the media all you want for painting an unduly grim picture in Iraq, but isn't flatly asserting that victory is at hand equally wrong-headed? Reading Zinsmeister, you'd be forgiven for thinking that (a) U.S. troops could begin coming home shortly, (b) that in a few more months things will be noticeably calmer, or (c) that no course corrections are necessary. When A and B don't materialize, and it's hard to think they will, people will rightly wonder whether they've been lied to or whether the people making such sweeping claims were spinning or ignorant of the facts. Then - and this is crucial - the public support needed for seeing the war through to a successful conclusion will erode even quicker.

What does it mean to win a war against guerilla insurgents? What does it mean for a guerilla insurgency to triumph? The one answer that is popularly advanced -- one that is implicit in Scoblete's argument -- is that guerillas win if they simply remain in existence.

This site lists more than 383 armed guerilla groups extant in the world today. Clearly all of them exist and just as clearly not all of them are triumphant. There are, for instance 27 armed guerilla groups in India, 9 in Britain (the most famous of which is the Irish Republican Army) and 11 in the United States. Yet no one asks whether it is premature to declare the Westminster Parliament in control of the Northern Ireland or wonder whether Los Matcheteros will take over the Washington DC. And the reason is simple: while the IRA and Los Matcheteros are still likely to exist in 2010, there is little or no chance that these organizations will seize state power in all or even part of Britain or the United States. Seizing state power over a definite territory is the explicit objective of nearly every guerilla armed force in the world today: if they can achieve that, they win. If they cannot achieve that and have no realistic prospect of ever achieving that, they are defeated, however long they may continue to exist.

Guerilla leaders themselves know this and invariably attempt to create a state-in-waiting in the course of their campaign based on an armed force, a united front of allies willing to support the guerilla's political objectives and a hard leadership core in firm control of both. They also attempt to create micro-states in the course of insurgency usually styled "base areas" or "liberated zones". Political influence, combat capability and territorial control are the real metrics of a successful guerilla campaign. The argument that mere existence or avoidance of defeat constitutes victory is hogwash: both the IRA and the Red Hand Commandos exist, but clearly the IRA is the more successful guerilla organization because it has a national united front, some combat capability and hard and diverse leadership core where the Red Hand Commandos do not. Even Al Qaeda, which some claim to be a creature of pure thought has sought to control territory in Afghanistan and spread its influence through Islamic "charities" while under the control of a central group of militants. It was, in other words, no different from any other classic guerilla organization.

While the Iraqi insurgents still retain the capability to kill significant numbers of people they are almost total losers by the traditional metric of guerilla warfare. First of all, by attacking civilians of every ethnic group and vowing to resubjugate the majority ethnic groups in the country they have at a stroke made creating a national united front against the United States a near impossibility.

If I had to some up my thoughts about all this in a few sentances it would be something like this: President Bush, our military, and our strategy is winning. Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, and Dick Durbin are not happy about this. They would rather us lose, if it means they can ascend to power again. This clearly shows they cannot be trusted to lead us at this critical juncture in history.

So stick to your guns, Mr. President. The truth is an extremely difficult thing to hide, even with the msm allied against you. And we've got your back here in the blogosphere: and as long as you continue to do the right thing in this war, we will continue to stand with you against our common enemies (and many of them have microphones). So be it.. We know you are right: don't let the poll paranoiacs dissuade you. We're behind you: stay the course.
DiscerningTexan, 6/26/2005 11:23:00 PM | Permalink | |

A dose of reality about the asymetry in Democrat slurs

The other day my emotions got the best of me, and I went off regarding this whole Karl Rove vs. Dick Durbin comparison: to met it was sort of like comparing a case of the sniffles to the Black Death. But when I saw this essay today from Professor Victor Davis Hanson, I didn't feel so bad:

Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat, was not alone in recently comparing American behavior at Guantanamo Bay to that of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings." Tarring Bush and Co. with Hitlerian imagery has become a debased parlor game. Politicians and other public figures toss about these charged references, expecting to create a buzz and assuming their audience is as uninformed as they are.

Rep. Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, cited the Holocaust to blast American policy in Iraq: "This is just as bad as the 6 million Jews being killed." In his upside-down world, the mass murderer is the moral equivalent of those who stop him. Before Mr. Rangel, Sen. Robert Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, evoked Nazi Germany to warn about the Bush administration.

An official of the Red Cross lectured that American guards at Guantanamo were "no better than and no different than the Nazi concentration camp guards." Left unsaid was the logical sick corollary: If the perpetrators of the Holocaust were really no worse than American guards at Guantanamo, then, as is the case at Guantanamo where not one death has been reported, did no one really perish at Belsen or Treblinka, either?

And these people aren't the only ones to stoop to play this game. There's also been NAACP Chairman Julian Bond ("The American flag and the Confederate swastika"), former Ohio Sen. John Glenn ("It's the old Hitler business"), Garrison Keillor ("Brownshirts in pinstripes"), Linda Ronstadt ("A new bunch of Hitlers") and Al Gore ("Digital Brownshirts").

Why suddenly does Adolf Hitler pop up everywhere when the Nazis have absolutely no relation with a democratic United States or a humane military? Time Magazine recently reported that when Mohammed al-Qahtani, suspected 20th hijacker of September 11, 2001, was in distress, he was given a CAT scan and put on a heart monitor. A radiologist was flown to Cuba for consultation. In contrast, is Mr. Durbin aware the Nazis laid railroad tracks to the very gates of Auschwitz to facilitate its engine of mass death, an industry that would take more than 6 million people? Or can he grasp the idea of 25 million perishing in the gulag -- the population of Durbin's Illinois being exterminated twice?

Note the escalating frustration behind these outbursts. Although an occasional conservative like Sen. Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican, has stooped to Hitlerian slander, most offenders, such as Michael Moore (comparing the Patriot Act to "Mein Kampf") or George Soros (saying Mr. Bush reminded him of "the Germans"), are on the left, furious over their inability to affect events. Since September 11, we have had midterm and national elections, both referenda on the so-called war against terror. Those on the left have lost the majority of state legislatures, governorships, the House, the Senate, the presidency and perhaps the Supreme Court.

If normal debate somehow didn't rile up the somnolent American people, why not try conjuring up the ghosts of Hitler or Josef Stalin? There is also an asymmetry in these slurs. Few mention there really are monsters and mass killers living among us -- the North Koreans who have starved 1 million of their own, Saddam's reign of terror that may have killed as many, and, of course, the Islamicist murderers who behead, blow up and torture. "Mein Kampf" still sells well in some Arab capitals, not in Washington or New York. So cowards such as officials of the Red Cross and Amnesty International, and, yes, American politicians, prefer to showboat the purported misdemeanors of people who are civilized and will listen to them, rather than to condemn the horrendous felonies of those who are barbaric and will pay them no heed.

As a result, the bar is lowering. In today's climate, Alfred Knopf has already published a novel about killing the president. Charlie Brooker writing in the Guardian in London prayed for another Lee Harvey Oswald to take out George W. Bush. Comedians, New York plays and art exhibits also bandy about assassination.

Each time a public official evokes Hitler to demonize the president, the American effort in Iraq or its conservative supporters, cheap rhetorical fantasy becomes only that much closer to a nightmarish reality where the unstable, here and abroad, act on the belief America really is Hitler's Germany. We will all soon reap what the ignorant are now sowing.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and a nationally syndicated columnist.
DiscerningTexan, 6/26/2005 08:36:00 PM | Permalink | |
Saturday, June 25, 2005

Canyption fit continues over Rove

First I noticed the Blog name Ex-Donkey Blog, kind of catchy, so I clicked. Then the first thing I see is these words:

Laughing My Ass Off...

At the puerile tantrums still being thrown by the Left over Karl Rove
calling a spade a spade and simply pointing out the obvious truth about Liberals.

I love that quote so much - and the fact that it throws them into such a tizzy - that I've made it a permanent sidebar item, right underneath the Zell Miller quote.

The best part is that every stupid pacifist terrorist-coddling titty-baby comment made by, Michael Moore, George Soros et. al. is there for the reading. Instapundit and Right Wing News have a few but there are so many more.I hope every Liberal that hits my site sees that quote and loses it.As Col. Jessup says "You can't HANDLE the truth!"

UPDATE: Lorie Byrd has an excellent post about this silliness.

And on a side note: The Sully Alert has been upgraded by WizBang to RED - "Filled with heart-ache at such gobsmacking vileness"!And for posterity's sake, here's the link to the [Rove-DT] speech, and here are some highlights:

We are seizing the Mantle of Idealism. As all of you know, President Bush is making a powerful case for spreading human liberty and defending human dignity. This was once largely the preserve of liberalism - but Ronald Reagan changed all that. It was President Reagan, you'll recall, who said the policy of the United States was not simply to contain Soviet Communism, but to transcend it. And we would, he argued, was because of the power of liberty...

..."Liberalism is at greater risk now than at any time in recent American history. The risk is of political marginality, even irrelevance.… [L]iberalism risks getting defined, as conservatism once was, entirely in negative terms." These are not the words of William F. Buckley, Jr. or Sean Hannity; they are the words of Paul Starr, co-editor of The American Prospect, a leading liberal publication...

...Conservatives believe in lower taxes; liberals believe in higher taxes. We want few regulations; they want more. Conservatives measure the effectiveness of government programs by results; liberals measure the effectiveness of government programs by inputs. We believe in curbing the size of government; they believe in expanding the size of government. Conservatives believe in making America a less litigious society; liberals believe in making America a more litigious society. We believe in accountability and parental choice in education; they don't. Conservatives believe in advancing what Pope John Paul II called a "culture of life"; liberals believe there is an absolute unlimited right to abortion...

...But perhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can we found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers...

...In the wake of 9/11, conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban; in the wake of 9/11, liberals believed it was time to… submit a petition. I am not joking. Submitting a petition is precisely what did. It was a petition imploring the powers that be" to "use moderation and restraint in responding to the… terrorist attacks against the United States."......Let me put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts to the region the words of Senator Durbin, certainly putting America's men and women in uniform in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals...

...[I]t is also a cautionary tale of what happens to a dominant party - in this case, the Democrat Party -- when its thinking becomes ossified; when its energy begins to drain; when an entitlement mentality takes over; and when political power becomes an end in itself rather than a means to achieve the common good. We need to learn from our successes - and from the failures of the other side and ourselves. As the governing movement in America, conservatives cannot grow tired or timid. We have been given the opportunity to govern; now we have to show we deserve the trust of our fellow citizens...

...At one time the conservative movement was largely a reactionary political party - and there was a sense of pessimism even among many of its ardent champions. You'll recall that Whittaker Chambers, who gave up his affiliation with Communism to join the West in its struggle for freedom, said he believed he was joining the losing side...

...For decades, liberals were setting the agenda, the pace of change, and the visionary goals. Conservatives were simply reacting to them. But times change, often for the better - and this President and today's conservative movement are shaping history, not trying to stop it.

Needless to say, I was hooked. (And the Diane Lane shot wasn't bad either.)
DiscerningTexan, 6/25/2005 11:04:00 PM | Permalink | |

The conscience of a Karl Rove "liberal"...
DiscerningTexan, 6/25/2005 05:04:00 PM | Permalink | |

Janice Rogers Brown's "Sense and Nonsense"

In my previous post I made reference to Justice Janice Rogers Brown, the daughter of an Alabama sharecropper who the Democrats fillibustered for over two years, for.....well basically for being a highly intelligent female African-American jurist who does not buy into a collectivist world view.

Today I had the pleasure of reading a speech Brown delivered to the Federalist Society at the University of Chicago Law School over five years ago. The speech struck me as so relevant today, and so brilliant that I think it deserves to stand and be read on its own, outside of the other political arguments of the day. Also worthy of your consideration is that this is the person about which the "People for the American Way" -- a gross misrepresentation of an organizational title if there ever was one -- said, and I quote: "lacked the appropriate commitment to fundamental constitutional rights principles". Just keep that in mind as you read this outstanding speech (bold emphases within the speech are mine):

"A Whiter Shade of Pale": Sense and Nonsense —
The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics
The Federalist Society University of Chicago Law School April 20, 2000

Thank you. I want to thank Mr. Schlangen (fondly known as Charlie to my secretary) for extending the invitation and the Federalist Society both for giving me my first opportunity to visit the City of Chicago and for being, as Mr. Schlangen assured me in his letter of invitation, "a rare bastion (nay beacon) of conservative and libertarian thought." That latter notion made your invitation well-nigh irresistible. There are so few true conservatives left in America that we probably should be included on the endangered species list. That would serve two purposes: Demonstrating the great compassion of our government and relegating us to some remote wetlands habitat where — out of sight and out of mind — we will cease being a dissonance in collectivist concerto of the liberal body politic.

In truth, they need not banish us to the gulag. We are not much of a threat, lacking even a coherent language in which to state our premise. [I should pause here to explain the source of the title to this discussion. Unless you are a very old law student, you probably never heard of "A Whiter Shade of Pale."] "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is an old (circa 1967) Procol Harum song, full of nonsensical lyrics, but powerfully evocative nonetheless. Here's a sample:

"We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more.

The room was humming harder

as the ceiling flew away.
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray."

There is something about this that forcibly reminds me of our current political circus. The last verse is even better.

"If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front then
dirt in truth is clean...."

Sound familiar? Of course Procol Harum had an excuse. These were the 60's after all, and the lyrics were probably drug induced. What's our excuse?

One response might be that we are living in a world where words have lost their meaning.

This is certainly not a new phenomenon. It seems to be an inevitable artifact of cultural disintegration. Thucydides lamented the great changes in language and life that succeeded the Pelopennesian War; Clarendon and Burke expressed similar concerns about the political transformations of their own time.

It is always a disorienting experience for a member of the old guard when the entire understanding of the old world is uprooted. As James Boyd White expresses it: "[I]n this world no one would see what he sees, respond as he responds, speak as he speaks,"
1 and living in that world means surrender to the near certainty of central and fundamental changes within the self. "One cannot maintain forever one's language and judgment against the pressures of a world that works in different ways," for we are shaped by the world in which we live.2

This is a fascinating subject which we do not have time to explore more thoroughly. Suffice it to say that this phenomenon accounts for much of the near hysterical tone of current political discourse.

Our problems, however, seem to go even deeper. It is not simply that the same words don't have the same meanings; in our lifetime, words are ceasing to have any meaning.

The culture of the word is being extinguished by the culture of the camera. Politicians no longer have positions they have photo-ops. To be or not to be is no longer the question. The question is: how do you feel.

Writing 50 years ago, F.A. Hayek warned us that a centrally planned economy is "The Road to Serfdom."
3 He was right, of course; but the intervening years have shown us that there are many other roads to serfdom.

In fact, it now appears that human nature is so constituted that, as in the days of empire all roads led to Rome; in the heyday of liberal democracy, all roads lead to slavery. And we no longer find slavery abhorrent. We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is the opiate. The drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms; for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens.

It is my thesis today that the sheer tenacity of the collectivist impulse — whether you call it socialism or communism or altruism — has changed not only the meaning of our words, but the meaning of the Constitution, and the character of our people.

Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase. Aaron Wildavsky gives a credible account of this dynamic. Wildavsky notes that the Madisonian world has gone "topsy turvy" as factions, defined as groups "activated by some common interest adverse to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community,"
4 have been transformed into sectors of public policy.

"Indeed," says Wildavsky, "government now pays citizens to organize, lawyers to sue, and politicians to run for office. Soon enough, if current trends continue, government will become self-contained, generating (apparently spontaneously) the forces to which it responds."5 That explains how, but not why. And certainly not why we are so comfortable with that result.

America's Constitution provided an 18th Century answer to the question of what to do about the status of the individual and the mode of government. Though the founders set out to establish good government "from reflection and choice,"6 they also acknowledged the "limits of reason as applied to constitutional design,"7 and wisely did not seek to invent the world anew on the basis of abstract principle; instead, they chose to rely on habits, customs, and principles derived from human experience and authenticated by tradition.

"The Framers understood that the self-interest which in the private sphere contributes to welfare of society — both in the sense of material well-being and in the social unity engendered by commerce — makes man a knave in the public sphere, the sphere of politics and group action. It is self-interest that leads individuals to form factions to try to expropriate the wealth of others through government and that constantly threatens social harmony."

Collectivism sought to answer a different question: how to achieve cosmic justice — sometimes referred to as social justice — a world of social and economic equality. Such an ambitious proposal sees no limit to man's capacity to reason. It presupposes a community can consciously design not only improved political, economic, and social systems but new and improved human beings as well.

The great innovation of this millennium was equality before the law. The greatest fiasco — the attempt to guarantee equal outcomes for all people. Tom Bethell notes that the security of property — a security our Constitution sought to ensure — had to be devalued in order for collectivism to come of age.

The founders viewed private property as "the guardian of every other right."9 But, "by 1890 we find Alfred Marshall, the teacher of John Maynard Keynes making the astounding claim that the need for private property reaches no deeper than the qualities of human nature."10 A hundred years later came Milton Friedman's laconic reply: " 'I would say that goes pretty deep.'"11

In between, came the reign of socialism. "Starting with the formation of the Fabian Society and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall, its ambitious project was the reformation of human nature. Intellectuals visualized a planned life without private property, mediated by the New Man."12 He never arrived.

As John McGinnis persuasively argues: "There is simply a mismatch between collectivism on any large and enduring scale and our evolved nature. As Edward O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants, remarked about Marxism, 'Wonderful theory. Wrong species.'"13

Ayn Rand similarly attributes the collectivist impulse to what she calls the "tribal view of man."14 She notes, "[t]he American philosophy of the Rights of Man was never fully grasped by European intellectuals. Europe's predominant idea of emancipation consisted of changing the concept of man as a slave to the absolute state embodied by the king, to the concept of man as the slave of the absolute state as embodied by 'the people' — i.e., switching from slavery to a tribal chieftain into slavery to the tribe."15

Democracy and capitalism seem to have triumphed. But, appearances can be deceiving. Instead of celebrating capitalism's virtues, we offer it grudging acceptance, contemptuous tolerance but only for its capacity to feed the insatiable maw of socialism.

We do not conclude that socialism suffers from a fundamental and profound flaw. We conclude instead that its ends are worthy of any sacrifice — including our freedom. Revel notes that Marxism has been "shamed and ridiculed everywhere except American universities" but only after totalitarian systems "reached the limits of their wickedness."16

"Socialism concentrated all the wealth in the hands of an oligarchy in the name of social justice, reduced peoples to misery in the name of shar[ed] resources, to ignorance in the name of science. It created the modern world's most inegalitarian societies in the name of equality, the most vast network of concentration camps ever built [for] the defense of liberty."17

Revel warns: "The totalitarian mind can reappear in some new and unexpected and seemingly innocuous and indeed virtuous form. [¶]... [I]t ... will [probably] put itself forward under the cover of a generous doctrine, humanitarian, inspired by a concern for giving the disadvantaged their fair share, against corruption, and pollution, and 'exclusion.'"18

Of course, given the vision of the American Revolution just outlined, you might think none of that can happen here. I have news for you. It already has. The revolution is over. What started in the 1920's; became manifest in 1937; was consolidated in the 1960's; is now either building to a crescendo or getting ready to end with a whimper.

At this moment, it seems likely leviathan will continue to lumber along, picking up ballast and momentum, crushing everything in its path. Some things are apparent. Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destiny atrophies. The result is: families under siege; war in the streets; unapologetic expropriation of property; the precipitous decline of the rule of law; the rapid rise of corruption; the loss of civility and the triumph of deceit. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible.

But what if anything does this have to do with law? Quite a lot, I think. In America, the national conversation will probably always include rhetoric about the rule of law. I have argued that collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country's founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document. In his famous, all too famous, dissent in Lochner, Justice Holmes wrote that the "constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the State or of laissez faire."
19 Yes, one of the greatest (certainly one of the most quotable) jurists this nation has ever produced; but in this case, he was simply wrong. That Lochner dissent has troubled me — has annoyed me — for a long time and finally I understand why. It's because the framers did draft the Constitution with a surrounding sense of a particular polity in mind, one based on a definite conception of humanity. In fact as Professor Richard Epstein has said, Holmes's contention is "not true of our [Constitution], which was organized upon very explicit principles of political theory."20 It could be characterized as a plan for humanity "after the fall."

There is nothing new, of course, in the idea that the framers did not buy into the notion of human perfectibility. And the document they drafted and the nation adopted in 1789 is shot through with provisions that can only be understood against the supposition that humanity's capacity for evil and tyranny is quite as real and quite as great as its capacity for reason and altruism. Indeed, as noted earlier, in politics, the framers may have envisioned the former tendency as the stronger, especially in the wake of the country's experience under the Articles of Confederation. The fear of "factions," of an "encroaching tyranny"; the need for ambition to counter ambition"; all of these concerns identified in the Federalist Papers have stratagems designed to defend against them in the Constitution itself. We needed them, the framers were convinced, because "angels do not govern"; men do.
It was a quite opposite notion of humanity, of its fundamental nature and capacities, that animated the great concurrent event in the West in 1789 — the revolution in France. Out of that revolutionary holocaust — intellectually an improbable melding of Rousseau with Descartes — the powerful notion of abstract human rights was born. At the risk of being skewered by historians of ideas, I want to suggest that the belief in and the impulse toward human perfection, at least in the political life of a nation, is an idea whose arc can be traced from the Enlightenment, through the Terror, to Marx and Engels, to the Revolutions of 1917 and 1937. The latter date marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution. All of these events were manifestations of a particularly skewed view of human nature and the nature of human reason.

To the extent the Enlightenment sought to substitute the paradigm of reason for faith, custom or tradition, it failed to provide rational explanation of the significance of human life. It thus led, in a sort of ultimate irony, to the repudiation of reason and to a full-fledged flight from truth — what Revel describes as "an almost pathological indifference to the truth."21

There were obviously urgent economic and social reasons driving not only the political culture but the constitutional culture in the mid-1930's — though it was actually the mistakes of governments (closed borders, high tariffs, and other protectionist measures) that transformed a "momentary breakdown into an international cataclysm."22 The climate of opinion favoring collectivist social and political solutions had a worldwide dimension.

Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and effected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century.

Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers' conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests. Because the only way to come to terms with an enduring Constitution is to believe that the human condition is itself enduring.

For complex reasons, attempts to impose a collectivist political solution in the United States failed. But, the political failure was of little practical concern, in a way that is oddly unappreciated, that same impulse succeeded within the judiciary, especially in the federal high court. The idea of abstract rights, government entitlements as the most significant form of property, is well suited to conditions of economic distress and the emergence of a propertyless class. But the economic convulsions of the late 1920's and early 1930's passed away; the doctrinal underpinnings of West Coast Hotel and the "switch in time" did not. Indeed, over the next half century it consumed much of the classical conception of the Constitution.

So secure were the intellectual underpinnings of the constitutional revolution, so self-evident the ambient cultural values of the policy elite who administered it, that the object of the high court's jurisprudence was largely devoted to the construction of a system for ranking the constitutional weight to be given contending social interests.

In the New Deal/Great Society era, a rule that was the polar opposite of the classical era of American law reigned. A judicial subjectivity whose very purpose was to do away with objective gauges of constitutionality, with universal principles, the better to give the judicial priesthood a free hand to remake the Constitution. After a handful of gross divisions reflecting the hierarchy of the elite's political values had been drawn (personal vs. economic rights, for example), the task was to construct a theoretical system, not of social or cultural norms, but of abstract constitutional weight a given interest merits — strict or rational basis scrutiny. The rest, the identification of underlying, extraconstitutional values, consisted of judicial tropes and a fortified rhetoric.

Protection of property was a major casualty of the Revolution of 1937. The paradigmatic case, written by that premiere constitutional operative, William O. Douglas, is Williamson v. Lee Optical.
23 The court drew a line between personal rights and property rights or economic interests, and applied two different constitutional tests. Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status.24 If the right asserted was economic, the court held the Legislature could do anything it pleased. Judicial review for alleged constitutional infirmities under the due process clause was virtually nonexistent.

On the other hand, if the right was personal and "fundamental," review was intolerably strict. "From the Progressive era to the New Deal, [ ] property was by degrees ostracized from the company of rights.25 Something new, called economic rights, began to supplant the old property rights. This change, which occurred with remarkably little fanfare, was staggeringly significant. With the advent of "economic rights," the original meaning of rights was effectively destroyed. These new "rights" imposed obligations, not limits, on the state.

It thus became government's job not to protect property but, rather, to regulate and redistribute it. And, the epic proportions of the disaster which has befallen millions of people during the ensuing decades has not altered our fervent commitment to statism. The words of Judge Alex Kozinski, written in 1991, are not very encouraging." 'What we have learned from the experience of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union ... is that you need capitalism to make socialism work.' In other words, capitalism must produce what socialism is to distribute."
26 Are the signs and portents any better at the beginning of a new century?

Has the constitutional Zeitgeist that has reigned in the United States since the beginning of the Progressive Era come to its conclusion? And if it has, what will replace it? I wish I knew the answer to these questions. It is true — in the words of another old song: "There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear."27

The oracles point in all directions at once. Political polls suggest voters no longer desire tax cuts. But, taxpayers who pay the largest proportion of taxes are now a minority of all voters. On the other hand, until last term the Supreme Court held out the promising possibility of a revival of what might be called Lochnerism-lite in a trio of cases — Nollan, Dolan, and Lucas, Those cases offered a principled but pragmatic means-end standard of scrutiny under the takings clause.

But there are even deeper movements afoot. Tectonic plates are shifting and the resulting cataclysm may make 1937 look tame.

Lionel Tiger, in a provocative new book called The Decline of Males, posits a brilliant and disturbing new paradigm. He notes we used to think of a family as a man, a woman, and a child. Now, a remarkable new family pattern has emerged which he labels "bureaugamy." A new trinity: a woman, a child, and a bureaucrat."28 Professor Tiger contends that most, if not all, of the gender gap that elected Bill Clinton to a second term in 1996 is explained by this phenomenon. According to Tiger, women moved in overwhelming numbers to the Democratic party as the party most likely to implement policies and programs which will support these new reproductive strategies.

Professor Tiger is not critical of these strategies. He views this trend as the triumph of reproduction over production; the triumph of Darwinism over Marxism; and he advocates broad political changes to accommodate it.

Others do not see these changes as quite so benign or culturally neutral. Jacques Barzan finds the Central Western notion of emancipation has been devalued. It has now come to mean that "nothing stands in the way of every wish."29 The result is a decadent age — an era in which "there are no clear lines of advance"; "when people accept futility and the absurd as normal[,] the culture is decadent."30

Stanley Rosen defines "our present crisis as a fatigue induced by ... accumulated decisions of so many revolutions."31 He finds us, in the spirit of Pascal, knowing "too much to be ignorant and too little to be wise."32

I will close with a story I like a lot. It's a true story. It happened on June 10, 1990. A British Airways jet bound for Malaga, Spain, took off from Birmingham, England. It was expected to be a routine flight. As the jet climbed through the 23,000-foot level, there was a loud bang; the cockpit windshield directly in front of the captain blew out. The sudden decompression sucked Captain Lancaster out of his seatbelt and into the hole left by the windscreen. A steward who happened to be in the cockpit managed to snag the captain's feet as he hurtled past. Another steward rushed onto the flight deck, strapped himself into the captain's chair and, helped by other members of the crew, clung with all his strength to the captain. The slipstream was so fierce, they were unable to drag the pilot back into the plane. His clothing was ripped from his body. With Lancaster plastered against the nose of the jet, the co-pilot donned an oxygen mask and flew the plane to Southampton —approximately 15 minutes away — and landed safely. The captain had a fractured elbow, wrist and thumb; a mild case of frostbite, but was otherwise unharmed.

We find ourselves, like the captain, in a situation that is hopeless but not yet desperate. The arcs of history, culture, philosophy, and science all seem to be converging on this temporal instant. Familiar arrangements are coming apart; valuable things are torn from our hands, snatched away by the decompression of our fragile ark of culture.

But, it is too soon to despair. The collapse of the old system may be the crucible of a new vision. We must get a grip on what we can and hold on. Hold on with all the energy and imagination and ferocity we possess. Hold on even while we accept the darkness. We know not what miracles may happen; what heroic possibilities exist. We may be only moments away from a new dawn.

Last year when President Bush was running for re-election, I stated at that time that this might be the most momentous election since 1864. The two Supreme Court vacancies that are likely to come up over the next two years may well determine whether or not we as a Republic can withstand the insidious forces of Collectivism which threaten us all. For it indeed appears that the convergence of forces about which Justice Brown warned almost 5 years ago is nigh upon us. So: are we going to preserve the Union and the vision of the founders? Or are we going to disintegrate further into collectivist madness? We may be about to find that out.
DiscerningTexan, 6/25/2005 03:28:00 PM | Permalink | |

The Supreme Court: Reflections on an Autocracy

Clarice Feldman writes eloquently regarding the Supreme Court's earth-shattering Kelo decision the other day, from which I will be quoting extensively, because we as a country cannot afford more of the same when it comes to an activist Judiciary.

I've already discussed at length my opinion that this decision was the first step to the US becoming a collectivist/communist totalitarian state. And Feldman's excellent American Thinker piece adds more concrete reinforcement to this supposition:

One week before the end of its term, the Supreme Court has handed down a decision, Kelo v. City of New London, which greatly weakened the protection of property rights explicitly recognized in the Constitution. At issue is the power of governments to confiscate homes and other real estate, and set a price deemed "fair" -- all without the owner's consent.

With one or more vacancies on the Court looming, and with the prospect of bitter confirmation battles looming, the public may start thinking about property rights as part of our civil rights, and alter the terms of the debate over the "judicial mainstream."

On April 20,2000, Judge Janice Rogers Brown
addressed the Federalist Society. As we consider yesterday's decision, it's worth our time to consider her thesis on that occasion:

"[T]he sheer tenacity of the collectivist impulse--whether you call it socialism or communism or altruism--has changed not only the meaning of our words, but the meanings of the Constitution and the character of our people."

She noted further, in this notable speech:

"Protection of property was a major casualty of the Revolution of 1937...The court drew a line between personal rights and property rights or economic interests, and applied two different constitutional tests. Rights were reordered and property acquired a second class status. If the right asserted was economic, the court held the Legislature could do anything it pleased. Judicial review for alleged constitutional infirmities under the due process clause was virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, if the right was personal and 'fundamental' review was intolerably strict."

Further down in Feldman's essay, she addresses the question of the Fifth Amendment and its "just compensation" language:

The Supreme Court ignored the clear words of the Constitution which states in the Fifth Amendment:

"nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

But we are talking about an economic right. So "behind is in front" and voila "public use" as if by magic, has been transformed into "public purpose."

Once, taking was permitted only if the state had an important need for the property, such as a road or bridge which everyone needed, and the property owner was justly compensated. Today, your property can be taken if the local authorities determine there is a more economic use to be made of your property by somebody else - a developer, an employer, or a tax-generating company - and they need the extra tax money they will receive if somebody else gets your house.

This enlargement of the state's power encourages not only fiscal profligacy but theft as well. Theft? Didn't the Court say you should get "just compensation"? Think about it. Once the property is seized and given to another private party, you have no recourse if (a) the project is never undertaken or (b) the government miscalculated and the new use is not more economically valuable to the community. In fact, once property is transferred, in the absence of fraud or bad faith, there is no easy way apparent to get your property back, even if the new owner changes his mind, goes broke, or gets a better offer.

And what about the "just compensation" requirement? UCLA Law Professor Stephen Bainbridge explains why fair market value in Kelo "is a justly inadequate safeguard on government power".

"First, it fails to take into account the subjective valuations placed on the property by people whose families have lived on the land, in at least one case, for over a 100 years. In other words... the government will be able to seize land at a price considerably below the reservation price of the owners. Second, unlike the prototypical eminent domain case, in which the land is seized to build, say, a school or road, in this case the city is using eminent domain to seize property that will then be turned over to a private developer. If this new development increases the value of the property, all of that value will be captured by the new owner, rather than the forced sellers. As a result , the city will have made itself richer (through higher taxes) , and the developer richer, while leaving the forced sellers poorer in both subjective and objective senses."

Unless this decision is reversed further down the road by a newly-reinforced, strict Constructionist Court; a Court which respects the Constitution and the intent of the Founders, and resists the impulse to create "law" out of the thiaccordingording to its every whim, then the Kelo decision may be have left us only one recourse to this vile decision handed down by activist justices last -- the State legislature:

But the Court does leave open some recourse from this decision: the possibility of state legislation to forbid property being taken for "public purpose." Every reader who lives in a state which does not enjoy such protection should work for such a clear repudiation of the practice of forced taking of property for use by private interests. In the meantime, it is anticipated that on Monday one of the Supreme Court judges will announce his/her resignation at the end of the term, and the battle for a confirmation of replacement will begin.

The Senate Democrats who held up the confirmation of Judge Brown to the US. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for two years, upon the opposition of left-wing wing groups like People for the American Way ( Norman Lear) who called her a "loose cannon" who "lacked the appropriate commitment to fundamental constitutional rights principles," have offered the President a fool's deal. They want him to consult with them before nominating anyone. (Something about that offer reminds me of an email I got saying I'd won a foreign lottery and to claim it should prepay the vendor's ten percent which, of course, would be rebated upon receipt of the award, though I should keep the whole thing quiet to avoid confusion with other people claiming the same prize.)

My guess is that Justice Thomas, whose dissent most clearly challenges the majority opinion, and Judge Brown, whose views suggest she'd have joined him had she been on the Court, may fairly be regarded as champions of a view of property rights deeply cherished by Americans. The notion that a man's home is his castle, is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, as is the American dream of home ownership. They are mainstream in a way that makes intuitive sense to Main Street.

Let us keep in mind, as the upcoming confirmation battles over Bush's Supreme Court nominees loom ahead, that we have as a country reached the point of no return if we do not stem the tide of dictatorship by judicial fiat. The importance of Bush making the right decisions for his USSC appointments cannot be overstated; indeed it may be the one hope our country has left of realizing the dream of its founders, and of all other patriots who have laid down their lives for this noble experiment since the 1770's. We owe it to them, and to the ones who will follow us, to get this one right.

UPDATE: The speech in Chicago by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, which was referenced above, and in Clarice Feldman's essay, is pricelesss in itself; in fact I was so moved by it that I will be posting the complete text of this shortly in another post.

But for those who are impatient for a truly profound dose of truth, I would urge you to visit the link now. And, as you read Ms. Brown's words, keep in mind that this is the woman that the Democrats fillibustered for almost two years....this is who they do not want anywhere near the Supreme Court. Once you have read it and considered this fact, then, perhaps, it will begin to dawn on you the enormity of what is at stake here. That is my hope.
DiscerningTexan, 6/25/2005 11:19:00 AM | Permalink | |