True, Palin brings traditional political strengths—such as gun enthusiasm and a pro-life record—to the ticket. Her fight against self-dealing in Alaskan politics counters the inside-the-Beltway corruption that damaged the Republicans in the 2006 elections. And her stance on drilling for Alaskan oil admirably bolsters the Republican Party platform on energy issues. But admit it, fellow conservatives: none of these attributes pushed her over the top. Your enthusiasm for her is driven in large measure by the fact that the McCain camp has beaten the Democrats at their own game, and in so doing, driven Obama's moment of glory off the wires.
Republican strategists openly hope that Palin will attract disaffected Hillary Clinton voters, who believe that they had a right to a woman in the White House. There are, alas, many women who are pathetic enough to put gender above politics, for whom a candidate's stand on substantive issues matters less than her reproductive plumbing. But just because such voters are out there doesn't mean that the GOP can cater to them without permanently compromising its principles.
The process has already begun. On Saturday, Weekly Standardexecutive editor Fred Barnes wrote in the Wall Street Journal: "As a 44-year-old woman Mrs. Palin brings desperately needed diversity to the Republican ticket." Wow. So now gender (and even age?!) diversity is not just needed, but "desperately" needed. Republicans might as well hire Eleanor Smeal and Jesse Jackson as party chairmen (oops! I mean "chairpeople").
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
There is much talk that, had Georgia been a NATO member, Russia might not have attacked it. The truth is far worse. Even if Georgia had belonged to NATO, no European armed forces would have been willing to die for Tbilisi. Remember the furor in 2003 when some NATO countries — angry at the United States — tried to preempt support to member Turkey had Saddam's Iraq retaliated against Ankara for the American invasion to remove him?
The well-intended but ossified alliance keeps offering promises to new members that are weaker, poorer, and in more dangerous and distant places — while its old, smug founding states are ever more unlikely to honor them.
I'm right there with you regarding "The Election From Hell." I've been a Reaganite my entire voting life, but I'm leaving the Republican party now that McCain is the nominee. My biggest worry is that if McCain wins, conservatism is finished as a political force. ... I'm hoping that if enough conservatives abandon McCain, the party might swing back to the Right eventually. I realize the risk is four years of Obama, but we survived Carter and came back strongly with Reagan so it might just work out. My calculation is that Obama is incompetent enough that he won't be able to get anything done.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Does it matter if William Ayers was the key somebody who made Barack Obama a somebody somebody sent? I think it does. Not that Obama shares all of Ayers's views, which surely he does not. Or that he endorses Ayers's criminal acts, which, as he has pointed out, were committed while he was a child in Hawaii and Indonesia. But his willingness to associate with an unrepentant terrorist is not the same as Daley's (expressed, as George W. Bush's thoughts are, in disjointed prose but the product of a considerable intellect and seasoned judgment):
"Bill Ayers, I've said this, his father was a great friend of my father. I'll be very frank. Vietnam divided families, divided people. It was a terrible time of our country. It really separated people. People didn't know one another. Since then, I'll be very frank, (Ayers) has been in the forefront on a lot of education issues and helping us in public schools and things like that.
"People keep trying to align himself with Barack Obama. It's really unfortunate. They're friends. So what? People do make mistakes in the past. You move on. This is a new century, a new time. He reflects back and he's been making a strong contribution to our community."
For Daley, family is paramount, and Ayers is admitted into le tout Chicago because his father is one of its pillars. And electoral politics is also paramount: In a city that is roughly 40 percent (and falling) white ethnic and 40 percent black, with an increasing gentrified white population, the current Mayor Daley has maintained very strong support from lakefront liberals, including the Hyde Park/Kenwood leftists like Ayers who were the original movers behind Obama's 1996 state Senate candidacy. It's in Daley's interest to work with these people and against his interest to do anything that seems like disrespecting them. As Bill Daley told me when I asked him some years ago whether his father would have approved of Richie marching in the gay rights parade, "Our father always told us when a group was big enough to control a ward, we should pay attention to them." Staying mayor is real important to Daley, and Daley staying mayor is real important to le tout Chicago. An unrepentant terrorist? Hey, we know your dad. And you control the 5th Ward.
For Obama, the outsider who gained the trust of the insiders, the position is different. He was willing to use Ayers and ally with him despite his terrorist past and lack of repentance. An unrepentant terrorist, who bragged of bombing the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon, was a fit associate. Ayers evidently helped Obama gain insider status in Chicago civic life and politics—how much, we can't be sure unless the Richard J. Daley Library opens the CAC archive. But most American politicians would not have chosen to associate with a man with Ayers's past or of Ayers's beliefs. It's something voters might reasonably want to take into account.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I can't say that I ever felt much warmth for either John McCain or Barack Obama. The first struck me as a burned-out Senate seat-warmer (term limits! oh please, term limits!) who had shown outstanding courage as a young warrior but considerable wrong-headedness as a politician — a category of persons with which history has, after all, been well supplied. Obama I have never seen as anything but a bag of wind, possessed of great political guile, but steeped in the faddy, solipsistic notions of post-1960s college leftism.
Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war.
Friday, August 22, 2008
the women's Olympic record in the 100 meters, set in 1988 by superstar Florence Griffith-Joyner, is virtually identical to the U.S. record for 14-year-old boys — also set in 1988, by the less heralded Curtis Johnson. The winning time of 2008 women's gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser? Well over a tenth of a second slower than Johnson's.
Nor is the 100 meters an aberration. In sport after sport, evidence shows that the top female professional athletes in the world are on par with the best American 14- and 15-year-old boys. Nearly every female Olympic record in speed, strength, and endurance events falls between the records set by the best American 14- and 15-year-old boys
Thursday, August 21, 2008
That's perfectly fair to say, and I'm sure no one would think that a record hot year would be any indication of long-term global warming either, right? I mean there's so much we don't understand about what drives climate change that the only fact we can rely on is the "consensus" of experts who get research grants to find evidence of global warming.
The first half of 2008 was the coolest for at least five years, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Wednesday. The whole year will almost certainly be cooler than recent years, although temperatures remain above the historical average.
Global temperatures vary annually according to natural cycles. For example, they are driven by shifting ocean currents, and dips do not undermine the case that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are causing long-term global warming, climate scientists say.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Some people seem to think that, if we had already included Georgia in NATO, Russia would not have attacked. But what if they attacked anyway? Would we have done any more than we are doing now?
Would that have protected Georgia or would our inaction have just brought the reliability of our protection of other NATO countries into question?
If anything, we ought to be thinking about pulling out of NATO ourselves. European countries already have the wealth to produce their own military defense. If they do not have the will, that is their problem. What American officials can do is keep their mouths shut if they don't intend to back up their words.
The immediate concern is to swiftly gain public access to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, and to ensure the security of these documents in the meantime. Despite UIC library's claim that it hopes to be able to provide access within the next few weeks, the apparently shifting and contradictory character of their reasons for denying access have left me with a low level of confidence in these assurances.
I intend to continue my efforts to examine the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, to take notes, and to order extensive photocopies, to be mailed to me and/or received personally by me, in a timely fashion. I call on the UIC library to take extraordinary steps to secure the documents until such time as this issue is resolved. The public needs clear assurances that none of the CAC records have been, or will be, damaged or removed. I call on UIC library to reveal the name of the donor of the CAC records and/or to specify the person, persons, or body that currently hold authority over these records. I also call on Barack Obama to voice support for the swift release of these records.
Libraries are designed, not to unduly restrict information, but to make it available to an interested public. This country is now mere months away from a momentous presidential election in which a central issue is the political background and character of a relatively young and unknown senator. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge records almost surely contain important information on Senator Obama's political associations, policy views, ideological leanings, and leadership ability. His role as board chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge is the most important executive experience Obama has held to date. Given this, the public has an urgent right to know what is in the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records.
If you agree, then please write to the president of the University of Illinois system, B. Joseph White. Ask him to take immediate public steps to insure the safety of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, to release the identity of the Collection's donor, and above all to swiftly make the Collection available to me, and to the public at large. You can find an email link for White here. Telephone, fax, and mailing addresses for White's offices can be found here.
Perverse monetary policy was the greatest cause of the Great Depression. But five non-monetary missteps were important in making the Depression great, and the same missteps damaged the global economy as well. While many are thinking about the Depression, few seem concerned about replicating these Foolish Five today
Monday, August 18, 2008
College presidents from about 100 of the nation's best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous on campus.The movement called the Amethyst Initiative began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke national debate about the drinking age.
Indeed, shocking as this may be to people naive enough to believe that a woman with no executive experience, no security clearance, no significant successes under her belt, who was catapulted to presidential prominence solely because her husband treated her like a cautionary tale in a country-music song, was nonetheless a co-president for eight years: It turns out that the Bride of Clintonstein was an awful chief executive. Infected by her husband's passive-aggressiveness, she stood paralyzed as the HMS Hillary took on more and more water, until even the string quartet on the deck was leaping for the flotation devices.
As Green pulls memo after memo from the great white's carcass like so many Florida license plates, we discover that the Clintons knew long, long ago that they couldn't beat Barack Obama to the nomination. But winning was secondary, carnage was king. You might even say of her decision to stay in the race: This was no polling accident.
The Clintons adopted a deliberate strategy of diminishing Obama's victories, and Mark Penn, Clinton's trusted campaign manager, pushed for a strategy of ridiculing their black, funny-named opponent as insufficiently American. Such memos, if found in the underbelly of a Republican campaign, would be immortalized by the liberal establishment as permanent proof of conservative racism. When plucked from the bowels of a Democratic campaign, the response is some mild tsk-tsking.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Obama blinked and stands guilty of appeasing Clinton by agreeing to a roll call vote for her nomination. That he might not have had much choice if he wanted peace only proves the point that he's playing defense at his own convention.What does he get out of it? Not much and not for long.The fleeting sense that he is a magnanimous nominee won't get him a single vote he wouldn't get anyway. Ditto for the idea that he's going the extra mile to unify the party. Those who refuse to accept him as the legitimate winner aren't likely to do so just because he caves into her demands.It makes him look weak and ratifies Clinton's sense of entitlement to share party leadership and the convention spotlight.
The West, collectively, failed in this crisis. Georgia wasted its dime making that famous 3am telephone call to the White House, the one Hillary Clinton referred to in a campaign ad questioning Barack Obama's fitness for the Presidency. Moreover, the blood on the Bear's claws did not go unobserved in other states that were once part of the Soviet Union. Russia demonstrated unambiguously that it could have marched directly to Tbilisi and installed a puppet government before any Western leader was able to turn away from the Olympic Games. It could, presumably, do the same to them.Fear was one reaction Russia wanted to provoke, and fear it has achieved, not just in the "Near Abroad" but in the capitals of Western Europe as well. But its main objective was hegemony, a hegemony it demonstrated by pledging to reconstruct Tskhinvali, the capital of its once and no-longer-future possession, South Ossetia. The contrast is stark: a real demonstration of using sticks and carrots, the kind that American and European diplomats only talk about. Moreover, Russia is now within an eyelash of dominating the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the only route out of the Caspian Sea region not now controlled by either Russia or Iran. Losing this would be dramatically unhelpful if we hope for continued reductions in global petroleum prices, and energy independence from unfriendly, or potentially unfriendly, states.It profits us little to blame Georgia for "provoking" the Russian attack. Nor is it becoming of the United States to have anonymous officials from its State Department telling reporters, as they did earlier this week, that they had warned Georgia not to provoke Russia. This confrontation is not about who violated the Marquess of Queensbury rules in South Ossetia, where ethnic violence has been a fact of life since the break-up of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991 – and, indeed, long before. Instead, we are facing the much larger issue of how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come. Whether Mikhail Saakashvili "provoked" the Russians on August 8, or September 8, or whenever, this rape was well-planned and clearly coming, given Georgia's manifest unwillingness to be "Finlandized" – the Cold War term for effectively losing your foreign-policy independence.So, as an earlier Vladimir liked to say, "What is to be done?" There are three key focal points for restoring our credibility here in America: drawing a clear line for Russia; getting Europe's attention; and checking our own intestinal fortitude. Whether history reflects Russia's Olympic invasion as the first step toward recreating its empire depends – critically – on whether the Bush Administration can resurrect its once-strong will in its waning days, and on what US voters will do in the election in November. Europe also has a vital role – by which I mean the real Europe, its nation states, not the bureaucracies and endless councils in Brussels.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I think it's clear that our failure to draw the line at Syria and Iran surely encouraged the Russians to go forward in Georgia. Putin must have reasoned that, if we wouldn't aggressively punish the Iranians and the Syrians for killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would certainly not risk American lives for Georgian territory. And he was clearly right. The lesson will not be lost on any American friend or ally, from Israel to Egypt, Morocco, and India, from Colombia to Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The real context of the Georgian operation is global, just like the true context of the Middle East war. The jihadis, for example, are desperate to convince would-be followers that there is really nothing to fear from America, that when push comes to shove the Americans will not stand and fight. A successful Russian humiliation of America in the Caucasus echoes throughout that world, and helps draw the painful sting of the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The likes of Venezuela's Chavez will find it easier to convince Latin American leaders that they'd better side with him (and his Cuban, Russian, and Iranian allies) than with the American paper tigers.
Finally, there is the question of method, and the world's reaction to it. I hope we will not hear too many sermons on the inappropriateness of military action after the Georgian invasion. My unscientific perusal of the Western punditocracy suggests that most of the deep thinkers are full of admiration for Putin's decisive actions. No big antiwar demonstrations (the Europeans are on vacation and Code Pink, in response to a query, said their resources were limited and they needed to concentrate on Iraq, heh). This should not surprise us. It is not only the hypocrisy of the anti-Bush brigades here and abroad that motivates such open appeasement; it's human nature seen plain. As Machiavelli says, in his brutal summary of the consequences of victory and defeat, "if you are successful, people will always judge the means you used to have been appropriate."
What is to be done? Let's be real. There's nothing to be done militarily. What we can do is alter Putin's cost-benefit calculations.
We are not without resources. There are a range of measures to be deployed if Russia does not live up to its cease-fire commitments:
1. Suspend the NATO-Russia Council established in 2002 to help bring Russia closer to the West. Make clear that dissolution will follow suspension. The council gives Russia a seat at the NATO table. Message: Invading neighboring democracies forfeits the seat.
2. Bar Russian entry to the World Trade Organization.
3. Dissolve the G-8. Putin's dictatorial presence long made it a farce but no one wanted to upset the bear by expelling it. No need to. The seven democracies simply withdraw. Then immediately announce the reconstitution of the original G-7.
4. Announce a U.S.-European boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi. To do otherwise would be obscene. Sochi is 15 miles from Abkhazia, the other Georgian province just invaded by Russia. The Games will become a riveting contest between the Russian, Belarusian and Jamaican bobsled teams.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sen. John McCain has run against "Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon" in a fashion reminiscent of Bill Clinton's use of a short recession in 1991 to paint the entire Reagan era as a failure.
But whoever occupies the Oval Office after next January will have benefited immeasurably from the tough, even controversial decisions by Rumsfeld that led to many of the capabilities we see in Iraq — and Afghanistan — today. In particular, two widely criticized decisions within the first two years of the Bush administration — canceling an out-moded and costly (but politically popular) weapon system and naming a retired four-star general to become the first Army Chief of Staff with roots deep in the special-operations community — helped accelerate the Army's transformation.
Also, the expansion in the numbers and capabilities of U.S. Special Forces and their centrality to key achievements in Iraq had no stronger push behind it than from Rumsfeld; ditto with the growing use of increasingly capable unmanned aircraft by the Air Force.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Bush, upon his return from Beijing to Washington, having failed to stop the Russian invasion of Georgia by declaring himself "deeply concerned," issued a tougher statement in the Rose Garden: That by invading a neighboring state and threatening to overthrow its elected government, Russia has committed an action that is "unacceptable in the 21st century."
Oh really? While declaring this invasion "unacceptable," the global community of the 21st century seems prepared to accept it in spades. While Russian guns close in on Tbilisi, even the basic diplomatic penalties are not yet fully on the table, for whatever they might be worth. By all means, let's see the G-8 expel Russia, if the will can be found to do even that much. By all means, let the U.N. Security Council engage in the farce of discussing reprimands and maybe even sanctions for Russia — which happens to be both a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, and one of the world's most adept and experienced sanctions violators.
Diplomacy and soft power have their place. The U.S. cannot and should not go to war with every nasty regime on the planet. But when too many thugs cross too many lines and get away with it, the rules of the entire global game start to shift. The diplomacy that has been billed by the administration as such a prudent and successful means these past few years to deal with threats from North Korea, from Syria, from Palestinian terrorists, from Iran, as well as ugly moves from Russia itself, has paved the way for this Russian invasion of Georgia. If, with the exceptions of Afghanistan and Iraq, America no longer dares to unholster its guns to face down real threats, expect to see a lot more shooting, and a lot more casualties on our side.
This war did not begin because of a miscalculation by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. It is a war that Moscow has been attempting to provoke for some time. The man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century" has reestablished a virtual czarist rule in Russia and is trying to restore the country to its once-dominant role in Eurasia and the world. Armed with wealth from oil and gas; holding a near-monopoly over the energy supply to Europe; with a million soldiers, thousands of nuclear warheads and the world's third-largest military budget, Vladimir Putin believes that now is the time to make his move.
Georgia's unhappy fate is that it borders a new geopolitical fault line that runs along the western and southwestern frontiers of Russia. From the Baltics in the north through Central Europe and the Balkans to the Caucasus and Central Asia, a geopolitical power struggle has emerged between a resurgent and revanchist Russia on one side and the European Union and the United States on the other. [...]
Historians will come to view Aug. 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia's attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th-century style of great-power competition, complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory, and even -- though it shocks our 21st-century sensibilities -- the use of military power to obtain geopolitical objectives.
Monday, August 11, 2008
To heighten the dramatic effect, let's compare Gore's beloved Inconvenient Truth with Swindle. The veracity of Al's film was tested in the High Court, when a lorry driver from Kent baulked at the prospect of his taxes being spent on disseminating it to British schools.
The verdict was a blow to the greens. Mr Justice Burton cited at least nine significant "errors" in Gore's film. Using words such as "alarmism" and "exaggeration", the judge said the film couldn't be sent out to schools without a health warning.
Harrabin wrote a piece admitting he had thought the film was a bit off when he first saw it. Did he indeed? So why didn't he tell the rest of us? What do we pay him for? And how about all those "scientists" who, to their eternal shame, lined up to heap praise on the film?
Now let's look at Swindle. The global warmers made buckets of complaints to Ofcom that the science was wrong, that the film contained hundreds of factual errors, falsifications and misrepresentations. It was, in short, unscientific and scurrilous.
How many of these complaints did Ofcom uphold? Not one.
With no good plan to end the war without massive death and suffering, an intransigent Japanese government insisting on fighting to the bitter end, mounting casualties in the Philippines and Okinawa, a war weary public, the prospects of transferring millions of men who had just survived the horrors of the European battlefields to the Pacific, and his own belief that using the bombs would end the war quickly, Truman gave the go ahead in a handwritten note on the back of a July 31, 1945 memo from Stimson regarding the statement to be released following the bombing.
"Reply to your suggestions approved. Release when ready but not before August 2.
In the end, there were probably many calculations that went into the decision by Truman to drop the bomb. Other considerations probably included the effect it might have on the Soviets. For many years, this reason was considered by several historians to be the primary concern of Truman when he gave the go-ahead to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While it no doubt was one factor in Truman's decision, it appears now, thanks to publication of radio intercepts from the time, that the president's primary focus was using a weapon he felt could end the war in days and not months. [...]
But once –just once– I would like to hear the horror stories of the men and women of Pearl Harbor as counterpoint to the suffering of the Japanese and a reminder of who started the war and how they did it.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
the "surge" was more than an infusion of reinforcements into Iraq. Of greater importance was the change in the way U.S. forces were employed starting in February 2007, when Gen. David Petraeus ordered them to position themselves with Iraqi forces out in neighborhoods. This repositioning was based on newly published counterinsurgency doctrine that emphasized the protection of the population and recognized that the only way to secure people is to live among them.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Still, it was probably too much to assume every Republican would work out that their side was winning this issue. And so, last Friday, in stumbled Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Saxby Chambliss, Bob Corker and Johnny Isakson -- alongside five Senate Democrats. This "Gang of 10" announced a "sweeping" and "bipartisan" energy plan to break Washington's energy "stalemate." What they did was throw every vulnerable Democrat, and Mr. Obama, a life preserver.
That's because the plan is a Democratic giveaway. New production on offshore federal lands is left to state legislatures, and then in only four coastal states. The regulatory hurdles are huge. And the bill bars drilling within 50 miles of the coast -- putting off limits some of the most productive areas. Alaska's oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is still a no-go.
The highlight is instead $84 billion in tax credits, subsidies and federal handouts for alternative fuels and renewables. The Gang of 10 intends to pay for all this in part by raising taxes on . . . oil companies! The Sierra Club couldn't have penned it better. And so the Republican Five has potentially given antidrilling Democrats the political cover they need to neutralize energy through November.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Monday, August 04, 2008
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes lifting the moratorium on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the Outer Continental Shelf. She won't even allow it to come to a vote. With $4 gas having massively shifted public opinion in favor of domestic production, she wants to protect her Democratic members from having to cast an anti-drilling election-year vote. Moreover, given the public mood, she might even lose. This cannot be permitted. Why? Because as she explained to Politico: "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet."
The energy secretary, currently Samuel Bodman III, oversees a department with a $25 billion budget and more than 16,000 employees. Among the many units DOE funds and operates are more than 30 national laboratories. And it's the Energy Department, not the Pentagon, which oversees the development, testing, integrity and safety of the nation's nuclear arsenal.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Democrat Barack Obama, the first black candidate with a shot at winning the White House, says John McCain and his Republican allies will try to scare them by saying Obama "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
Er, all those other presidents? Isn't there just one President on the dollar bill?
And have you noticed that it's always Obama who's actually injecting race into the campaign, under the guise of warning about what those Evil Republicans will do? And is it really likely that John McCain would be out there saying "don't vote for Obama, he's black?" [...] And another reader emails: "Isn't the gaffe '*other* presidents'; again he thinks he's already president." [...]
MORE: Okay, what's really weird is that Obama just said the same thing about himself, in Berlin: "I know that I don't look like the other Americans who've previously spoken in this great city."
So who's the one raising these racial issues, again?