Sunday, July 31, 2005

Failed Nations Present Greatest Threat to World

Belmont Club has a worthwhile post pointing out that "today's greatest threats come from the weakest states in the world". Although the future threat from China necessarily looms large from the U.S.'s view, the more urgent threat comes from states such as Afghanistan before 9/11. Weak states may easily be used as a base by Al Qaeda and similar groups, with or without the cooperation of the government.

How do we prevent weak states from becoming havens for anti-U.S. terrorist groups? Our efforts in rebuilding and securing Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the answer. As time passes, we will see how effective those efforts are. Pres. Bush's call for democracy is another strategy to strengthen national governments. A government elected and supported by the people will generally be stronger than one clinging to power with little popular support. Again, the passage of time will show us how this strategy works in weak states such as Lebanon.

Not every weak state represents a threat to U.S. security. The threats to U.S. security are the weak states where Al Qaeda or a similar organization would be welcomed or accommodated, as happened in Afghanistan. A weak state such as Bolivia, for all its problems and failed governments, will not likely become a haven for a Muslim terrorist organization. For now, the weak states with Muslim populations are the major threat.

Read the whole post at Belmont Club.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Why Do Reporters Reject On-the-record Interview?

Hugh Hewitt has received a couple requests for interviews recently because he worked with Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. According to Hewitt, he agreed to do the interviews if the reporters would conduct the interview on his radio program. The reporters declined. Having the interview on the radio would enable anyone to compare the actual interview with what the reporter writes later. Though the reporters may have journalistic reasons to refuse, it is still "interesting to note that the Post [ed. note: one of the papers requesting an interview] is willing to use sources that insist on anonymity, but not sources that demand transparency".

Chavez Using Venezuela's Oil to Extend Influence

While the U.S. focuses attention elsewhere, Venezuela is trying to extend its influence and its "Bolivarean revolution" in Latin America and the Caribbean. Venezuela provides help to Uruguay so that a refinery there can process the sulfur-heavy crude from Venezuela. Venezuela also offers oil at better terms (such as barter) to the poor Caribbean countries that do not produce oil. Trinidad and Tobago, which is near Venezuela but produces its own oil, and Barbados are about the only Caribbean nations resisting Venezuela's offers. Meanwhile, Cuba, in what may be a coordinated move, offers to send medical doctors to poor countries on favorable terms.

The U.S. needs to keep its eye on what Cuba and Venezuela are doing and to counter their efforts. The Caribbean island nations and Latin America may not have much wealth or power, but they are near enough to concern us should they join the cause of Venezuela and Cuba.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Light Sentence for Millenium Bomber

The millenium bomber, Ahmed Ressam, who was caught entering the U.S. from Canada on December 31, 1999 with explosives to blow up L.A. International airport, was sentenced today. Judge Coughenour sentenced Ressam to 22 years, of which he has already served 5.5 years. He originally was subject to a possible sentence of 130 years. Ressam may get out before Lindie England, who was convicted for mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

When the judge explained the sentence, he was more concerned with making a political statement against the conduct of the War on Terror. The same federal judge sentenced Montana Militia members to 22.5 years for conspiracy against the banking system, a crime that did not threaten the lives of hundreds of people. The judge has poor judgment and upside-down priorities.

Judge Coughenour, who was appointed by Pres. Reagan, is the kind of Republican appointee desired by the Democrats. Republicans would be wise to appoint juges with better judgement and better priorities, instead of judges like Coughenour.

(See Hugh Hewitt for more.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Durbin Gets Caught

Prof. James Turley told this story about this exchange between Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Supreme Court nominee John Roberts:

The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral.

... Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
There was this follow-up, however.

A spokesman for Mr. Durbin and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, who spoke to Judge Roberts on Monday about the meeting, said Professor Turley's account of a recusal statement was inaccurate.

But in an interview last night, Professor Turley said Mr. Durbin himself had described the conversation to him on Sunday morning, including the statement about recusal.
Got that? Turley's source for his account was Durbin, and Durbin denies Turley's account.

Betsy's Page has more and asks, "Whom are we to disbelieve: Dick Durbin or Dick Durbin?"

Power Line adds a comment on the incident and quotes the comments of radio commentator and blogger Hugh Hewitt:

Who is telling the truth, Turley or Durbin? Hugh Hewitt puts his money on the law professor, not the politician, and who can blame him? Says Hugh:

I don't think Professor Turley would make up such a potentially important statement. I think Dick "you'd think I was describing Nazis" Durbin is a double-talking hack who wanted to plant a story but didn't think Turley would quote him. It is pretty clear that Durbin lied to Turley, and that is a warning to the nominee to always have a witness with him when he talks to Democrats.
Sen. Durbin is ruining whatever is left of his reputation.

Bias or Incompetence at the N.Y. Times?

Key excerpts from the original article in the New York Times published on Sunday, July 24:

Government Defies an Order to Release Iraq Abuse Photos

Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.
The reporter managed to contact the ACLU for a quote to include in the article, but the article does not contain a quote from the government's lawyers.

The correction dated July 26:

An article on Saturday about a federal judge's order regarding photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal misstated a deadline and the response by Defense Department lawyers. The government was given until Friday to black out some identifying details in the material, not to release it. Defense Department lawyers met that deadline, but asked the court to block the public release of the materials. They did not refuse to cooperate with an order for the materials' release.


As Power Line notes, the damage done by the article appearing in the Sunday edition of the Times can not be undone by a correction. Clearly, the reporter failed to perform any fact checking. My question: Was the original article the result of a careless failure to verify the ACLU's story, or does the liberal bias of the reporter and the Times run so deep that the reporter feels no need to verify the ACLU's story?

Bipartisan Pigs at Trough

Texas state legislators are in their second special session this year to tackle the issues of school finance, teacher pay, and property tax relief. Unable to solve those issues, the legislators acted in a bipartisan spirit to raise their own pensions, which can start as early as age 50 and can exceed $100,000 per year.

(Heavy sigh) Politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, urban or rural, are the same everywhere, always looking out for the ones they care about the most--themselves!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Roots of London Bombings in 1990s

Via Rantingprofs, we gain some insight into Britain in the 1990s, a fertile environment for jihad and violence. Among the conclusions from a trip to Britain in 1999 by Walid Phares:

The Jihadists have penetrated the country since the end of the cold war. Any expert in the field would have understood as of the mid 1990s that the systematic spread of the Salafi ideology and its activists in the UK was to end up in Terrorism.
Read all of it to see how widespread the jihad disease had spread openly within the Muslim community in a permissive Britain.

Rude and Crude Campaigning

Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll (Democrat) of Pennsylvania showed up at the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq. Her appearance at the funeral and her actions and comments were uninvited and unwelcome. See the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article for more detail (hat tip to Polipundit). The Marine's famile did not deserve this vile and disgusting campaign stunt. I hope the people of Pennsylvania have the good sense and decency to cleanse themselves of this scummy politician.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Al Qaeda Planned 9/11 Attacks Outside U.S.

The London Times reports (via Captain's Quarters):

AN INDIAN man was jailed in Bombay yesterday for plotting to fly passenger jets into the House of Commons and Tower Bridge in London on September 11, 2001.

Mohammed Afroze was sentenced to seven years after he admitted that he had a role in an al-Qaeda plot to attack London, the Rialto Towers building in Melbourne and the Indian Parliament."AN INDIAN man was jailed in Bombay yesterday for plotting to fly passenger jets into the House of Commons and Tower Bridge in London on September 11, 2001.


Thankfully, the planned 9/11 attacks outside the U.S. were aborted.

Note that the targets were in Great Britain, Australia, and India. Note that the attacks were to take place before the invasion of Iraq. Note that you have heard next to nothing about this in the mainstream media (MSM).

The story is important to help us understand our enemy in the War on Terror and their motivation. The aims of Al Qaeda and similar Islamic terrorist organizations on 9/11/2001 included attacks on Australia (because it helped rid East Timor of Islamic terrorists), India (because it claimed Kashmir, which Muslims also claim), and Great Britain (because it worked with the U.S. to enforce the no-fly zones in Iraq), and the U.S. Al Qaeda's aims with regard to these countries have not been altered or expanded because of the invasion of Iraq. Had we not invaded Iraq, Al Qaeda would still have these aims.

Why doesn't the MSM prominently report this important story?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Islamic Terrorist Activity

Radical Islamic terrorists have been active in the last 24 hours.

At least 59 people were killed in a series of powerful explosions early Saturday in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik. About 116 people were wounded in the blasts. The explosions were apparently caused by car bombs at hotels and a market that catered mostly to European and Arab tourists.

A bomb blast rocked central Beirut evening just hours after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to pledge her support for the "new Lebanon" ushered in by Syria's April troop pullout. At least 3 people were wounded in the explosion near the Rue Monot, a street popular with weekend revellers. Two vehicles were torched in the blast caused by a bomb placed under a car parked on a sidestreet.

Killings and kidnappiongs continue in Iraq.

Al Qaeda assailants killed 5 tribal elders who had helped Pakistan's army hunt for al-Qaida-linked militants in a remote lawless region near the Afghan border. The elders were gunned down in 3 attacks in various parts of South Waziristan, a deeply conservative mountainous region run by local tribes.

(Hat tip to The Belmont Club, one of the top blogs for thoughtful analysis on the War on Terror.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Terrorism iIs in Response to More than Iraq

Some remarks by Prime Mister John Howard of Australia and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Breat Britain in reaponse to a question on the link between terrorism and policy on Iraq:

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:

... [O]once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it has given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen. Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq; and could I remind you that the 11 September occurred before the operation in Iraq; can I also remind you that the very first occasion that Bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia’s involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people, by implication, suggesting that we shouldn’t have done that? When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on 7 July, they talked about British policy, not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan? When Sergio de Melo was murdered in Iraq, a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, immensely respected for his work in the United Nations, when al Queda gloated about that they referred specifically to the role that de Melo had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor. Now I don’t know the mind of the terrorist, by definition you can’t put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber, I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I have cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq, and indeed all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggest to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of the principles of a great world religion that at its root preaches peace and cooperation, and I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances, rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR:

I agree 100% with that ...

Iraqis Defy Terrorists

From an Iraqi newspaper (via Power Line):

Iraqis stood for three minutes of silence yesterday in commemoration of the lives lost in the two attacks in Baghdad Aljadedah and Almusaiyab, which claimed 105 martyrs, 32 of whom were children, and 128 wounded of whom 31 were children.

Traffic of thousand of cars stopped in the Allawi & Tahrier area (central Baghdad) as children (from “Baghdad Aljadedah” area) entered “Tahrier” square (with some of the wounded children) carrying Iraqi flags and displaying victory signs in defiance of the terrorists. These children also stood silent for three minutes to commemorate their relatives and friends who died in the homicide bombing attack last week.

Iraqi Prime Minister Dr. Ibrahiem Aljaafary said in a speech regarding this incident: “We will not sway from our path and we will not kneel to those who commit these crimes.” He added, ”We are confident that all nations of this world stand beside us, because today terrorism does not only affect us Iraqis but the whole world. We Iraqis have the honor of being in the front line in the fight against terrorism."


The Prime Minister of Iraq knows what the fight is about and what must be done. Why doesn't the American Left know?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Coming Confirmation Battle

Senate Democrats will have to decide how hard to fight against John Roberts, whom Pres. Bush nominated for the Supreme Court. The liberal activist groups (People for the American Way, the abortion advocacy groups, etc.) do not like Roberts because he is a conservative. These groups are always spoiling for a high-profile fight, partly because that is how they raise money, and they will push the Senate Democrats to filibuster Roberts.

On the other hand, Roberts is a highly qualified nominee. The public has already had an opportunity to see that, and they are not likely to support obstruction tactics against such a well qualified individual. The Democrats do not wish to be seen as being purely partisan in their opposition to Roberts. Thus, Senate Democrats must choose whether to please their rabidly liberal supporters or to confirm Roberts after a dignified process worthy of the Senate.

Expect the more liberal Democrats with safe seats (Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.), for example) to lead the charge. At the least, they will try to use 2 methods to defeat Roberts.

First, Democrats will follow the model they used in the Bolton nomination battle and will request tons of documents that they have no right to obtain. They will certainly ask for documents that Roberts wrote while in the Solicitor General's office. The Solicitor General is the lawyer for the U.S. government. As with all lawyers, the advice and counsel that attorneys in the Solicitor General's office give to their client is privileged and confidential. No one else has a right to see them. Every Solicitor General, whether Republican or Democrat, will agree that such documents must remain confidential. That obvious point will not stop Democrats from mounting a public effort to embarrass the administration for not disclosing the privileged documents.

Second, Democrats will ask Roberts what are his legal positions and personal views with respect to abortion, gay rights, gun rights, and other hot political issues. The last 2 justices who were confirmed, Breyer and Ginsburg (both appointed by Pres. Clinton), avoided giving answers to such questions, and Roberts will, too. Judges should avoid commenting on cases or issues that may come before them. Despite that, Democrats will ask the questions and will demand answers, hoping to persuade the public that the nominee should give answers.

In the meantime, the liberal interest groups will go through the garbage, figuratively and maybe literally, to find any dirt on Roberts. Though one never knows what might turn up, note that Roberts has been through 4 FBI investigations in the course of his career.

Also, Senate Democrats and the liberal interest groups will misconstrue opinions that Roberts wrote at the D.C. Circuit in an effort to make Roberts look extreme. That is unlikely to work. Roberts is a mainstream conservative judge and should not be disqualified on that basis. (If he is unfit to serve, then Ginsburg and Breyer should resign.)

Just 2 years ago, Roberts was confirmed as a judge on the D.C. Circuit by unanimous voice vote. In the prior committee proceedings, only 3 of 9 Democrats (Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted against Roberts. However, it took 2 years to get to that point while Democrats obstructed many of Pres. Bush's judicial nominees. If Democrats mount a filibuster effort, they will have to explain what changed in the last 2 years.

The advantage of picking a nominee like Roberts who has outstanding credentials will become apparent during the confirmation battle. The Democrats in the minority will have little cause to filibuster. If they choose to filibuster, Democrats will likely pay a political price for unprincipled obstructionism.

Canadian Broadcast Calls for State Control of Religion

As we know, many liberals want religious organizations to reform, in a liberal direction, of course. One Canadian broadcast expressly calls for government control of religion to accomplish the desired reform.

Just as Senate approaches the final vote on the gay 'marriage' bill, C-38, Canada's national public radio CBC Radio has aired a commentary by a retired professor from the Royal Military College calling for state control over religion, specifically Catholicism. While parliamentarians dismissed warnings by numerous religious leaders and experts that such laws would lead to religious persecution, former professor Bob Ferguson has called for "legislation to regulate the practice of religion."

"... [W]e could encourage reform by changing the environment in which all religions operate. Couldn't we insist that human rights, employment and consumer legislation apply to them as it does other organizations? Then it would be illegal to require a particular marital status as a condition of employment or to exclude women from the priesthood."

"We could also help the general cause of religious freedom by introducing a code of moral practice for religions. ... Can't religious leaders agree to adjust doctrine so all religions can operate within the code?"

"... It should be unethical for any [religion] to claim that theirs was the one true religion and believers in anything else or nothing were doomed to fire and brimstone. One might also expect prohibition of ritual circumcisions, ..., protocols for missionary work, etc."
This is truly frightening. Hopefully, this idea of forcing religious organizations to violate their religious beliefs will not spread to the American side of the border. What ever happened to tolerance of diverse points of view? It is amazing what the radical liberals will propose to accomplish some of their extreme goals.

(Hat tip to The Anchoress.)

More Explosions in London

London experienced 4 more explosions today. Very similar to the explosions 2 weeks ago, today's explosions ocurred on 3 subways and a bus. Thenkfully, the explosives are smaller thiks time, and there is less damage. Let us all hope there is no loss of innocent life.

We do nt yet know whether today's explosions are part of the same plot as the 7/7 bombings or aare separate or copycat plan. A separate plot would indicate a more serious problem inside Britain if the plotters are also Muslims born and raised in Britain. We will have to wait and see shat the investigation develops.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Will Senate Follow Ginsburg Precedent?

The last Supreme Court nominee was Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1994. Confirm Them remnds us that the Senate confirmation process for Ginsburg was streamlined.
• Ginsburg’s hearing lasted only 4 days.

• The Judiciary Committe permitted only one panel of witnesses to testify against Ginsburg at the hearing.

• Chairman Joseph Biden established a new practice, effective for “all Supreme Court nominees,” that the Senate Judiciary Committee would review the nominee’s FBI file only in confidential, closed session. The Committee would also question the nominee about the file in confidential session.

• Ginsburg was not required to discuss her legal views on hot-button legal issues, including
- abortion
- civil rights
- gay rights
- gun owners' rights
- rights of the disabled
- school vouchers
- separation of church and state
- free speech.

• Ginsburg was not required to discuss her personal views on legal issues.

• Ginsburg's controversial statements in speeches and law review articles was not considered to disqualify her from serving on the Supreme Court. For example, before her nomination to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg had argued that
- the Constitution may provide a right to engage in prostitution;
- the age of sexual consent should be lowered to 12;
- single-sex prisons should be ended.

• All Senators treated Ginsburg with respect and spoke of her with respect.
Do not bet that Democrats will want to follow the precedents set by the Senate Judiciary Committees last time, when the Democrats were in the majority.

Reaction to Nomination

The general reaction to Pres. Bush's nominating Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court has been positive. As might be expected, the reaction among conservatives has been more so.

Everyone concedes that Roberts is a top-flight lawyer with the highest quality credentials and that he is a wonderful person. Still, in today's political climate in Washington, the liberal activist groups oppose Roberts, as they would any Republican nominee. The only grounds available are ideological differences. Given that Roberts is hardly an extreme ideologue, the liberal groups will be hard pressed to make a compelling case against him, and the public will likely support his confirmation.

Prior Confirmation Hearings on Roberts

Judge John Roberts has been nominated for the federal bench twice before. On both occasions, Senate Democrats obstructed his confirmation.

The first time was in 1992. Pres. George H.W. Bush nominated Roberts for the D.C. Circuit, but Democrats in an election year were in no hurry to do anything with the nomination. The nomination died with little happening.

On May 9, 2001, the current Pres. Bush nominated Roberts again for the D.C. Circuit. Democrats engaged in obstruction tactics for 2 years, but the Senate finally confirmed Roberts on May 5, 2003.

When you hear complaints from liberal Democrats about a short paper trail on Roberts, remember that he would have served longer and would have written more opinions if he had been promptly confirmed when he was nominated.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Supreme Court Nominee

Pres. Bush is nominating Judge John Roberts of the D.C. Circuit to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. A capsule resume from Power Line:

Judge Roberts received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1976, his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1979, and upon graduation became law clerk for the Hon. Henry Friendly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1979-1980. He then worked as law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice William Rehnquist, 1980-1981; special assistant to the attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice, 1981-1982; associate counsel to the president, White House Counsel's Office, 1982-1986; private practiced law in Washington, DC, 1986-1989, 1993-2003; and served as principal deputy solicitor general, U.S. Department of Justice, 1989-1993.
This is an impressive resume.

Campaign Finance Reform - Slippery Slope

The prosecutor in San Juan County, Washington sued a group advocating for a ballot initiative to overturn a new gas tax in Washington state. The prosecutor alleged that the group failed to list radio commentaries as contributions to its campaign. I am not making this up.

It gets worse. The judge agreed with the prosecutor. The judge opined that he was merely requiring disclosure. Of course, the real purpose of the lawsuit is to penalize people who espouse an opposite political viewpoint. For more on the lawsuit, see Everything I Know Is Wrong.

Until a recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion upholding much of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, Americans thought they were free to engage in political speech without interference or restriction. Now, we are beginning to see the fallout. A prosecutor sues a citizen group in Washington. The Federal Election Commission is considering regulations on blogs and other non-traditional media. We are on the slippery slope, and our most basic political right of free speech is in peril.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin also covers the Washington state case here, here, and here. Michelle's posts give us the below commentary concerning the case.

The liberal Seattle Post-Intelligencer sees the danger.

Two years ago, when the federal campaign-finance law reached the U.S. Supreme Court, dissenting justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas warned that something like this would happen. We doubted it; it seemed clear to us that the law applied to ads, not editorial content. We thought Thomas was over the top when he said campaign-finance law was leading toward "outright regulation of the press."

Judge Wickham has made a step toward just that. It is a dangerous, unconstitutional ruling.
Ryan Sager of the New York Post conveys my thought on the looming danger.

THE campaign-finance-reform lobby has always claimed that it wants to regulate money, not speech.
So why are two talk-radio hosts being harassed by Washington state officials under local campaign-finance laws for their on-air support of an anti-tax ballot initiative?

And why did a judge back the government attack, ruling that on-air speech can be considered a campaign contribution — which leaves it subject to myriad rules and regulations?

Because, contrary to the reformers' claims, money is speech, and speech is money. If you set out to regulate one, you will inevitably regulate the other.
I agree completely.

Senate Votes "No" on Border Security

Last year, the Senate pledged to hire 2,000 more Border Patrol agents and to fund 8,000 new detention beds for illegal aliens in fiscal 2006. Last week, the Senate voted against spending bill amendments to fulfill that pledge.

The spending bill for the Dept. of Homeland Security provides funds for only 1,000 more Border Patrol agents and only 2,240 new detention beds for illegal aliens. Sen. John (R-Nev.) wanted another 1,000 agents, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wanted another 5,760 detention beds. The Senate, which is profligate and spendthrift in other areas, voted down these 2 amendments.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), early leader in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, voted against both amendments. Sen. Clinton talks tough on border security but votes soft.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), 2004 Democratic nominee for president, and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who plans to run in 2008, both voted "no". More than 20 Republicans joined them in opposing the amendments. On this issue, Pres. Bush is no better.

I detect a pattern. In election years (2004), promise to take action to protect the borders. After the election (2005), vote against taking the promised action. The Senate votes to fund all kinds of non-essential items that help buy votes but won't vote to fund border security. What they will say when (and it is "when", not "if") terrorists strike again in the U.S.?

The U.S. Senate needs to get its priorities straight. The security of the Homeland is at stake.

One Speculation Squelched

As reported in the prior post, todays's speculation on Bush's Supreme Court nominee centered on Judge Edith Clement of the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. Belay that. ABC News has now reported that Judge Clement received a phone call from the White House saying that the President has decided to go in another direction.

Speculations now are all over the map. Some people are keying in on who is in Washington and could be available to be at the President's 9:00 announcement. Others are noting that the nominee need not be present at the announcement. Stay tuned.

As pointed out earlier, Judge Clement's short judicial record made conservatives nervous because they remember the nomination of Justice Souter all too well. Souter had an even shorter record, which then was considered a political virtue for the confirmation battle in the Senate. Though New Hampshire Republicans vouched for Souter's conservative bona fides, he has been a fairly reliable vote for the liberal bloc.

This time, conservatives want a highly qualified judge with a strong conservative track record. No Souter, no Kennedy, and no Stevens. The Constitution is too important to be left to the whims of the day, and its interpretation should be consistent with the plain meaning of the words and the intentions of the drafters.

If you want to be one of the first to know the identity of the nominee, watch Pres. Bush at 9:00 Eastern time (6:00 Pacific). Cross your fingers.

Supreme Court Announcement Tonight

Tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, Pres. Bush will announce his choice to replace retiring Justice O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

Speculation has centered on Edith (Joy) Clement, who has been on the Fifth Circuit since 2001. She was nominated by Pres. Bush. Before that, she was a federal district court judge in Louisiana. Before that, she worked in private practice in the field of maritime law. Her record of published opinions is short and does not include an opinion on abortion, the hot-button issue in the confirmation process.

Senate Democrats can be expected to attack Judge Clement, or any other nominee chosen by Pres. Bush. Conservatives can be expected to be nervous about the selection of another nominee without an established track record, reminiscent of Souter.

British Reaction to London Bombings

The London bombing occurred while I was on vacation. The reaction by the British and their leaders shows that they are made of sterner stuff than the Spanish and that they are not likely to stop their efforts in the War on Terror.

The quotes below are (via The Belmont Club) from Unite Against Terror, a site that includes a pledge to oppose the explanations of British writers on why they signed a pledge of unwavering resistance to fascism today.

Stephen Pollard (Writer):

Beyond the murder and the carnage inflicted by terrorists, there is a further insidious danger to our liberty, that posed by those whose words and deeds give support to the terrorists, and whose warped values lead them to side with those who murder above those who promote freedom.

The Guardianista fellow-travellers of terror, who stress its supposed causes, are the useful idiots of the Islamofascists. The terrorists are the operatives of an ideology which has no concern with Palestinians or Iraqis, whom they murder without compunction. They have no concern with anything but the destruction of the West.

At a time when Islamofascism seeks to destroy liberal, democratic civilisation and to replace it with theocracy, it is imperative that those of us who believe in democracy and liberty stand up and fight. Not just against the obvious enemy, but also against the enemy within - those who claim to be on the Left, but whose views have nothing in common with the decency for which the Left ought proudly to stand.
Peter Tatchell (Human Rights campaigner, London):

We are witnessing one of the greatest betrayals by the left since so-called left-wingers backed the Hitler-Stalin pact and opposed the war against Nazi fascism. Today, the pseudo-left reveals its shameless hypocrisy and its wholesale abandonment of humanitarian values. While it deplores the 7/7 terrorist attack on London, only last year it welcomed to the UK the Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who endorses the suicide bombing of innocent civilians. These same right-wing leftists back the so-called 'resistance' in Iraq. This 'resistance' uses terrorism against civilians as its modus operandi - stooping to the massacre of dozens of Iraqi children in order kill a few US soldiers. Terrorism is not socialism; it is the tactic of fascism. But much of the left doesn't care. Never mind what the Iraqi people want, it wants the US and UK out of Iraq at any price, including the abandonment of Iraqi socialists, trade unionists, democrats and feminists. If the fake left gets its way, the ex-Baathists and Islamic fundamentalists could easily seize power, leading to Iranian-style clerical fascism and a bloodbath. I used to be proud to call myself a leftist. Now I feel shame. Much of the left no longer stands for the values of universal human rights and international socialism.

Return to Posting; Income Tax Lament

I am back to posting after a week of vacation and then a week of doing chores and a tax return. Nothing reminds you of our income tax system's complexity as does working up a return and all the supporting documentation, schedules, and worksheets. A fairer and simpler income tax would benefit all of us.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Vacation Break

I will be on vacation for a while amd will probably not post. Check by again about Monday, July 11.

NBC Calls President Washington a Terrorist

The NBC News broadcast Thursday evening presented a story about the new president of Iran, who may have been involved in taking American embassy personnel hostage in Tehran in 1979. During the story, Anchor Brian Williams said, "[S]everal U.S. presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England." The reporter responded, "Indeed".

Excuse me. George Washington and other early U.S. presidents did not kill civilians in the colonies or abroad as part of the Revolutionary War plan to gain independence from Britain. The NBC News anchor's comment and the reporter's agreement display their ignorance of history and the absurd world view of the media.

Berlin to Bulldoze Checkpoint Charlie Monument

A monument to victims of the Cold War will be bulldozed on July 5.

Berlin city government, made up of a coalition between the SPD (Gerhard Schroeder's Social-Democrats) and the PDS (former SED party that ran Communist East Germany), has decided to allow the razing of the Checkpoint Charlie monument by court order.

... The monument ... consists of over 1,000 crosses adorned with the names of those murdered attempting to escape Communist East Germany for freedom ... .

... As we indicated above, the Communist PDS is currently a member of the coalition that governs the city of Berlin. But prior to 1990, the PDS was known as the SED, the party that ruled East Germany with an absolutist iron fist. It was the SED dictatorship that was directly responsible for the hundreds of murders that the crosses at Checkpoint Charlie memorialize. And guess what? The PDS wants the monument torn down!

The monument grounds were leased to Ms. Alexandra Hildebrandt of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum by a bank named Bankaktiengesellschaft (BAG) headquartered in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, and Ms. Hildebrandt and a team of others began erecting the crosses in October 2004. The bank subsequently refused to renew the lease and, when Ms. Hildebrandt refused to remove the monument, sued and won. Ms. Hildebrandt wants to buy the land from the bank and keep the monument at its historic location, but the city government has made it clear that it will oppose her and wants the monument to go despite its enormous popularity.*

... [T]he Socialists and Communists in Berlin's city government don't want to be constantly reminded of the murders that the SED dictatorship committed during the Cold War. How unpleasant that would be for them! So they would rather allow the crosses to be bulldozed ... .
During the Cold War before the reunification of Germany, Checkpoint Charlie was the main entry point from the former East Berlin into what was the post-war American sector of West Berlin. Originally a temporary shack on the West Berlin side, the site was made more permanent when it became obvious that the Soviets intended to make East Germany a part of the Communist empire.

As more and more Germans in the East fled to the West, the Soviets and East German Communists erected a barrier, known as the Berlin Wall, to prevent further escapes and severely restricted legal visits to West Berlin, fearing that East German visitors would choose to stay in West Germany. Nevertheless, many East Germans attempted to escape over, under, around, and through the Berlin Wall. East German border guards were ordered to shoot to kill any who tried.

The purpose of the Checkpoint Charlie monument was to preserve the memory of those East Germans who were killed by the Communists for the crime of trying to escape to West Berlin and freedom. The Communists and the Social Democrats, the party that currently controls the government of Germany, want to erase the memory.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Minnesota Democrats Shut Down Government

Democrats, who have a majority in the Minnesota Senate, adjourned the Senate before a budget deal was reached. The surprise adjournment leaves the House and Republican Gov. Tom Pawlenty with only an up-or-down option on the indefinite continuing budget resolution passed by the Senate immediately before its adjournment. As the Dems knew before they left, the Republicans have always said they would support a continuing resolution for a short time, such as 10 days or a month. If the House and the Governor do not accept the Senate version, the action will force a government shutdown.

The effect of the unilateral and irresponsible Senate adjournment is that thousands of state workers will lose their jobs temporarily and the state will reduce the services it provides.

Gov. Pawlenty said, "I am stunned by the naked cynicism of the Democratic strategy." He called the Senate's adjournment "irresponsible and bizarre behavior". He added, "The Democrats punched out before their shift ended."

(Hat tip to Power Line.)

Justice O'Connor Resigns

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor today submitted to Pres. Bush the notice of her retirement from the Supreme Court. (Hat tip to Power Line.) Her retirement will become effective when the Senate confirms her successor.

The vacancy created by O'Connor's retirement is the first in 11 years. Expect a hard confirmation battle in the Senate over the choice of her successor, no matter whom Bush nominates.