MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for October 2005

Sleight of Senators at Reuters

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Let’s stipulate at the outset that the Plame Affair has ended with a whimper. There has got to be disappointment amongst the lefties, the BDS sufferers, and other assorted moonbats that the best that the Special Prosecutor came up with was an aide to the Vice President that no one had heard of a month ago may have lied about a crime which was never committed. No indictment of Karl Rove, and no indictments for the alleged crime of outing Valerie Plame. (Who for the nth time, was not outed, was not a covert agent, and was clearly involved in a conspiracy against the sitting President of the United States.)

Yet I was struck by the reaction of assorted Democratic elected officials, spouting the same nonsense they always spout, which is that somebody, anybody in the White House should resign on account of the fevered illusions dancing in their heads. And preferably the resignee should be Bush while they’re at it. They naturally made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, which ceased to be worth watching the day David Brinkley retired. Here’s Reuters on the story:

U.S. President George W. Bush, whose top adviser Karl Rove remains in jeopardy in a CIA-leak probe, needs to shake up his White House staff if he hopes to revive a presidency reeling from multiple setbacks, Republican and Democratic lawmakers said on Sunday.

The lawmakers also urged Bush to investigate the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, whose chief of staff, Lewis Libby, resigned on Friday and was indicted on perjury and other charges in connection with the probe. Bush should take Cheney “to the woodshed” if necessary, one lawmaker said.

“You should always be looking for … new blood, new energy, qualified staff, new people in administration. I’m not talking about wholesale changes, but you’ve got to reach out and bring in more advice and counsel,” Sen. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Laying aside the fact that if Karl Rove were in jeopardy he would have been indicted on Thursday, read the excerpt again. Doesn’t it look like it’s Trent Lott saying that Cheney should be taken to the woodshed?

But if one keeps reading (as so few do), one reaches this penultimate paragraph of the piece:

“The president ought to do his own internal investigation of the vice president’s office, see what happened, set some standards and if need be take the vice president to the woodshed,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Oh, so not a conservative Republican but the uber-liberal Chuck Schumer. Now why do you suppose they would have wanted to mislead their readers up above?

To be fair, the story was later changed to add the word “democratic” before lawmaker in the above paragraph, but it seems clear to me that in the absence of any real crime, in the absence of any real malfeasance on the part of the administration, putting the frayed democratic talking points into Trent Lott’s mouth was their first reaction. The hand looks pretty weak from this side of the table.

Written by martinipundit

October 31, 2005 at 11:30 am

The Plame Kerfuffle

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So while everyone breathlessly awaits the color of the smoke out of Patrick Fitzgerald’s office, there are a couple of good reads on the subject. Mark Davis on Real Clear Politics writes:

What’s an objective soul to do?

The first thing to do is question that objectivity. Is it even possible to approach the Karl Rove/”Scooter” Libby/Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame Wilson story with an eye unaffected by politics?

Probably not, so let’s all be honest with ourselves. For me, as a general supporter of this president, my default settings are to hope that people I admire do not break the law and to question the motives of those who prematurely presume that laws have been broken.

But with that comes a hefty responsibility. I must have the spine to face it if Mr. Rove and/or Mr. Libby are indicted and to do it without the whining and denials heard from so many Clinton supporters as he faced the music for his prevarications.

There’s more and it’s worth reading.

Second, via the American Thinker, comes James Lewis:

If the Bush White House is badly damaged or destroyed, the consequences could be dangerous for the United States. A new President could copy Jimmy Carter: Pull the plug in Iraq, thereby allowing Iran, Syria, and their allied Islamic fascists to come to power throughout the Middle East. The Left would be on top again, just as the Democrats gained majorities in Congress and elected Jimmy Carter after the Watergate scandal. Hillary Clinton’s long ambitions could well become reality, all by means of a single hyped scandal. Nixon’s downfall had devastating consequences: the chaotic downfall of Saigon, the Stalinization of Vietnam — including a new Gulag with tens of thousands of victims — and the genocide of a million Cambodians. Watergate nearly led to an ultimate American defeat in the Cold War. Many on the Left were fervently hoping for that. We would be living in a very different world today, had history swung the other way. Nixon was followed by Gerald Ford, a badly weakened president, who was easily defeated by the disastrous Jimmy Carter. As president, Carter allowed the Shah of Iran to fall from power because he thought that Ayatollah Khomeini was much more democratic. We can see Carter’s Folly today in the rise of an Islamofascist Iran, which will soon have its own nuclear weapons. It is Jimmy Carter, more than anyone, who is responsible for a new age of nuclear danger in the Middle East. But it all goes back to the coup d’etat against Nixon. Thus Watergate has had disastrous ripple effects, even decades afterwards and across the world. If the Plame-Wilson affair succeeds in destroying this White House, the ripple effects would spread through our domestic politics and into the War on Terror, placing every person in this country at risk. The Left has hyped a rogue CIA for decades. Hollywood has shown it in movie after movie. But now that it is happening, they are all for it; anything to destroy the enemy — a duly elected President — just as the Left still celebrates the Deep Throat conspiracy to overthrow Nixon.

Read them both, and don’t miss this piece about uranium.

Written by martinipundit

October 26, 2005 at 9:48 am

Miers Withdraws

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Fox is reporting that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the SCOTUS and President Bush has “reluctantly” accepted. Among the reasons stated was the expectation that the senate would press too hard to examine privileged executive branch documents. I was prepared to trust the President and wait for the hearings, but that’s moot now. The pressure from the Right was too much.

It seems clear that the President must now appoint someone like Janice Rodgers Brown – even if that means a fight with the Democrats in the senate – as the only way to bring the base back to his side. Too many things are at stake now – tax reform, Social Security reform, and most of all the war. This is not a time to have senators sticking their fingers into the political wind and abandoning the President not because of opposition but lack of support. Conservatives must rally behind the President and close ranks once they get a nominee they like.

(And Bush should turn around and appoint Miers to a District court in the near future.)

Written by martinipundit

October 26, 2005 at 8:06 am

Common Sense on Iraq

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Victor Davis Hanson is reminding Iraq naysayers that they’re not paying attention. A taste:

The media has long since written Iraq off as a — quagmire” and a — debacle.” The war is now hopelessly politicized and has been misrepresented in two national elections. Then we heard that the war’s purpose was either to steal oil (the price actually skyrocketed), enrich Halliburton (in fact, few other conglomerates wished to venture to Iraq), or do Israel’s dirty work (it just withdrew voluntarily from Gaza). Our aims were said to be anything other than to remove the worst dictator in modern memory, allow the Arab world a chance at democracy, and undo the calculus of Middle-Eastern terrorism that is so parasitic on the failures and barbarity of regional autocracies.

While no mainstream Democrat has yet gone the McGovern route, it is still politically toxic for any to state publicly that we should be optimistic about the future of Iraq, inasmuch as they are convinced that such an admission could only help George W. Bush. Some of us who are Democrats are baffled that the party that used to decry cynical realism, gave us the Truman Doctrine and JFK’s tough stance against Communism, galvanized us to hold steady in WWI, WWII, and Korea, and preached that we must promote and protect democracies, is now either joining the isolationist Right or drifting into quasi-pacifism — or simply standing against anything that the opposing party is for.

A must read. This piece by Bruce Kesler is also good.

Written by martinipundit

October 24, 2005 at 8:54 am

Posted in GWOT

The Rule of Law

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A remarkable thing happened in Iraq today. The Rule of Law sprouted.

By putting Saddam Hussein on trial in an Iraqi court for crimes he committed against his own people, an Arab nation has taken the first steps out of the byzantine barbarism that has characterized so much of life in that part of the world. Many have compared this to the Nuremberg Trials, or that of Slobodon Mlosevic in The Hague, but the true parallel is to Charles I, King of England from 1625 to 1649.

Now, Charles I was not the monster Saddam so manifestly is. He was at odds with his people for a variety of reasons: religious, financial, political, and mostly, on the liberties of the people. He famously fought a war against Parliament, and lost. Put on trial by that body and accused of treason, he was condemned and on January 30, 1649, executed. Parliament had largely pre-ordained the outcome, and the charge itself – treason – was ludicrous given the definition of treason at the time was an act against the crown, but it was a trial, conducted under the rule of law, and the accused was given the right to mount a defense. Charles I paid the price for losing a war, but the way he paid that price was new.

English kings had been deposed and murdered before. Edward II was deposed by his Queen and her lover and quietly murdered. Richard II was deposed by his cousin and quietly murdered. Henry VI was deposed, allowed to live for a decade in custody but then was quietly murdered after his supporters failed in an uprising. Edward V was deposed by his uncle and quietly murdered. (Most probably by that uncle, Richard III, but some have argued that he was murdered by Richard’s foe and successor Henry VII.)

Thus we see the primary means of disposing of a troublesome ex-king was a knife in the dark. This changed in 1587 when Elizabeth I, in the height of the fears over a Spanish invasion, ordered the trial, and eventually the execution of her cousin and heir Mary, Queen of Scots. This was a little different, involving as it did international intrigue and Mary was not Queen of England. However, the difference was that she was tried and sham though it was, it represented a break with the previous practice. When Charles I’s time came, a trial was required. The Rule of Law had trumped the medieval rule of the sword.

Which brings us back to Iraq. Arab strongmen like Saddam have ruled by the sword and the gun for generations. Today, Iraq took a giant step forward to a different and better way. To be sure, Saddam will be found guilty and hanged someday soon, but it will not be a bullet in the dark, it will be justice.

Written by martinipundit

October 19, 2005 at 10:54 pm

Posted in GWOT, History

Right Wing Moonbat Update

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The vicious hatred of the Westboro Baptist Church continues, but some people aren’t putting up with it:

God spoke with the roar of revving motorcycle engines during a protest Tuesday by six members of a Kansas church that believes God is punishing the U.S. for protecting homosexuals by killing soldiers overseas.

Chelsea residents, however, believed God spoke on their behalf as the engines of more than 100 Veterans of Foreign Wars motorcycles drowned out the voices of the Westboro Baptist Church members who were allowed to protest from 1-1:30 p.m. before the 2 p.m. funeral services for Staff Sgt. John Glen Doles.

Bravo for citizens of Chelsea and the bikers.

Written by martinipundit

October 13, 2005 at 11:05 am

Posted in Idiotarians

Peggy Noonan’s Way Out

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Peggy Noonan suggests some ways out of the Miers nomination. I’m still inclined to trust the President, but it’s certainly more important to me that the conservative side of the political aisle does not fracture. To me, the number one – far and above all else – issue is the Global War on Terror, and I would have sacrificed John Roberts on that altar – or any other nominee. As opposition seems to be growing, perhaps Ms. Noonan ought to be given a hearing (which, she deserves anyway, of course).

Is there a way out for the White House? Yes. Change plans at LaGuardia. Remember the wisdom of New York’s Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who said, “I don’t make a lot of mistakes but when I do it’s a beaut!”? The Miers pick was a mistake. The best way to change the story is to change the story. Here’s one way.

The full Tim McCarthy. He was the Secret Service agent who stood like Stonewall and took the bullet for Ronald Reagan outside the Washington Hilton. Harriet Miers can withdraw her name, take the hit, and let the president’s protectors throw him in the car. Her toughness and professionalism would appear wholly admirable. She’d not just survive; she’d flourish, going from much-spoofed office wife to world-famous lawyer and world-class friend. Added side benefit: Her nobility makes her attackers look bad. She’s better than they, more loyal and serious. An excellent moment of sacrifice and revenge.

This would be the best option, in my opinion. But there’s more, of course, which you should read from the lady herself.

Written by martinipundit

October 13, 2005 at 8:02 am

Posted in Politics

The Zawahiri – Zarqawi Letter

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The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a fascinating letter captured during operations in Iraq and which was made public yesterday. The letter – dated July 9th – makes clear that jihad won’t be ending just because we leave Iraq, but will be ongoing:

So we must think for a long time about our next steps and how we want to attain it, and it is my humble opinion that the Jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals:

The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq.

The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate- over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans, immediately upon their exit and before un-Islamic forces attempt to fill this void, whether those whom the Americans will leave behind them, or those among the un-Islamic forces who will try to jump at taking power.

There is no doubt that this amirate will enter into a fierce struggle with the foreign infidel forces, and those supporting them among the local forces, to put it in a state of constant preoccupation with defending itself, to make it impossible for it to establish a stable state which could proclaim a caliphate, and to keep the Jihadist groups in a constant state of war, until these forces find a chance to annihilate them.

The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.

The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.

This medieval vision will see blood shed in the name of the caliphate for a very long time to come. These fanatics would also impose the Sharia law on these lands, the one which cuts off a hand for stealing a bicycle, or stones a girl to death for being raped.

But there do appear to be some cracks in the plan. Consider this interesting section of the letter:

Americans continue to control matters from afar? And if the attacks on Shia leaders were necessary to put a stop to their plans, then why were there attacks on ordinary Shia? Won’t this lead to reinforcing false ideas in their minds, even as it is incumbent on us to preach the call of Islam to them and explain and communicate to guide them to the truth? And can the mujahedeen kill all of the Shia in Iraq? Has any Islamic state in history ever tried that? And why kill ordinary Shia considering that they are forgiven because of their ignorance? And what loss will befall us if we did not attack the Shia? And do the brothers forget that we have more than one hundred prisoners – many of whom are from the leadership who are wanted in their countries – in the custody of the Iranians? And even if we attack the Shia out of necessity, then why do you announce this matter and make it public, which compels the Iranians to take counter measures? And do the brothers forget that both we and the Iranians need to refrain from harming each other at this time in which the Americans are targeting us? [emphasis mine]

It appears that the tactic of targetting the Shia in Iraq has riled some feathers in Tehran – and we know a lot of supplies for Al-Qaida in Iraq are coming from the Mad Mullahs in Iran. Were that flow to dry up, Zarqawi’s bloodlust might go unslaked. It also appears the beheading policy is not going over well even in the Religion of ‘Peace’:

Among the things which the feelings of the Muslim populace who love and support you will never find palatable – also- are the scenes of slaughtering the hostages. You shouldn’t be deceived by the praise of some of the zealous young men and their description of you as the shaykh of the slaughterers, etc. They do not express the general view of the admirer and the supporter of the resistance in Iraq, and of you in particular by the favor and blessing of God.

Mostly, it seems that because the media (by which he appears to mean Islamic, not western) keep showing the beheadings, the “Muslim masses” are getting the wrong idea:

However, despite all of this, I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma. And that however far our capabilities reach, they will never be equal to one thousandth of the capabilities of the kingdom of Satan that is waging war on us. And we can kill the captives by bullet. That would achieve that which is sought after without exposing ourselves to the questions and answering to doubts. We don’t need this.

A savage calling on another savage to dial back the savagery. Heh. He then oddly asks for money:

The brothers informed me that you suggested to them sending some assistance. Our situation since Abu al-Faraj is good by the grace of God, but many of the lines have been cut off. Because of this, we need a payment while new lines are being opened. So, if you’re capable of sending a payment of approximately one hundred thousand, we’ll be very grateful to you.

Reading between the lines, it seems clear that things are not going according to plan. Zarqawi is losing the hearts and minds of Muslims, Iran is annoyed at the attacks on the Shia, and the overall plan to restore the caliphate is not moving forward. All in all, good news if you ask me.

Written by martinipundit

October 12, 2005 at 8:51 am

Posted in GWOT

Hand-Wringing on Miers

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There continues to be hand-wringing on the ‘jilted-lover’ Right, and it remains embarrassing. Some have asked why the liberals are so silent? Well, they’re enjoying the rare spectacle of having the conservatives riven by infighting instead of themselves for a change. They’re sensibly doing nothing to break it up.

But we should. Calls on the President to rescind the nomination are not only wrong – it’s his constitutional obligation to nominate and no one else’s – and futile – this President does not put his finger to the wind – they are stupid. Yes, I said stupid, and that’s because of the point above – they give aid and comfort to the President’s political enemies. These are the same people who accuse the Left – accurately – of giving aid and comfort to the nation’s enemies (whether they realize it or not), yet they fail to recognize they’re doing the same thing domestically. They will say that the President has used up his reservoir of trust and will cite immigration or spending or hurricane relief or something but never judicial picks. Have you noticed that? The reason judicial picks are not listed is because the President’s record on selecting conservative nominees is stellar over the last five years. The hand-wringing is not really about Miers, it’s about things that have no place intruding on SCOTUS nominations.

Meanwhile, Alicia Colon makes some excellent points.

Written by martinipundit

October 11, 2005 at 9:29 am

Posted in Politics

On Harriet Miers

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I’ve been reading the hand-wringing on the right side of the blogosphere on this nomination, and I find myself shaking my head. They sound like someone preemptively breaking up with their partner so as to beat the other to the punch. So certain are they that Bush will betray them, they’re sounding like shrill lefties. It’s embarrassing, and it’s coming from some bloggers for whom I ordinarily have a great deal of respect. They need to tone it down.

I don’t know enough about the nominee to have an informed opinion, so I’m not saying one way or the other except that I’m giving the President the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, for some perspective, go read Thomas Lifson. He gets it.

Written by martinipundit

October 4, 2005 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Politics

Thoughts on the 22nd Amendment

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In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower became the first Republican elected President since 1928. In that time, Franklin Roosevelt had won four successive presidential elections, and the Republicans were determined never to have a repeat of that. The 22nd Amendment – which had been proposed in 1947, was ratified in 1951, in time for it to apply to Eisenhower. It reads, in part:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once.

Ironically, two people have already slipped out of the second half – both Presidents Johnson and Ford served less than two years of their predecessor’s term and so were each eligible to be elected twice themselves. Johnson got one, and Ford none, but in theory Gerald Ford could have been President for very close to a decade.

The idea of the “Imperial Presidency” took root in Roosevelt’s day and blossomed in Nixon’s. The notion that the nation’s chief executive needed to be limited fixed in the imagination in the way the imperial overreach of the legislature or the judiciary never has. And so we have a peculiar situation where every second term President has been hobbled to one degree or another.

Glossing over Eisenhower, who had the good fortune to be President in quieter times, there are four Presidents of interest: Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush 43. Nixon’s second term was filled with the acrimonious national mood over Vietnam and Watergate. A third-rate burglary in which the President was only peripherally involved at best grew into a national scandal the likes of which had not been seen before or since. Nixon’s enemies knew they had him, and they knew his power was lessened by his inability to run again. Someone else would be President in January of 1977, and thus Nixon’s ability to reward, protect, or punish diminished with each passing day. Weakened, he was unable to do anything but resign.

Reagan’s second term was similarly a time of slowing down, especially by 1987 when Democrats in Congress conducted the partisan Iran-Contra hearings. They did not achieve their aim of doing in a second Republican President, but the fact that Ronnie would be riding out of town in a few years enabled the whole farce to get off the ground in the first place. Such would have been politically impossible in a first term. Same for Clinton. Like Nixon, his ‘crime’ was not the act itself but the clumsy attempt to cover it up afterwards. Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 – ostensibly about sex or lies depending on which side of the political divide you are – was really about the Republicans foolishly playing the same political gotcha game the Democrats had previously tried on Nixon and Reagan. They failed as the Democrats did with Reagan, partly on the flimsiness of the charges and partly on the personal populatity of Clinton himself. But it remains that it was Clinton’s inability to maneuver in his second term due to the fact that he would be gone shortly regardless that allowed it to happen at all. How would Clinton be able to punish those who impeached him? Which brings us to the current President Bush. Reelected less than a year ago, pundits on both the right and the left are all but declaring his presidency over. Point to what you want – posturing Democrats in Congress, witch hunts against Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, nominee wrangling, hurricane finger-pointing, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, gas prices, education, healthcare, cats vs. dogs, it’s all Bush’s fault. Polls show that this is the lowest point of the Bush presidency and no wonder what with the relentless hammering away at him. Why? Because there is no Democratic majority in Congress to run sham impeachment trials or even shammer hearings. But it will take its toll nevertheless as everyone knows there will be a new President come January 2009 and no one wants to wait. Inexorably, though some 80% of his term of office remains, Bush will be relegated to the sidelines. Reagan very likely could have had a third term, and so probably would Clinton, but the Constitutional prohibition made them the proverbial “lame ducks” and forced them to defend themselves rather than concentrate fully on the job the people elected them to do.

This is what the 22nd Amendment has wrought. Presidents who achieve second terms spend most of them fighting irrelevancy and the baying pack at their heels. We may want to rethink the whole thing and repeal it.

Written by martinipundit

October 3, 2005 at 12:10 pm

Posted in History, Politics

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