Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The End of Rudy

"Who knows" says a lot, as this supporter says below. Who knows why Rudy couldn't garner more primary republican support. I know we have missed the chance to elect a man who would have been a historically great president, Giuliani, the mayor who saved New York City, the most accomplished executive of his generation, and the man who conducted himself with true heroism on September 11, and I suppose I held out hope for too long, when all has seemed lost since New Hampshire, where he finished 6th.

The man would just not lie, fudge, or flip on any position, nor would he resort to sound bites. He would have brought unparallelled energy to the executive branch, and weeded out all the careerist quislings in the State department, CIA, and Justice.

I fear the American electorate has missed a golden chance here, and I was wrong (well, twice in 6 years ain't too bad! ;)

Moving forward, it looks like John McCain will beat the flim-flamming flip flopper, and then face the OTHER flim-flamming flip flopper in the general election. He would win this election I believe, and then be elected the 44th president of the United States (with a reputation of being a flim-flamming flip flopper himself at times).

Perhaps Obama will oust Clinton. He is a good man, honest and decent, but a liberal. Perhaps McCain will return to his former conservatism, before he became the media darling. Suspension of disbelief is all we have to trust in at this point in 2008. McCain will win the war on IslamoFascism though, and for that we must be grateful, and give him all our support, as no issue is of importance compared with possible annihilation...T

"On a small stage in front of a large RUDY sign, Giuliani, the mayor who saved New York City, the most accomplished executive of his generation, and the man who conducted himself with true heroism on September 11, has come to face political death, with dignity, in Universal Studios’ Orlando-style approximation of Italy.

When he takes to the stage, shortly after John McCain has been declared the winner, Giuliani doesn’t precisely say he is dropping out of the race. But it’s obvious to everyone, and he begins to talk about his presidential run in the past tense. “We ran a campaign that was uplifting,” Giuliani tells the crowd. “The responsibility of leadership doesn’t end with a single campaign, it goes on and you continue to fight for it.”

“I’m proud that we chose to stay positive and to run a campaign of ideas in an era of personal attacks, negative ads, and cynical spin,” Giuliani adds. “You don’t always win, but you can always try to do it right, and you did.”"

I ask (a supporter) why Giuliani’s candidacy ended this way. “Who knows why?” he says, looking genuinely baffled. “For me, it was a great honor to be standing with this man during the week and a half that I’ve been here.”Giuliani insiders don’t know a lot more than Voight. Clearly the campaign’s guiding strategy was wrong, they concede, and Giuliani fell by the wayside while the other candidates were competing in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, and South Carolina. But they vigorously reject the notion that there was something wrong with Giuliani himself, something that made him less popular the more he stayed around a place.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Modest Proposal for Middle East Peace

The U.N. need only take five simple steps.

VDH rolls back the hypocrisy of the liberal powers in regard to "Israel's intransigence". A must read, print, and memorise, for anyone who's ever been to Berlin or Constantinople: parts of Prussia and Christian Greece, historically, as well as the ancestral homes of Arianism and Orthodox Christianity, respectively...T

There seems to be a growing renewed animus against Israel lately. Arun Gandhi, grandson of the purported humanist Mahatma Gandhi, thinks Israel and Jews in general are prone to, and singularly responsible for, most of the world’s violence. The Oxford Union is taking up the question of whether Israel even has a right to continue to exist. Our generation no longer speaks of a “Palestinian problem,” but rather of an “Israeli problem.” So perhaps it is time for a new global approach to deal with Israel and its occupation.

Perhaps we ought to broaden our multinational and multicultural horizons by transcending the old comprehensive settlements, roadmaps, and Quartet when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a dispute which originated with the creation of Israel.

Why not simply hold an international conference on all of these issues — albeit in a far more global context, outside the Middle East?

The ensuing general accords and principles could be applied to Israel and the West Bank, where the number of people involved, the casualties incurred, and the number of refugees affected are far smaller and far more manageable.

Perhaps there could be five U.N. sessions: disputed capitals; the right of return for refugees; land under occupation; the creation of artificial post-World War II states; and the use of inordinate force against suspected Islamic terrorists.

In the first session, we should try to solve the status of Nicosia, which is currently divided into Greek and Turkish sectors by a U.N. Greek Line. Perhaps European Union investigators could adjudicate Turkish claims that the division originated from unwarranted threats to the Turkish Muslim population on Cyprus. Some sort of big power or U.N. roadmap then might be imposed on the two parties, in hopes that the Nicosia solution would work for Jerusalem as well.

In the second discussion, diplomats might find common ground about displaced populations, many from the post-war, late 1940s. Perhaps it would be best to start with the millions of Germans who were expelled from East Prussia in 1945, or Indians who were uprooted from ancestral homes in what is now Pakistan, or over half-a-million Jews that were ethnically cleansed from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria following the 1967 war. Where are these refugees now? Were they ever adequately compensated for lost property and damages? Can they be given promises of the right to return to their ancestral homes under protection of their host countries? The ensuring solutions might shed light on the Palestinian aspirations to return to land lost sixty years ago to Israel.

A third panel would take up the delicate issue of returning territory lost by defeat in war. Ten percent of historic Germany is now part of Poland. The Russians still occupy many of the Kurile Islands, and Greek Cyprus lost sizable territory in 1974 after the invasion by Turkey. The Western Sahara is still annexed by Morocco, while over 15 percent of disputed Azerbaijan has been controlled by Armenia since 1994. Additionally, all of independent Tibet has been under Chinese occupation since 1950-1. Surely if some general framework concerning these occupations could first be worked out comprehensively, the results might then be applied to the much smaller West Bank and Golan Heights.

In a fourth panel, the international conference should take up the thorny issue of recently artificially created states. Given the tension over Kashmir, was Pakistan a mistake — particularly the notion of a homeland for Indian Muslims? North Korea was only created after the stalemate of 1950-3; so should we debate whether this rogue nation still needs to exist, given its violent history and threats to world peace?

Fifth, and finally, is there a global propensity to use inordinate force against Muslim terrorists that results in indiscriminate collateral damage? The Russians during the second Chechnyan War of 1999-2000 reportedly sent tactical missiles into the very core of Grozny, and may have killed tens of thousands of civilians in their hunt for Chechnyan terrorists — explaining why the United Nations later called that city the most destroyed city on earth. Syria has never admitted to the complete destruction of Hama, once home to Muslim Brotherhood terrorists. The city suffered the fate of Carthage and was completely obliterated in 1982 by the al-Assad government, with over 30,000 missing or killed. Did the Indian government look the other way in 2002 when hundreds of Muslim civilians in Gujarat were killed in reprisal for Islamic violence against Hindus? The lessons learned in this final session might reassure a world still furious over the 52 Palestinians lost in Jenin.

In other words, after a half-century of failed attempts to solve the Middle East crisis in isolation, isn’t it time we look for guidance in a far more global fashion, and in contexts where more lives have been lost, more territory annexed, and more people made refugees in places as diverse as China, Russia, and the broader Middle East?

The solutions that these countries have worked out to deal with similar problems apparently have proven successful — at least if the inattention of the world, the apparent inaction of the United Nations, and the relative silence of European governments are any indication.

So let the international community begin its humanitarian work!

Greek Cypriots can advise Israel about concessions necessary to Muslims involving a divided Jerusalem. Russians and Syrians can advise the IDF on how to deal properly and humanely with Islamic terrorists. Poland, Russia, China, and Armenia might offer the proper blueprint for giving back land to the defeated that they once gained by force. A North Korea or Pakistan can offer Israel humanitarian lessons that might blunt criticisms that such a recently created country has no right to exist. Iraq and Egypt would lend insight about proper reparation and the rights of return, given its own successful solutions to the problems of their own fleeing Jewish communities.

But why limit the agenda to such a small array of issues? The world has much to teach Israel about humility and concessions, on issues ranging from how other countries in the past have dealt with missiles sent into their homeland, to cross-border incursions by bellicose neighbors.

No doubt, Middle East humanitarians such as Jimmy Carter, Arun Gandhi, and Tariq Ramadan could preside, drawing on and offering their collective past wisdom in solving such global problems to those of a lesser magnitude along the West Bank.
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Clintons - Pigs!

The cartoon neglects to include the Clinton's subliminal cries of "Black man! Jesse Jackson lover! Welfare recipient! affirmative action candidate! , (and of course) nigger! Now the world is seeing them for who they are, and always have been: pigs - filthy, amoral, corrupt pigs...T
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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Clintonia and S.P.Q.R?

VDH expounds here on a number of topics - on John McCain the candidate, and the underestimated genius of Rush Limbaugh, etc. But most interesting by far is his take on the possible demise of the Clinton's, and his view that this election is easily winnable for the Republicans.

I concur entirely. The Clinton's are as despicable as were the worst of the dictators and emperors of Imperial Rome; entirely narcissistic, power mad, and willing to do anything to undermine their own country to preserve their own political power...T

Republicans, like it or not, have been given a great gift. Just three months ago Hillary was coronated in the media as our next President, as polls showed her winning against all comers. Then came her demonization of Obama and the entrance of pit-bull Bill—and the country was reminded of the Clinton viciousness and the entire fraud of modern liberal thinking.

Identity politics? Good except when your square white wife must win to get you back in power? Feminism? Women rule—except when they are surrogates for a male return to power at any cost? The policies of personal destruction? Terrible—unless you must engage in them to destroy the black candidate to save the black constituency. A liberal slanted media? Great—until liberals begin to see that Clintonites are embedded all over the networks and can’t quite be fair to Obama.

All this the Clintoni have exposed and the results are clear: a moderate-conservative nominee, at a time when a Republican President has a 35% approval rating, will still beat a left-wing Democrat. And yes, moderate Democrats, who watch this Clintonian ruthlessness, will be turned off and may well vote for a McCain in key states like Ohio, Michigan, Florida and elsewhere not because McCain is a liberal, but because they can disguise their embarrassment and disgust for Clinton by claiming they voted for a national hero

Clinton in South Carolina

I was listening tonight to a C-Span broadcast of Bill Clinton’s stump speech for his wife in South Carolina. Here are my conclusions:

1. In her mid-twenties, right out of law school, Hillary’s philanthropy and social service were of such a magnitude that they almost immediately found their way into federal law. Indeed, much of our comprehensive legislation concerning children and the poor had their geneses through her twenty-something work. The audience is to believe that leaving Yale Law School and forgoing politics back in Illinois were moral decisions for which we all are forever in her debt. Like Bill, she has suffered for all of us.

2. There is really not much of a social safety network for anyone. We may be giving half our incomes over to federal, state, and local taxes, spending 70% of our budget on social programs, and at the apex of large government in our history, but none of this is adequate. Instead, veterans, children, the poor, and aged, all of them are simply being neglected—and only Hillary has the savvy to create enough new social programs to save those who need to be saved. Any social pathology is entirely due to collective indifference or government neglect. Since the individual through drunkenness, drug use, ignorance, evil, or selfishness is never responsible for the results of his pathology, it would be silly to ask of him to clean up his own mess.

3. Almost every anecdote is prefaced by “When I was Governor, Hillary…” or “When I was president, she…” By implicit assumption, if we vote for Hillary we are voting in name for a co-presidency, but in fact, for a third and fourth term for Bill.

4. The problem is not that Bill Clinton occasionally lies—he does. But instead, almost serially he exaggerates and fudges—and in ways beyond not inhaling or redefining “is”, or insisting oral sex is not sex. The result is a Forrest Gump like effect, that we are to believe he and Hillary were the font of every almost every liberal gift of the last quarter-century—Yale, then Arkansas being the Mecca of social change.

5. It would be cruel, but understandable to ask amid these long encomia on Hillary’s character, her talent, and her morality—prefaced by Bill’s commentary that he almost alone realized her singular gifts, why in the world, then, did he spend over thirty years trying to escape her in almost every way imaginable? Why if she walked on water, did he find company, carnality, conversation with Paula Jones or Gennifer Flowers, or feel the need to talk trash and more with Monica? In other words, he is asking the voter to take on a partnership, a political marriage if you will, that he, mutatis mutandis, never would or has. It reminds me of the last time I bought a Chevy S-10. The local Selma salesman went on at great length about its reliability, its power, and economy, its great price, and then I asked him whose small, like-sized Toyota Tacoma was parked nearby and was it for sale? No need to tell you to whom it belonged.

More on McCain

I take McCain at his word that—once chastised on immigration—he will close the border. Ending illegal immigration, restoring fiscal sanity, cutting spending, and insisting on victory in the war are the essential issues, and on all he is far preferable to Hillary. There really is a difference between “suspension of disbelief” and “no substitute for victory.” That is why a number of conservatives have and will continue to hold their noses and endorse McCain...

...A better tactic than sitting out the election would be to unite around the nominee, and then put his feet to the fire on key issues. If it is McCain, then demand he go on Limbaugh’s show for an hour, or speak before social conservatives, and take the heat.
We are watching something historic—the crumbling of the Clinton façade. Its disintegration does not mean Hillary won’t be President, only that she can now be beaten when just a few months ago that was deemed impossible. Strange to say: the election is in Republican hands...

Rush the Genius?

I note in passing that, contrary to elite opinion, I am mightily impressed by most in talk radio. A Hugh Hewitt or Dennis Prager is far brighter than most academics I met over the last thirty years, not to mention far better spoken. We also forget that Limbaugh is not just a pundit, but a gifted comedian. His impersonations and imitations are in the first rank of comedians. Note the recent writers’ strike shut down or emasculated lesser talents like Leno, Letterman, and Maher, but reminded us that Limbaugh daily, for three hours non-stop can do his own material. He had all the requisite talents—quick wit, well read, good memory, excellent delivery, and a comic sense.

The Left never saw that. They thought offering up antithetical shows would do the trick, not understanding that Rush succeeded wildly, not just because of his commentary, but because he really is a gifted entertainer, a sort of combination Jack Benny, Lenny Bruce, Don Rickles, and Rich Little all in one, with the insight of a Buckley or Novak. Really a gifted guy. If he bit his lip Clinton-style or socialized with the literati, or didn’t have to do ads, he would be considered by critics as the genius that he really is
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Case for Rudy Giuliani

Excellent exposition of why I have long believed that Rudy would be a great, not good, president. His "energy in the executive" would end decades of incompetence in the federal bureaucracy, just to start with. A must read, and I admit that my collar is getting a bit tight, as I have been predicting his nomination for months now. The "Florida Strategy" had better pay dividends. Remember to vote early and often!...T

To the extent that I understand how most Republicans think, it would seem that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani comes closer to the Republican ideal than any of the other viable Republican candidates. They are all good and decent men who would be better for America than either of the Democratic front-runners. But it is difficult to see, from a conservative- and Republican-values perspective, what major shortcoming Giuliani brings as compared to the other candidates. And given the obsession of liberal news media with publishing negative reports about Giuliani and frequent praise of John McCain, it would appear that it is Giuliani whom Democrats most fear as the Republican presidential nominee.

On the "war on terror," no Republican contender but John McCain equals Giuliani in longtime efforts on behalf of that war or in understanding and articulating the threat radical Islam poses to America and to liberty on earth. And they both have great courage. If the only issue that mattered in the next election were the "war on terror," all those -- including Democrats and independents --who share this awareness of the Islamist threat could be happy with either candidate.

Anyone who does not understand the nature of the war that liberty is now waging against tyranny should not be president of the United States. And the Democratic candidates until now have shown no such understanding -- the term "Islamic terror," invoked by nearly every Republican candidate, was not mentioned once in any of the Democrats' debates. But while this understanding is necessary, it is not sufficient. America needs a strong leader domestically, as well as internationally.

And when it comes to being strong on both domestic and international issues, it seems that no presently viable Republican candidate matches Rudy Giuliani.

The current leading contender, Sen. John McCain, is a great American and a true American hero. However -- and this is written in sadness -- on too many significant issues, conservatives, and even many moderates, would not only disagree with John McCain but also would question his judgment.

John McCain is a leader in promoting legislation on behalf of "campaign finance reform." Aside from limiting freedom of speech, such legislation has done real damage to our democracy. For example, it has severely limited how much money one American can give to another American to run for public office. Consequently, increasingly only the very famous and/or the extremely wealthy -- e.g., California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former senator -- now governor -- Jon Corzine of New Jersey, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg can run for office. The percentage of very wealthy members of the U.S. Senate is the greatest in American history. Thanks to John McCain and "campaign finance reform," Americans running for public office can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on themselves, but individuals can give only $4,000 to non-wealthy candidates.

John McCain, in a recent Republican debate, asked, "Why shouldn't we be able to re-import drugs from Canada?" (With its socialized medicine, Canada buys drugs at cheaper rates.) This is not merely not conservative; it is radical and it is foolish.

As George Will wrote this week, "That amounts to importing Canada's price controls, a large step toward a system in which ... new pain-relieving, life-extending pharmaceuticals would be unavailable. ... When Mitt Romney interjected, 'Don't turn the pharmaceutical companies into the big bad guys,' McCain replied, 'Well, they are.' There is a place in American politics for moralizers who think in such Manichaean simplicities," Will concludes. "That place is in the Democratic Party."

John McCain twice voted against President Bush's tax cuts.

John McCain has wholly bought the politically correct view of man-made carbon emissions leading to global catastrophe. It is true that all the Republican candidates pay lip service to a hysteria that is capable of truly harming the American and world economies, but John McCain is the major Republican activist on this issue. He is co-author, with Sen. Joe Lieberman, of a bill empowering Congress to legislate carbon emissions, and he has dismissed all scientific questions with Al Gore's, "The debate has ended."

John McCain's view of drilling for oil in a remote corner of Alaska: "As far as ANWR is concerned, I don't want to drill in the Grand Canyon, and I don't want to drill in the Everglades." Any comparison of a part of frozen Alaska that has been seen by almost no human being in history with the Grand Canyon and the Everglades, which tens of millions of people have visited and always will visit, is, shall we say, odd.

John McCain is a good man, a good American and a good leader, but he is not a conservative in some important ways. That is why John Kerry considered John McCain as a possible running mate. Would John McCain be a better president than a Democrat? Yes, primarily because of his stance on the "war on terror." But conservative supporters of McCain need to acknowledge that some fundamental conservative principles -- as noted above -- probably would be rejected in a McCain presidency.

Rudy Giuliani may have made a great mistake by not campaigning in New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa and South Carolina. But between Rudy Giuliani (and, for that matter, Mitt Romney) on the one hand and John McCain on the other, there is little question as to who more embodies mainstream conservative and Republican principles.

But Giuliani is not merely more of a conservative than John McCain. In fact, if it is Ronald Reagan that Republicans want, Giuliani is extraordinarily close to that venerated man. Ronald Reagan stood for two great beliefs: that big government is a big problem for a free society and that America must be militarily strong and lead the war against global communism.

Substitute "global jihadism" for "global communism" and you have Rudy Giuliani's twin pillars. His one major weakness in appealing to all conservatives is that he is for abortion rights. Let me, then, briefly address all those who, like me, consider nearly all abortions immoral.

Ronald Reagan was pro-life, and it mattered little to the pro-life cause. Concerning abortion, what matters most in a president is the type of judges he appoints to the Supreme Court. As George Will wrote on behalf of Giuliani, "The way to change abortion law is to change courts by means of judicial nominations of the sort Giuliani promises to make." It is extremely unlikely that John McCain would appoint similarly conservative judges. After all, why would he appoint judges like Scalia and Alito who apparently differ with him on the constitutionality of McCain's own "campaign finance reform" laws?

Pro-life Republicans need to ask themselves: Will a Democrat or Giuliani as president render abortion less common in America? The best is the enemy of the better. And Giuliani is far better on abortion than any Democratic nominee.

Giuliani is for school vouchers, against bilingual education, for reducing taxes further, for reducing government spending. And he has well-thought-out positions on how to achieve these things. He also has the experience of cleaning up the most liberal major city in America.

I write this column aware that Giuliani may have lost his chance at getting the Republican nomination. But I could not live with my conscience if I did not articulate one week before the potentially decisive Florida primary why I believe Rudy Giuliani would make an excellent president of the United States.
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Legal Footsie

So the ACLU now files on behalf of Larry Craig. Not saying he was entrapped - no, but that we all have a right to sexual privacy in public bathrooms! Michael Dukakis must wish he was running this year, not back in "repressed" 1988...T
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Conventional Wisdom

I'd like to see it. Not only is the current process undignified in the extreme, and certainly sophomoric, but it also often results in under qualified and sometimes demagogic candidates being nominated. Sometimes even pathologically unqualified candidates (Jimmy Carter, you know who you are!).

Let's do a quick fact check here. If Party conventions had been the norm the last 40 years, we would NOT have been forced to consider as nominee of their party (in order since the 1st example), George McGovern in 72, Jimmy Carter in 76 and again in 80, Michael Dukakis in 88 (possibly), certainly NOT Bill Clinton in 92, and likely not John Freaking Kerry in 2004. Now granted, these are all democrats, but in this year, 2008, the republicans stand a good chance of having a disastrous nominee, as do the democrats, thereby making 2008 potentially the worst presidential choice in modern American history...T

WASHINGTON -- With the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination charging each other with racial bigotry, I think it is safe to observe that 2008 will not be a progressive year in the Democratic Party. Increasingly the Clinton campaign puts me in mind of presidential campaigns waged by the late segregationist George Wallace. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton even has Wallace's surly style. Yet Wallace was rarely accused of lying. Hillary is caught lying every few days, and the lies are not even as clever as those of her mendacious husband, the sex maniac. Of course, when the fur ceases to fly over these racial charges, I think it will be clear that Hillary is not nearly the bigot Wallace was, but neither is she as nice a person. I cannot think of one of Governor Wallace's household pets disappearing under mysterious circumstances.

Moving over to the Republican race, none of the candidates has yet to charge another with racial bigotry. None has done oppositional research on an opponent's kindergarten records. And none has been caught raising campaign funds through a Chop Suey Connection. Yet, we have repeatedly heard the ugly charge of flip-floppery flung about wantonly, and it is not a reference to casual footwear but to casual dissembling on issues. In fact, every candidate still in the Republican race has been accused of flip-floppery, occasionally using multiple feet.

Thus far the 2008 campaign in both parties is very unsatisfactory. Something is missing, and, as I see it, that something is dignity. At this stage Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama come closest to displaying dignity; but even they fall short, owing to the environment in which they must operate, an environment shaped by a prima donna electorate and a press that encourages soap opera. Both are the consequence of idiotic state caucuses or state primaries, inflated into circuses by enormous sums of money, and all lacking in party discipline. It is time to return to nominating presidential candidates in national political conventions, the same kind of conventions that gave us Roosevelts and Eisenhower and the 1960 race between Kennedy and Nixon -- a very classy affair compared to today's infantile confrontations.

Today national conventions are a thing of the past because mid-20th century reformers accused them of being undemocratic. Actually, they were as democratic as today's caucuses and primaries. Moreover, they reduced the need for the vast fundraising operations that are our contemporary reformers' nightmare. Most of the delegates at national conventions were chosen democratically at their state conventions, where party platforms were pounded out and presidential nominees chosen. The enormous expense of media advertising and get-out-the-vote drives was unnecessary, as most of the participants were volunteers, loyal party members, or public-spirited citizens prevailed upon by neighbors to get involved as Democrats or Republicans.

What is more, seasoned politicians were influential every step of the way, right up to the convention. In the time of competitive national political conventions, presidential candidates still had to campaign throughout the nation but at far less expense. Then once the national convention was convened, they had to present themselves to each state delegation. Reformers inveighed against the spectacle of floor demonstrations, with delegates wearing silly hats and parading up the aisles, but such high jinks were harmless, far less expensive than today's vast media buys, and turned up presidential nominees far more impressive than today's poseurs.

Reading Arthur Schlesinger's Journals, I came across the now-deceased historian's observations of JFK at the 1960 Democratic national convention. Kennedy was in a pretty good position to win the nomination, but he had to present himself to state delegations nonetheless. He particularly disrelished visiting the segregationist Southerners, but he did so. He already had a sense of what they were like but now had an opportunity to review his estimates of them. They, in turn, got a sense of him. This was not an costly blitz through a primary state, accompanied by expensive and misleading media barrages and transient opportunities to embarrass his rivals. It was a serious meeting among Democrats who were deeply involved in governing their states. It was adult politics.

If our reformers really want to end the nightmare of $100 million primary campaigns and the trashiness of this primary season, they will bring us back to the good old days of national political conventions that really matter. I long to see candidates in silly hats rather than in silly situations.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Star Whores

"Join me! - and I shall complete your trainingggg - take your hand at my side, and we shall rule the galaxy as father and son (er, husband and wife)!"...T
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Take it from W.G. Fields himself!

Wow, what chutzpah! This from the biggest liar, and worst person, ever to hold the office of the Presidency...T
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Friday, January 11, 2008


Poor, poor Hillary - sigh - this is worst thing to happen to her since, well, since the Rose Law firm billing records, Hillary-care, the Marc Rich pardon, the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy", the Lewinsky-Flowers-Jones etc. scandals...well you get the idea. Hillary "Rob-em" Clinton gets weeps now? Spare me the crocodile tears, please...T
PS - thanks, Splugy, for the moniker...T
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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bush of Arabia - This U.S. president is the most consequential the Middle East has ever seen

Remember these words, written so eloquently by Fouad Ajami:
"In America and elsewhere, those given reprieve by (Bush's) clarity, and single-mindedness, have been taking this protection while complaining all the same of his zeal and solitude. In his stoic acceptance of the burdens after 9/11, we were offered a reminder of how nations shelter behind leaders willing to take on great challenges.

We scoffed, in polite, jaded company when George W. Bush spoke of the "axis of evil" several years back. The people he now journeys amidst didn't"

G.W. Bush has accomplishments that will outlast his presidency by 100 or more years. He has transformed the world we live in, in tangible ways, but more importantly, in way unseen . Ways that few notice or even consider...T

It was fated, or "written," as the Arabs would say, that George W. Bush, reared in Midland, Texas, so far away from the complications of the foreign world, would be the leader to take America so deep into Arab and Islamic affairs.

This is not a victory lap that President Bush is embarking upon this week, a journey set to take him to Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories, the Saudi Kingdom, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Bush by now knows the heartbreak and guile of that region. After seven years and two big wars in that "Greater Middle East," after a campaign against the terror and the malignancies of the Arab world, there will be no American swagger or stridency.

But Mr. Bush is traveling into the landscape and setting of his own legacy. He is arguably the most consequential leader in the long history of America's encounter with those lands.

Baghdad isn't on Mr. Bush's itinerary, but it hangs over, and propels, his passage. A year ago, this kind of journey would have been unthinkable. The American project in Iraq was reeling, and there was talk of America casting the Iraqis adrift. It was then that Mr. Bush doubled down--and, by all appearances, his brave wager has been vindicated.

His war has given birth to a new Iraq. The shape of this new Iraq is easy to discern, and it can be said with reasonable confidence that the new order of things in Baghdad is irreversible. There is Shiite primacy, Kurdish autonomy in the north, and a cushion for the Sunni Arabs--in fact a role for that community slightly bigger than its demographic weight. It wasn't "regional diplomacy" that gave life to this new Iraq. The neighboring Arabs had fought it all the way.

But there is a deep streak of Arab pragmatism, a grudging respect for historical verdicts, and for the right of conquest. How else did the ruling class in Arabia, in the Gulf and in Jordan beget their kingdoms?

In their animus toward the new order in Iraq, the purveyors of Arab truth--rulers and pundits alike--said that they opposed this new Iraq because it had been delivered by American power, and is now in the American orbit. But from Egypt to Kuwait and Bahrain, a Pax Americana anchors the order of the region. In Iraq, the Pax Americana, hitherto based in Sunni Arab lands, has acquired a new footing in a Shiite-led country, and this is the true source of Arab agitation.

To hear the broadcasts of Al Jazeera, the Iraqis have sinned against the order of the universe for the American military presence in their midst. But a vast American air base, Al Udeid, is a stone's throw away from Al Jazeera's base in Qatar.

There is a standoff of sorts between the American project in Iraq on the one side, and the order of Arab power on the other. The Arabs could not thwart or overturn this new Iraq, but the autocrats--battered, unnerved by the fall of Saddam Hussein, worried about the whole spectacle of free elections in Iraq--survived Iraq's moment of enthusiasm.

They hunkered down, they waited out the early euphoria of the Iraq war, they played up the anarchy and violence of Iraq and fed that violence as well. In every way they could they manipulated the nervousness of their own people in the face of this new, alien wave of liberty. Better 60 years of tyranny than one day of anarchy, goes a (Sunni) Arab maxim.

Hosni Mubarak takes America's coin while second-guessing Washington at every turn. He is the cop on the beat, suspicious of liberty. He faced a fragile, democratic opposition in the Kifaya (Enough!) movement a few years back. But the autocracy held on. Pharaoh made it clear that the distant, foreign power was compelled to play on his terms. There was never a serious proposal to cut off American aid to the Mubarak regime.

In the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf, a new oil windfall has rewritten the terms of engagement between Pax Americana and the ruling regimes. It is a supreme, and cruel, irony that Mr. Bush travels into countries now awash with money: From 9/11 onwards, America has come to assume the burden of a great military struggle--and the financial costs of it all--while the oil lands were to experience a staggering transfusion of wealth.

Saudi Arabia has taken in nearly $900 billion in oil revenues the last six years; the sparsely populated emirate of Abu Dhabi is said to dispose of a sovereign wealth fund approximating a trillion dollars. The oil states have drawn down the public debt that had been a matter of no small consequence to the disaffection of their populations. There had been a time, in the lean 1990s, when debt had reached 120% of Saudi GDP; today it is 5%. There is swagger in that desert world, a sly sense of deliverance from the furies.

The battle against jihadism has been joined by the official religious establishment, stripping the radicals of their religious cover. Consider the following fatwa issued by Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdallah al-Sheikh, the Mufti of the Kingdom--the highest religious jurist in Saudi Arabia--last October. There is evasion in the fatwa, but a reckoning as well:

"It has been noted that over the last several years some of our sons have left Saudi lands with the aim of pursuing jihad abroad in the path of God. But these young men do not have enough knowledge to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and this was one reason why they fell into the trap of suspicious elements and organizations abroad that toyed with them in the name of jihad."

Traditional Wahhabism has always stipulated obedience to the ruler, and this Wahhabi jurist was to re-assert it in the face of freelance preachers: "The men of religion are in agreement that there can be no jihad, except under the banner of wali al-amr [the monarch] and under his command. The journey abroad without his permission is a violation, and a disobedience, of the faith."

Iraq is not directly mentioned in this fatwa, but it stalks it: This is the new destination of the jihadists, and the jurist wanted to cap the volcano.

The reform of Arabia is not a courtesy owed an American leader on a quick passage, and one worried about the turmoil in the oil markets at that. It is an imperative of the realm, something owed Arabia's young people clamoring for a more "normal" world. The brave bloggers, and the women and young professionals of the realm, have taken up the cause of reform. What American power owes them is the message given them over the last few years--that they don't dwell alone.

True to the promise, and to the integrity, of his campaign against terror, Mr. Bush will not lay a wreath at the burial place of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah. This is as it should be. Little more than five years ago, Mr. Bush held out to the Palestinians the promise of statehood, and of American support for that goal, but he made that support contingent on a Palestinian break with the cult of violence. He would not grant Arafat any of the indulgence that Bill Clinton had given him for eight long years. It was the morally and strategically correct call.

The cult of the gun had wrecked the political life of the Palestinians. They desperately needed an accommodation with Israel, but voted, in early 2006, for Hamas.

The promise of Palestinian statehood still stood, but the force, and the ambition, of Mr. Bush's project in Iraq, and the concern over Iran's bid for power, had shifted the balance of things in the Arab world toward the Persian Gulf, and away from the Palestinians. The Palestinians had been reduced to their proper scale in the Arab constellation. It was then, and when the American position in Iraq had been repaired, that Mr. Bush picked up the question of Palestine again, perhaps as a courtesy to his secretary of state.

The Annapolis Conference should be seen in that light: There was some authority to spare. It is to Mr. Bush's singular credit that he was the first American president to recognize that Palestine was not the central concern of the Arabs, or the principal source of the political maladies.

The realists have always doubted this Bush campaign for freedom in Arab and Muslim lands. It was like ploughing the sea, they insisted. Natan Sharansky may be right that in battling for that freedom, Mr. Bush was a man alone, even within the councils of his own administration.

He had taken up the cause of Lebanon. The Cedar Revolution that erupted in 2005 was a child of his campaign for freedom. A Syrian dominion built methodically over three decades was abandoned in a hurry, so worried were the Syrians that American power might target their regime as well. In the intervening three years, Lebanon and its fractious ways were to test America's patience, with the Syrians doing their best to return Lebanon to its old captivity.

But for all the debilitating ways of Lebanon's sectarianism, Mr. Bush was right to back democracy. For decades, politically conscious Arabs had lamented America's tolerance for the ways of Arab autocracy, its resigned acceptance that such are the ways of "the East." There would come their way, in the Bush decade, an American leader willing to bet on their freedom.

"Those thankless deserts" was the way Winston Churchill, who knew a thing or two about this region, described those difficult lands. This is a region that aches for the foreigner's protection while feigning horror at the presence of strangers.

As is their habit, the holders of Arab power will speak behind closed doors to their American guest about the menace of the Persian power next door. But the Arabs have the demography, and the wealth, to balance the power of the Persians. If their world is now a battleground between Pax Americana and Iran, that is a stark statement on their weakness, and on the defects of the social contract between the Sunnis and the Shiites of the Arab world. America can provide the order that underpins the security of the Arabs, but there are questions of political and cultural reform which are tasks for the Arabs themselves.

Suffice it for them that George W. Bush was at the helm of the dominant imperial power when the world of Islam and of the Arabs was in the wind, played upon by ruinous temptations, and when the regimes in the saddle were ducking for cover, and the broad middle classes in the Arab world were in the grip of historical denial of what their radical children had wrought. His was the gift of moral and political clarity.

In America and elsewhere, those given reprieve by that clarity, and single-mindedness, have been taking this protection while complaining all the same of his zeal and solitude. In his stoic acceptance of the burdens after 9/11, we were offered a reminder of how nations shelter behind leaders willing to take on great challenges.

We scoffed, in polite, jaded company when George W. Bush spoke of the "axis of evil" several years back. The people he now journeys amidst didn't: It is precisely through those categories of good and evil that they describe their world, and their condition. Mr. Bush could not redeem the modern culture of the Arabs, and of Islam, but he held the line when it truly mattered. He gave them a chance to reclaim their world from zealots and enemies of order who would have otherwise run away with it.
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