Friday, June 29, 2007

On Being American

In her latest article, Peggy Noonan discusses the meaning of being American, from the point of view of an immigrant. She recalls a trip to Ireland years back, where she met up with an old friend of her grandfather. The friend was with Noonan's grandfather at the moment he set off for America to begin a new life. She makes a great point when she distinguishes the mindset of immigrants today from that of immigrants of ages past. It's pretty thought provoking.

My grandfather had his struggles here but never again went home. He'd cast his lot. That's an important point in the immigrant experience, when you cast your lot, when you make your decision. It makes you let go of something. And it makes you hold on to something. The thing you hold on to is the new country. In succeeding generations of your family the holding on becomes a habit and then a patriotism, a love. You realize America is more than the place where the streets were paved with gold. It has history, meaning, tradition. Suddenly that's what you treasure.

A problem with newer immigrants now is that for some it's no longer necessary to make The Decision. They don't always have to cast their lot. There are so many ways not to let go of the old country now, from choosing to believe that America is only about money, to technology that encourages you to stay in constant touch with the land you left, to TV stations that broadcast in the old language. If you're an immigrant now, you don't have to let go. Which means you don't have to fully join, to enmesh. Your psychic investment in America doesn't have to be full. It can be provisional, temporary. Or underdeveloped, or not developed at all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bolton on Iran

I've always liked former Ambassador John Bolton. He seems to base his approach to foreign policy on hard reality, rather than on naive presumptions regarding the supposed good will of dangerous regimes. Here's a short article from the Jerusalem Post: very interesting.

Sanctions and diplomacy have failed and it may be too late for internal opposition to oust the Islamist regime, leaving only military intervention to stop Iran's drive to nuclear weapons, the US's former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Worse still, according to Ambassador Bolton, the Bush administration does not recognize the urgency of the hour and that the options are now limited to only the possibility of regime change from within or a last-resort military intervention, and it is still clinging to the dangerous and misguided belief that sanctions can be effective.

As a consequence, Bolton said he was "very worried" about the well-being of Israel. If he were in Israel's predicament, he said, "I'd be pushing the US very hard. I am pushing the US [administration] very hard, from the outside, in Washington."

Bolton, interviewed by telephone from Washington, was speaking a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency announced it would send a team to Teheran, at Iran's request, to work jointly on a plan ostensibly meant to clear up suspicions about the nuclear program. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani had met on Sunday with IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, and a day earlier with top EU foreign policy envoy Javier Solana.

Bolton, however, was witheringly critical of the ongoing diplomatic contacts with Teheran, which he said were merely playing into the hands of the regime.

"The current approach of the Europeans and the Americans is not just doomed to failure, but dangerous," he said. "Dealing with [the Iranians] just gives them what they want, which is more time...

"We have fiddled away four years, in which Europe tried to persuade Iran to give up voluntarily," he complained. "Iran in those four years mastered uranium conversion from solid to gas and now enrichment to weapons grade... We lost four years to feckless European diplomacy and our options are very limited."

Bolton said flatly that "diplomacy and sanctions have failed... [So] we have to look at: 1, overthrowing the regime and getting in a new one that won't pursue nuclear weapons; 2, a last-resort use of force."

However, he added a caution as to the viability of the first of those remaining options: While "the regime is more susceptible to overthrow from within than people think," he said, such a process "may take more time than we have."

Overall, said Bolton, it was clear that Iran had surmounted "all the technical problems of uranium enrichment," and it "may well be that we have passed the point of Iran mastering the nuclear fuel cycle." If so, it was now merely a matter of time before Iran reached a bomb-making capability - "a matter of resources and available equipment," he said - and it was solely up to Iran to set the pace.

To his dismay, however, the Bush administration was still clinging to the empty notion that the sanctions route could work, "even though [the UN's sanction] Resolutions 1737 and 1747 were full of loopholes. The US is still seeking another sanctions resolution and Solana is still pursuing diplomacy," he said bitterly.

Bolton lamented that the Bush administration today was "not the same" as a presumably more robust incarnation three years ago, because of what he said was now the State Department's overwhelming dominance of foreign policy. "The State Department has adopted the European view [on how to deal with Iran] and other voices have been sidelined," he said. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "is overwhelmingly predominant on foreign policy."

Asked where this left Israel, Bolton said simply: "Israel's options are as limited as those of the US, except that you are in more danger in that you are closer. I hate to say that."

Bolton, who served as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security from 2001 to 2005, before taking the ambassadorial posting to the UN from August 2005 to December 2006, said the failed handling of the Iran nuclear crisis was one of the reasons he had left the Bush administration. "I felt we were watching Europe fiddling while Rome burned," he said. "It's still fiddling."

(The full interview will appear in Friday's Post.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Global Warming Update

Alas, my long-held belief, that common sense and sound judgment still hold sway over most, is proven once again with the following story.

Three Quarters Believe Global Warming A 'Natural Occurence'

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Adieu Freedom of Speech?

The following is a partial transcript of the June 24, 2007, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace." I have decided to post the entire transcript because it demonstrates how far liberals are willing to go to promote their agenda and how some "conservatives" are willing to cooperate. Personally, I disagree with much of Sen. Lott's platform especially his economic philosophy and opinions on immigration, the latter are mentioned in the following transcript. That Feinstein would like to "legislatively fix" talk radio should be no surprise to any conservative.

"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Well, joining us now, two key senators, the number two Republican, Trent Lott, and one of the Democratic leaders, Dianne Feinstein.

And, Senators, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF.: Thank you very much.

SEN. TRENT LOTT, R-MISS.: Glad to be back, Chris.

WALLACE: Let's start with the controversy over talk radio, because, Senator Lott, you stirred up quite a hornet's nest this week when you said this, "Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem."

And here was the reaction from some conservative talk show hosts.


RUSH LIMBAUGH: Talk radio is the American voter. That's what bothers Trent Lott.



MICHAEL SAVAGE: Trent Lott saying today that talk radio is running America and we have to deal with that problem is gangsterism.


WALLACE: Senator, your response?

LOTT: Dianne and I were just talking about that. One of the mistakes that we have made many times on legislation is it's introduced, it comes out of committee, we bring it to the floor. We never bother to explain what we're trying to do and what is in it.

I think that was the mistake that was made with immigration. Talk radio defined it without us explaining that there were reasons for it and the good things that were in it.

So the onus is not on them, it's on us to do a better job of communicating what we're trying to do.

And I just want to make — you know, look, I've been defended by talk radio many times and I will support their right to tell their side of the story, right, left or the middle, forever.

I don't think this fairness doctrine that would try to require that there be X amount on both sides is fair. So you know, it's caused quite a stir, but, you know, it goes with the territory.

WALLACE: But, Senator, I'm not going to let you off the hook quite that easily. Take a look at this. You said this also last week. "I'm sure senators on both sides of the aisle are being pounded by these talk radio people who don't even know what's in the bill."

Now, I talked to some of the talk radio people, and they say you make it sound like they're leading around their listeners like a bunch of sheep. They say look, they know what's in the bill, their listeners know what's in the bill, and they don't like it.

LOTT: Well, let me tell you why I said that. As a matter of fact, I do talk radio in my own state in particular, but others, and I'm sure Dianne does, too.

I was doing one interview, and the talk radio host said, to his credit, "What are you trying to do here?" And I explained that we were trying to improve a bad situation. And that's a summation of it.

Then he said, "Well, tell me four things in this bill that you think are significantly better than the current law." So I ticked them off. He said, "That's in there?" I said, "Yeah."

See, that's the point. It's not that they're maliciously trying to, you know, distort it. And this is a complicated bill with a lot of moving parts. Some of it I don't like.

You know, I'm not committed to voting for the final product. The wheels may come off. But I am committed to trying. That's what the United States Senate should be trying to do...

WALLACE: All right. Let me...

LOTT: ... address a problem.

WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Feinstein.

Oklahoma Senator Inhofe says that he overheard Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton three years ago complaining about talk radio and saying that there should be a legislative fix. Both of them deny it ever happened.

But let me ask you about yourself. Do you have a problem with talk radio, and would you consider reviving the fairness doctrine, which would require broadcasters to put on opposing points of view?

FEINSTEIN: Well, in my view, talk radio tends to be one-sided. It also tends to be dwelling in hyperbole. It's explosive. It pushes people to, I think, extreme views without a lot of information.

This is a very complicated bill. It's seven titles. Most people don't know what's in this bill. Therefore, to just have one or two things dramatized and taken out of context, such as the word amnesty — we have a silent amnesty right now, but nobody goes into that. Nobody goes into the flaws of our broken system.

This bill fixes those flaws. Do I think there should be an opportunity on talk radio to present that point of view? Yes, I do, particularly about the critical issues of the day.

WALLACE: So would you revive the fairness doctrine?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'm looking at it, as a matter of fact, Chris, because I think there ought to be an opportunity to present the other side. And unfortunately, talk radio is overwhelmingly one way.

WALLACE: But the argument would be it's the marketplace, and if liberals want to put on their own talk radio, they can put it on. At this point, they don't seem to be able to find much of a market.

FEINSTEIN: Well, apparently, there have been problems. It is growing. But I do believe in fairness. I remember when there was a fairness doctrine, and I think there was much more serious correct reporting to people.

WALLACE: Let me move on to the underlying issue, which is immigration.

Senator Feinstein, Democrats are going to bring back immigration reform this next week. Where does it stand now, and what are the chances that you're actually going to pass something?

FEINSTEIN: Right, right. Tuesday there will be a cloture vote on the motion to proceed. It will ripen on Thursday. We'll see if between the two parties we have 60 votes.

Both Senator Lott and I are on the same side with respect to this. And I'm hopeful that we will.

Let me point something out that's a little different this time. There will be mandatory spending, $4.4 billion up front, to do the following before anything else happens — that's about 600 miles to 700 miles of border fence and vehicle obstructions, UAVs, employer verification, no more catch and release.

There has to be detention of people coming across the border. So there will be border enforcement, 3,500 additional border patrol, before any other part of the bill goes into place. People don't understand that.

WALLACE: Senator Lott, a group called NumbersUSA is running an ad in Mississippi that attacks your support for the bill. Let's watch.


ANNOUNCER: Why is Senator Trent Lott selling out Mississippi in favor of illegal aliens? He's joined with Ted Kennedy in strong-arming senators to support amnesty for millions of illegals.


WALLACE: And, Senator Lott, if you think that's bad, I want to show you this quote. "Since the security of our border is where there is the most agreement, we should tackle border security first, then work out a tightly constructed temporary worker program, no amnesty and no expedited citizenship."

And if you wonder who said that, it was you...

LOTT: It sounded like a good quote to me.

WALLACE: ... in your weekly column on June 1st, 2006. Weren't you saying then exactly what your critics are saying now?

LOTT: Look, I agree with a lot of what they're saying, and so does Dianne. I do think we need to secure the border. And when people say, "Well, you haven't had the law enforced all these years," no.

Going back to the '80s, beginning with President Ronald Reagan, our presidents and our administrations, Democratic and Republican, have not, in my opinion, sufficiently enforced the law.

That's why a lot of what is in this, you know, changes the law and puts mandates in there to actually do what they say. Yes, we should secure the border first, but there's more to it than that.

We do have people here in the country. We don't even really know who they are. There are no requirements as to how we're going to deal with them in the future. We need to do that. They are going to come in here and look for jobs.

Look, there's a powerful force involved here. It's called freedom and opportunity for economic advancement. We need to harness that. We need to make sure we know who these people are, where they're going, that there's a job for them, that they are not treated like animals, and that they have to go back to their homes of origin.

I really haven't changed. But I am trying to get a result here. Look, the people in — I have been in Congress for 35 years representing the people of Mississippi.

They know that I would not consciously do anything that would hurt my state, but also I want to do the right thing for my country. And I do think they are compatible in this instance.

WALLACE: This all brings up a bigger question, and take a look at these numbers from the latest Gallup poll. Only 24 percent of Americans now approve of the job that Congress is doing, while 71 percent disapprove.

And look at this. Just 14 percent now have confidence in Congress. That's an all-time low for the Gallup poll.

Senator Feinstein, why is Congress sinking like a stone, especially, I've got to tell you, in the last few months, among Democrats?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'll tell you, that reason, in my view, is Iraq. Most Democrats want us out of Iraq. Virtually every Democratic candidate running for president says the first thing they will do is get us out of Iraq.

When we took over the House, took over the Senate, although the Senate is just a bare majority, I think people had the expectation, not knowing the rules of the Senate, "Wow, we would be able to move this country out of Iraq." Well, the Senate works very differently.

You need 60 votes for virtually anything that's controversial, and so it's not that easy to obtain the goal. I think people don't understand this. I think people think we wanted it done now. It hasn't been done now.

Health care is another area where people have wanted reform. Many of us believe we may well have to change presidents before some of the major areas that people find they want reform is actually achieved.

WALLACE: Senator Lott, why do you think Congress has fallen into such disfavor? And to be honest, haven't Republicans contributed to this by trying to play obstructionist on almost every issue?

LOTT: There's no question that Iraq is, you know, a big part of the problem. I do think that how we deal with immigration reform is a part of the problem.

But over the last three years, Republican and Democrat Congresses quit acting. We quit producing results. We couldn't find a way to come together on anything, on energy, on health care.

And when the new Congress came in, the House of Representatives under Speaker Pelosi thought, "Well, we'll just pass our agenda and ram it right through." That's not the way it works in the Senate. That's not the way it works in Congress.

Nobody has the trump hand. I'm working on a bill now involving aviation reform. And I tell everybody, "Look, let's quit arguing over what we disagree on. Let's see what we can agree on that will be positive."

So the Democratic Congress has not produced their agenda, and yet right in the middle of things like energy and immigration, we have a no-confidence vote, which is non-binding, meaningless, on Gonzales, would have no effect.

This week, right in the middle between energy and immigration, we're going to have a vote on union card check. Not only is it not going to happen, you know, it agitates Republicans, and it just makes it more difficult for us to come together and produce a result.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid...

WALLACE: Senator Feinstein? Wait, let me...

FEINSTEIN: Let me...

WALLACE: Let me bring Senator...

LOTT: ... are going to have to come up with...

FEINSTEIN: Let me just...

LOTT: ... a different agenda.

FEINSTEIN: Let me just respond to that. I think if you look at the actual record of the time the Democrats have been in power, you will see substantial things have happened.

You will see major ethics legislation that's in the process of being passed. You will see the minimum wage that was passed and into law.

You will see a major energy bill that we just passed out of the Senate this past week that will be going to the House. I think the record is replete with accomplishments.

I think one of the things — Trent's making notes. I think one of the things that is difficult to do is bring that case across to the American people.

WALLACE: Well, let me ask you, because the fact is you can say this, but the American people don't believe it.

There does seem to be tremendous frustration with both parties, which brings us to this issue of Michael Bloomberg, who announced this week that he's leaving the Republican Party and might, might just run for president.

Does that indicate a frustration with the two-party system? And how seriously should we take a Bloomberg candidacy?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, yes, it does. I think people are fed up with partisanship. And I think back here everything drives the bodies into intense partisanship. That's got to stop.

Many of us have tried to stop it. Many of us have tried to work bipartisanly, work across party lines, develop legislation that is bipartisan.

WALLACE: Do you think Bloomberg has a serious chance?

FEINSTEIN: The immigration bill is a bipartisan bill. You've got both sides coming together.

There's a lot that Trent doesn't like in this bill. There's a lot I don't like in the bill. But it fixes a broken system.

Don't smile like that.


Therefore, we're both prepared to say we're going to support it, we're going to work together, and we're going to see that the votes are there.

WALLACE: Senator Lott, she wouldn't answer the question about Michael Bloomberg. Will you?

LOTT: What do you want me to answer?

WALLACE: Does he stand a serious chance?

LOTT: I don't think he'll run. If he does, he'll go the way of that great American, Teddy Roosevelt and the Bull Moose Party and Ross Perot and others. I just don't see that's in the cards.

I want to comment on the energy bill. Now, there's a case where, clearly, we need to do something, and it needs to be broad-based and bipartisan.

Yet the bill we came up with, while it had some good features, and we worked together on some of them like the CAFE or mile standards for automobiles, it's about a one-third bill.

It's not about that — energy should be about more production of everything, not just conservation and alternatives — the whole package, and we...

WALLACE: All right. No, Senator, we've got to take a quick break here. We're going to bring you right back.

And when we come back, we'll also talk about a new controversy involving Vice President Cheney. Stay with us and the battling senators.


WALLACE: And we're back now with Senators Trent Lott and Dianne Feinstein, who have been talking non-stop throughout the entire commercial.

We found out this week that Vice President Cheneyis refusing to comply with an executive order about classified information because he claims that as vice president and also as president of the Senate, he's not just in the executive branch.

Senator Lott, is this the kind of fight the White House needs at this point?

LOTT: Oh, I don't know that they need it, but I'm sure that the vice president and the president are willing to take it on.

Remember, Vice President Dick Cheneyserved in the House, was secretary of defense, and has been in administrations. He's been at the White House.

And he does feel that, you know, there are certain prerogatives the executive branch should have and should protect, and that Congress has over the years gotten out of control, Republican and Democrat, in probing and trying to get information or testimony, sometimes from the White House officials themselves they really don't, you know, deserve under the law.

WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, some Democrats are suggesting to hold up funding for the executive operations budget for the vice president's office until he decides whether or not he's in the executive branch or the legislative branch.

FEINSTEIN: Well, that might not be a bad idea. Let me give you my view of this, and I differ 100 percent with Trent.

In my view, this is the height of arrogance. "I, the vice president, don't have to abide by any law, any act of Congress or any executive order, particularly," and I serve on the intelligence committee and have for a long time, "the laws as it relates to intelligence."

And I find this just amazing. Not only do you have all these signing statements where the president will say, "I will carry out this part of a law passed by Congress...

LOTT: I'd like to say I don't like those statements.

FEINSTEIN: "... but I won't carry out..."

LOTT: I agree with you. I don't like those.

FEINSTEIN: "... that part of a law," more than has ever been done by any president in history.

You now have a vice president saying, on something as controversial as intelligence, where we know prior to the war he made a number of trips to the CIA, a substantial number, saying, "I will not adhere to the rules that are set up by the executive branch over the handling of intelligence."

I think it's the height of arrogance.

LOTT: You know, going back to Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Jackson, there were conflicts between the Congress and the executive branch, and they were ultimately, in many cases, resolved by the third branch of government. Let the courts decide if there's something wrong here.

WALLACE: Do you really think that's unreasonable, Senator, to say that the vice president is part of the executive branch?

LOTT: No, I think he is a part of the executive branch.

WALLACE: Well, he doesn't.

FEINSTEIN: He's saying because he's president of the Senate...


FEINSTEIN: ... which is sort of a super numerary position, although it's in the law — he's using that as a dodge so that he doesn't have to comply.

LOTT: Look. There are certain conversations in the executive branch that they have with their staff and with the executive branch itself which they shouldn't have to, necessarily, turn over to the Congress, which likes to, you know, dig into these things. It's good media.

WALLACE: Well, actually, this isn't to turn over to Congress.

FEINSTEIN: This isn't turning over to the Congress.

WALLACE: This is to turn over to the National Archives.

FEINSTEIN: That's right.

WALLACE: But let's turn to Iraq, if we can...

LOTT: All right.

WALLACE: ... because the next big event is the progress report that General Petraeus is going to deliver to the president and to Congress in September about the status of the war.

And here's what he said on "FOX News Sunday" last week.


WALLACE: But you certainly don't think the job would be done by the surge by September, do you, sir?

MAJ. GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. ARMY: I do not, no. I think that we have a lot of heavy lifting to do.


WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, are you prepared to ignore the general if he comes back in September and says we need more time and renew your legislative request to cut off almost all funding by next March?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'd never ignore anything that General Petraeus would have to say. There are four reports that are going to be due beginning July 15th, four reports that will comment on readiness as well as on the state of the benchmarks.

The Democrats — we will try to add something to the defense authorization bill, probably along the lines of having troops out by April, by the end of April. Whether we'll be successful or not is always difficult to predict, but we intend...

WALLACE: But you're saying that regardless of what...

FEINSTEIN: ... to continue.

WALLACE: ... General Petraeus is...

FEINSTEIN: I would say this. The death rate of our people has tripled between May and the early part of this year. The surge is in place. It looks like still there are not enough people.

We see no signs of the benchmarks being carried out. Ergo, the question comes, "How long should Americans be in the middle of what is essentially a civil war?"

I think September becomes an important month, because in addition to the four reports, you will have the assessment of General Petraeus, which most likely will say the situation is mixed.

Now, is a mixed situation such that the Congress is going to lie down and stay quiet? I don't think so. I hear even from some Republicans, "Well, September is an important month. We may well change. We know that this can't go on forever," in September.

WALLACE: Well, Senator Lott, let me ask you about that, because you and your Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, have both talked about a new strategy in the fall if Petraeus comes in and seems to indicate they're going to need more time for the surge, some months, possibly even into early 2008. Who's going to give?

LOTT: You know, war does not fit a confined description. It is a changing situation. You have to look at what's going on and make decisions at that point of where you want to be in the future.

Look, the Senate confirmed General Petraeus unanimously. We said, "We believe — we trust you," and then he was given an assignment.

The last of the troops, 30,000 that came in for the surge, just got there in the last two weeks. Let's at least give him and our men and women that are fighting a very important war there and, you know, putting their lives on the line every day — let's at least give them a chance, and see how it goes, and get a report as to how things are going come September.

At that point, we can make decisions about how we want to proceed in the future. I do think status quo is not acceptable. I do think the Iraqi government has got to do a better job in running their government, and trying to be more inclusive and deal with problems like oil revenue, obviously, but also the — how they deal with the former Baathists.

So this is an evolutionary thing. But the worst thing we can do is to say...

WALLACE: Senator, let me ask you something.

LOTT: ... on a date certain...

WALLACE: If you are about where you are right now, you haven't seen some tremendous change, and it looks unlikely in the political situation, what do you do in September? You say the status quo is not acceptable.

LOTT: Well, you used the word tremendous. I think it will depend on the circumstances. Let's wait and see what happens.

It does look like they're making some progress in Baghdad. They are sweeping down the Tigris. Violence has probably ticked up in other areas. That's what happens in war.

Even in battles, the circumstances change, and you have to be prepared to change with it.

WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, where do things stand on Attorney General Gonzales and the subpoena of those two former White House officials?

Is Gonzales going anywhere? And what about the subpoenas of Harriet Miers and Sarah Taylor?

FEINSTEIN: Well, clearly, it's a deteriorating situation. You've now had five people on the top level essentially resigning.

I think the Department of Justice has never enjoyed a lower credibility, certainly in the Judiciary Committee of the Senate and, I think, among the American people.

My own view is that the only thing that can change this deterioration is some new leadership. Yes, I believe the subpoenas will be issued. Clearly, the chairman of the committee, Senator Leahy, will try to negotiate a solution with the administration.

But I think the administration ought to understand that what happened with the U.S. attorneys was really sold to us on false premises. It was sold to us on the basis that these were poor performers. It turns out they were excellent performers, but there were other reasons, and the reasons were political.

Do we want a Department of Justice to function on the basis of political decision-making in cases brought to court by powerful United States attorneys, or do we want a Department of Justice that is for the law only? So I think...

WALLACE: Senator, wait, let me bring Senator Lott, because we're running out of time here. We've got about a minute left.

I mean, Senator Feinstein is right. Regardless of what you think about the firing of the U.S. attorneys, a half dozen top officials have left justice since this whole controversy began.

Are you satisfied with the way the department is running?

LOTT: No, not really. But then, you know, I don't — if you talk about the Justice Department being at a low ebb, it has been consistently low ebb with me for, you know, 30-something years. So what's new?

But also, you know, the very idea — U.S. attorneys are going to be removed because, what, I mean, politics? Hey, by the way, how did they get their jobs? Some of them were not enforcing law or not following instructions to pursue matters that needed to be investigated.

This is all about politics. This is about trying to score "gotcha" points, and that's what we're masters at in this city. Who would want to stay at the Justice Department and take the pounding that these good men and women have had to put up with?

WALLACE: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Senate — and let's put the video on the screen. The Senate had Seersucker Suit Week this week with a bunch of you decked out.

Senator Lott — I understand you can't really see it there — that you were wearing pink socks along with your suit. I must tell you, you're a very secure man.

LOTT: It was the first day of summer, and as Dianne and I have noted many times, we need a little more bipartisanship. We need to loosen up and lighten up. And those outfits are certainly lighter.

Right, Dianne?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, they are.

LOTT: And Dianne, by the way, is the one that made sure that the women were involved in this, too.

FEINSTEIN: That's right.

WALLACE: Senator Feinstein, a good fashion statement?

FEINSTEIN: Well, it's exactly as Trent says. It's just an opportunity — everything we do is serious. We never have a chance to laugh at each other. And this was a good opportunity.

And you know, I thought Trent looked great. So we enjoyed it.


WALLACE: Thank you both, Senator Feinstein, Senator Lott. Thanks for coming in today, taking all our questions. Please come back, both of you.

LOTT: Thank you.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Muslims in Greece

The Muslim community in Athens has opened its first official prayer center there and they have plans to open a mosque in the near future. I had to balk at the idea of a government setting aside money (in this case, a cool $20 million) to build a religious house, not to mention the hutzpah of the international human rights reports cited which slammed Greece for its failure to provide a house of prayer for Muslims.

The word of the day is RECIPROCITY. When are these international groups (not to mention the US) going to start demanding religious freedom in Muslim countries for Christians?
Here's an excerpt from the AP story:

But last year, the government promised to spend $20 million for an Athens mosque by 2009. The Education and Religious Affairs Ministry will name a committee to choose the head imam, but says individual communities will be allowed to bring their own imams to the mosque.

International human rights reports, including a 2005 report on religious freedom issued by the U.S. State Department, had criticized Greece for failing to provide an official prayer site for Muslims in Athens.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Savage Onslaught on C-SPAN

The following video is a response by C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb to the opprobrious e-mail attacks C-SPAN has been receiving from members of conservative talk show host Michael Savage's fans, know as "The Savage Nation." The story goes like this: Mr. Savage won a Free Speech award from 'Talkers Magazine.' Savage did not pick up the award in person, instead, he sent a speech on DVD. Apparently, C-SPAN cameras were at the conference and aired parts of it, BUT not the taped Savage speech. Savage was offended and reacted by selling the DVD on his website with this heading: "See the Speech that C-Span Banned!" and "See the Speech Too Hot for Left-Wing C-Span!" He also posted a list of C-SPAN phone numbers and e-mail addresses, including that of Mr. Lamb. Check out Savage's website here

Tons of people used the contact information to insult Lamb and C-SPAN, and apparently not one to back away from a smearing, Lamb has brilliantly used the e-mails to fight back. And what a statement he makes as you will see in the video.

Which leads me to my point: What is happening to the polite, witty, and confident conservative movement? The conservative movement of Edmund Burke, Lord Acton, Russell Kirk, Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, et al.? I do not necessarily mean it is eroding doctrinally, but its form--which I believe is tremendously important--seems to be shifting from a well-informed eloquence to an unprincipled rage.

Now, I have no idea what Mr. Lamb's political platform is, and maybe some of the e-mailers are correct about C-SPAN's hidden agenda, however there is no excuse for the disgusting e-mails that he is receiving. As far as I am concerned, whatever his motivations, Mr. Lamb and C-SPAN have outclassed Mr. Savage and "The Savage Nation." In fact, Lamb and Co. have made them look like absolute baffoons. Hopefully, Mr. Savage and "The Savage Nation" have learned that unprincipled vitriol cannot replace the logic, and oratorical flair of a solid conservative argument.

One caveat: I am not saying that ALL of Mr. Savage's listeners are rude individuals with bad grammar, but I do think it is bad for all conservatives (and particularly Mr. Savage) when this kind of incident occurs because it contributes to the liberal image of conservatives as uneducated hillbillies who should be ignored.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Vatican and Amnesty International

From the BBC: Typically slanted in favor of abortion. Note the last sentence.

Vatican urges end to Amnesty aid

The Vatican has urged all Catholics to stop donating money to Amnesty International, accusing the human rights group of promoting abortion. The Vatican, which regards life as sacred from the moment of conception, said it was an "inevitable consequence" of the group's policy change.

Amnesty said it was not promoting abortion as a universal right.
But the group said that women had a right to choose, particularly in cases of rape or incest.
"No more financing of Amnesty International after the organisation's pro-abortion about-turn," said a statement from the Roman Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The Church's request covers funding from Catholic groups, non-governmental organisations, parishes, schools and individuals.

'Misrepresented account'

The council's president, Cardinal Renato Martino, described abortion as "murder". "And to justify it selectively, in the event of rape, that is to define an innocent child in the belly of its mother as an enemy, as 'something one can destroy'," the cardinal said.

According to Roman Catholic doctrine, life - which begins with conception - must be respected. Amnesty says it does not take any position on whether abortion is right or wrong. But it defended its new position in support of abortion for women when their health is in danger or human rights are violated, especially in cases of rape or incest.

"We are saying broadly that to criminalise women's management of their sexual reproductive right is the wrong answer," Amnesty's deputy Secretary General Kate Gilmore told Reuters news agency.

"The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights," Ms Gilmore said.

Some 45 million unintended pregnancies are terminated around the world every year, the World Health Organisation says.

Nearly 70,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions, it says.


Let's see...45 million vs. 70,000. How about this: If there were no abortions, no one would die.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Embarrassing Blunders of G.W. Bush

Below are two articles describing Bush's ineptitude when it comes to acting like a head of state--Newsflash: Protocol Matters!!! The first discusses his gaffe when Queen Elizabeth visited America a month ago, and because bungling interaction with royalty isn't enough, the second covers his recent gaffe when meeting with the Vicar of Christ.

08/05/2007 13:02 - (SA)

London - British newspapers were scathing on Tuesday about US President George W Bush's blundering welcome for Queen Elizabeth II, labelling him "Dumb Dubya" and saying he has the "gift for the gaffe".

Bush messed up at a ceremonial welcome for the queen at the White House Monday when he spoke of a visit paid by Elizabeth to mark the 200th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence from Britain "in 17 - in 1976".

After the queen looked up at him from beneath her wide-brimmed black hat, he winked at her, before turning to the laughing audience and telling them: "She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child."

Britain's media, which has revelled in reporting previous Bush bloopers, claimed that this was among his worst.

The nation's biggest-selling paper, the right-wing tabloid Sun, accused Bush of making "one of his great verbal blunders" while the centre-right broadsheet The Times headlined its piece: "Oops, he did it again."

"On a morning that should by rights have been frozen in time as a moment of pure pageantry, with military marching bands, pipers trucked out in tricorn hats and powdered wigs, and visiting royalty, one can count on George Bush," the centre-left broadsheet The Guardian said.

"The president yesterday once again demonstrated his gift for the gaffe, injecting an unintended sense of levity into the White House welcome for the queen."

'Her majesty's withering look spoke volumes'

This was not Bush's first slip in front of the monarch, the Guardian added.

"When she visited the White House in 1991 during his father's presidency, he said he was the black sheep of the Bush family.

"He then asked: 'Who's yours?' The queen did not reply," it said.

The right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail asked: "Is he winking at One?" and said that Bush could have tried to recover from his initial blunder in several ways.

"But turning to her and giving her a sly wink is probably not included in any book of royal etiquette," it added.

In an editorial, centre-left tabloid The Daily Mirror dubbed Bush "Dumb Dubya," adding: "Her majesty's withering look spoke volumes, giving the watching public and the president a very clear message.

"Which is more than he ever manages."

09/06/2007 14:10 - (SA)

Vatican City - US President George W Bush drew gasps at the Vatican on Saturday by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" instead of the expected "His Holiness", pool reporters said.

They could clearly hear the US leader say "Yes, sir" when the pope asked him if he was going to meet with officials of the lay Catholic Sant'Egidio community at the US embassy later during his visit.

A handful of pool reporters were on hand as Benedict greeted Bush at the door of his private library ahead of a private audience of about half an hour.

On his way to see the 80-year-old pontiff, the US leader apparently recognised someone he knew, and could be heard greeting the person with a casual "How ya doin'?"

The pool reporters also noted Bush's relaxed posture, crossing his legs "Texan style" while facing the pope across his desk in the private study of the apostolic palace.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Paris Hilton

If you are an English speaker, then you are well aware of the dramatic struggle American socialite Paris Hilton has endured the last few days. She has been incarcerated, put under house arrest, made to serve her full sentence, had that sentence shortened, and finally returned to prison with a judge's order to serve her entire sentence . . . but good behavior may cut away a third of that sentence.


My aim is not to criticize our penal system, complain about our crowded prisons, or even to take a swing at the over-privileged 'socialite' and her misadventures. No. What I would like to comment on is the pathetic fact that I know so much about Ms. Hilton's trials and travails, and the fact that journalists around the world are taking so much interest in this woman's excesses. It has been nearly impossible the last few days to glance at any news source without some mention of the Hilton circus: Article upon article has been written, news anchors spar legal experts about the case all day long, I even overheard an elderly couple discussing Ms. Hilton at a local bagel shop this morning.

Now, I understand that young, scandalous celebrities have always captured the imagination we hoi polloi, but what ever happened to good old-fashioned shame & disapproval? For example, I have been watching the old BBC series "The House of Elliot," which follows the lives of two young women that start their own fashion house. I have enjoyed the series for many reasons but one particular thing from the series applies to this discussion. When the girls in the series sleep around--and because it is the 1920's and they are modern women it happens--their business suffers. Much of their clientele refuses to employ the Elliot's because to do so would be seen by society as an endorsement of that lifestyle. Naturally things work out for the girls but that is beside the point, what I would like to focus on is this idea of societal shame and communal notions of decency--dare I say morality? By the way, for those who are interested more can be learned about "House of Elliot" at the following link: Click Here

Instead of glorifying Ms. Hilton, or taking pleasure in her difficulties, the American public should be embarrassed for her. Reckless individuals who drive drunk endanger innocent people on the road should suffer the legal consequences. However, Ms. Hilton obviously needs help, indeed her pathetic career in the public eye has been one desperate cry for help. Instead of allowing her to run wild her family and close friends should sit her down and help her get her life together. And the public should not endorse her excesses by eagerly devouring everything she produces.

I believe it was Montesquieu who when describing the English noted that they were free by their laws, but bound by their manners. And this is an important point because unfortunately, people in Ms. Hilton's position can afford do what they want for virtually as long as they want. I doubt that the current episode will slow her down much, and I imagine that it will only help her career--but it shouldn't. While the law provides a framework for what we can and cannot do, civilized people should fill in the gaps and provide some constructive shame and chastisement. But it seems that we are all too ready to accept the kind of empty excuses for bad behavior that Christopher Marlowe penned in the following exchange in his 1591 play, "The Jew of Malta":

Friar Barnadine: "Thou hast committed--"
Barabas: "Fornication-- but that was in another country; And besides, the wench is dead."

The public should be fed up with this kind of behavior, Hilton’s TV show should be cancelled, along with all other endorsements, and she should be ignored. This would motivate her to pause and take a look at herself and hopefully she will be able to get her life in order. (On a side note, compare this to the Don Imus scandal a few weeks ago and ponder the American mind. Say “knappy-headed hoes” and lose your radio show & millions of dollars, not to mention being virtually forced to apologize to Al Sharpton; but no major figures are concerned with the right and wrong of Hilton’s activities.)

Hilton is in a position of influence, and her example matters. I think of the young girls around the world who emulate her lifestyle and do not have a multi-million dollar fortune behind to clean up their mistakes. The rest of us can help end the reign of such American icons by refusing to support them and hope they can pull their lives together before they destroy themselves.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

An Ominous Sign for the UK

The Times reports the following story:

"Mohammed Likely to Top British Boys' Names List By Year-End"

Muslims protest in the streets of London

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Iran Selling Arms to the Taliban?

ABC reports in the following link that Iran has been busted shipping arms to the Taliban. This could get very interesting.

Iran Selling Arms to Taliban?