Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fredmania!

This video actually sums up my reaction to Fred Thompson pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, I’d vote for him, but I just don’t see what the excitement is all about.

40% of Atheists Believe in God! - or - Somebody at Newsweek Oughta Be Fired

Question 12 of a recent Newsweek poll found that 27% of “agnostics/atheists” believe that God guided the process of evolution, and 13% of “agnostics/atheists” believe God created humans in their present form within the past 10,000 years. Huh.
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Hat tip:
Hot Air

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quote of the Day

“It seems pretty clear that Clifford believes that the role of a judge is to do pretty much whatever she wants. She should be immune from the other branches of government and even from rulings from other courts. This woman doesn’t want to be a Supreme Court Justice. She wants to be a monarch.”
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Owen Robinson, on State Supreme Court candidate Linda Clifford’s insane assertion that state justices “don’t…need to be in lock step” with higher-ranking courts

Coulter's Clarion Call against Cowardice

This must-read article is precisely why I’m not about to abandon Ann Coulter anytime soon, and why I’m so offended by claims that she has no place in the serious conservative movement.

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

The effort to make Rudy Giuliani appeal to social conservatives seems to result in some truly stupid commentary:
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Social conservatives will probably be drawn to Giuliani in ever greater numbers as the campaign progresses. Many of them will conclude that he is more likely to advance their agenda than nearly anyone else their party could nominate. They will reach this conclusion because it is probably true.
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HUH?!
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A president who fully grasps both the value of human life and the destructive nature of the homosexual "rights" movement isn't necessarily of much use to the social right. Consider the example of the present incumbent.
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George W. Bush has socially conservative opinions but he avoids confrontation with the cultural left the way cats avoid water. Even when he does the right thing he feels compelled to do it in an apologetic, almost cringing way that empowers his enemies and dispirits his supporters.
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He will nominate sound judges (most of the time) but never make the case that
Roe v. Wade needs to be overturned because it is the cornerstone of the left's profoundly destructive jurisprudence of judicial supremacy. He will stand against federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research but never articulate the strong libertarian basis for that stand or attack the callous disdain his political opponents show for the inherent value of human life. He will say as little as humanly possible about the drive for "gay marriage."
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No arguments on the huge social disappointment that is George W. Bush, but Bush’s record indicates that he doesn’t “fully grasp” social issues more so than that a candidate who does “fully grasp” them has some inherent flaw.
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Social conservatives could benefit from the presidency of someone who agrees with them less but fights for them more. This is the crux of Giuliani's appeal to the social right and every other Republican constituency. He is a fighter, and Republicans of all sorts are sick and tired of turning the other cheek and seeking common cause with the enemy both at home and abroad.
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Unlike any current or former president named Bush, Rudy Giuliani has never been afraid to appall the left. He may very well be ideally situated to puncture two of the left's most cherished idiocies and hand social conservatives near total victory in the long-running culture war. The first of those idiocies has to do with abortion the second with "gay rights."
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Being a fighter is useless if it’s not on the battles that need to be fought.
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The "pro-choice" argument has always been incoherent because it depends on the absurd idea that there can be a constitutional right to do wrong. Rational and decent people can believe that abortion should be legal, but only a monster or a moron can maintain that a civilized nation should celebrate abortion as a constitutional right.
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No, the pro-choice argument is incoherent because babies are distinct individuals from their mothers, deserving of their own protection. We actually have the constitutional right to do all sorts of wrongs: ugly speech, leading a life of greed & self-promotion, promiscuous consensual sex…
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Social conservatives don't need a president who will mount a crusade to re-criminalize abortion nationwide. They need a president who can persuade the American people that proclaiming a constitutional right to abort is barbaric. In all the decades since Roe v. Wade no politician has ever made this point clearly and forcefully.
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I seem to recall a politician named
Ron…but I’m sure I’m just remembering something wrong…
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Giuliani could be the first. He could argue that there can't be a right to do wrong more persuasively and with much less political risk than any pro-life true believer. Just as it took a career anti-Communist to normalize relations with China, it may take a politician with no pro-life credentials to terminate Harry Blackmun's reign of error. By fighting for the proposition that Roe v. Wade has distorted our constitutional law long enough, Giuliani could do more to defeat the culture of death than any of his Republican predecessors.
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Rudy in his own words: “I think [Roe v. Wade is] up to the court to decide. I think that it's been precedent for a very, very long time. There are questions about the way it was decided and some of the bases for it. At this point, it's precedent. It's going to be very interesting to see what Chief Justice Roberts and what Justices Scalia and Alito do with it. I think probably they're going to limit it rather than overturn it. In other words, they'll accept some of the limitations that different states have placed on it or the federal government has placed on it.” Now there’s somebody ready to take the fight to the abortionists on Roe! Give me a break.
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The animating idea of the "gay rights" movement is every bit as ridiculous as the case for the right to "choose." The left would have us believe that society has no grounds for its ancient disapproval of homosexuality. If society approves of heterosexual relationships that typically serve to create and sustain families it must also approve of homosexual relationships that typically do not serve that purpose. Those of us who approve of one and not the other are bigots in need of punishment and reeducation.
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Nobody ever makes this argument. When clearly stated it is self-refuting nonsense.
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Nevertheless, the left cheerfully assumes that all disapproval of homosexuality is bigotry. It goes on its merry way agitating for changes in law and society which would suppress every expression of this society's distaste for homosexuality and eliminate every distinction between traditional marriage and other sexual relationships.
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Rudy Giuliani has long been sympathetic with the movement to make society less hostile to homosexuals. This shouldn't trouble social conservatives. I've never met one who burned with hatred for same sex couples and longed to make sodomy a capital crime. The caricatures of the left notwithstanding, there is no substantial conservative constituency which is hostile to homosexual individuals.
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Social conservatives don't need a president fond of quoting Leviticus, 18:22 and fulminating about abominations. They need president who understands that the moral distinction between sex which creates and sustains families and every other sort of sex is a key part of this society's foundation. They need a president who can make the case that society can't always treat homosexuals the same as everyone else because in one important respect they aren't the same as everyone else.
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This is a case that can't effectively be made by a born-again Christian or a Mormon. Too many hearts and minds are barred shut against any discussion of sexual morality which has exposed religious roots. It may take a notorious sinner with vaguely unconventional views and a very secular image to tell America the obvious in a convincing way. If he chooses to lead in this area Giuliani could make himself a hero to the social right without repudiating any statements or actions in his past.
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The fact that Giuliani could win social conservatives by defending the right to disapprove of homosexuality and attacking
Roe v. Wade doesn't mean that he will. If he does, however, his campaign might well prove unstoppable. It will be interesting to see how he chooses to proceed.
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The whole problem with this crap argument is that it speculates Giuliani will do things which there’s zero evidence he’ll actually do. Sorry, but I expect more from a president than “if.”

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Vindication of Mark Green

From the Associated Press:
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A lawsuit over nearly $468,000 in campaign funds Republican Mark Green had wanted to use in his unsuccessful race against Gov. Jim Doyle was settled Friday.
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Under the agreement reached with the state Elections Board, Green is prohibited from using the money for another run for office, but he can tap into it to pay for legal fees and make contributions to other candidates.-The case had been pending before the state Supreme Court.
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Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the Elections Board, said the board and Green had "agreed to disagree about the law" but the settlement allows both sides to move on.
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Green had put the money aside in a separate account while the case was pending. He is now working as an attorney in private practice in Green Bay.
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The Elections Board ordered Green in August to get rid of the $468,000 in donations because the money came from out-of-state political action committees that had not registered in Wisconsin.
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Under the settlement, both sides agreed that Green had complied with previous decisions by the Elections Board on similar issues, current interpretation of the law and instructions provided by the board's staff. The settlement also says the board's actions against Green were based on the panel's interpretation of relevant state laws.
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I suppose it’s nice that Green’s goodwill seems to have the last word, but the damage has been done. He was smeared in the minds of many Wisconsin voters, and how many are going to find out now that he really isn’t a crook?

WI Supreme Court: The Race Is On

Two letters today on the Wisconsin Supreme Court race:
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Experience makes Ziegler best choice
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On April 3, voters have a clear choice when selecting the next Supreme Court Justice.
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Judge Annette Ziegler, who has been on the bench for 10 years, is the only judge running for the Supreme Court.
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Judge Ziegler's opponent, Madison immigration lawyer Linda Clifford, has never been a judge on any level.
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Judge Ziegler is known to be tough on crime and has put hundreds of criminals behind bars for a total of over 1,000 years.
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Judge Ziegler has been endorsed by a majority of Wisconsin's sheriffs and district attorneys. Republicans and Democrats alike are backing her campaign.
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In fact, every single law enforcement group that has endorsed in the Supreme Court race has endorsed Judge Ziegler.
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Judge Ziegler has been endorsed by a majority of her fellow judges. Judges from every part of Wisconsin agree that Judge Ziegler's experience and background make her the right choice for the Supreme Court.
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Judge Ziegler is the clear choice for the Supreme Court. Please join me in voting for Judge Ziegler on Tuesday, April 3.
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Linda Becker
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Clifford stands up for working people
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With the spring election less then two weeks away many people are just becoming aware of the race for the State Supreme Court.
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This race isn't about who is a Republican and who is a Democrat — it's a nonpartisan race. That means we have to look to see who the most qualified candidate is.
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I feel that person is Linda Clifford.
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Linda has 32 years of legal experience and is the only candidate who has ever argued a case in front of the Supreme Court.
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Linda worked her way through college as a union steelworker. During law school she clerked at the Department of Justice. She also served as assistant attorney general and now is a full partner at a Madison law firm.
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Linda will stand up for the rights of consumers and working people. Linda also has consistently stood up to protect the environment and take on polluters. Linda has earned many endorsements, including that of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and former Gov. Lee Dreyfus.
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One of the few areas I can think of where a judge can legitimately “take a stand” for working people is eminent domain. Can we take this to mean Clifford doesn’t want the government taking people’s homes?
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On April 3 I think the choice is easy. Vote for Linda Clifford — working with real people, solving real problems.
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Sue Reich

Tony Snow

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow’s cancer has returned. Say a prayer for him and his family.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Alan Colmes Makes Me Sick

He just said that Iran (you know, the guys who kidnapped a group of British sailors) doesn't want a conflict because their rhetoric is "softening." So lemme get this straight: As long as they talk nice while they're committing flagrant acts of aggression, it counts as a net decrease rather than an escalation?
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Reminds me of the scene in Mars Attacks where the Martians announce "Don't worry; we are your friends!" as they're shooting everything in sight. Except, of course, then the Left presumably knew it was a joke.

Start the Indoctrination Young

Why Mommy Is a Democrat by Jeremy Zilber “depicts the Democratic principles of fairness, tolerance, peace, and concern for the well-being of others” in “plain and nonjudgmental [of course] language.” You know, just in case your kids happen to attend some theocon backwater school where the condom training doesn’t start until, say, sixth grade.
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A highlight? “Democrats make sure we all share our toys, just like Mommy does.” A little too honest for its own good, perhaps?
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I do wonder, though, how one would adapt some of the thornier issues of liberalism for a children’s book:
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Abortion – “Mommy, where’s my little brother that was in your tummy?”
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Wealth redistribution – “But I made the lemonade stand all by myself! Why does he get the money?”
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Affirmative action – “Timmy, you just won’t be able to do as well as your white friends in school.”

Think About It

Kudos to Kate for the Thinking Blogger tag; so what blogs make me think? Too many to list, but here are some of my more frequent visits…
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An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings
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American Thinker (not exactly a blog…)
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The Daily Dish
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The Corner
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Boots & Sabers
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Michelle Malkin
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IMAO
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WuzzaDem
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The People’s Cube
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(Okay, so the last three occasionally make me think, but mostly just laugh)

ONE Rotten Recruiter

Upon seeing the resume of Corey Andrew on CareerBuilder.com, an Army recruiter named Marcia Ramode chose to pick a fight with him via email in which she made pathetic racial & homophobic slurs against him.
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There’s no question that Ramode needs to be fired. But can we please forego the liberal opportunism that followed it, like Andrew Sullivan’s
comment that “It seems as if some in the military have taken Peter Pace’s recent remarks on homosexuality and run with them”? This was one nut, and if she got the homophobia from General Pace, where’d the racism come from?
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But remember: there’s NO LINK WHATSOEVER between the Democrat Party and liberal punks who
slash the tires of Republican vans. Bad apples only reflect poorly upon the whole on the Right.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Remembering the Emancipator in Fond du Lac

Last night the Fond du Lac County Republican Party held its annual Celebration of Lincoln Dinner at the local Holiday Inn, where we enjoyed some great speeches by Judge Annette Ziegler, Attorney General JB Van Hollen, and Owen Robinson, who made at least a couple elected Republicans in the audience squirm with his unapologetic call for authentic conservatism from our party (always a plus!).
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We also remembered that yes, Virginia, Abraham Lincoln was, in fact, a conservative in a series of three speeches delivered by local Republicans, which I’d like to share with you:
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Lincoln on the Constitution (delivered by me)
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Today’s Left claims it should be obvious that our Founding Fathers intended our Constitution to be a living, malleable document. It wasn’t obvious to Abraham Lincoln. In fact, Lincoln explicitly rejected that view. “Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our fathers made it inviolate,” the President said. “The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” He warned his countrymen: “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”
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Lincoln had direct experience with matters of constitutional interpretation; he was known on the national stage when the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision reinforced the notion that black men were property. Taking exception to the Roe v. Wade of his day, Lincoln responded to Chief Justice Roger Taney’s majority opinion on June 26, 1857. “We think the Dred Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court that made it has often overruled its own decisions, and we shall do what we can to have it overrule this.” He rejected Taney’s assertion “that negroes were no part of the people who made, or for whom was made, the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution…in five of the thirteen States—to wit, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina—free negroes were voters, and in proportion to their numbers had the same part in making the Constitution that the white people had.” The future president next took his day’s judicial activists to task: “[In the beginning] our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro universal and eternal, it is assailed and sneered at, and construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.” In Lincoln’s eyes, the Court made a “mere wreck and mangled ruin” of “our once glorious Constitution.”
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Needless to say, he read the document differently. “The assertion that ‘all men are created equal’ was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain and it was placed in the Declaration not for that, but for future use…it was that which gave promise that in due time the weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”
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Like today’s conservatives, Abraham Lincoln boldly stood against those who sought to corrupt the Founding Father’s original intentions. He warned America that “if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having resigned their Government into the hands of the eminent tribunal.” In doing this, he set a standard for his Republican Party to follow. It has with men like Justices Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist; and hopefully will continue into the future.
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Lincoln’s Faith (delivered by Viola Sheppard)
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Scarcely a day goes by without another critique of the “Religious Right.” Today President George W. Bush is accused of making decisions solely because Jesus tells him to, and we are constantly warned that social conservatives threaten the “separation of church & state.” Fortunately, our current president can be reassured that he stands in good company—Abraham Lincoln was every bit as religious, and even more explicit.
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On August 15, 1846, Lincoln clarified his faith for the Illinois Gazette: “That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures…I do not think I could, myself, be brought to support a man for office whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at religion.” It is easy to understand Lincoln’s strength of character when we know how heavily he relied on a higher power. He told biographer Noah Brooks that “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.”
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Lincoln brought God with him to the presidency. As he left Springfield, Illinois for Washington, DC, he told an audience that “Without the assistance of that Divine Being…I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail.” If they lived in the mid-1800s, surely President Bush’s secular foes would cringe at the way Lincoln saw himself and his position “as an instrument of Providence,” who had an “earnest desire to know the will of providence…And if I can learn what it is, I will do it.” Lincoln understood what Jefferson enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, what the Framers before him knew to be true: “Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors.” It was this long-established understanding of freedom, as God’s gift to humanity, which led the President to view slavery as “degeneracy” for which he called upon Americans to “pray for [God’s] mercy…that the inestimable boon of civil & religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored.” It was this faith that drove his Herculean efforts to unite America, to continue on in the midst of war.
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The depth of Lincoln’s faith was expressed in his last words to his wife that fateful night at Ford’s Theatre. Mary Todd Lincoln recalled that her husband “said he wanted to visit the Holy Land and see the places hallowed by the footprints of the Savior. He was saying there was no city he so much desired to see as Jerusalem.” John Wilkes Booth’s bullet struck a moment later, and the First Lady mournfully noted “the soul of the great and good President was carried by the angels to the New Jerusalem above.” In his April 24, 1865 memorial address, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax fittingly noted: “The last act of Congress ever signed by [the President] was one requiring that the motto, in which he sincerely believed, “In God We Trust,” should hereafter be inscribed upon all our national coin.”
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During a time that tried America like no other, our nation was blessed to have such a morally-certain leader. We must thank God for Lincoln’s crucial placement in history, and, in today’s war, take heart in his example. Abraham Lincoln never forgot that our God-given liberty was worthy of our blood, sweat & tears. Neither can we.
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Lincoln’s Conservative Values (delivered by Laura Eckhart)
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It’s no secret that today’s youth aren’t learning history properly, and President Lincoln is one of the many casualties of historical revision. For instance, in a piece titled “What Lincoln Foresaw,” University of California professor Rick Crawford cites a letter the president supposedly sent to Colonel William Elkins, which reads: “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country…” What great evil did Lincoln “predict?” Capitalism. “Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow…These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people.”
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In fact, this letter is a forgery. It surfaced in 1888, and John Nicolay, one of Lincoln’s White House secretaries, actively worked to refute it. The real Abraham Lincoln rejected socialism and class warfare. He told the New York Workingman’s Democratic Republican Association, on March 21, 1864, that “Property…is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise…Let not him who is homeless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.”
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If President Lincoln’s words tell us anything, they tell us that he would certainly have far more in common with the Right than the Left. On March 9, 1832, discussing the importance of education, he said “That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance.” Lincoln’s view stands in stark contrast to today’s universities, which teach resentment, not appreciation, of America’s institutions. Lincoln understood that “the philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next,” so he would be disheartened to see how classroom indoctrination takes advantage of that reality today.
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Lincoln didn’t appreciate moral relativism, either. “Important principles may, and must, be inflexible,” he said. And subjective truth? “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?” he asked. “Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” When combating media bias, conservatives should remember Lincoln’s belief that “If given the truth, [the people] can be depended upon…the great point is to bring them the real facts.” Would the president have approved of today’s litigation culture characterized by Senator John Edwards? Doubtful; in the July 1, 1850 “Notes for a Law Lecture,” he urged: “Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who habitually overhauls the register of deeds in search of defects, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his pocket?...resolve to be honest in all events, and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.”
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On matters of war and peace, there’s little doubt that Lincoln would urge perseverance in today’s War on Terror. President George W. Bush has said that we didn’t ask for this war, but we’ll wage it rather than surrender. Echoing that understanding, President Lincoln said the following in his Inaugural Address: “Both parties depreciated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and one would accept war rather than let it perish.” Lincoln knew he had to keep fighting the Civil War: “I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me…” he told Secretary of State William Seward.
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The conservative values of the Republican Party have a long, proud heritage, and they work. It was principled, common-sense American conservatism that led Abraham Lincoln through national threat and strife, and into the ranks of history’s finest.
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(If anybody’s interested in the research behind these speeches, I used
The Words of Abraham Lincoln, America’s God & Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, and Abraham Lincoln Online.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Negative Campaigning

Months ago, I had intended to send a letter to the Reporter regarding the specter of "negative campaigning," but the emergence of a bigger issue shelved it. Still, I think my initial piece has a message worth pondering, so I figured I'd dig into the ol' archives and post it here:
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Throughout Election 2006, we heard seemingly endless complaints about "negative campaigning." One Reporter reader surmised that the candidates "should all be in great physical condition with all the slinging they have been doing." Another demanded everyone to "please stop!"
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True, a candidate's first duty is to explain his or her vision for Wisconsin and answer where they stand on the issues. Which they did - for instance, Mark Green wanted to cut taxes and Jim Doyle wanted to expand embryonic stem-cell research. It is then up to the voters to determine whose positions are more effective and honest.
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But beyond that, our ideas toward "negative campaigning" are wrong. Obviously, candidates musn't lie about their opponents. But isn't strong moral character the first quality we should demand of our leaders? Of course it is. Whether or not our leaders engage in unethical is a fully relevant question; indeed, a necessary question. Example: If Candidate A takes bribes for policy decisions, Candidate B must bring it to our attention. Such campaigning is necessary, not negative, and our sole criteria for judging such ads should be, "Is it true?"
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I believe our disdain for the ugly side of politics stems, in part, from laziness. We can't be bothered to take the time to get all the facts; we have more "me time" if we just assume they're all corrupt. But it isn't true. Sure, no party is without closet skeletons, and no candidate is perfect, but that's a far cry from saying they're all the same. Often there truly are serious ethical differences, and as American voters it is our duty to root them out. As Benjamin Franklin said, America has "a Republic...if you can keep it."

2008 Resource: Evangelicals for Mitt

Even though I’ve endorsed him, I’ll be the first guy to admit that some of the stances in Mitt Romney’s past have given me pause. I understand that, after six years of Bush, the conservative movement doesn’t want to get burned again. So I’d like to direct your attention to Evangelicals for Mitt. Tonight is the first time I’ve really dug into their site, and I must say I’m pleasantly surprised by how thoroughly they seem to explore the Governor’s conservative credentials. I think this guy’s the best—indeed, the only—shot the conservative movement has (and sorry Kate, but that includes Fred Thompson).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Those Zany Clintons

I know this is a little late, but I would be remiss in my duties as a right-wing blowhard if I didn’t direct your attention to this. Wouldn’t she be a charming president? (Hillary, I mean. Tammy I could see myself supporting someday…)

Oh, the Delicious Irony!


Three, two, one: Awwwwwwww............





Quote of the Day 2

“In dubious honor of Rosie O'Donnell defending mass murdering sociopath Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. She complained, believe it or not, about how we ‘robbed him of his humanity.’ Funny. I thought he did that when his chosen career path was that of ‘Mass-murderer of children and other innocent people.’”

Pop Quiz

Here is Polling Report’s roundup of poll numbers on stem-cell research (scroll down for stem-cell section). What important bit of data is omitted from the majority of the questions?

Quote of the Day

“It took the Catholic Church hundreds of years to develop corrupt practices such as papal indulgences. The global warming religion has barely been around for 20 years, and yet its devotees are allowed to pollute by the simple expedient of paying for papal indulgences called ‘carbon offsets…’

“…But for questioning the ‘science’ behind global warming, [Danish statistician Bjorn] Lomborg [author of
The Skeptical Environmentalist] was brought up on charges of ‘scientific misconduct’ by Denmark's Inquisition Court, called the ‘Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.’ I take it Denmark's Ministry of Truth was booked solid that day.
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“The moment anyone diverges from official church doctrine on global warming, he is threatened with destruction. Heretics would be burnt at the stake if liberals could figure out how to do it in a ‘carbon neutral’ way.”

I Support This Requirement

Big surprise, I know.

How to Manufacture a Controversy

Just let the Miami Herald show you how it’s done.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to Deal with Illegal Immigration

Mark Krikorian has a plan:
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Senators John McCain and Edward Kennedy recently unveiled a major bipartisan immigration proposal backed by a coalition of business, labor, and ethnic organizations. Unfortunately, this plan, like other suggested immigration plans (including President Bush's) is based on a false premise: Since the federal government can't quickly deport the 10-12 million illegal aliens, the only alternative is legalization -- i.e., amnesty.

But there is a third way that rejects this false choice, and it is the only approach that can actually work: Shrink the illegal population through consistent, across-the-board enforcement of the immigration law. By deterring the settlement of new illegals, by increasing deportations to the extent possible, and, most importantly, by increasing the number of illegals already here who give up and deport themselves, the United States can bring about an annual decrease in the illegal-alien population, rather than allowing it to continually increase. The point, in other words, is not merely to curtail illegal immigration, but rather to bring about a steady reduction in the total number of illegal immigrants who are living in the United States. The result would be a shrinking of the illegal population to a manageable nuisance, rather than today's looming crisis.
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Read the rest here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Truth about Rudy

To all the conservatives out there: you NEED to read this. I just got the following in a newsletter from the folks at NewsMax:
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Giuliani-Appointed Judges Lean to the Left

White House hopeful Rudolph Giuliani has been assuring conservatives that as president he would appoint “strict constructionalists” to the federal bench.

“I would want judges who are strict constructionalists because I am,” he told South Carolina Republicans in January. “Those are the kinds of justices I would appoint – Scalia, Alito, and Roberts.”

But some observers are pointing out that in his eight years as New York City mayor, Giuliani’s judicial appointees were for the most part anything but conservative.

A review by The Politico found that of the 75 judges Giuliani appointed to three of New York State’s lower courts, Democrats outnumbered Republicans by more than 8-to-1.

“Rudy’s judges were mostly liberal,” Connie Mackey, vice president of FRC Action, an arm of the conservative Family Research Council, told the Times.

“Any pro-lifer who believes they are going to get the kind of judge out of Rudy Giuliani that we see in either Roberts or Alito is probably going to be disappointed.”

Indeed, Giuliani’s record of appointments won plaudits from Kelli Conlin, head of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the state’s leading abortion-rights group.

However, Giuliani’s judicial appointments won good reviews in New York legal circles for “being what conservatives sometimes say they want: competent lawyers selected with no regard to ‘litmus tests’ on hot-button social issues,” The Politico reports.

New York City’s mayor appoints judges to the criminal court, which hears misdemeanor cases; the family court; and civil court, where they hear claims of less than $25,000.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers told the Times that it would be “nonsense” to cite municipal judges, who deal with misdemeanors and small claims, as indications of how Giuliani might approach appointments to the Supreme Court.

Rudy, They Hardly Know Ya

Republicans believe they are quite familiar with presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, but a surprising number are actually clueless as to his stances on key issues.

When a Newsweek poll asked Republicans to indicate how much they know about the former New York City mayor and his positions, 26 percent said “a lot” and 39 percent said “some.” Only 8 percent said “nothing.”

But the respondents were also asked: “On the issue of abortion, do you know if Giuliani is pro-choice?” The result: 54 percent said they didn’t know, and another 12 percent said he was pro-life; only 34 percent correctly stated that he is pro-choice.

When asked if Giuliani supports an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, 76 percent didn’t know and 8 percent said he supports it; just 16 percent correctly said he opposes it.

And when asked “Is Giuliani in favor of new restrictions on gun ownership,” 73 percent of those polled didn’t know; 10 percent said he opposes it; and 17 percent correctly said he favors new restrictions.

Food for Thought


Peter Kreeft

Ronald Knox once quipped that "the study of comparative religions is the best way to become comparatively religious." The reason, as G. K. Chesterton says, is that, according to most "scholars" of comparative religion, "Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism."

But any Christian who does apologetics must think about comparative religions because the most popular of all objections against the claims of Christianity today comes from this field. The objection is not that Christianity is not true but that it is not the truth; not that it is a false religion but that it is only a religion. The world is a big place, the objector reasons; "different strokes for different folks". How insufferably narrow-minded to claim that Christianity is the one true religion! God just has to be more open-minded than that.

This is the single most common objection to the Faith today, for "today" worships not God but equality. It fears being right where others are wrong more than it fears being wrong. It worships democracy and resents the fact that God is an absolute monarch. It has changed the meaning of the word honor from being respected because you are superior in some way to being accepted because you are not superior in any way but just like us. The one unanswerable insult, the absolutely worst name you can possibly call a person in today's society, is "fanatic", especially "religious fanatic". If you confess at a fashionable cocktail party that you are plotting to overthrow the government, or that you are a PLO terrorist or a KGB spy, or that you molest porcupines or bite bats' heads off, you will soon attract a buzzing, fascinated, sympathetic circle of listeners. But if you confess that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, you will find yourself suddenly alone, with a distinct chill in the air.

Here are twelve of the commonest forms of this objection, the odium of elitism, with answers to each.

1. "All religions are the same, deep down."

That is simply factually untrue. No one ever makes this claim unless he is (1) abysmally ignorant of what the different religions of the world actually teach or (2) intellectually irresponsible in understanding these teachings in the vaguest and woolliest way or (3) morally irresponsible in being indifferent to them. The objector's implicit assumption is that the distinctive teachings of the world's religions are unimportant, that the essential business of religion is not truth but something else: transformation of consciousness or sharing and caring or culture and comfort or something of that sort—not conversion but conversation. Christianity teaches many things no other religion teaches, and some of them directly contradict those others. If Christianity isn't true, why be a Christian?

By Catholic standards, the religions of the world can be ranked by how much truth they teach.

· Catholicism is first, with Orthodoxy equal except for the one issue of papal authority.
· Then comes Protestantism and any "separated brethren" who keep the Christian essentials as found in Scripture.
· Third comes traditional Judaism, which worships the same God but not via Christ.
· Fourth is Islam, greatest of the theistic heresies.
· Fifth, Hinduism, a mystical pantheism;
· Sixth, Buddhism, a pantheism without a theos;
· Seventh, modern Judaism, Unitarianism, Confucianism, Modernism, and secular humanism, none of which have either mysticism or supernatural religion but only ethics;
· Eighth, idolarity; and
· Ninth, Satanism.

To collapse these nine levels is like thinking the earth is flat.

2. "But the essence of religion is the same at any rate: all religions agree at least in being religious.

What is this essence of religion anyway? I challenge anyone to define it broadly enough to include Confucianism, Buddhism, and modern Reform Judaism but narrowly enough to exclude Platonism, atheistic Marxism, and Nazism.

The unproved and unprovable assumption of this second objection is that the essence of religion is a kind of lowest common denominator or common factor. Perhaps the common factor is a weak and watery thing rather than an essential thing. Perhaps it does not exist at all. No one has ever produced it.

3. "But if you compare the Sermon on the Mount, Buddha's Dhammapada, Lao-tzu's Tao-te-ching, Confucius' Analects, the Bhagavad Gita, the Proverbs of Solomon, and the Dialogues of Plato, you willfind it: a real, profound, and strong agreement."

Yes, but this is ethics, not religion. The objector is assuming that the essence of religion is ethics. It is not. Everyone has an ethic, not everyone has a religion. Tell an atheist that ethics equals religion. He will be rightly insulted, for you would be calling him either religious if he is ethical, or unethical because he is nonreligious. Ethics maybe the first step in religion but it is not the last. As C.S. Lewis says, "The road to the Promised Land runs past Mount Sinai."

4. "Speaking of mountains reminds me of my favorite analogy. Many roads lead up the single mountain of religion to God at the top. It is provincial, narrow-minded, and blind to deny the validity of other roads than yours."

The unproved assumption of this very common mountain analogy is that the roads go up, not down; that man makes the roads, not God; that religion is man's search for God, not God's search for man. C. S. Lewis says this sounds like "the mouse's search for the cat".

Christianity is not a system of man's search for God but a story of God's search for man. True religion is not like a cloud of incense wafting up from special spirits into the nostrils of a waiting God, but like a Father's hand thrust downward to rescue the fallen. Throughout the Bible, man-made religion fails. There is no human way up the mountain, only a divine way down. "No man has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known."

If we made the roads, it would indeed be arrogant to claim that any one road is the only valid one, for all human things are equal, at least in all being human, finite, and mixtures of good and bad. If we made the roads, it would be as stupid to absolutize one of them as to absolutize one art form, one political system, or one way of skinning a cat. But if God made the road, we must find out whether he made many or one. If he made only one, then the shoe is on the other foot: it is humility, not arrogance, to accept this one road from God, and it is arrogance, not humility, to insist that our manmade roads are as good as God's God-made one.

But which assumption is true? Even if the pluralistic one is true, not all religions are equal, for then one religion is worse and more arrogant than all others, for it centers on one who claimed, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man can come to the Father but by me."

5. "Still, it fosters religious imperialism to insist that your way is the only way. You're on a power trip."

No, we believe it not because we want to, because we are imperialistic, or because we invented it, but because Christ taught it. It isn't our way, it's his way, that's the only way. We're just being faithful to him and to what he said. The objector's assumption is that we can make religion whatever we want it to be.

6. "If the one-way doctrine comes from Christ, not from you, then he must have been arrogant."

How ironic to think Jesus is arrogant! No sin excited his anger more than the arrogance and bigotry of religious leaders. No man was ever more merciful, meek, loving, and compassionate.

The objector is always assuming the thing to be proved: that Christ is just one among many religious founders, human teachers. But he claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life; if that claim is not true, he is not one among many religious sages but one among many lunatics. If the claim is true, then again he is not one among many religious sages, but the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

7. "Do you want to revive the Inquisition? Don't you value religious tolerance? Do you object to giving other religions equal rights?"

The Inquisition failed to distinguish the heresy from the heretic and tried to eliminate both by force or fire. The objector makes the same mistake in reverse: he refuses to condemn either. The state has no business defining and condemning heresy, of course, but the believer must do it-if not through the Church, then by himself. For to believe x is to condemn non-x as false. If you don't believe non-x is false, then you don't really believe x is true.

8. "I'm surprised at this intolerance. I thought Christianity was the religion of love."

It is. It is also the religion of truth. The objector is separating two divine attributes. We are not. We are "speaking the truth in love".

9. "But all God expects of us is sincerity."

How do you know what God expects of us? Have you listened to God's revelation? Isn't it dangerous to assume without question or doubt that God must do exactly what you would do if you were God? Suppose sincerity were not enough; suppose truth was needed too. Is that unthinkable? In every other area of life we need truth. Is sincerity enough for a surgeon? An explorer? Don't we need accurate road maps of reality?

The objector's implicit assumption here is that there is no objective truth in religion, only subjective sincerity, so that no one can ever be both sincere and wrong; that the spirit does not have objective roads like the body and the mind, which lead to distinct destinations: the body's physical roads lead to different cities and the mind's logical roads lead to different conclusions. True sincerity wants to know the truth.

10. "Are non-Christians all damned then?"

No. Father Feeny was excommunicated by the Catholic Church for teaching that "outside the Church, no salvation" meant outside the visible Church. God does not punish pagans unjustly. He does not punish them for not believing in a Jesus they never heard of, through no fault of their own (invincible ignorance). But God, who is just, punishes them for sinning against the God they do know through nature and conscience (see Rom 1-2). There are no innocent pagans, and there are no innocent Christians either. All have sinned against God and against conscience. All need a Savior. Christ is the Savior.

11. "But surely there's a little good in the worst of us and a little bad in the best of us. There's good and bad everywhere, inside the Church and outside."

True. What follows from that fact? That we need no Savior? That there are many Saviors? That contradictory religions can all be true? That none is true? None of these implied conclusions has the remotest logical connection with the admitted premise.

There is a little good in the worst of us, but there's also a little bad in the best of us; more, there's sin, separation from God, in all of us; and the best of us, the saints, are the first to admit it. The universal sin Saint Paul pinpoints in Romans 1:18 is to suppress the truth. We all sin against the truth we know and refuse it when it condemns us or threatens our self-sufficiency or complacency. We all rationalize. Our duty is plain to us—to be totally honest—and none of us does his duty perfectly. We have no excuse of invincible ignorance.

12. "But isn't God unjust to judge the whole world by Christian standards?"

God judges justly. "All who sinned without [knowing] the [Mosaic] law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law" (Rom 2:12). Even pagans show "that what the law requires is written on their hearts" (Rom 2:15). If we honestly consult our hearts, we will find two truths: that we know what we ought to do and be, and that we fail to do and be that.

Fundamentalists, faithful to the clear one-way teaching of Christ, often conclude from this that pagans, Buddhists, et cetera, cannot be saved. Liberals, who emphasize God's mercy, cannot bring themselves to believe that the mass of men are doomed to hell, and they ignore, deny, nuance, or water down Christ's own claims to uniqueness. The Church has found a third way, implied in the New Testament texts. On the one hand, no one can be saved except through Christ. On the other hand, Christ is not only the incarnate Jewish man but also the eternal, preexistent word of God, "which enlightens every man who comes into the world" (Jn 1:9). So Socrates was able to know Christ as word of God, as eternal Truth; and if the fundamental option of his deepest heart was to reach out to him as Truth, in faith and hope and love, however imperfectly known this Christ was to Socrates, Socrates could have been saved by Christ too. We are not saved by knowledge but by faith. Scripture nowhere says how explicit the intellectual content of faith has to be. But it does clearly say who the one Savior is.

The Second Vatican Council took a position on comparative religions that distinguished Catholicism from both Modernist relativism and Fundamentalist exclusivism. It taught that on the one hand there is much deep wisdom and value in other religions and that the Christian should respect them and learn from them. But, on the other hand, the claims of Christ and his Church can never be lessened, compromised, or relativized. We may add to our religious education by studying other religions but never subtract from it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Quote of the Day

“The believer in God has to account for the existence of unjust suffering; the atheist has to account for the existence of everything else.”
- Rabbi Milton Steinberg (1903-1950)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wikipedia Strikes Again

Fortunately, Sinbad’s not dead.

Unfortunately, lefty nutjobs like Jack Huberman can still
write books in which they consider “Main Source: Wikipedia” sufficient evidence to attack conservatives. Seriously.

(Hat Tip:
Ol’ Broad)

Plame....Val Plame

I guess the Democrats aren’t satisfied with the likely imprisonment of Scooter Libby. Now we apparently have to milk this invented scandal for every bit of political expediency we can.

Valerie “007” Plame, wife of liberal hatchet-man Joe Wilson,
testified before Congress today that she & her husband were victims of a White House smear campaign. Over at National Review’s Corner, they’ve been keeping track of the highlights. In particular, John Podhoretz notes:

“Valerie Plame Wilson has been testifying for an hour, and while it appears on a chart, the name of Richard Armitage — the actual person who actually leaked her identity to Robert Novak (and, a month earlier, to Bob Woodward) — has yet to be spoken. Scooter Libby's name? Ten times.”

“Valerie Plame Wilson complained that Dick Cheney — the elected vice president of the United States — made an "unprecedented number of visits" to the CIA in the run-up to the Iraq war. She's right. It's shocking. Evidently, Cheney actually listened to the CIA.”

“This is what Valerie Plame Wilson just said about her husband's trip: "I did not recommend him, I did not suggest him, I did not have the authority." An officer serving under her was upset to have received an inquiry from the vice president's office about yellowcake from Niger and evidently, while she was comforting that junior officer, some guy walked by her office and suggested her husband should go to Niger to check it out. She said she was ambivalent about the idea because she didn't want to have to put her 2 year-old twins to bed by herself at night. Still, she and the guy who had just happened to walk by then went to her supervisor. Supervisor: Well, when you go home this evening, would you ask your husband to come in. Then her supervisor asked her to write an e-mail about the idea. She did so. That e-mail, she said, was the basis for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence claim that she had been responsible for sending her husband to Niger for the CIA. In other words, she didn't recommend him or suggest him. Rather, it was a guy who walked by.”

Cliff May notes: “My friend the ex-CIA officer reminds me that, in addition to Valerie Plame's new and very creative assertion that sending Joe Wilson to Niger was the idea of a guy who just happened to be strolling by her desk one day, there also is the fact that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that the Wilson was known to the CIA because Plame had recommended him for an earlier mission. See attached excerpt.”
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Impressive, huh?

Most importantly, take a look at this PDF file—it’s the testimony of Victoria Toensing, who, as one of the key players in drafting the final version of the law in question on “outing” “covert agents,” knows this as well as anybody.

No crime was committed. You’d never know it from the media’s ominous headlines. Or the Democrats’ hysteria. Or the White House’s cowardice.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Al-Sadr's Boys: Surrendering?

More good news from Iraq? Let’s pray this report is true:

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The Mahdi Army, a predominantly Shia Muslim force led by Moqter al-Sadr, has terrorized Sunnis into fleeing certain Baghdad neighborhoods and has been linked to Iran. Al-Sadr has disappeared from the Iraqi capital and is widely believed to have holed up in Iran. Al-Sadr’s family and senior officers are believed, by elements of American intelligence in Iraq, to have left with him.With al-Sadr’s paymasters gone many mid-level commanders are unpaid. And so are the fighters under them. (In the Mahdi Army, commanders are responsible for the financial well-being of the men under their command.) Some have resorted to extortion, robbery and violent crimes. They are desperate for money. And they are also being hunted by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers throughout Iraq.

[…]

If these negotiations bear fruit, the Mahdi Army could be well on its way to being dismantled , commander by commander, fighter by fighter.
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Armed & Ready

Recently Michelle Malkin took a stab at the Dems’ “We’re sending troops to die without armor!” talking point, complete with input from the troops. Check it out.

The Party of Values

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I hadn't seen Mrs. Giuliani on the stump with her husband before now (has she done this anywhere else yet?), but, from this performance, I'd have to say the campaign might want to be more careful with how she frames her remarks.

Here, she starts off by saying, "I wanted to tell you all a little bit about how Rudy and I came to be our team together." The problem with this is that we all know their relationship began as an affair, while he was still married — be it in a publicly "distant" (that's how the press likes to put it) marriage. She then goes on to describe some of their early flirtations.

I don't think I was the only one at this point thinking: Ick.

The former Ms. Nathan is, after all, describing the beginning of an affair that would lead to an ugly and painful divorce that still is affecting the former mayor's relationship with his children.
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The GOP should be so proud.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hey Hackbarth! Am I a Bad Conservative?

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Ann Coulter, 3/14/2007
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Democrats have leapt on reports of mold, rats and bureaucratic hurdles at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as further proof of President George Bush's failed war policies.
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To the contrary, the problems at Walter Reed are further proof of the Democrats' failed domestic policies -- to wit, the civil service rules that prevent government employees from ever being fired. (A policy that also may account for Robert Byrd's longevity as a U.S. senator.)
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Thanks to the Democrats, government employees have the world's most complicated set of job protection rules outside of the old East Germany. Oddly enough, this has not led to a dynamic workforce in the nation's capital.
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Noticeably, the problems at Walter Reed are not with the doctors or medical care. The problems are with basic maintenance at the facility.
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Unless U.S. Army generals are supposed to be spraying fungicide on the walls and crawling under beds to set rattraps, the slovenly conditions at Walter Reed are not their fault. The military is nominally in charge of Walter Reed, but -- because of civil service rules put into place by Democrats -- the maintenance crew can't be fired.
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If the general "in charge" can't fire the people not doing their jobs, I don't know why he is being held responsible for them not doing their jobs.
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You will find the exact same problems anyplace market forces have been artificially removed by the government and there is a total absence of incentives, competition, effective oversight, cost controls and so on. It's almost like a cause-and-effect thing.
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The Washington Post could have done the same report on any government facility in the Washington, D.C., area.
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In a typical story from the nation's capital, last year, a 38-year-old woman died at the hospital after her blood pressure dropped and a D.C. ambulance took 90 minutes to pick her up and take her to a hospital that was five minutes away. For 90 minutes, the 911 operator repeatedly assured the woman's sister that the ambulance was on its way.
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You read these stories every few months in Washington.
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New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum also died in Washington last year after being treated to the famed work ethic of the average government employee. Rosenbaum was mugged near his house and hit on the head with a pipe. A neighbor found him lying on the sidewalk and immediately called 911.
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First, the ambulance got lost on the way to Rosenbaum. Then, instead of taking him to the closest emergency room, the ambulance took him to Howard University Hospital, nearly 30 minutes away, because one of the "emergency medical technicians" had personal business in the area.
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Once he finally arrived at the hospital, Rosenbaum was left unattended on a gurney for 90 minutes because the "emergency medical technicians" had completely missed his head injury and listed him as "drunk" and "low priority."
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Months later, the deputy mayor for public safety told The Washington Post that "to the best of his knowledge, no one involved in the incident had been fired."
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No one has any authority over civil service employees in the nation's capital. Bush probably lives in terror of White House janitors. The White House bathroom could be flooding and he'd be told: "I'll get to you when I get to you. Listen, fella, you're fifth on my list. I'm not making any promises, just don't flush for the next week."
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It's especially adorable how Democrats and the media are acting like these are the first rats ever sighted in the Washington, D.C., area. There are rats in the Capitol building. There are rats in The Washington Post building. Bush has seen rats. But let's leave Chuck Hagel out of this for now.
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On "ABC News" last year, a CBS radio reporter described a rat jumping off the camera in the White House press briefing room in the middle of a press conference. (And a shrew sits right in the front!) The Washington Post called the White House press room -- located between the residence and the Oval Office -- "a broken-down, rat-infested fire trap." During David Gregory's stand-up report on MSNBC about the damage done to Republicans by conditions at Walter Reed, rats appeared to be scurrying on the ground behind him.
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Instead of an investigative report on the problems at Walter Reed, how about an investigative report on what happens when the head of janitorial services at Walter Reed is told about the dirt, mold and rats at the facility? If it's before 2:30 in the afternoon and he's still at work and he hasn't taken a "sick day," a "vacation day," a "personal day" or a "mental health day," I predict the answer will be: "I'm on my break."
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The Democrats' response is: We must pass even more stringent rules to ensure that all government employees get every single break so that public-sector unions will continue giving massive campaign donations to the Democrats.
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This was, you will recall, the precise issue that led to a partisan battle over the Homeland Security bill a few years ago: Whether employees at an emergency terrorist response agency could be fired -- as Republicans wanted -- or if they would be subject to civil service rules and unfireable -- as the Democrats wanted.
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HELLO? HOMELAND SECURITY? THERE'S A BOMB IN THE WELL OF THE SENATE!
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Sorry, not my job. Try the Department of Public Works.
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When Republican Saxby Chambliss challenged Democrat Max Cleland in the 2002 Georgia Senate race, he ran an ad attacking Cleland for demanding civil service protections for workers at the Homeland Security Department. Naturally, Republicans were accused of hating veterans for mentioning Cleland's vote on the Homeland Security bill.
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Now that the Democrats are once again pretending to give a damn about the troops by wailing about conditions at Walter Reed, how about some Republican -- maybe Chambliss! -- introduce a bill to remove civil service protections from employees at Walter Reed and all veterans' hospitals? You know, a bill that would actually address the problem.
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And don't worry about the useless, slothful government employees who can only hold jobs from which they cannot be fired. We'll get them jobs at the EPA and Department of Education.
The views expressed on this weblog are strictly my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of any other websites, blogs, campaigns, publications, or organizations where I have been employed and/or my work has been featured, nor do they necessarily reflect the views of any individuals employed by or otherwise affiliated with such groups.