Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hail to the King, Baby - and the Dark Side

The good news: Elvis lives.
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The bad news:
he’s now in the service of the Empire
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UPDATE: It seems there are more than rock stars amongst the Empire's increasingly, uh, unorthodox recruits...

Tiller the Killer

Bill O’Reilly has been keeping the heat on George Tiller, an especially-heinous Kansas abortionist who’s been performing late-term abortions on minors, and giving vague-to-nonexistent medical justifications & failing to report possible rapes in the process. Now a new website has popped up to raise awareness of this monster.

The Pro-Life Case Against Rudy Giuliani

Hat tip to EFM for Ramesh Ponnuru’s powerful article on “why abortion should doom Giuliani’s campaign." It’s a long one, but I’m posting the whole thing due to the message’s importance:
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In April, a reporter overheard Rudy Giuliani explaining his theory of the campaign: “that the other candidates would divide up the ‘right-wing’ voters, as he called them, leaving him to consolidate the moderates and the economic and military conservatives who aren’t fixated on social issues.” It was a perfectly reasonable analysis. People for whom prohibiting abortion is a top priority are not going to favor the presidential campaign of a man who wants to keep abortion legal and, indeed, to subsidize it. It would be irrational if they did favor it, and it would be irrational for Giuliani to court them.
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Since Giuliani’s campaign began, however, vast quantities of political commentary have been devoted to obscuring these simple truths. Generally this commentary has come from writers who do not themselves care about protecting unborn life but feel qualified to lecture people who do about how they should advance their agenda. While the emphases of the commentators vary, their basic argument is that presidents cannot do much to affect abortion policy except to appoint judges, and that Giuliani is just as conservative as the other candidates on that question.
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This argument has not swayed many of the “right-wing” voters Giuliani mentioned. But they are not, as Giuliani’s boosters often note, the entirety of the Republican electorate. Some Republican primary voters, perhaps a third of them, think that abortion should usually be legal. In the middle are those who might be called the party’s swing voters on abortion: They are pro-life, but not vehemently so, and may pay more attention to issues such as the war on terrorism and taxes than they do to abortion in determining for whom to vote. It is this group that Giuliani is trying hardest to court. But all three groups have reason for concern about Giuliani’s position on abortion.
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NO MODUS VIVENDI
So far, not even pro-life organizations have gone to the barricades against Giuliani. As yet, there is no movement afoot for “Anyone but Rudy.” Perhaps pro-life leaders had the same initial reaction to Giuliani’s campaign that I did. I doubted that Giuliani could win the nomination, not least because of his support for abortion. But I did not want pro-lifers to close the door on him, either. Instead, I thought, pro-lifers should encourage him to meet us halfway. If Giuliani somehow won the nomination, I wanted it to come only after he had sweated blood trying to appeal to us. A painful nomination process would limit the damage that his precedent would set: It would establish that a pro-choicer could win the Republican nomination only if he had exceptional qualities to offset that flaw and reached a modus vivendi with pro-lifers.
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But while thinking the pro-life movement and its allies should give Giuliani a chance, I thought it unlikely that I would be able to vote for him in the primary myself even if he made the right gestures. There was, for one thing, his past support for partial-birth abortion.
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In 2000, Giuliani had briefly run for the Senate. He sought to replace Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a pro-choice Democrat who opposed partial-birth abortion, calling it “too close to infanticide.” The Democrat in the race, Hillary Clinton, disagreed — and so did Giuliani. He said, “I would vote to preserve the option for women.” He had said the year before that he didn’t “see my position on that changing.” He would not change his position even to get the Conservative party to endorse him in the Senate contest.
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This year, Giuliani’s position changed. He said that he now supported a ban because it included an exception for the life of the mother. This explanation made no sense. He had never previously mentioned this concern, and earlier versions of the bill that he opposed had included a life-of-the-mother exception. But Giuliani’s nearly pointless dishonesty was not as troubling as the mere fact that he had once supported partial-birth abortion at all.
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Think, for a moment, about the reasons the pro-life movement had highlighted this issue to begin with. Our society does not, to put it mildly, cultivate in its members a sensibility that recoils viscerally from the intentional destruction of human lives at their earliest stages. The case for protecting those lives does not come easily and naturally to people in this society, unless they happen to belong to sub-societies, almost always religious, that try to form people’s consciences against such destruction. So it is that people of generally sound mind and good will can reach what pro-lifers regard as incorrect conclusions about abortion and related issues.
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But partial-birth abortion was different. Our society is not so far gone that people cannot grasp its horror. Even many people who can see nothing wrong with allowing early-term abortion instinctively knew that partial-birth abortion should not be allowed. For his part, Giuliani could not see that his indifference to the practice meant that he was either far gone in the ideology of “choice” or willing to override his moral intuitions for the sake of apparent political convenience. If a politician had, in 2000, declared that he had found Peter Singer’s arguments for infanticide persuasive, but then later announced that he had changed his mind, we would not have let bygones be bygones. We would have had serious nagging doubts about the man; and so we should, if to a lesser degree, about Giuliani.
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A CLEAR RECORD
As it turned out, Giuliani went no farther in pro-lifers’ direction. In a series of confused and confusing comments, he even declared that he believed state governments should fund abortions for women who cannot pay for them. It may be that his rival Mitt Romney’s attempts to present himself as a convert on a large number of issues, combined with the ferocious reaction to those attempts, caused Giuliani to think it better to stay in place. Pro-lifers, and everyone else, will have to take him as he is.
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Lazy and biased reporters have been calling Giuliani’s position on abortion “centrist.” It has been no such thing. The libertarian columnist Deroy Murdock, a fan of Giuliani’s, thinks that his fellow pro-lifers can take solace in the fact that abortion rates fell when he was mayor. They fell faster than the national average (but more slowly than the state average). But if Giuliani’s policies caused any portion of this decline — and that is a big if — it was an incidental effect. They were certainly not designed to bring the abortion rate down.
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Murdock further points out that Giuliani did not promote abortion when he was mayor. But consider the context. Late-term abortions are easily available in the city, it’s a destination for women elsewhere in the country who are seeking them, and parental notification is not required. The city, moreover, funds abortions for all who cannot afford them. Giuliani showed no discomfort with this state of affairs. Indeed, believing in private charity, Giuliani and his then wife provided a little extra funding of their own to Planned Parenthood. How much more could Giuliani have done to make abortion prevalent in New York? Murdock’s standard — that he didn’t go out of his way to promote abortion in what has rightly been called the country’s “abortion capital” — amounts to giving Giuliani credit for not going around performing abortions himself.
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In a way, Giuliani’s nomination would cause more trouble for the pro-life cause than his election would. The pro-life cause can survive without a pro-life president: It emerged from the Clinton years stronger than it had been at their beginning. But it will find it harder to survive without a pro-life party. And that would be the meaning of his nomination, even if most Republican congressmen and governors remained pro-life, and even if the party platform, left unread and unheeded, continued to offer solidarity to the unborn. America has been a presidential nation, politically, for almost a century now. The parties are, in the public mind, their leaders; and those leaders are their presidential nominees.
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The most specific polls on abortion policy ask respondents whether they think abortion should be banned altogether, banned with exceptions when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or resulted from rape, or allowed. Such polls consistently find that the people who want to ban abortion altogether and the people who want to ban it with rare exceptions add up to a majority of Americans. If Giuliani wins the Republican nomination, that majority will have no representation at the level of presidential politics. We will instead have a contest between a candidate who believes that taxpayers should fund abortion through the federal government and one who believes they should do it through state governments.
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In 1973, the Supreme Court tried to declare an end to the state-by-state debate on abortion by setting abortion policy nationally. The New York Times, the next day, reported on the decision as a “historic resolution” of the abortion controversy. Before that day, supporters of legal abortion had claimed that their policy was necessary for women’s equality, or population control, or the promotion of liberty. On that day, however, they acquired the most powerful arrow in their quiver: the assertion that abortion policy was a settled matter, an assertion that had the strong support of the country’s journalistic, financial, and legal elites. The principal reason that the question has not been closed is that over the last 30 years the Republican party has stood — shakily at times, it is true, but always officially — against this elite consensus.
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The abortion lobby would not be alone in declaring the Republican party to have capitulated to this consensus with Giuliani’s nomination. So would neutral observers; and even some pro-lifers would give up the fight.
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EYEING THE JUDICIARY
But Giuliani’s judicial appointments will make up for all of that, we are told. Giuliani has promised to nominate “strict constructionists” to the federal bench. The phrase drives actual judicial conservatives, such as Justice Antonin Scalia, up the wall; but we know what he is getting at. Or do we? Giuliani says that the judges of his ideal might vote to overturn Roe, or might vote to keep it as a precedent. He is, evidently, pro-choice about his judges. He will not share with us his opinion of what the Court should do, or even whether Roe was correctly decided as an original matter. (He has been perfectly willing to sound off on other constitutional issues.) He does not stand against abortion; he does not even stand for democracy on the issue. Giuliani’s party would no longer be a pro-life party. It would instead be a party committed vaguely to a judicial philosophy that he can’t even quite name.
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Now, in one sense, Giuliani’s views of Roe do not matter. None of our last three Republican presidents, all of them pro-life, has interviewed possible judicial nominees to get them to declare that they would vote to overturn Roe. If they had vetted nominees in that manner, it would have been very hard to get them confirmed.
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But Giuliani’s nomination would change everything. By moving the politics of abortion to the left, his nomination would also — regardless of Giuliani’s intentions now — move the politics of judicial confirmations to the left. If the range of acceptable opinions on abortion policy narrowed, so would the range of acceptable opinions on Roe. A nominee who followed the pattern of Samuel Alito, with a history of hostility to Roe and no extravagant shows of respect for it in his confirmation hearings, would seem more extreme than Alito in fact did. If Giuliani nonetheless sent up such a nominee, would he really fight for him if the Democrats chose Roe as the battle line?
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And once a nominee made it to the bench? We have reason to think that the justices are exquisitely sensitive to political cues. It has been speculated that the three Republican appointees who wrote the plurality opinion rescuing Roe in 1992 thought they were doing their party a favor; and when the current administration signaled to the justices that it did not want them to abandon racial preferences in university admissions, a decisive number of them seemed to follow the advice fairly closely. Under a President Giuliani, we can expect Justice Kennedy’s pro-Roe inclinations to harden. His own nominees might, on the bench, read the political climate the same way. The message of Giuliani’s nomination on the abortion cases would be simple: The elected branches of government are not interested in a reopening of this question.
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But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that President Giuliani did, indeed, nominate stalwart conservatives to the Supreme Court; that he saw them through successful confirmation hearings; and that, with their votes, Roe was finally overturned. Let us assume, that is, that thanks to Giuliani, states would have the freedom to move against abortion. That is the maximalist case for a pro-lifer to have hope in Giuliani. What would happen the next day? If the Democratic Congress sent Giuliani legislation to codify Roe — and thus to take back that freedom from the states — would he really veto it? He has not even promised to veto abortion-funding legislation. If he let it through, pro-lifers would have gained almost nothing.
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And they would have lost on other fronts. Pro-lifers have some business outside the courts, and both they and Republicans generally have deemed that business important. Most Republicans have fought to restrict federal funding on embryo-destructive research, for example, and to keep federal funds from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas. The case that pro-lifers can live with Giuliani assumes that none of these legislative issues matter.
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A NET GAIN
The pro-life position has carried real costs for the Republican party, in terms of lost votes. But those costs have been more than offset by the gains the party has made. For more than two decades, exit polls have shown that people who vote on the basis of abortion are far more likely to be pro-lifers than pro-choicers. (Using that measure, the issue netted George W. Bush 2.4 million votes in 2000.) Without the realignment of American politics based on social issues — a realignment caused by abortion more than any other issue — the Republicans would never have attained the near-parity they have today.
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Now would be a strange moment in our politics for Republicans to abandon the pro-life cause, or even to weaken their commitment to it. The party is in serious trouble these days, for all kinds of reasons — but its pro-life position is not one of them. The public has been moving in a pro-life direction. In this season of Republican discontent, for the first time ever, a few polls show more Americans identifying themselves as pro-life than pro-choice. The 2006 elections went badly for pro-lifers: But pro-lifers, as a group, did better than Republicans, as a group. In the tightest races, the Democrats were far more likely to emphasize their economic liberalism than their social liberalism; and in a few of the tight races the Democrats won by running an out-and-out social conservative.
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Some of Giuliani’s supporters have argued that his candidacy offers the Republican party a chance to “move beyond” the social issues. If Giuliani ever embraced that rationale himself — if his campaign ever became an explicit effort to sideline pro-lifers — then pro-lifers would be crazy not to respond in kind. But that rationale would also make no sense for the party’s future. Campaigning on economic and national-security issues alone, Republicans would almost certainly do worse.
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In 2004, George W. Bush carried 80 percent of voters who chose their candidate based on “moral values,” but lost 80 percent of voters who cited “jobs” and “the economy” as their top issues. The New York Times that year ran a story about voters in swing states such as Ohio and Iowa who were torn between the presidential candidates: They thought their economic interests lay with John Kerry, but their values lined up with Bush. Nominating Giuliani would make such voters’ choices a lot easier. (And that’s leaving aside the possibility of a party split, a convention walkout, or a third-party challenge.)
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If Giuliani lost because he alienated those voters, the damage might outlast 2008. If the Republicans nominated a pro-lifer in 2012, that candidate would have to overcome these voters’ suspicion that the party did not really care about the issues that drew them to it.
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Many Giuliani supporters favor him in spite of his social-issue positions, not because of them. They do not assume that his pro-choice position would make him more electable or a better president. Rather, they assume that his virtues — his competence, his proven leadership ability, his accomplishments as the mayor who saved New York City and bucked up the nation during Sept. 11 — more than make up for that position.
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Perhaps it would work in November 2008. The political danger for Republicans is that they would then be trading a one-time victory for future trouble. The next Republican nominee will, after all, almost certainly not have Giuliani’s distinctive strengths but will have to deal with his impact on the party’s structure. Win or lose, then, Giuliani could damage the brand.
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The most serious case for Giuliani is that the country needs his strong leadership, particularly since we are engaged in a war on terrorism. This case cannot be dismissed out of hand, but it is not a slam-dunk either. We don’t really know how he would handle national-security policy. We can guess that he would have fired underperforming generals in Iraq; but we have no idea whether he would have launched the Iraq War in the first place. Toughness and competence are not a policy; and it is not obvious that Giuliani is more competent, or tougher, than his principal rivals.
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Some of Giuliani’s pro-life opponents are single-issue voters. But all pro-lifers should rank the sanctity of life somewhere above, say, telecom policy in evaluating a candidate. There are other considerations that argue for and against Giuliani. His nomination would, however, set back causes that most Republicans have rightly considered important, and for that very reason could weaken conservatism generally. That is reason enough to reject him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Race for the White House Has Been Put on Fred-Alert

Fred Thompson: it looks like the dream (not my dream, but the dream nonetheless) is getting closer to becoming a reality—more reports are emerging today that he’s raising cash & a campaign team, and he’ll announce his candidacy in July. Not to rain on friends’ parades, but conservatives really should think about the fact that a Fred Thompson presidency wouldn’t exactly be the same as an Arthur Branch presidency. I know my candidate isn’t perfect, and I think it would be premature to be hailing him as another Reagan, but when you put the two side by side, I don’t see any comparison: Mitt Romney is the better man for the job, and easily offers more potential for America’s future.

Is Iraq a Civil War?

Somebody at the Corner (sorry, I don’t recall who) directed my attention to a thoughtful piece by Sergeant David A. Patten of the Third Infantry Division in Baghdad, who explores whether or not the violence in Iraq constitutes a “civil war.” You should take the time to read the rest, but here's his conclusion:
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There is no dispute about the dire situation in Iraq. Insurgents, militias, terrorists, and death squads are killing civilians at an alarming rate. Security forces are unreliable, and the Iraqi government is not meeting the needs of the people. Iraq is in a worse state than U.S. policymakers expected it would be three years ago.
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However, it does not follow that Iraq is in a civil war. While the government is weak, there is no political force presenting it with a serious challenge. Iraq is, indeed, an unstable nation, but there is little danger of regime change, the ultimate purpose of a civil war. The armed groups most likely to participate in an eventual civil war lack both the capacity and the will to enter into such a conflict in earnest at the present time.
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This does not mean that violence will decline; quite the contrary, as the referendum on the future status of the disputed city of Kirkuk nears, violence may increase. Nor does the central government appear able to consolidate power in the short term. Its inability to provide security and basic services will lead local officials, including unelected leaders of religious factions, to assume more power. But, in the long term, the central government will survive and take on a more significant role in keeping Iraq unified. For U.S. and coalition policymakers, assisting Iraq's transition to democracy will require patience, diplomacy, and ingenuity.
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However, unfounded concerns over a civil war erupting could prompt an overreaction from U.S. policymakers. Should they conclude that Iraq is in a civil war—even if they base their determination on political expediency and no clear criteria—the most likely response would be a demand for withdrawal. A premature withdrawal of coalition forces could motivate the Sunni Arab insurgency to unify behind a political program; Sunni Arab civilians would likely lose any remaining confidence in the security forces, and many more would flee their homes. The Jaysh al-Mahdi undeterred would expand its influence and become the government's rival for the people's loyalty. Premature withdrawal could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, creating the conditions for a civil war that do not currently exist.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ann Nails Amnesty

IMPORTING A SLAVE CLASS
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Apparently, my position on immigration is that we must deport all 12 million illegal aliens immediately, inasmuch as this is billed as the only alternative to immediate amnesty. The jejune fact that we "can't deport them all" is supposed to lead ineluctably to the conclusion that we must grant amnesty to illegal aliens — and fast!
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I'm astounded that debate has sunk so low that I need to type the following words, but: No law is ever enforced 100 percent.
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We can't catch all rapists, so why not grant amnesty to rapists? Surely no one wants thousands of rapists living in the shadows! How about discrimination laws? Insider trading laws? Do you expect Bush to round up everyone who goes over the speed limit? Of course we can't do that. We can't even catch all murderers. What we need is "comprehensive murder reform." It's not "amnesty" — we'll ask them to pay a small fine.
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If it's "impossible" to deport illegal aliens, how did we come to have so much specific information about them? I keep hearing they are Catholic, pro-life, hardworking, just dying to become American citizens, and will take jobs other Americans won't. Someone must have talked to them to gather all this information. Let's find that guy — he must know where they are!
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How do we even know there are 12 million of them? Why not 3 million, or 40 million? Maybe we should put the guy who counted them in charge of deporting them.
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If the 12-million figure is an extrapolation based on the number of illegal immigrants in public schools or emergency rooms and well-manicured lawns in Brentwood, then shouldn't we be looking for them at schools and hospitals and well-manicured lawns in Brentwood?
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I believe that the shortage of unskilled, non-English-speaking Mexicans we experienced in the '60s has been remedied by now.
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Since Teddy Kennedy's 1965 Immigration Act, more than half of all legal immigrants have been unskilled, non-English-speaking Mexicans. America takes in roughly 1 million legal immigrants each year. Only about 30,000 of them have Ph.D.s. Why on earth would any rational immigration policy discriminate against immigrants with Ph.D.s in favor of unskilled, non-English-speaking immigrants?
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Say, don't Ph.D.s and other skilled workers have more influence on government policy than unskilled workers? Aren't they more likely to bend a president's ear? Yes, I believe they are! Noticeably, the biggest proponents of the government's policy of importing a huge underclass of unskilled workers are not themselves unskilled workers.
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The great bounty of cheap labor by unskilled immigrants isn't going to hardworking Americans who hang drywall or clean hotel rooms — and who are having trouble getting jobs, now that they're forced to compete with the vast influx of unskilled workers who don't pay taxes.
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The people who make arguments about "jobs Americans won't do" are never in a line of work where unskilled immigrants can compete with them. Liberals love to strike generous, humanitarian poses with other people's lives.
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Something tells me the immigration debate would be different if we were importing millions of politicians or Hollywood agents. You lose your job, while I keep my job at the Endeavor agency, my Senate seat, my professorship, my editorial position or my presidency. (And I get a maid!)
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The only beneficiaries of these famed hardworking immigrants — unlike you lazy Americans — are the wealthy, who want the cheap labor while making the rest of us chip in for the immigrants' schooling, food and health care.
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These great lovers of the downtrodden — the downtrodden trimming their hedges — pretend to believe that their gardeners' children will be graduating from Harvard and curing cancer someday, but (1) they don't believe that; and (2) if it happened, they'd lose their gardeners.
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Not to worry, Marie Antoinettes! According to "Alien Nation" author Peter Brimelow, "There is recent evidence that, even after four generations, fewer than 10 percent of Mexicans have post-high school degrees, as opposed to nearly half of non-Mexican-Americans." So you'll always have the maid. As New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said, our golf fairways would suffer without illegal immigrants: "You and I both play golf; who takes care of the greens and the fairways on your golf course?"
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We fought a civil war to force Democrats to give up on slavery 150 years ago. They've become so desperate for servants that now they're importing an underclass to wash their clothes and pick their vegetables. This vast class of unskilled immigrants is the left's new form of slavery.
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What do they care if their servants are made citizens eligible to vote and collect government benefits? Aren't the fabulously rich happy in Venezuela? Oops, wrong example. Brazil? No, no, let me try again. Mexico! ... Well, no matter. What could go wrong?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Democrat for Survival

As if signs of reemerging sanity in France weren’t unsettling enough, today ex-Senator Bob Kerrey, a committed Democrat, has an editorial in the Wall Street Journal standing for victory in Iraq. Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:
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- “Democracy cannot be imposed with military force." What troubled me about this statement--a commonly heard criticism of U.S. involvement in Iraq--is that those who say such things seem to forget the good U.S. arms have done in imposing democracy on countries like Japan and Germany, or Bosnia more recently.”
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- “As for Saddam, he had refused to comply with numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions outlining specific requirements related to disclosure of his weapons programs. He could have complied with the Security Council resolutions with the greatest of ease. He chose not to because he was stealing and extorting billions of dollars from the U.N. Oil for Food program.”
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- “The critics who bother me the most are those who ordinarily would not be on the side of supporting dictatorships, who are arguing today that only military intervention can prevent the genocide of Darfur, or who argued yesterday for military intervention in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda to ease the sectarian violence that was tearing those places apart.
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“Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.
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“American liberals need to face these truths: The demand for self-government was and remains strong in Iraq despite all our mistakes and the violent efforts of al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias to disrupt it. Al Qaeda in particular has targeted for abduction and murder those who are essential to a functioning democracy: school teachers, aid workers, private contractors working to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, police officers and anyone who cooperates with the Iraqi government. Much of Iraq's middle class has fled the country in fear.
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“With these facts on the scales, what does your conscience tell you to do? If the answer is nothing, that it is not our responsibility or that this is all about oil, then no wonder today we Democrats are not trusted with the reins of power. American lawmakers who are watching public opinion tell them to move away from Iraq as quickly as possible should remember this: Concessions will not work with either al Qaeda or other foreign fighters who will not rest until they have killed or driven into exile the last remaining Iraqi who favors democracy.
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“The key question for Congress is whether or not Iraq has become the primary battleground against the same radical Islamists who declared war on the U.S. in the 1990s and who have carried out a series of terrorist operations including 9/11. The answer is emphatically ‘yes.’
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“This does not mean that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11; he was not. Nor does it mean that the war to overthrow him was justified--though I believe it was. It only means that a unilateral withdrawal from Iraq would hand Osama bin Laden a substantial psychological victory.”
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- “We must not allow terrorist sanctuaries to develop any place on earth. Whether these fighters are finding refuge in Syria, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere, we cannot afford diplomatic or political excuses to prevent us from using military force to eliminate them.”
Hat tip: The Corner

Sarkozy: Good for France, Bad for Leno & Conan

You know there’s something wrong with America's Republican leadership when, at least on one issue, France starts to sound pretty good by comparison:
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Brice Hortefeux heads the Ministry of Immigration and National Identity — newly created by President Nicolas Sarkozy to manage the inflow of immigrants and protect French values and cohesion.
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"We have to put aside massive legalization. It doesn't work and it penalizes, even immigrants," Hortefeux said on Europe 1 radio. Policy, he added, would be guided by "firmness and humanism" with "lots of pragmatism."
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He said he planned to adhere to the policy of deporting illegal immigrants from France. The number of deportees was expected to reach some 25,000 this year, and Hortefeux said he would ensure that figure was reached.
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The conservative Sarkozy, elected president May 6, had reached out to the anti-immigration far-right to capture votes, rankling some of his own allies by creating the new immigration ministry. Critics have said the government should not mix immigration with national identity.
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Just one question: How on Earth do you keep immigration and national identity separate?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Battle-Tested

Mitt Romney’s latest ad, on the not-to-be-underestimated fact that the Governor governed by conservative principles in one of America’s most rabidly-Left states.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Amnesty Again

By now you’ve heard about the immigration “compromise” plan unveiled on Capitol Hill this week.
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Bobby Eberle
gives voice to the Right’s universal (well, near universal) frustration over the announcement. El Rushbo, Mark Taylor, and Rich Lowry’s takes are also well worth checking out.
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My take: I’ve never supported a guest worker program or amnesty, so this is more of the same Bush-Kennedy-McCain drivel. But the President
seems to have found a brand-new way to make things worse: “The Bush administration insisted on a little-noticed change in the bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would enable 12 million undocumented residents to avoid paying back taxes or associated fines to the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.” Soooo………what keeps this from being amnesty, exactly? What is the fair trade-off for the incredible strain we’re inviting on the country’s social structure?
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As Duncan Hunter noted in the debate, the government has built a whopping two miles of border fence to date. Think about that:
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6 years.
2 miles.
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Although, there has been some silver lining this week: it’s not a done deal yet (Hugh Hewitt’s got contact info for a bunch of GOP lawmakers
here), and the whole affair illustrates that on yet another major issue, there’s only one viable conservative choice.
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UPDATE: Kate has given us a heads-up of a lengthy cliff notes version of the legislation.

Duncan Hunter

He’s not impressed with the amnesty bill (Romney-Hunter ’08 sounds pretty darn good…)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Remembering Rev. Jerry Falwell

What Was It About Falwell That's Supposed to be "Little"?
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Michael Medved, 5/17/07
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Secular militants have provided no shortage of intemperate, vicious, mean-spirited reactions to the death of Jerry Falwell but perhaps the most revealing came from Christopher Hitchens (author of a new book attacking religious delusions, “God is Not Great.”)
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Interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN, Hitchens seemed oddly obsessed with repeatedly applying a single—and singularly inappropriate -- adjective to the late Dr, Falwell.
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In the course of the interview, Hitchens decried “the empty life of this ugly little charlatan…” and then asked “who would, even at your network, have invited such a little toad….” Shortly thereafter, he declared, “The whole consideration of this horrible little person is offensive to very, very many of us…” He also concluded that Dr. Falwell even counted as insincere in his religious faith, suggesting, “He woke up every morning, as I say, pinching his chubby little flanks and thinking, I have got away with it again.”
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In what possible sense did Jerry Falwell count as a little man?
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In the most obvious, physical sense Hitchens’ attempt to belittle Falwell might reflect the common envy of a small guy for a larger, stronger specimen. Aside from the late pastor’s obvious girth, he stood well over six feet tall. I’ve shared refreshments with both Falwell and Hitchens, and the Brit’s not bigger in any sense of the word.
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Of course, Hitchens and his apologists might respond that describing Falwell as “little” denotes his ultimate insignificance, his limited intellectual, spiritual dimensions, not his physical size, but even here the dismissive term hardly applies.
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As the driving force behind the emergence of the modern Christian conservative movement in U.S. politics, Falwell changed history – as even his most vitriolic critics concede. “The Moral Majority” which he founded played a crucial role in the Reagan landslide of 1980, and even more conspicuously led the way to the stunning, unpredicted Senate sweep that gave the GOP control of the upper house of Congress for the first time in 26 years. Twelve Republican challengers – most of them outspoken Christian conservatives – seized the seats of twelve highly entrenched Democratic incumbents (including such luminaries and former Presidential candidates as George McGovern, Birch Bayh and Frank Church). Liberals may lament the outcome of that watershed election but it’s impossible to dismiss its importance.
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In other words, this purportedly “little charlatan” Jerry Falwell, managed to bring about a big shift in American politics – thereby qualifying as a major figure in all the battles of the Reagan Presiency and beyond. Everything about the man actually counted as big – big ambitions, big plans, big ideas, big impact. In addition to his well-known role in politics and media, Falwell qualified as a spectacularly successful institution builder. His Thomas Road Baptist Church, which he founded from scratch in 1951, now draws 22,000 members, and booming Liberty University (founded in 1971) educates nearly 8,000 students (more than Dartmouth or Princeton). Emerson once said that “any durable institution is nothing more than the lengthened shadow of one man.” In that context, Falwell counts as a big guy, with a big shadow.
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There is one possible sense in which a major figure might be described as “small” – if even this powerful, influential individual comes across as petty, obsessed with trivialities, nursing grudges and slights.
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Falwell possessed none of these characteristics of smallness, and managed to strike up unlikely friendships even with his political and religious adversaries. Opponents as diverse as Jesse Jackson and Larry Flynt remembered him on his passing as a “friend,” praising his graciousness and geniality while emphatically rejecting his ideology. Falwell engaged in frequent, sometimes furious battles in politics and pop culture but he did so, for the most part, as a proverbial happy warrior. The New York Times wrote in their obituary: “For all the controversy, Mr. Falwell was often an unconvincing villain. His manner was patient and affable. His sermons had little of the white-hot menace of those of his contemporaries like Jimmy Swaggart. He shared podiums with Senator Kennedy, appeared at hostile college campuses and in 1984 spent an event before a crowd full of hecklers in Town Hall in New York, probably not changing many minds but nevertheless expressing good will.”
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The fact that some of Falwell’s critics displayed
so little good will on the occasion of his passing (“Ding Dong, Falwell’s Dead!” exulted a typical headline at CommonDreams.org) reflects their insecurity and bitterness, not their certainty. Religious believers feel no need to sneer and celebrate when a noted atheist leaves this life. If, as the skeptics believe, there’s no fate awaiting any of us beyond a future as worm food, then deeply religious people have no more reason to worry than their irreligious counterparts.
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If, on the other hand, there’s a watchful God who’ll ultimately judge us all by Biblical standards, then the non-believers may face significant reasons for concern. No wonder an angry atheist like Christopher Hitchens reacts with such defensive fury to the very idea that Falwell (and, ultimately, the rest of us) will go on to some form of eternal reward.
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Despite the effort to disregard him as “little,” Falwell qualified in every sense as a large figure-- big hearted and cheerful, secure and sincere in his own faith, with enormous dreams and major impact. He never would have stooped to a cruel, small-minded, petty and pathetic publicity stunt like smearing one of his ideological adversaries on the very day that opponent died.
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So who, then, is the real “little toad,” Mr. Hitchens?

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---
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Other remembrances:
Ann Coulter, Zev Chafes, Armstrong Williams

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Planned Parenthood Outrage

Still think Planned Parenthood is a swell outfit? Look no further. I understand the Justice Department has a lot on its plate, but you’d sure think they could devote more focus to such grievous conduct against minors and to obstruction of justice, both from a group that gets funding from we the people. And of course, that’s just the legally-recognized wrongs they do…

Liberal Leanings as Conservative Credentials?

I know that sounds like an odd proposition, especially coming from a vehement Rudy Giuliani foe like me, but hear me out. During last night’s debate, Mitt Romney was challenged for “flip-flopping” on guns, and asked if reconsidering an issue had ever moved him away from the conservative base. He debunked the former—he did, and still does, favor assault weapon bans—and on the latter said he has come to support the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.
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First things first: while such laws will vary from state to state, there’s
a strong case to be made that Romney is wrong on the general concept of assault weapon bans. Regarding NCLB, the Governor made a fair point about going over the heads of teachers’ unions to place grading standards on school districts (right-wingers take note: this guy slapped teachers' unions), but it’s also true that NCLB was/is a dramatic expansion of the federal government’s power in matters that should be left to the states.
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So why should these imperfections make the Right more comfortable with Romney? Because they speak against the charge that he’s a flip-floppin’ phony whose conservative credentials will wash off in the rain. If he really was a cheap opportunist tailoring his image depending on his political audience, why not go all the way? Gun owners especially are a serious voting force (By the way,
Romney never ran as a liberal).
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So am I advocating that we throw limited government and gun rights overboard? Am I a hypocrite for
accusing Giuliani supporters of doing the same? No.
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First, almost all the candidates—even plenty of the “conservative alternative” types—have a few kinks in their armor. John McCain & Giuliani’s excursions into LeftyLand have been beaten to death, Sam Brownback favors amnesty & is unreliable on Iraq, Mike Huckabee is a big government guy, Jim Gilmore & Tommy Thompson impress nobody, Tom Tancredo’s “disengage but don’t withdrawal” (or something like that) approach to Iraq was incoherent, Newt Gingrich has bought into man-made global warming, Fred Thompson supported campaign-finance reform, and Ron Paul favors national suicide (and that’s just off the top of my head!). To the best of my knowledge, the only candidate who’s solidly conservative on nearly every issue is Duncan Hunter—and let’s face it, he’s not going to be the next President.
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I know that choosing an imperfect conservative—a candidate who will disappoint at least a few members of the coalition—is unavoidable. But my point is this: contrary to what some may tell you, those of us who oppose Giuliani & (to a lesser extent) McCain are not doing so because we’re demanding some mythological representative of conservative perfection (heck, I've even said I'll back McCain if he's the nominee). We understand that our standard-bearer won’t agree with us on every single issue. Rather, we’re looking for the best we can realistically get. Simply put, when you look at the entirety of their records, McCain is to the right of Giuliani, and Romney is to the right of McCain. The reason this position is different than the Rudy crowd’s is that it deliberately seeks out the candidate with the most conservatism and least liberalism. In contrast, it would be awfully difficult to argue that Rudy Giuliani is not the most liberal Republican in the race (aside from Ron Paul, of course—and even though Paul’s terrorism lunacy immediately makes him worse than Rudy, it’s probably true that Paul is, on balance, to Rudy’s right).
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Your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Second GOP Debate

UPDATE: Full video here. UPDATE 2: Is it just me, or was the subject of Iran conspicuously absent last night?
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My random thoughts as I watch:
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It seems Fox News is running a far-less scattered debate than the first one: Down-the-line questions focusing on the distinctions between each candidate.
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Iraq: Tommy completely dodged the question on how he could force the democratically-elected government to adopt his proposals, instead going into his preprogrammed speech; Hunter is an impressive candidate, but his shot at the others' lack of military experience was a low blow; Brownback's "togetherness" angle was lame.
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Good lines: McCain's "I never met a drunken sailor with the imagination of the spenders in Congress," and Huckabee's "spending like John Edwards at a beauty salon."
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"Which programs would you cut?" Tommy: Incoherent.
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Uncle Ron Paul: he'd get us all killed, but I can't really fault his sweeping approach to cutting bureaucracy.
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Tancredo: plenty of the Republicans we hear have themselves moved to expand government. Correct.
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Rudy: "First of all, 'Rudy McRomney' wouldn't be a bad ticket." OK, not a bad line. Still doesn't change the lameness of his (also-preprogrammed) list of talking points.
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McCain: "Bipartisanship...blah blah blah..."
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Romney: Good line about Massachusettes being "so blue you can't tell if it's black."
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I'd have to hear his answer again (got distracted by another blog), but did Tommy try to play both ends of the road on embryonic stem cells?
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Huckabee: "We value one life as we value all," as opposed to Islamofascist "culture of death." Bravo, Governor. Props to Brownback as well, for his answer on rape abortions.
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Mitt didn't really answer the abortion question directly. Come on, you can do better. Mitt on immigration: liked the sentiment, but more specific, please.
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McCain: in rebuttal to Romney, ignored the critique of his legislation & instead played the flip-flop card. Smarmy.
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Giuliani on immigration: does this man even know how to speak in anything other than soundbytes?
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Ron Paul talking up conservatism's non-interventionist history we're supposed to return to. Guess what, Ron? Something happened. It's called world war. And now 9/11 is our fault?
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Credit where credit is due: Rudy blasting Ron Paul for his 9/11 line. Bravo, Mayor. But asking for another 30 seconds seemed just a bit much.
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Romney: great answer about preventing terroism, Gitmo & keeping terrorists from US lawyers, but I'd like to know what he thinks the difference between "enhanced interrogation" and "torture" is.
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Duncan Hunter: Simply "get the information." I agree.
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My reaction to McCain on torture: you think terrorists are gonna be nicer to American captives if we're nicer to jihadis prisoners? What planet are you on?
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Tancredo: If a nuke goes off in America, I'm lookin' for Jack Bauer. Indeed.
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Best performances: Huckabee & Hunter. Mitt comes in third (not as strong as the first time around), and everyone else has generally been kinda "eh," save the highlights I've noted. Having all these guys on together is kind of an interesting contrast, but come on: next time, just have Giuliani, McCain & Romney on. That's the only real choice we have.
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(Oh, and I'm just curious: y'think the commercials are there to give Tommy bathroom breaks?)

Cultures of Corruption

The conservative blog Redstate is taking aim at a potentially-corrupt Republican’s ascension to the House Appropriations Committee:
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A popular conservative blog will step up its efforts this week to force Republican leaders to pull Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) from the powerful Appropriations Committee. In addition, the website will begin a coordinated effort to target members of the GOP Steering Committee in order to save the party from electoral disaster in 2008, the editor in chief of the site said Sunday.
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“This party of ours must be pruned and it must be pruned by those of us who care about it before meeting the butchers sheers in the hands of the voters again in 2008," Erick Erickson, editor in chief of www.redstate.com wrote to The Hill. “If they refuse to hear that change is needed, we will wipe them out and replace them with new blood that recognizes that a corrupt party rejected by the voters will not be embraced again by the voters until the corruption is purged.”
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Question: how many grassroots Democrats can similarly claim to police their own? (To their credit, the
Daily Kos blasted William “The Freezer” Jefferson. However, evidently Harry Reid is off-limits…)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Half-Hour News Hour

A reminder: Fox News Channel's Half-Hour News Hour returns tonight (check local listings). I found the humor in the pilot episodes to be a bit of a mixed bag, but the show's got plenty of potential, and I hope it takes off (and more Limbaugh-Coulter Administration!).

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hey, It's Hayworth!

The gentleman standing next to me in my profile picture is former Congressman JD Hayworth, Republican of Arizona. I’ve been impressed with his cable news appearances over the years, and when I visited DC two summers ago, I was bowled over by the stirring speech he gave. I had high hopes that he might toss his hat into the presidential race (indeed, he’s the only politician who could get me to jump off the SS Romney—if anybody close to Mitt or JD somehow manages to see this, I’m begging you to PLEASE consider Romney-Hayworth ’08!).
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Out of the disastrous ’06 midterms, the loss that hit me the hardest was Hayworth’s, perhaps even more so than Mark Green’s (by the way,
he did not lose because of his immigration stance, as the amnesty crowd claims). So I’ve been trying to find out what he’s been doing post-Capitol Hill.
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Finally, we have
an answer:
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Former U.S. Congressman J.D. Hayworth will return to his old job Thursday as afternoon host on
KFYI Newstalk 550.
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Hayworth, who lost his seat in November to former Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell, will be heard from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the highly coveted afternoon drivetime slot.
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He joins a prominent list of conservatives on the Clear Channel subsidiary including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage.
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"We'll cut through the clutter of political pollution and offer Phoenician's common sense during these uncommon times," said Hayworth in a released statement.

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He’s a natural for the job…but I hope he hasn’t shut the door completely on political office. America needs you, JD.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cultural Crusader

Yesterday, Mitt Romney delivered a powerful speech in front of Massachusetts Citizens for Life:
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It is an honor to receive this award.
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I recognize that it is awarded for where I am on life, not for where I have been.
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I respect the fact that you arrived at this place of principle a long time ago.
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And I appreciate the fact that you are inclined to honor someone who arrived here only a few years ago.
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I am evidence that your work, that your relentless campaign to promote the sanctity of human life, bears fruit.
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I follow a long line of converts — George Herbert Walker Bush, Henry Hyde, Ronald Reagan. Each of them has made meaningful contributions to this cause.
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It is instructive to see the double standard at work here. When a pro-life figure changes to pro-choice, it hardly gets a mention. But when someone becomes pro-life, the pundits go into high dudgeon.
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And so, I am humbled and grateful to be welcomed so warmly and openly tonight.
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And as many of you know, you were always welcome in my office when I was Governor.
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Together we worked arm in arm. And I can promise you this — that will be the case again when I am President.
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I am often asked how I, as a conservative Republican, could have been elected in Massachusetts. I tell them that there were three things that helped account for my improbable victory.
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First, the state was in a fiscal crisis. A meltdown, of sorts. Beacon Hill couldn’t get budgets done on time. Another big tax hike looked like it was on the way. I promised to balance the budget without raising taxes. And, as you know, together with the legislature, that’s what I did. We eliminated a $3 billion shortfall. And by the time I left, my surpluses had replenished the rainy-day fund to over $2 billion.
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Second, we were in a jobs crisis. Massachusetts was losing jobs every month. People were afraid. I went to work to bring jobs back to our state. From the end of the recession, we added 60,000 new jobs. And, we finally got our economic development act together — it was in large measure responsible for the economic growth that we continue to experience even today.
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And third, I think that values also played a role in my campaign success. My opponent said she would sign a bill for gay marriage. I said that I would oppose gay marriage and civil unions. My opponent favored bilingual education. I did not. I said that to be successful in America, our kids need to speak the language of America. And as you will surely recall, my opponent wanted to lower the age of consent for an abortion from 18 to 16 — and I did not.
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And so, social conservatives, many of them Democrats and Independents, joined fiscal conservatives to elect a Republican.
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That being said, I had no inkling that I would find myself in the center of the battlefield on virtually every social issue of our time.
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The first battle came when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, by a one vote majority, found a right to same sex marriage in our constitution. I’m sure that John Adams would be surprised.
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The Court said that traditional marriage as we have known it, “is rooted in persistent prejudices” and “works a deep and scarring hardship … for no rational reason.”
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No rational reason? How about children? Isn’t marriage about the development and nurturing of children? And isn’t a child’s development enhanced by access to both genders, by having both a mother and a father?
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I believe that the Court erred because it focused on adults and adult rights.
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They should have focused on the rights of children. The ideal setting for the raising of a child is a home with a loving mother and father.
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Many of you joined the effort to stop, to block or to slow down this unprecedented Court decision. We took every step we could conceive of, within the law.
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First, we pushed for a stay — denied.
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Then, we fought for an amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman — lost the vote in the legislature by only 2 votes.
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We upheld the 1913 law that prohibited out of state gay couples from marrying here, thus preventing Massachusetts from becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage.
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And in the final analysis, we went to work to secure a vote of the citizens, a battle that took us to court, with a win. And now we are just one step away from putting it on the ballot.
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The issue now is whether a single vote majority of the Court will be allowed to trump the voice of the people in a democracy. If it is, then John Adams would truly be astonished.
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By the way, we all learned that the phrase “slippery slope” describes a very real phenomenon. The implications of the marriage decision quickly went well beyond adult marriage. Efforts were made to change birth certificates by removing “mother” and “father” and replacing them with “parent A” and “parent B.” I said no to that. And parents of a child in 2nd grade were told that their son is required to listen to the reading of a book called the “King and the King,” about a prince who marries a prince. The school’s rationale was since gay marriage was legal, there was nothing wrong with such a policy.
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And then another slide along the slippery slope. The Catholic Church was forced to end its adoption service, which was crucial in helping the state find homes for some of our most difficult to place children. Why? Because the Church favors placements in homes with a mother and a father. Now, even religious freedom was being trumped by the new-found right of gay marriage. I immediately drafted and introduced legislation to grant religious liberty protection, but the legislature would not take it up.
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I have taken this message to Washington, explaining the far-reaching implications of gay marriage and the need to support a federal marriage amendment. I testified before Congress. I wrote to every US Senator. Unfortunately, several senators from my own party voted against the marriage amendment.
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The fight is not over.
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In the midst of that battle, another arose. It involved cloning and embryo farming for purposes of research. I studied the subject in great depth. I have high hopes for stem cell research. But for me, a bright moral line is crossed when we create new life for the sole purpose of experimentation and destruction.
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That’s why I fought to keep cloning and embryo farming illegal.
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It was during this battle on cloning and embryo farming that I began to focus a good deal more of my thinking on abortion.
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When I first ran for office, I considered whether this should be a personal decision or whether it should be a societal and government decision. I concluded that I would support the law as it was in place — effectively, a pro-choice position.
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And I was wrong.
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The Roe v. Wade mentality has so cheapened the value of human life that rational people saw human life as mere research material to be used, then destroyed. The slippery slope could soon lead to racks and racks of living human embryos, Brave New World-like, awaiting termination.
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What some see as a mere clump of cells is actually a human life. Human life has identity. Human life has the capacity to love and be loved. Human life has a profound dignity, undiminished by age or infirmity.
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And so I publicly acknowledged my error, and joined with you to promote the sanctity of human life.
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And my words were matched with my actions. As you know, every time I faced a decision as governor that related to human life, I came down on the side of the sanctity of life.
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I fought to ban cloning.
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I fought to ban embryo farming.
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I fought to define life as beginning at conception rather than at the time of implantation.
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I fought for abstinence education in our schools.
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And I vetoed a so-called emergency contraception bill that gave young girls drugs without prescription, drugs that could be abortive and not just contraceptive.
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That is my record on life as your governor.
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It was fought against long odds. You know, you go up against those same odds every day. I always appreciated the strong support I received from you, the pro-life community, for these actions.
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But not everyone agrees with me. You can’t be a pro-life governor in a pro-choice state without considering that there are heartfelt and thoughtful arguments on both sides of the question. And I certainly believe in treating all people with respect and tolerance. It is our job to persuade our fellow citizens of our position.
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The problem is there are some people who believe that their views must be imposed on everyone. More and more, the vehicle for this imposition is the courts. Slowly but surely, the courts have taken it upon themselves to be the final arbiters of our lives. They forget that the most fundamental right in a democracy is the right to participate in your own governance.
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Make no mistake: abortion and same-sex marriage are not rights to be discovered in the Constitution.
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I think Chief Justice John Roberts put it best at his confirmation hearing, when he described the role of a judge. Chief Justice Roberts said, “Judges and Justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them…and I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.”
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Now that’s the type of Justice that I would appoint to the court.
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On the tenth anniversary of Roe v Wade, Ronald Reagan observed that the Court’s decision had not yet settled the abortion debate. It had become “a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.”
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More than thirty years later, that is still the case. Numerous court decisions have not settled this question, but have further divided the nation. And Roe v. Wade continues to work its destructive logic throughout our society.
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This cannot continue.
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At the heart of American democracy is the principle that the most fundamental decisions should ultimately be decided by the people themselves.
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We are a decent people who have a commitment to the worth and dignity of every person, ingrained in our hearts and etched in our national purpose.
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So these are the challenges that face the next President: strengthening our country and our families, protecting marriage and human life and preserving for our children the true blessings of liberty.
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These are noble purposes, worthy of a great people.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"In the Wake of Choice"

A new documentary about those who regret their abortions.

Stupid White Man Alert!

It seems our buddy Michael Moore, currently working on a schlockumentary about health care, may be in a little hot water over a Cuban trade embargo. Sheesh, can’t a guy shill for socialism in peace anymore?

The Latest on Rudy

Laura Ingraham gets this week’s “Pundit with Principles” award for (not following Hannity’s lead and) actually grilling Giuliani on abortion.
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I’m currently
debating the Mayor’s support for premeditated child homicide at Bloggers4Rudy.
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If Rudy “hates” abortion, he’s got some ‘splainin’ to do:
Remarks to NARAL’s “Champions of Choice” Luncheon, and his spin as to why he donated to Planned Parenthood doesn’t hold water. (hat tip: EFM)
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Bill Donohue
asks a great question: “If helping pregnant women make choices is the supreme issue for Rudy Giuliani, then he should be able to document all the checks he’s written to support Crisis Pregnancy Centers—not just Planned Parenthood. If he can’t, it is logical to conclude that the only real choice he thinks is worthy of his money is the one which results in the death of innocent human beings. And that would make him a fraud.” (hat tip: K-Lo)
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“But he significantly increased adoptions in the Big Apple, right?”
Not so fast.
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Oh and by the way, Rudy’s problems aren’t all abortion-related: meet
Bernie Kerik, the elephant in the room (no pun intended).

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Domestic Terrorism Averted

“There is no terrorist threat,” Michael Moore told us. Well, big guy, what say you about this?
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Six foreign-born Muslims were arrested and accused Tuesday of plotting to attack the Army's Fort Dix and massacre scores of U.S. soldiers — a plot the FBI says was foiled when the men took a video of themselves firing assault weapons to a store to have the footage put onto a DVD. -

The defendants, all men in their 20s from the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East, include a pizza deliveryman suspected of using his job to scout out the military base.
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"Today we dodged a bullet. In fact, when you look at the type of weapons that this group was trying to purchase, we may have dodged a lot of bullets," said FBI agent J.P. Weiss.
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"We had a group that was forming a platoon to take on an army. They identified their target, they did their reconnaissance. They had maps. And they were in the process of buying weapons. Luckily, we were able to stop that."
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Authorities said there was no direct evidence connecting them to any international terror organizations such as Al Qaeda. But several of the men said they were ready to kill and die "in the name of Allah," according to court records.
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Their goal was "to kill as many American soldiers as possible" in attacks with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and guns, prosecutors said.
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Investigators said they infiltrated the group with an informant well over a year ago and bided their time while they secretly recorded the defendants, five of whom lived in Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb about 20 miles from Fort Dix.
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"This is what law enforcement is supposed to do in the post-9/11 era — stay one step ahead of those who are attempting to cause harm to innocent American citizens," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said.
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Weiss saluted the unidentified New Jersey store clerk who noticed the suspicious video as the "unsung hero" of the case. "That's why we're here today — because of the courage and heroism of that individual," the FBI agent said.
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In addition to plotting the attack on Fort Dix, the defendants spoke of attacking a Navy installation in Philadelphia during the annual Army-Navy football game, and conducted surveillance at other military installations in the region, prosecutors said.
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One defendant, Eljvir Duka, was recorded as saying: "In the end, when it comes to defending your religion, when someone is trying attacks your religion, your way of life, then you go jihad."
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[…]
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"It doesn't matter to me whether I get locked up, arrested or get taken away," another defendant, Serdar Tatar, was alleged to have said. "Or I die, it doesn't matter. I'm doing it in the name of Allah."
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The men trained by playing paintball in the woods in New Jersey and taking target practice at a firing range in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, where they had rented a house, authorities said.
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They often watched terror training videos, clips featuring Usama bin Laden, a tape containing the last will and testament of some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and tapes of armed attacks on U.S. military personnel, erupting in laughter when one plotter noted that a Marine's arm was blown off in an ambush, authorities said.
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[…]
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In court documents, prosecutors said the suspects came to the attention of authorities in January 2006 when a Mount Laurel, N.J., shopkeeper alerted the FBI about a "disturbing" video he had been asked to copy onto a DVD.
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The video showed 10 young men in their early 20s "shooting assault weapons at a firing range ... while calling for jihad and shouting in Arabic 'Allah Akbar' (God is great)," the complaint said. The 10 included six of those arrested, authorities said.
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By March 2006, the group had been infiltrated by an informant who developed a relationship with Shnewer, and the informant secretly recorded meetings last August, according to court documents.
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One of the suspects, Tatar, worked at his father's pizzeria and made deliveries to the base, using that opportunity to scout out Fort Dix for an attack, authorities said.
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"Clearly, one of the guys had an intimate knowledge of the base from having been there delivering pizzas," Christie said.
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The men also allegedly conducted surveillance at other area military installations, including Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and a Philadelphia Coast Guard station.
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[…]
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"If these people did something, then they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer who represented scores of detainees after the 2001 attacks. "But when the government says 'Islamic militants,' it sends a message to the public that Islam and militancy are synonymous."
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Some thoughts:
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1.) Thank God a desire to avoid “Islamophobia” cries didn’t prevent that shopkeeper from sounding the alarm! I can hear the PC-ers now: “Is it a crime for Muslims to play paintball? You racist!” If he had played by CAIR’s rules, the Fort Dix bloodbath would’ve had a far greater likelihood of success. It needs to be hammered home that liberal “sensitivity” is going to get people killed.
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(Yes, I heard about the other shootings reported today. I remember Virginia Tech. There’s plenty of violence that’s not Islam-related, and obviously we have to be ever vigilant about suspicious activity in general. But the point is that we cannot let our desire to be inoffensive smother our survival instinct, and blind us to factors like religion that, yes Virginia, are relevant.)
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2.) What if these idiots didn’t record anything in the first place, or weren’t so careless with their words at the shooting range? It’s scary to think this might not have been preventable, and even scarier to consider how sophisticated their planning was, even without al-Qaeda training (if there wasn’t…). Another reason why we have to confront not just terrorist groups, but the ideology of jihad head-on.
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3.) A couple of these guys were reportedly in the US illegally—a dire problem on which both parties are MIA.
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In the Corner Mark Krikorian has more concerns, while Cliff May sees a hopeful sign. Go read ‘em both.
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.