Archive for May, 2008

A very good summary of the housing mess

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Lawrence Lindsey, who has worked in several Republican administrations, has an excellent summary of the housing crisis. He also has some useful predictions and suggestions.

Not exactly a book review

Friday, May 30th, 2008

UPDATE #3: Bob Novak is not impressed by McClellan’s version of events and doesn’t think he wrote the book.

UPDATE #2: Here is more on how the Mclellan book came to be. George Soros’ publisher was the only one interested. Hmmmm.

UPDATE: David Frum has a column about the McClellan book in Canada’s national Post and I think his points are very well taken. Bush valued loyalty above everything else and got a dysfunctional administration. Frum seems to have no higher opinon of Condi Rice than I have.

This isn’t exactly a book review but Bob Dole expresses his opinion of Scott McClellan in an e-mail. I always thought McClellan was a poor Press Secretary and frankly considered him another example of Bush’s misplaced loyalty to Texas friends. One such example got Bush into a lot of trouble when he appointed his unqualified friend, Michael Brown, or “Brownie,” as head of FEMA before hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Now McClellan is selling what little integrity he might have and looking an ingrate.

Why would McClellan do something like this ? Maybe he’s in love.

Plus, of course, he had help.

Why Democrats don’t think there is a war

Friday, May 30th, 2008

John Kerry, 2004 Democrat candidate says on September 11, 201 we were at peace. He might ask the Cole sailors or the African embassy employees or the pilots enforcing the no-fly zone in Iraq.

This is what it is all about.

Protesting too much ?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

David Axelrod has a rather defensive interview on HuffPo today, which concerns Obama’s seeming refusal to go to Iraq again. He also brings up the lobbying issue, which they have bashing McCain with.

“What does all his experience get us?” asked Obama’s strategic guru. “What do all those visits [to Iraq] get us?” He continued: “The fact that he goes to Iraq and gets a tour apparently does little to provoke the kinds of questions that should be asked, and what Sen. Obama has been asking since the beginning. So it is not a question of longevity in government. It is a question of judgment, it is a question of a willingness to challenge policies that have failed. And he seems just dug in.”

Well, it can give you some information. One would think a candidate for president would be interested in information although this candidate seems to prefer watching ESPN on TV. As far as changing policies is concerned, it was McCain who kept telling Bush to change his policies and, when they were changed, things improved. I suspect Obama does not wish to see this as it conflicts with his theme of withdrawal regardless of consequences.

On Iran, Axelrod says:

Axelrod also lambasted McCain for accusing Obama of being naive in his willingness to meet with world leaders both friend and foe. “I guess the question is, if you had a chance to make progress on some of these issues that go to the security of our country and the world, why would you say you would never be willing to? It is an odd thing to say. What Sen. Obama is saying in essence is that we need to use all the tools in our toolbox when we are working and fighting for our security, including for aggressive diplomacy, which has been shunned by the Bush administration to our detriment.”

That, of course, ignores the issue of preconditions and preparation, which the Obama camp has been desperately spinning the past week. I don’t think they are convincing anyone. I have predicted that Obama will be hurt by YouTube and I seem to be correct.

Axelrod has been exposed as a lobbyist in Chicago, which undercuts the theme of McCain and his lobbyist friends. And, of course, the Rezko trial proceeds. We may hear some more about that, too.

Politics and science

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

The first thought when you read this article in the Washington Post is that science education in the US is falling behind. Then you read it.

the expert panel of scientists, and audience members, agreed that the United States is losing stature because of a perceived high-level disdain for science. They cited U.S. officials and others questioning scientific evidence of climate change, the reluctance to federally fund stem cell research, and some U.S. officials casting doubt on evolution as examples that have damaged America’s international standing.

This is all politics. Climate change is leftist-speak for global warming. The politicization of the science of climate is a leftist assault on scientific inquiry. Skeptics find their grant applications denied and their careers threatened. That is a problem created by the political left. Stem cell research is an ethical issue and President Bush is the first US President to agree to fund stem cell research. The fact that he imposed limits on FUNDING, not research, is what has these politicians upset. Thirdly, a small minority of “US Officials” make anything of the doubts about evolution. That is a religious issue and should not be in science classes. The religion of environmentalism is at least as intrusive in schools as schoolchildren are taught economic foolishness about such matters as recycling.

The whole article is about politics, not science.

Here is more about Freeman Dyson whose essay about global warming, I linked to the other day. The man is a giant and his thoughts are worth considering, especially as they agree with mine.

al Qeada and a loss of morale

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has an interview with Lawrence Wright from Friday with more on this subject.

The Democrats are convinced the war in Iraq is either lost or not worth winning. Obama says we are “not safer.” The leaders of al Qeada may not agree with him and there are signs of dissension and even a loss of morale. This essay by Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower and an expert on radical Islam, is well worth the time to read it.

The two principle characters in the essay are Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s second in command, and another radical physician and spiritual guide of radical Islamists who calls himself “Dr Fadl.” His premise was developed in the Afghan war against the Soviets.

In Peshawar, Fadl devoted himself to formalizing the rules of holy war. The jihadis needed a text that would school them in the proper way to fight battles whose real objective was not victory over the Soviets but martyrdom and eternal salvation. “The Essential Guide for Preparation” appeared in 1988, as the Afghan jihad was winding down. It quickly became one of the most important texts in the jihadis’ training.

The “Guide” begins with the premise that jihad is the natural state of Islam. Muslims must always be in conflict with nonbelievers, Fadl asserts, resorting to peace only in moments of abject weakness. Because jihad is, above all, a religious exercise, there are divine rewards to be gained. He who gives money for jihad will be compensated in Heaven, but not as much as the person who acts. The greatest prize goes to the martyr.

Things may have changed.

Last May, a fax arrived at the London office of the Arabic newspaper Asharq Al Awsat from a shadowy figure in the radical Islamist movement who went by many names. Born Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, he was the former leader of the Egyptian terrorist group Al Jihad, and known to those in the underground mainly as Dr. Fadl. Twenty years ago, he wrote two of the most important books in modern Islamist discourse; Al Qaeda used them to indoctrinate recruits and justify killing. Now Fadl was announcing a new book, rejecting Al Qaeda’s violence. “We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that,” Fadl wrote in his fax, which was sent from Tora Prison, in Egypt. Fadl’s fax confirmed rumors that imprisoned leaders of Al Jihad were part of a trend in which former terrorists renounced violence.

His defection posed a terrible threat to the radical Islamists, because he directly challenged their authority. “There is a form of obedience that is greater than the obedience accorded to any leader, namely, obedience to God and His Messenger,” Fadl wrote, claiming that hundreds of Egyptian jihadists from various factions had endorsed his position.

What is going on ? Maybe the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan campaign are winning the war on Islamism. They did not expect the response they got from us. Also, the rejection al Qeada has suffered from the ordinary people in Iraq, who want peace and who are horrified at the tactics of the vicious boys recruited by Islamist leaders in Iraq, may have shaken their confidence. At least the confidence of those who are not complete sociopaths, like Zawahiri.

This may be a trend. His conclusions ?

It is, of course, unlikely that Al Qaeda will voluntarily follow the example of the Islamist Group and Zawahiri’s own organization, Al Jihad, and revise its violent strategy. But it is clear that radical Islam is confronting a rebellion within its ranks, one that Zawahiri and the leaders of Al Qaeda are poorly equipped to respond to. Radical Islam began as a spiritual call to the Muslim world to unify and strengthen itself through holy warfare. For the dreamers who long to institute God’s justice on earth, Fadl’s revisions represent a substantial moral challenge. But for the young nihilists who are joining the Al Qaeda movement for their own reasons—revenge, boredom, or a desire for adventure—the quarrels of the philosophers will have little meaning.

Those of his interlocutors ?

“Dr. Fadl’s revisions and Zawahiri’s response show that the movement is disintegrating,” Karam Zuhdy, the Islamic Group leader, told me one afternoon, in his modest apartment in Alexandria. He is a striking figure, fifty-six years old, with blond hair and black eyebrows. His daughter, who is four, wrapped herself around his leg as an old black-and-white Egyptian movie played silently on a television. Such movies provide a glimpse of a more tolerant and hopeful time, before Egypt took its dark turn into revolution and Islamist violence. I asked Zuhdy how his country might have been different if he and his colleagues had never chosen the bloody path. “It would have been a lot better now,” he admitted. “Our opting for violence encouraged Al Jihad to emerge.” He even suggested that, had the Islamists not murdered Sadat thirty years ago, there would be peace today between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He quoted the Prophet Muhammad: “Only what benefits people stays on the earth.”“It’s very easy to start violence,” Zuhdy said. “Peace is much more difficult.”

Condi Rice is not a good Sec State

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

A year ago, there was some activity about convincing Condaleeza Rice to run for President or VP. You don’t hear much of that lately and this may be why. There has been considerable disappointment in the Bush foreign policy since 2004, with the exception of Iraq. We had hoped for support of Iranian dissident groups and pressure on North Korea, although the only country that matters to NK is China. Nothing has happened.

Stephen Hayes has a lengthy essay on the subject.

Christopher Hill, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the government’s chief negotiator on North Korea’s nuclear program, met privately in Beijing with Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea’s deputy foreign minister. The meeting itself was a major concession. Although Hill’s boss, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, had given him wide latitude for his negotiations she had not authorized a one-on-one meeting. The North Koreans had been pushing for bilateral negotiations with the United States since the beginning of the Bush administration. The president had repeatedly and categorically rejected any direct talks with the North Koreans.

This followed the 2006 test of a nuclear weapon by NK. Christopher Hill has been the subject of a fawning profile this week in the Washington Post.

“If you just let me go to Pyongyang, I’ll get you a deal,” the career Foreign Service officer said, prompting others to roll their eyes and move on.

In the twilight of the Bush presidency, the nuclear agreement that Hill has tirelessly pursued over the past three years has emerged as Bush’s best hope for a lasting foreign policy success. In the process, Hill has become the public face of an extraordinary 180-degree policy shift on North Korea, from confrontation to accommodation.

If the Washington Post says this, you know Hill is in the wrong administration. Maybe he should be advising Obama.

Obama gaffe-of-the-day

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

UPDATE #2: Uh Oh. Great-uncle Charles was in the navy in WWII. How did they get to Buchenwald ? Up the Rhine ?

UPDATE: Somebody liberated Auschwitz, we just don’t know who. I think it’s a Tuzla moment but you won’t hear as much about it as Hillary’s embellishment.

I decided to include a new feature in the blog. Obama is a walking, talking gaffe machine. Here is one of the gaffes from yesterday.

Obama also spoke about his uncle, who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz. He said the family legend is that, upon returning from war, his uncle spent six months in an attic. “Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,”

Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army on January 25, 1945. The US Army was not yet across the Rhine having just fought the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. Maybe Obama’s uncle served in the Red Army.

Now that I think about it ….

Memorial Day

Monday, May 26th, 2008

This is Memorial Day, or, as it was known when I was a child, Decoration Day. It was a day to decorate the graves of those who had died in the wars we have fought. It is not a day to carp about the president’s GI Bill.

McCain and the president support a bill that links benefits to length of service and allows transfer of education benefits to family members, both requested by the military. The Democrat’s bill, sponsored by Senator Jim Webb, who opposes anything Bush wants, would grant educational benefits to service members regardless of their length of service and would not allow transfer to family.

When I went to college on GI Bill benefits, they were based on length of service. The longer you served, the more quarters of GI Bill benefits you got. The Democrats’ bill would discriminate against career military when we have an all-volunteer service. No surprise there. Nor is the New York Times dishonesty a surprise.

Let’s just think about the day and what it means.

This is what it means.

American history, Obama style

Monday, May 26th, 2008

UPDATE: Here is more on ACORN and their agenda, and more on Obama’s association with it. We will learn a lot more about ACORN this fall. If we don’t, we are in serios trouble.

Victor Davis Hanson points out a feature of Obama’s speeches; they are about one narrow view of US history. The American system was not built by protesters and “community organizers.”

When I was a boy, I saw movies about “Young Tom Edison” and Paul Erlich. There was a sense that business was not immoral. The Depression gave new energy to the criticisms of the “Muckrakers” of the early 20th century but movies like “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” showed the world of business to be dull but worthy of a man’s time and energy. Now, we have dishonest movies like “Wall Street”, produced by the weird Oliver Stone and starring the execrable Charlie Sheen, that declares all of American economic life to be corrupt and unworthy.

It is no surprise that we now have a presidential candidate who has the same attitude toward the American economy. His views mesh well with ACORN, the radical group for which he worked as an organizer. This history, by an obscure group but pretty well footnoted, will be the focus of intense interest this fall. This is the most leftist politician since FDR dropped Henry Wallace as Vice-President in 1944. Wallace would run for president against Harry Truman in 1948 with communist party assistance. He’s back as Barack Obama 60 years later.

Arthur Schlessinger’s essay on Henry Wallace in 2000 could have been written about Barack Obama. He called him “a Perplexing and Indomitably Naive Public Servant.”