Monday, June 30, 2008

Has it really only just begun?

Did you catch this? A few months ago, the Florida legislature passed a resolution apologizing to its African-American citizens for allowing slavery there all those years ago (before the Civil War ended it).

I gather the state government of Florida has never formally made an apology for its legacy of involuntary servitude, so there's certainly nothing wrong with this resolution. But there was also this, from one African-American Florida lawmaker:

"Several black lawmakers, especially Senator Anthony C. Hill Sr., Democrat of Jacksonville, have been pushing for a public apology since last year. ..The Florida resolution expressed “profound regret” for the state’s role “in sanctioning and perpetuating involuntary servitude upon generations of African slaves.” It did not use the word apology, but Mr. Hill said the statement’s intent was clear. “At the end of the day we said three words: ‘I am sorry,’ ” he said. “I think now we can begin the healing process of reconciliation.”

Goodness. So we can now only "begin" that process? Florida has long accepted the end of the war; it has accepted the 13th amendment, constitutionally banning slavery; it enforces the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And as the article pointed out:

"Florida has made other efforts to address the consequences of institutional racism; in 1994, the state allocated $2.1 million to surviving victims of the Rosewood massacre, the 1923 attack on a black town in North Florida."

Hasn't Florida, along with the rest of the country, done more than just "begin" the process of reconciliation??? Must this type of "conversation" go on forever? Just asking.

Why conservatives worry about John McCain dept

So both John McCain and Barack Obama spoke over the weekend before a pro-immigration group of elected Latino officials. Here was a perfect opportunity for McCain to rally the conservative Republican base, clearly distinguish himself from Barack Obama, and state clearly just how he will crack down on illegal immigration.

Sure looks like he failed:

"Since McCain and Obama have identical views on immigration, I used to think that the issue wouldn't come up much in the general election campaign, just like in 2000 and 2004. But after their respective speeches to NALEO this week (see the Post has a roundup piece) and watching Emanuel and Pawlenty trading barbs this morning on "This Week," I see that I was wrong. It looks like Obama will be bringing the issue up repeatedly, accusing McCain of being insufficiently committed to amnesty, and McCain will take the bait and pledge in increasingly strident terms his commitment to legalizing all the illegal aliens. It's a win-win for Obama: he shows his solidarity with skeptical Hispanic Democrats by pointing to McCain's modified limited hangout on immigration after the collapse of last summer's bill, and McCain continues to inflame his ostensible supporters by constantly reminding them that he's Amnesty John."

Read the Washington Post article linked in the piece above, too.

At the sports desk: Detroit Tigers pass the .500 mark (finally)

Us Michigan natives who are Tigers fans are relieved today (a bit.)
The Detroit Tigers, picked this year to be a World Series contender, but who were horrible early (12 games under .500 at one point) beat the Colorado Rockies yesterday to go over .500 with 41 wins, 40 losses.

But don't be satisfied, Tiger fans. This team badly underachieved early. They should never have put themselves in the position they eventually were in. They still have a long ways to go.

But at least they didn't quit. And they still have a chance.
They should watch Red Wings tapes to learn what a champion does.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Imagine... Peggy Noonan does this week:

"The big political headline this week, of course, involves John McCain's endless and humiliating attempts to placate Mitt Romney by bowing to demands he hire his operatives and pay his campaign debt. So far all he's got is a grudging one-sentence endorsement from that rampaging rage-aholic Ann Romney...Oh wait, got confused, that's Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton."

If McCain and Romney were engaged in this kind of dance, the mainstream media would be slamming them like there's no tomorrow.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd): Bill Clinton section

The London Telegraph says Bill isn't exactly rushing to support Obama:

"Bill Clinton is so bitter about Barack Obama's victory over his wife Hillary that he has told friends the Democratic nominee will have to beg for his wholehearted support. Hillary Clinton has put on a united front with Barack Obama.
Mr Obama is expected to speak to Mr Clinton for the first time since he won the nomination in the next few days, but campaign insiders say that the former president's future campaign role is a "sticking point" in peace talks with Mrs Clinton's aides. The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence. A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support."

Bill Clinton--the last angry man.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why conservatives worry about John McCain dept

Peggy Noonan in her most recent column thinks up another reason.
One I hadn't thought of:

"And there is another problem that is bigger than all of that, and he is going to have to think himself through it. And that is that there is a sense about his campaign that . . . John McCain has already got what he wanted, he got what he needed, which was to be top dog in the Republican Party, the party that had abused him in 2000 and cast him aside. They all bow to him now, and he doesn't need anything else. He doesn't need the presidency. He got what he wanted. So now he can coast. This is, in the deepest way, unserious. JFK had to have the presidency—he wanted that thing. Nixon had to have it too, and Reagan had to have it to institute his new way. Clinton had to have it—it was his destiny, the thing he'd wanted since he was a teenager."

She's right. You have to want it--to have that "fire in the belly", as numerous candidates and strategists have called it. Another good example of one who had "it" was Abraham Lincoln. He was a very humble and modest man. But I remember reading how in 1860, when he found out that there were those who thought he had a real shot at the Republican presidential nomination, Lincoln threw his hat in the ring. "The taste is in my mouth a bit," he told a friend; and he went after that nomination, and got it.

We'll know eventually whether the taste is and was truly in John McCain's mouth.

The ignorance of Arianna Huffington

She's everywhere--on TV, on the web with her Huffington Post, and has published a new book.
The NY Times reviews it, and wants to be positive--but finds that, well, it just can't be:

"McCain has been “hijacked” by the right-wingers! He’s become their puppet, she suggests, mouthing their brutish line on torture, religion and immigration. “McCain is the Trojan horse the right desperately needed to put a faux maverick, faux independent, faux straight-talker imprint on the same ruinous policies that have taken us down this dark road,” she writes, presenting him as some sort of Manchurian candidate. Does she really think the right wing is this cunning, or is she advancing this theory because she’s become too invested in the right’s power to play it straight? I assume the latter."

Wow. She thinks John McCain is a tool of the right wing? See, this is yet more evidence of something I've seen proven over and over again--many of those pundits who endlessly criticize the Right simply don't read those who are part of it. How could anyone have actually read National Review and the many conservative bloggers out there (including me) who have roundly criticized McCain, and come away with the idea that he's a conservative favorite???

Answer: one couldn't have. Writers like Huffington blast conservatives--but have no clue what conservatives actually write and believe. Keep that in mind when you read what James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal aptly labels the "Puffington Host."

Global warming: it's complicated

As Rich Lowry reminded us yesterday:

"...there's China. It has passed the U.S. as the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide, and it accounted for two-thirds of the increase in the world's emissions in 2007. Global action against global warming makes little sense without China taking part, and it won't. If we can't get China to quit jailing dissidents and arming a genocidal Sudan, what hope is there of getting it to stop something -- rapid economic development -- that's otherwise unobjectionable? With hundreds of millions of Chinese people living in abject poverty, the country's economic growth is one of the world's most important initiatives against human misery."

And yet many in the environmentalist movement single out the United States for criticism when it comes to global warming. Such foolishness.

Barack and Hillary's "unity"

Did you see all the stories yesterday and today about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's "unity" rally in Unity, New Hampshire? (yeah, real subtle, weren't they?)
But there was a political reporter covering that event who actually gets it:

"The perfect political photo op — and this was a pretty darn good one —isn't aimed at the rational faculties of an informed electorate. It seeks whatever section of the brain it is that triggers a tummy rumble at the sight of a moist doughnut. It's about instinct, not reason. But there's more here than meets the eye, so we'll keep going. Start with the simple fact that a truly unified political party doesn't need a unity rally. It's a long, slow bus ride down a winding two-lane road, over hills, through pines and pastures, to reach this remote New England village. The fuel that drives the bus is worry, and the worry stems from division."

As I said here a while ago: political parties who are truly unified don't need to parade around and shout about how "unified" they are.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What is judicial activism?

No, it's not the answer to a Jeopardy question. Rather, when liberals ask you that question, when they try to pin down conservatives on what we mean when we condemn judicial activism, refer them back to the case the other day in which Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was the deciding vote in holding that the death penalty for rape is "cruel and unusual punishment."

Mona Charen on NRO explains further:

"Explaining why the statute violated the constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual” punishment, Justice Kennedy declared that, “Evolving standards of decency must embrace and express respect for the dignity of the person, and the punishment of criminals must conform to that rule.” Will someone please ask Justice Kennedy and his liberal fellows this question: If it’s all a matter of “evolving standards,” then why pretend to abide by a written document at all? And whose evolving standards?"

Read the whole thing.

The sad Zimbabwean opposition leader

What will he do on election day, coming up today in Zimbabwe?

"I'll do nothing," Tsvangirai, who is boycotting the election despite outpolling Mugabe in the first round in March, said in a telephone interview from the embassy that has been his home since Sunday. "I'll come out for sunshine, nothing more."

Hmmm. So let's think outside the box a bit here. The natural tendency is to have sympathy for he and his movement. But are we perhaps being too uncritical? Was Tsvangirai's only option to quit? Yes, his followers faced violence if he had stayed in the race through the election. Yes, it's difficult to put one's life on the line, plus those of your supporters.

But what will they face if Mugabe wins? More of the same. What will Tsvangirai's country face if and when Mugabe "wins" this election? More plunder, more corruption, more violence. More deaths.

Tsvangirai's attempt to punt this problem away was no solution at all. Sometimes democracy and an end to dictatorship must be fought for, and violence must be faced.

Material girl wants matrimonial split, but...

The big news for many folks in showbiz today is that Madonna and Guy Ritchie may be divorcing.

And a lot of folks stop right there. But I think an even more interesting part of the story is this--look at the lawyer Madonna apparently hired:

"Madonna has hired Fiona "Steel Magnolia" Shackleton who handled Paul McCartney's split from Heather Mills."

Yep, and how well did that work out for Sir Paul?
Heather Mills walked away with millions, once the lawyers were done.
Wonder why Madonna doesn't seek representation with a better recent track record.

Good news from the world of showbiz

"Steve Carell has re-upped his contract on “The Office.” We’ll have the awkwardness that is Michael Scott for another three years, according to show creator Ricky Gervais’ blog."

Excellent. "The Office", on Thursday nights on NBC, is a very funny show.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The rise of Obama-cons?

Robert Novak points to their rise in a recent column--check it out.

So as best I can tell it, these are conservatives, more or less, who will either tacitly, or openly, support Barack Obama. Why? Because they deny that Obama is more or less a liberal, and/or support liberal policies?

No. Rather, they just don't like the makeup and leadership of today's Republican Party, and see an Obama victory as leading to a huge bloodletting in the GOP and a change in the party.

Really! Some great thinking there. Elect someone with whose policies you are in disagreement.
Then maybe--but only maybe--your own party will change. Meanwhile, what will the guy you elected do in office???

Fundamental: if you don't like your party, work within it to change it.
Don't work to elect people whom you know have bad ideas.
Has no Obamacon thought this through??? Wow.
More on this to come in the days ahead.
(And yes--conservatives who distrust McCain are indeed a different thing. Having doubts about McCain is a different animal than openly plumping for Obama.)

Interesting coincidence

Remember when, a few days ago, I highlighted here what conservative author and political strategist Cliff May wrote about conservatives and energy policy? May wrote, for example:

"Logic and morality — even more than self-interest — should prompt us to pursue energy abundance and diversity, to use fast-advancing technology to derive power not just from petroleum products but also from the wind and sun, clean coal, and nuclear reactors."

And here's what John McCain said yesterday:

"The experience of nations across Europe and Asia has shown that nuclear energy is efficient. It is safe, it is proven, and it is essential to America's energy future," McCain said during his speech. "We will need to recover all the knowledge and skills that have been lost over three stagnant decades in a highly technical field."

Interesting. Keep listening to those conservative voices, Senator.

The tactic of blasting the other side's supposed "tactics"

National Review's editors are right--Barack Obama has been doing this for some time now, and the McCain campaign needs to push back against it:

"Commenting on campaign tactics has become one of Barack Obama’s signature campaign tactics....Last week, Obama went a step further. At a fundraiser, he said, “We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?” Obama is no longer just preemptively defining the opposition to him as illegitimate; he is defining it as racist."

And what's even more important is that if conservatives don't act to help stop this kind of "campaigning" now, Obama and the left will continue it in future campaigns. Opposing Barack Obama is not in and of itself racist. Preach it, conservatives!

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Trying to find the acceptance stage in their grieving:

"Hillary Clinton is so united! “I’m just trying to move people to where they need to be,” she says repeatedly. Her enraged supporters call, bearing reports of new perceived slights or betrayals on the part of the Obama forces. “It’s all going to be fine. We have to take a deep breath,” she tells them. “This will all work out. Have a good summer. Go to the beach.”....Hillary has been saying that her supporters are moving through the five stages of grief. But she herself seems to have invented some brand-new sixth stage of chipper serenity. Maybe it’s just that she’s been getting some sleep. Maybe it hasn’t really sunk in yet that instead of spending the next four years negotiating with world leaders, she’ll be fighting to save the Niagara Falls airport. But really, she ought to market her current mind-set as a brand of new age meditation or yoga. Cross your legs, close your eyes and feel yourself unifying from the base of your spine to the top of your head."

But today, the Supreme Court shows more sense

The Court hands down a decision on gun ownership:

"The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices' first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history. The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision went further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact..."The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home."

I think for conservatives, the important point to make when debating your political opponents on issues like this is: when the Constitution says "the people's right to bear arms"? It's not too hard to understand what that means.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Supreme Court's poor ruling

The Court has ruled that having the death penalty as a punishment for rape violates the Constitution's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment."

What's wrong with that? This:

"...the majority doesn’t think that capital punishment is ever a fair penalty for the rape of a child—"no matter," as Justice Alito puts it in his dissent, "how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator’s prior criminal record may be."

Are we safer?

Are we safer from terrorist threats, thanks to the leadership of George W. Bush?
The Weekly Standard thinks so:

"To President Clinton's credit and great shame, he intellectually understood the nature and horrific potential of bin Ladenism and al Qaeda--as he understood, and regularly tasked his senior officials to explain nationally, the dangers of an increasingly restless Saddam Hussein. Yet he could not summon the fortitude to strike devastatingly against al Qaeda and its Taliban protector or Iraq. Instead in 1998, we had "Operation Infinite Reach" in which cruise missiles were launched at a rock-and-mud Afghan village and a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory that may have had an al Qaeda or Iraqi chemical-weapons connection. Only in the fall of 1999 did a CIA team, timorously, land in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley to meet, but offer no military aid to, the anti-Taliban commander Ahmed Shah Massoud. Post 9/11, under President Bush, the situation changed drastically, as it certainly would have changed also under a President Gore. What is striking about Obama's Iraq-obsessed critique of the Bush presidency is his unwillingness to give any credit where credit is obviously due. Today in the mainstream press, with its pronounced anti-Bush reflexes, we are more likely to see articles and op-eds about America's unfair and labyrinthine visa system than about its effectiveness in our counterterrorism campaign."

Read the whole thing.
And don't forget that there have been no terrorist attacks in this country for nearly 7 years now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Poor Nancy

Nancy Pelosi today, on sexism:

"At a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, Mrs. Pelosi, who is the first woman to become speaker of the House, said she dealt with sexism on a regular basis. “I’m a victim of sexism myself all the time,” Mrs. Pelosi said."

Yes. She faced so much "sexism" she's now speaker of the House. The poor woman.
Don't these people realize sometimes how ridiculous they sound?

Democracy again fails to gain a foothold in a part of Africa

It doesn't look too good for democracy right now in Zimbabwe, where the left-wing dictator Robert Mugabe desperately clings to power:

"Outraged at the turmoil in Zimbabwe, the U.N. Security Council declared that a fair presidential vote is impossible because of a "campaign of violence" waged by President Robert Mugabe's government. The 15-nation council Monday unanimously said it "condemns the campaign of violence against the political opposition ahead of the second round of presidential elections," which has resulted in the killing of scores of opposition activists and other Zimbabweans. The move came after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the vote _ reportedly fearing for his safety _ and police raided his Harare headquarters, hustling away dozens of his supporters."

Unfortunately, this shouldn't surprise us.
Many liberal intellectuals argued in the past that what held Africa back was western imperialism.
Well, that's been gone for over 40 years. Africans have largely ruled themselves. Yet there's a great deal of poverty and political corruption dominating the continent. Even Africans themselves admit democracy has a long way to go there.
But perhaps western pressure on Robert Mugabe can somehow break his stranglehold on that country, and give democracy a fresh start. Maybe. But don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: This won't help matters much, either--the South African government is strongly resisting any outside intervention in this crisis:

"...South Africa, the region’s powerhouse, is widely considered to play the pivotal role in bringing about change in neighboring Zimbabwe. And while the A.N.C. came out with an unusually strong condemnation of the Zimbabwean government on Tuesday, saying it was “riding roughshod over the hard-won democratic rights” of its people, the party also evoked Zimbabwe’s colonial history and insisted that outsiders had no role to play in ending its current anguish. “It has always been and continues to be the view of our movement that the challenges facing Zimbabwe can only be solved by the Zimbabweans themselves,” the statement said. “Nothing has happened in the recent months has persuaded us to revise that view.”

Sigh. It would indeed be wonderful if South Africans could solve this crisis themselves. Problem: Robert Mugabe and his thugs have the guns there, and they're willing to use them on their fellow Zimbabweans. That makes it rather hard for them to "solve" much of anything, doesn't it?

FEMA: gettin' it done

Well, lookee here:

"When floodwaters knocked out the water treatment plant in Mason City, Iowa, FEMA rolled into town and promptly set up an account with a Pepsi bottler to supply bottled water. Then FEMA officials moved into a vacant store and began handing out the stuff. "We saw different FEMA people in and out," City Administrator Brent Trout said. "We really started seeing FEMA people showing up to see what was going on in town and putting out the word on flood assistance." Nearly three years after Hurricane Katrina turned FEMA into a punchline, many homeowners, politicians and community leaders in the flood-stricken Midwest say that so far, the agency is doing a heckuva job -- and they mean it."

Many liberals and Democrats were quick to bash President Bush and his administration in the wake of the attacks on FEMA after Hurricane Katrina. So will they now praise the administration?

Trying to change the subject

"Iran said Tuesday that additional sanctions by the European Union will not affect Tehran, while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proposed the formation of a special court to punish the world "tyrants" for their attempt to thwart Iran's nuclear program."

Will the weaklings at the EU stand up to Ahmadinejad?
Keep up the pressure on him.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A green religion?

So there was a big article yesterday in the Washington Post about how environmentalism is becoming a big thing on college campuses.

Now of course there's nothing wrong with studying the environment, or being "green" when it comes to efficiency or recycling. And the article even gave a few lines to global warming skeptics. But the real problem with environmentalism is that it's becoming an article of faith, a religion almost; and its adherents too easily move towards the notion that key parts of the catechism--that, for example, human action is the main cause behind global warming and that the globe has warmed beyond what could be seen as normal and expected--cannot be questioned.

And we see evidence of this from the article:

"But many school officials say there's a growing consensus about climate change. "Three or four years ago, I would hear that from people, that global warming's a fraud," said Randall Ott, architecture dean at Catholic. "I don't hear that at all now," especially from students. In his view, he said, "the evidence is overwhelming -- and very troubling. We at our university feel a certain ethical mission to be operative on this issue"....At U-Va., where students helped design a barge that will travel the Chesapeake Bay and that they hope will teach children about ecology, architecture dean Karen Van Lengen said environmentalism "is not a course at our school. It's a way of thinking. . . . It's a mind-set."

A "mind-set" not to be challenged? An "ethical mission" not to be questioned? Let's hope not. But one wonders.

Feminists catfighting with Obama

That divide in the Democratic Party we talked about the other day?
It's not just feminist vs feminist. There's also still a little left of Clinton-feminists-vs-Obama.
Is Obama capable of reuniting the Democrats?
Today we see another example of the problems he faces:

"According to Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Obama then said, “However, I need to make a decision in the next few months as to how I manage that since I’m running against John McCain, which takes a lot of time. If women take a moment to realize that on every issue important to women, John McCain is not in their corner, that would help them get over it.”

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., a longtime Clinton supporter, did not like those last three words — “Get over it.” She found them dismissive, off-putting.

“Don’t use that terminology,” Watson told Obama."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

When McCain meets the press

So John McCain is well-known for his frequent, free-wheeling bull sessions with reporters at the back of his campaign bus, not to mention his frequent town-hall meetings and press conferences. Indeed, it greatly distinguishes him from the 1996 Republican presidential candidacy of Bob Dole, as Adam Nagourney correctly points out in today's New York Times. (Dole and his advisers built a wall around the candidate, shielding him from the press):

"Mr. Dole, as a candidate, reined in his humor and kept a protective wall around him, avoiding freewheeling sessions with voters or reporters, in deference to the urging of his campaign advisers. Mr. McCain’s campaign is a rolling caravan of town hall meetings, news conferences, wisecracks and the very kinds of unscripted events that made Mr. Dole’s advisers sweat."

This will be an interesting facet of the campaign this year, then. Will voters respond positively to John McCain's accessibility? Will they like the fact that he appears to be open, speaks off the cuff, enjoys the back-and-forth with reporters (Barack Obama is not nearly as accessible to the press, by the way)? Will that make McCain seem more real? Or will this wind up biting McCain in the posterior? Will he say something stupid in one of these unscripted moments? Will he make a big mistake? In the heat of a campaign, will he continue to be as accessible as he's been?

I don't know. We're in uncharted waters here. One thing is for sure: as conservatives, this openness is fine. There need not be a wall between a candidate, or officialdom in general, and the press. At the same time, conservative principle also demands that process not equal message. It's not enough that a candidate present his message openly; it's also important what that message is. Let's keep that in mind this fall...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Feminists catfighting

I don't agree with everything this writer has to say.
But her piece is important--in exposing the divisions, within feminism, that the Obama/Clinton battle has left behind. She complains that feminists who backed Clinton have been a little slow to defend Michelle Obama. She writes:

"What does Gloria Steinem think? She was out front with her support of Clinton, promoting the importance of a female president. She has even endorsed Barack Obama. What's her reaction now that the knives are out for another strong woman?...As a journalist, I have stayed neutral about political candidates. But as an American, I would have been excited about the historic first had Hillary Clinton emerged victorious from the Democratic primary battle. Yet when an African American made a different kind of history, it seems that feminists can't share in the triumph. They don't have to vote for the husband to defend the wife. Okay, I get it: Your candidate lost. You're angry. But frankly, I'm getting a little peeved myself."

Today's good news from Iraq

Remember Basra? The city used to be a violent, divided mess.
Many said the Iraqi army and government would never be able to provide security there, or anywhere else, for that matter.
But now look--from today's Washington Post:

"The Iraqi army soldiers walked with confidence into this city's notorious Five Miles neighborhood. Shiite militiamen once greeted them with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Now, smiling children waved, and a nearby market pulsed with energy. "Nobody before was able to get in here," said Col. Bilal al-Dayni, surveying the battle-scarred landscape. For Dayni, a barrel-chested former officer in Saddam Hussein's military, the scene was a vindication. The Americans disbanded Hussein's army after the 2003 invasion. Under British administration, Basra fell into the grip of zealots and gunmen. But nearly three months after the Iraqi government launched an offensive to reinstall authority, about 30,000 Iraqi soldiers control Basra, providing a glimpse of what might happen when the bulk of U.S. troops depart Iraq."

The good guys are succeeding in Iraq.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

A bit of a mess left over from Senator Clinton's failed campaign:

"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to return to Senate politics next week, now that her run for the Democratic presidential nomination is over, but a campaign finance filing made plain last night that the effects of that losing effort will continue to weigh on her political future. Clinton's campaign was $22.5 million in debt at the end of May, $3 million more than a month earlier. More than half of the latest debt ($12.2 million) was owed to the candidate herself."

It takes a village to make a hash out of a campaign.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why should Americans elect the next American president?

Or so went the query of a Londoner, speaking to NRO's Byron York:

"I have a friend in London, very Euro in outlook, who is terrifically frustrated and worried about the election. His chief concern: the role of Americans. “It’s a pity that Americans are the ones who elect the president,” he says. “It would be much better if the people of the world voted on the American president.” And guess who would be elected in such a scenario? Here’s a hint: It’s not John McCain."

And it sounds like the guy was really serious.
Sheesh! Obama-mania around the world runs rampant.
And read the entire article--very poor thinking about just who has what "rights" runs rampant, too.

At the sports desk: NBC Sports renews its football contract with the Fighting Irish

Despite the team's 3-9 record last year and its declining TV ratings.
Don't get me wrong--I'm glad for my alma mater (I got my Ph.D. at ND).
And certainly there is every reason to expect that ND football will soon again come back to prominence, and when that happens, that will mean good Saturday afternoon TV ratings for NBC.
But here's a reason, of which I was unaware before reading the above article, that may have contributed to NBC's decision:

"The new deal reflects a desire to stick together even in hard times; NBC had plenty of time to wait for the team to improve before deciding if it wanted to extend the deal. “When Notre Dame is good, and they’re often quite good, they bring more attention to football than anyone else,” Ken Schanzer, the president of NBC Sports, said by telephone. Schanzer has a son and a daughter at Notre Dame. The eldest son of Dick Ebersol, the chairman of NBC Sports, is a graduate."

So the president of NBC sports is an ND grad, and his children go there. Nah, that couldn't have had anything to do with it, no way...

A dangerous nut

Iran's Ahmadinejad:

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday accused the United States of plotting to kidnap and assassinate him during a visit to Iraq, state media reported. The president told a meeting of clerics in the central city of Qom that Iran's "enemies" planned to kill him when he went to Baghdad in March, according to the president's Web site. Iranian leaders usually use the term "enemies" to refer to Western nations and the United States in particular."

So he's not only a Holocaust-denier, he's a paranoiac.
That not only makes him nutty, it also makes him dangerous. Nutty leaders are the ones willing to do dangerous, irrational things.

So therefore, this show of strength came at a good time:

"Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An American conservative set of principles for today's energy crisis

Set down today by Cliff May at National Review Online--an excerpt:

"...with gasoline suddenly priced at over $4 a gallon, the hottest controversy in America is over whom to blame and what should be done. It’s a confused and confusing debate but it can be boiled down to this: On one side are those who believe the answer is for us to slash our demand for energy. On the other side are those who believe the answer is to greatly increase our supply.
It’s the demand-siders who are accusing us of being “addicts,” telling us not just to conserve energy and use it more efficiently — such efforts are commendable — but to resign ourselves to diminished mobility, to decreased consumption, to reforming what they see as our profligate “lifestyle.” The supply-siders vehemently disagree. They say we should be aggressively figuring out how to squeeze more energy from a wider variety of sources — using advanced technology to protect the environment. Put me in the supply-side camp. It seems obvious to me that energy is indistinguishable from wealth, and that the democratization of wealth — more of it for more people — is good, not bad. Indeed, democratizing wealth — private homes, refrigerators, televisions, cell phones, and cars — has been among America’s greatest is the anti-energy politicians and activists who should feel guilty. Their policies will cause pain to the middle classes — and will crush the poor. Consider the African farmer who wants to fuel his tractor or transport some surplus crops to market so he can earn a little cash with which to buy what in the Third World passes for luxuries: a metal roof for his hut, a transistor radio, a wrist watch, or a bicycle. You really think he should be told that he’s better off not getting “addicted” to energy and to please keep his carbon footprint small? Logic and morality — even more than self-interest — should prompt us to pursue energy abundance and diversity, to use fast-advancing technology to derive power not just from petroleum products but also from the wind and sun, clean coal, and nuclear reactors. As soon as possible, our cars, trucks, and buses should break their addiction to gasoline; they should be able to run as well on ethanol, methanol, natural gas, electricity, and who knows what other fuels decades down the road."

Well-put. Here are principles for the current crisis that embrace ideas conservatives can embrace: freedom, prosperity, and opposition to the statists and controllers. Let's keep building on this, conservatives!

A judge overturns a parent's punishment of a child

But hey, everyone knows a judge knows better than a parent what's best for your kid:

A Canadian court has overturned a father's punishment for his daughter after she refused to stay off the Internet, his attorney said Wednesday.

The girl, 12, took her father to Quebec Superior Court after he refused to allow her to go on a school trip for chatting on Web sites and then posting "inappropriate" pictures of herself online using a friend's computer, AFP reported.

The punishment was for the girl's "own protection," according to the father's attorney, Kim Beaudoin, who is appealing the ruling.

"She's a child," Beaudoin told AFP. "At her age, children test their limits and it's up to their parent to set boundaries. I started an appeal of the decision today to reestablish parental authority, and to ensure that this case doesn't set a precedent."

Otherwise, she continued, "Parents are going to be walking on egg shells from now on."

According to court documents, the girl's Internet usage was the latest in a rash of disciplinary problems. But Justice Suzanne Tessier, who was presiding over the case, found the punishment too severe."

A group of high school girls in Massachusetts had a pact... get pregnant. And they did.

What's interesting to me is this: liberal acquaintances of mine always claim that sex education classes, condom distribution, and a lack of judgmentalism towards premarital sex will mean that teenagers will make wiser choices concerning these topics.

Little sign of that here.

Setting himself up for criticism

That's what Barack Obama has done:

"Barack Obama opted out of the federal public financing system Thursday, setting himself up for a huge cash advantage over John McCain in the general election — but also providing his critics with a large opportunity to criticize his claim that he is committed to change in Washington."

Seems like a rather significant about-face, given that last year he pledged to use only public monies for the fall campaign, as long as his opponent pledged to do the same. Well, his opponent made the pledge. But now, Obama won't go along.

Doesn't seem much like "change we can believe in" to me.
That having been said, this also shows why all the hoo-hah in favor of campaign finance reform etc is just that--hoo hah. Even those ostensibly in favor of it, such as Obama, will abandon it at the first opportunity. We don't need limits on spending. Just make every donation made to every national candidate instantly transparent and a matter of public record, and then let the voters decide if they're bothered by them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

At the sports desk: another championship for Boston, and the lessons it can teach us

The Celtics defeat the Lakers in game 6 of the NBA Finals and win the title. As the Washington Post put it:

"This revived rivalry of the most successful franchises in NBA history was mostly a lopsided affair this time, with the Celtics improving to 9-2 against the Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Lakers suffered one of the greatest losses in NBA Finals history. Boston led by 43 points in the biggest Finals-clinching victory in NBA history."

I think we learned some things, and should be reminded of some things, from this last game and the whole series:

1. Defense wins championships. The Celtics' D was superior--see especially this final game.

2. Again, we see that Kobe Bryant is no Michael Jordan. I thought Bryant, after he hit a couple of early 3s in the game, both began to believe that he had to win the game all by himself, and began settling for deep shots. The Celtics indeed double- and triple-teamed him. So he settled for deep bombs, rather than trying to set up his teammates. Sorry--Jordan would have handled it differently (and more effectively).

3. We see too how things mental affect team sports. There's no question that both teams played a bit differently when they were at home vs when they were on the road. In Boston in games 1, 2, and 6, the Celtics were the aggressors--penetrating, driving to the hoop, shooting with confidence, going to the free throw line way more than their opponents. Their mindset obviously, at home, was one confidence and of being aggressive. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles for games 3, 4, and 5, that was the Lakers' mindset--they were far more aggressive and played with far more verve and drive than they did in Boston. This is why they jumped out to big leads in all 3 games at home, went to the line more often, etc.

The difference in the series was that Boston's defense was better, and was able to get crucial stops late in game 4; and, thus, Boston on the road in game 4 was able to overcome the difficulties and mental challenges of playing away from home. They withstood the Lakers' early barrage in that game, and gained confidence and aggressiveness as the game went on.

It's a real mental challenge to withstand the difficulties of playing away from home. But champions are able to do it. In sports, teams need to pay even more attention to the mental aspect of the game than they do.

A real fear

Many will argue this year that if you don't love Barack Obama, there must be something wrong with you--Jonah Goldberg on The Corner points out:

"...I caught the beginning of the Daily Show the other night and saw what appears to be a recurring segment: "Barackaphobia." This, as you might guess, is where Stewart mocks anybody who is overly concerned with Barack Obama's ideas, background, whatever. In short, anybody who takes stark exception to Obama or the cult of Obama is paranoid....The left loves to characterize conservative dislikes and disagreements as "phobias" and other maladies of the mind. Specifically, conservative "hate" is based on "ignorance" and "fear." Rhetorically, this tactic amounts to a way for liberals to avoid arguments on the merits. It goes something like this: Conservatives have an inordinate fear of Communism, gays, blacks, women, sex, fun, whatever, and so we don't have to deal with them for we are confident lovers of both truth and change! Barack Obama, as we speak, is being added to that list. If you don't love and embrace Obama, you're afraid of him (and, again, fear is the root of racism, etc etc.). You're fearful of change, scared of hope, terrified of progress. I think this will be, more than explicit charges of racism, the underlying theme of pro-Obama bias in the press this year. Conservatives "just don't get it." And "it" will never be sufficiently defined, because to do so would do violence to the assumed enlightenment of those who do get "it."

This has been even more true, historically, than perhaps Goldberg realizes. Back in 1964 Barry Goldwater was ripped by his opponents as psychologically unbalanced. After all, what else could explain his conservatism? Same kind of thing going on here. And that's not to mention those on the left who will denounce any criticism of Obama as racism. Conservatives, be ready.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Where's Hillary? The Senate misses her:

"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is taking a month off from Congress to recuperate after her marathon run for the presidency. She is not expected to return to the Senate until July 7 or July 8 after the Independence Day recess, according to two Democratic sources. Clinton’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate are taking a sympathetic attitude toward her extended absence, which comes after a grueling 18-month formal bid for the White House and, according to some calculations, a decade or more of planning and positioning since the days when her husband was president. “People understand this is a transition for her,” Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) said. It is a transition from the possibility of the most powerful job in the world to the reality of a junior senatorship among 99 others in a chamber dominated by overweening egos that have already indicated they will make no special provision for her to ascend quickly to a leadership role."

A transition from, a few months ago, being assumed to be the sure nominee of her party--to a defeated candidate. So sad, too bad.

Trying to look tough

Barack Obama is, that is...on the national security question:

"Barack Obama is answering a question he faced often on the campaign trail. Whom would he turn to for advice when making foreign policy decisions? The Democratic White House hopeful has scheduled the inaugural meeting Wednesday of what he’s calling his Senior Working Group on National Security. It includes former members of Congress and high-ranking Clinton administration officials."

He's trying to insulate himself against attacks for being weak on terrorism and the like.
Conservatives shouldn't let him get away with it--keep reminding folks about the naive nature of his pledges to meet with dictatorial enemies of the U.S., or about his suggestion that law-enforcement measures can be used to fight terrorism.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Hotel rooms for the Denver convention, anyone?

"Hillary Clinton won't have to worry about gettin' the munchies -- because her Rocky Mountain High is officially burnt out. Sources tell TMZ Hill and Co. had blocked out hundreds of Mile High City hotel rooms for staffers and supporters during the Democratic Convention in August -- looks like they won't be needing those anymore! So the campaign has sent emails to politicos, charity organizers and supporters expressing their desperate need to dump their reservations. Hill should ask her hubby -- we're thinkin' Slick Willy could definitely find a way to keep a few of 'em occupied.
No response from Hill's camp."

Psssttt, McCain campaign--over here

Have you guys in the McCain campaign noticed this?

"The Department of Homeland Security has dramatically ratcheted up its arrests of individuals along the U.S.-Mexico border for various immigration crimes, according to statistics released today by Syracuse University. Immigration prosecutions hit an all-time high in March 2008, with 9,350 defendants charged. The number of March arrests is up 50% from April and up a whopping 73% from 2007. The prosecutions are part of a Homeland Security and Justice Department program called "Operation Streamline." Under the program, illegal immigrants caught along the U.S.-Mexico border are prosecuted on federal criminal charges that require jail time. The average sentence is one month."

So do you support what Homeland Security and the Bush administration are doing here? Do you endorse this? Do you want energized conservative support this fall?

Then you better start making yourself heard on this issue and on this kind of news, and soon. I'm not holding my breath, myself.

When someone has the right to do something, but you hope it doesn't work

I'm talking about this:

"Howard Weyers tried the "carrot" approach by giving his employees incentives and encouragement to quit smoking. But when that didn't work, he resorted to the stick. A big stick. Weyers, owner of a health care benefits administrator in Lansing, Mich., gave his 200 employees an ultimatum in 2004: Quit smoking in 15 months or lose your job. He refused to hire smokers. Ultimately, he extended his smoking ban to employees' spouses and monitored compliance through mandatory random blood testing."

It's Mr. Weyers' company. To me, he has the right to try this. If we don't like it, we don't have to work for him. That having been said, I find that kind of imposition on a worker's non-work time and family life outrageous. Conservatives should urge individuals not to work for a company like that, and should argue against other companies adopting similar policies by pointing out what an infringement on personal freedom are these kinds of policies.

Smoking is still a legal activity, and there are still such things as personal freedom out there; yet more people today seem to forget these things.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The mainstream news media's funhouse mirror

So today the Obama campaign will announce its hiring of Patti Solis Doyle, the former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton. She will most likely be chief of staff for Obama's vice-presidential running mate, whoever that will be. So what does this mean?

Well, the NY Times speculates that it could be a sign of healing between the Clinton and Obama camps:

"Ms. Doyle will take the position before Mr. Obama announces his choice for a running-mate – he has not said when that will be. Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Doyle have a long friendship, and Ms. Doyle has long been one of her closest aides, until she was forced out. Could that mean – tea-leaf reading time – that Mr. Obama is really considering Mrs. Clinton for the No. 2 position, and wants to have an ally of her in place to ease the way? Perhaps."

Oooh, but the Washington Post sees the hire totally, completely differently:

"Solis Doyle -- who after her firing midway through the primaries is no longer on speaking terms with much of the Clinton inner circle, including the senator herself -- has been tapped to serve as chief of staff to the future vice presidential running mate. Not exactly a signal that Obama is considering Hillary Clinton for the job. At least that's how Clinton loyalists see it. "It's a slap in the face," Susie Tompkins Buell, a prominent Clinton backer, said in an interview. "Why would they put somebody that was so clearly ineffective in such a position? It's a message. We get it." She said it was a "calculated decision" by the Obama team to "send a message that she [Clinton] is not being considered for the ticket."

When will the sun come up tomorrow? Don't expect the same answer from these two papers.

Wait, I thought world leaders opposed the Bush administration on everything

And so you'd think if you listened to liberal acquaintances of mine. But the reality is different:

"British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday announced plans for new sanctions against Iran and a small increase in troops for Afghanistan, handing President Bush a symbolic boost on the last day of his weeklong farewell trip to Europe. Brown, appearing with Bush at a 10 Downing Street news conference, said Britain and the European Union are expected to act to freeze the assets of Iran's largest bank, Bank Melli, in response to Tehran's refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program."

Someone unclear on the concept...

...of democracy: it's Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who pledges today that he will never cede power to his political opposition, elections or no:

"We shed a lot of blood for this country. We are not going to give up our country for a mere X on a ballot. How can a ball point pen fight with a gun?" the Herald, a government mouthpiece, quoted Mugabe as saying."

Sadly, there are many dictators wielding power in African states who believe exactly as Mugabe does. That's one of Africa's biggest problems--it's corrupt, dictatorial governments which don't exactly focus on making headway vs African poverty.

Barack Obama, conservative

See what he said yesterday concerning African-Americans in this country and the family:

"Addressing a congregation at one of Chicago's largest black churches, Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday invoked his own absentee father to deliver a message to black men, saying, "we need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception." Obama addressed one of the most delicate topics confronting black leaders: whether absent fathers bore responsibility for some of the intractable problems afflicting black Americans. He noted that "more than half of all black children live in single-parent households," a number he said has doubled since his childhood. "Too many fathers are MIA, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes," Obama said to approving murmurs from the audience. "They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it"....Accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told the mostly black audience not to "just sit in the house watching 'SportsCenter' " and to stop praising children for mediocre accomplishments. "Don't get carried away with that eighth-grade graduation," he said, bringing many members of the congregation to their feet, applauding. "You're supposed to graduate from eighth grade."

Amen! Keep preaching it.
Now perhaps Barack Obama only said this for political reasons--to appeal to the political center, to try and win an election. Perhaps he believes none of this. Or maybe he believes it's the truth. We don't know. But he said it. And down the line, if necessary, we can try to hold him to it. And if nothing else, this shows yet again that the conservative argument concerning the importance of the family and how it's been neglected too often in the African-American community has hit home. Conservatism remains alive and well in this country.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The general election campaign battlefield

Most in the mainstream news media suggest these days that Barack Obama is the clear favorite to win in November. So how many of you have noted this?

"...the popular vote is one thing and the electoral vote, as we learned eight years ago, may be another. In all the statewide public polls taken in February, March, April and May, McCain leads Obama in 29 states with 281 electoral votes and Obama leads McCain in 21 states with 254 electoral votes (add 3 more for the District of Columbia, which nobody bothered to poll). To be sure, both candidates lead by only a narrow margin in some states, and the numbers in some states may be skewed by polls that were just plain wrong. And enough states are close -- carried by a candidate by 7 percent of the vote or less -- to suggest that we are headed to an election as close as 2000 and 2004."

But in my view, to truly have a credible chance to win, John McCain must energize conservatives far more than he has so far; and he must figure out a way to overcome the negative narrative his campaign will be saddled with concerning age (his elderly status vs Obama's youth and energy). McCain hasn't accomplished these things yet.

Is Obama another Jimmy Carter?

Did you catch this? When, back in April, Jimmy Carter made his ill-advised foray to the Middle East to meet with Hamas, Barack Obama's campaign issued the following statement:

""Senator Obama does not agree with President Carter's decision to go forward with this meeting because he does not support negotiations with Hamas until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist, and abide by past agreements."--Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki, April 10, 2008"

But as Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard went on to say:

"Reread the above quotation from the Obama campaign. The Democratic frontrunner objects to meeting with Hamas because it supports terrorism, disavows Israel's right to exist, and has violated past treaties. Sound familiar? That is an exact description of the Iran ruled by the Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet Obama has said that as president he would meet with Ahmadinejad without conditions. He'd pull a Carter. And the result of such desperate eagerness to "negotiate with our enemies" would be the same: empty words and emboldened adversaries."

Precisely. In the past few weeks, we've see the Obama campaign backtrack from its we'll-gladly-negotiate-with-our-enemies position slightly. But only slightly. It has not fundamentally changed its position. And in this world of continued Iranian threats against Israel, coupled with its drive to achieve nuclear weapons, that's very worrisome indeed.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why conservatives worry about John McCain dept

Did you catch this? This speech by McCain, given some 3 months ago, got plenty of attention at the time.

It was widely seen as a way to distance McCain from the Bush administration's supposed "unilateralism." That was bad enough, as the fact remains that President Bush hasn't been nearly as unilateral as his critics make out.

But let's also focus on something else--Senator McCain also said this, according to the article:

"In a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy, Senator John McCain sought Wednesday to distance himself from the unilateralism that has been a hallmark of the Bush administration, saying Americans must, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, show “decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” “We cannot build an enduring peace based on freedom by ourselves, and we do not want to,” Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, said in remarks here to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. “We have to strengthen our global alliances as the core of a new global compact.”

I hope Sen. McCain is just saying this, and doesn't completely mean it. No, there's nothing wrong with building alliances. But at the same time, he's wrong when he implies that our foreign policy should be based in any way on world opinion. Conservatism, properly understood, must mean that, when it comes to world opinion, we'll listen to it. But we'll only take others' advice if, through reflection, analysis, and thought, we decide it's worth taking. I think there's a notion out there that says if significant numbers of people around the world believe our foreign policy to be wrong, then it must be wrong. But that's not true. What majorities say in polls does not necessarily lead you to the truth. Senator McCain needs to remember that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

NBC News' Tim Russert died today. He was 58.
He looked younger than that. He died too soon.
We'll all, I suspect, always think of him as the guy who grilled politicians for years on Sunday mornings. He was certainly no conservative; he got his start in politics by working as an aide for a Democratic politician, among other things.

But I always thought he tried very hard, in his position as a journalist and on "Meet the Press", to play it straight, to question those of both parties very hard.

The Clinton campaign was often furious with him during the '08 campaign. That tells you a lot.
He'll be missed.

I'll bet you haven't heard...

...that a current, respected poll shows that public approval of the Democratic Congress stands at only 13%.

President Bush, despite being only at 31% popularity, is still twice as popular as Nancy Pelosi's congress!

Silly claim of sexism or, Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Clinton supporters claim that media coverage of her campaign was sexist.
But I liked these responses to the claim, from the article:

"Phil Griffin, senior vice president of NBC News and the executive in charge of MSNBC, a particular target of criticism, said that although a few mistakes had been made, that they had been corrected quickly and that the network’s overall coverage was fair. “I get it, that in this 24-hour media world, you’ve got to be on your game and there’s very little room for mistakes,” Mr. Griffin said. “But the Clinton campaign saw an opportunity to use it for their advantage. They were trying to rally a certain demographic, and women were behind it.” His views were echoed by other news media figures. “She got some tough coverage at times, but she brought that on herself, whether it was the Bosnian snipers or not conceding on the night of the final primaries,” said Rem Rieder, editor of American Journalism Review. “She had a long track record in public life as a serious person and a tough politician, and she was covered that way.” Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, said: “I have not had a lot of regretful conversations with high-ranking media types and political reporters about how unfair their coverage of the Hillary Clinton campaign was.”

But there's also this--some Clinton die-hards will never give up:

"Some of Hillary Clinton's die-hard supporters are plotting to stop Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, or more realistically, at the polls in November. Though Clinton folded her campaign last Saturday and endorsed Obama, a few Hillary activists still hope to somehow convince superdelegates to award her the nomination at the Aug. 25-28 convention in Denver. Others want a Clinton write-in campaign for the November ballot. Some plan to sit the election out. And then there are those now behind Republican John McCain. Will Bower, an ardent Clinton supporter and co-founder of PUMA, which stands for "Party Unity My A--," recently helped launch Just Say No Deal, a coalition of 80 groups nationwide dedicated to defeating Obama. Bower, 36, of Washington, said he still harbors some hope Obama won't officially be crowned the nominee in Denver, but, meanwhile, he's urging voters to back McCain. "We have almost three months until convention - and it's been a crazy political season as it is - and who knows what will be revealed," Bower said. "Come convention, the Democratic Partymay be like, 'Oh, my God! We have to have Hillary!'"

Speaking of nationalism...

Irish voters yesterday appear to reject a treaty revising the European Union:

"Justice Minister Dermot Ahern declared on television: “It looks like this will be a ‘no’ vote. At the end of the day, for a myriad of reasons, the people have spoken.” Speaking later on Irish radio he said: “We are in uncharted territory.” Even though there was no final, official tally, Micheal Martin, the minister of foreign affairs, acknowledged: “Perhaps there is a disconnect between the European institution and its people that we need to reflect on.”

At the sports desk: Celtics come back, take 3-1 NBA Finals lead

They were down 24 points at one time in the game; one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history.

Furthermore, and I know I'm not the only one to think this: no more Kobe Bryant/Michael Jordan comparisons, OK? Last night, in a pivotal game, Kobe goes only 6 for 17 from the field, scores less than 20. And can anyone imagine MJ allowing his team to blow a 20 point lead, at home, in an NBA finals game and wind up losing?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The trouble with today's Supreme Court ruling on terrorist detainees

As NRO's The Corner points out, it violates precedent--it gives unlawful enemy combatants access to our civilian courts, when Court precedent is that lawful enemy combatants (POWs) don't have such access:

"...the 5-4 decision written by Anthony Kennedy, apparently giving GITMO detainees access to our civilian courts, at the outset I am left to wonder whether all POWs will now have access to our civilian courts? After all, you would think lawful enemy combatants have a better claim in this regard than unlawful enemy combatants. And if POWs have access to our civilian courts, how do our courts plan to handle the thousands, if not tens of thousands of cases, that will be brought to them in future conflicts? It has been the objective of the left-wing bar to fight aspects of this war in our courtrooms, where it knew it would have a decent chance at victory. So complete is the Court's disregard for the Constitution and even its own precedent now that anything is possible."

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

Where has Hillary gone?:

" After a year and a half directly in the spotlight, where has Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gone?
"They're currently taking some time off as a family," said one spokesperson. "Sorry Charlie, she's enjoying some well-deserved R & R," said another adviser, Philippe Reines. Clues suggest Clinton has been at home in Washington and Chappaqua, speaking by phone to superdelegates -- but not yet going back to her office in the Senate."

Maybe she's busy practicing the icy stares she'll deliver to those Democrats who either abandoned, or never joined, her campaign.

State of the race

Hmmm---interesting: on some of the online political discussion lists I monitor, many of my liberal acquaintances seem to believe that this election is in the bag for Barack Obama, that he is a sure winner.

Well. So examine the latest general election polls. Today they indicate that, at best, Obama holds perhaps a 5 or 6 point lead right now over John McCain. Few will be more critical of the McCain campaign than I. Still, when it comes to winning campaigns, he's certainly done it in the past. And Obama has hardly looked like a world-beater lately; look at all the defeats he suffered in the last few months at the hands of Hillary Clinton, plus his fumble-prone handling of the problem with his vice-presidential vetter.

This race is far from over. And if John McCain can truly get conservatives excited about his candidacy (by, for example, renouncing his McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform stance) it could even be further up for grabs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Euro2008 and the nation-state

So me and my 4-month-old son have been sitting at home these past few days as I do my stay-at-home dad thing, and have spent some quality time watching the European soccer championship tournament on ESPN. There have been some great, exciting matches.

Now what could any of that possibly have to do with nation-states and geopolitics? Well, this: I still remember not long ago a liberal acquaintance of mine on a discussion list writing that some day we would see "the end of the nation-state." (She wrote that both in the sense that she believed it would inevitably come, and she wrote it hopefully--she wanted it to happen).

But when you watch Euro2008, you see what you always see when you view these international matches--thousands of Dutch and Swedish and Italian and Turkish and Swiss soccer fans screaming and rooting uproariously for their national teams, getting delirious when their heroes win, and horribly downcast when they fall short. Before the games they belt out their national anthems with gusto. During the games they display their national colors and wave their nation's flag. What is this? Simple: nationalism. And it ain't going away anytime soon, and neither, then, is the nation-state. Do you really think Germans will want Frenchmen to have a say in how they are governed? No, and I don't think the creation of the EU and the euro changes that. The fact remains that European nations, while wisely using innovations such as the EU to improve free trade and better economic relations in Europe, have not ceded, at all, the ultimate sovereignty belonging to their governments and nation-states.

Just watch the nationalism, the full-throated singing of the national anthems from thousands of a national soccer team's partisans, at these Euro2008 games. And you won't be surprised at that.

At the sports desk: Conservatives and Cedric Benson

So the Chicago Bears have cut Cedric Benson, after his second run-in with public drunkenness and the cops in the last couple of months.

What's interesting to me about this is that this is Benson's second problem with alcohol and the law in only a short time. A couple of months ago, Benson was hauled off of a boat and arrested for supposedly public drunkenness and scuffling with a police officer. He loudly proclaimed his innocence, claimed he'd done nothing wrong, and got the Bears to stand behind him.

But clearly the Bears also put him on notice; he needed to be on better behavior. And he failed the test; and this second failure leads you to think that, well, maybe Mr. Benson wasn't so innocent the first time, two months ago, either.

See, conservatives should pay attention to stories like this. The great conservatives of the past, such as Russell Kirk or Frank S. Meyer, talked about Big Things like tradition, an organic moral and social order, "prescription", absolutes, and so on. So what does all that stuff mean for average Joes? It means that, in situations such as Cedric Benson's, there is right, and there is wrong. It means that, if you've got a problem, you've got to acknowledge it and deal with it (i.e. alcohol). It means that you can't let your family and your teammates down. It means that, when you've got two strikes against you, one's got to be strong and disciplined, and not let temptation and wrong get the best of you. Some people pass these tests. But others don't. Conservatives can use situations like that of Cedric Benson to teach the real meaning of conservative ideas. We don't do it enough.

Clinton campaign funeral watch (contd)

The death of the campaign hasn't stopped Clintonites from developing a big enemies list, reports the NY Times:

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was gracious in her full-throated endorsement of Senator Barack Obama. But that does not mean all is forgiven by others in the Clinton universe. For proof, look no further than Doug Band, chief gatekeeper to former President Bill Clinton.Mr. Band keeps close track of the past allies and beneficiaries of the Clintons who supported Mr. Obama’s campaign, three Clinton associates and campaign officials said. Indeed, he is widely known as a member of the Clinton inner circle whose memory is particularly acute on the matter of who has been there for the couple — and who has not....Mr. Band, who declined to comment, is hardly alone in tallying those considered to have crossed the former candidate or the former president in recent months by supporting Mr. Obama. As the Obama bandwagon has swelled, so have the lists of people Clinton loyalists regard as some variation of “ingrate,” “traitor” or “enemy,” according to the associates and campaign officials, who would speak only on condition of anonymity."

Sad, angry, vengeful people.
They sound more like Nixonites every day (and isn't THAT ironic!)

A little show-biz inside dope

A National Review editor writes on The Corner about a visit to Conan O'Brien's show:

"Conan O'Brien's a legitimately talented and weird dude. Disturbingly skinny, particularly for someone so tall, he looks especially odd because there's something about his face that just doesn't seem right. It's both expressive and sort of dead — like he's wearing an ill-fitting Conan O'Brien mask. He worked the audience very well, and came across as a very decent guy, which I'd always assumed. I thought it was interesting that O'Brien's opening monologue is delivered more or less to a wall, rather than the audience. When you watch it on TV you'd think he was talking to the audience, despite the obvious cue cards. But the audience is really about fifteen feet over his head when he's doing his opening bit."

I would never have guessed that, logistically, the show was done that way.
Interesting to know such nuts-and-bolts details about how TV shows look when they get made, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ron Paul's mini-convention

He and his supporters plan to have it on Sept. 2nd, in the same locale as the Republican Convention and on the 2nd night of that convention.

Hmmm. Well, so I can understand having issues with John McCain.
But an event like this is bound, not just to hurt McCain, but to help Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee. Does Ron Paul really want to do that? Are Obama's proposed taxation and spending policies compatible with Paul's libertarian economic views? Gee. I don't think so.

And what about all that talk from Paul during the Republican campaign when he pledged more than once not to run a third-party candidacy this fall?

At the sports desk: Big Brown blame game

So as perhaps many of you saw this past Saturday, Big Brown not only failed to win horse racing's Triple Crown, he came in last at the Belmont Stakes. And now, the finger-pointing has begun in earnest--the horse's trainer points the finger at the jockey.

Hard to see how that will help anything. Finger-pointing is easy. Fixing the problem is harder.
But you know, from a larger perspective, I was kind of glad that Big Brown didn't win the Crown. Not because I have anything against him--he's by all accounts a fine horse. But the Triple Crown is a huge accomplishment; historically, it's been difficult to win. And it should be--that way, winning it means something. The fact that Big Brown did NOT win it reminds us, again, of just how difficult winning that thing is. And that can be a good thing---

Because when the next horse does win it, it will mean something. To all of us who follow sports.

Veepstakes alert

Speculation is in full throttle concerning who the candidates for president will choose as their vice-presidential running mates. Here is just one example.

Remember two things: first, all the speculating now doesn't mean a thing. The candidates won't choose anyone now, or even try to come to a decision now. They want the speculating to continue. Because that means attention is being paid to them, and attention is good for a campaign.

Second: history shows us that vice-presidential choices are largely all about who will help win the fall campaign. Keep that metric in mind when you try to predict who will be chosen.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Note on party "unity"

Have you noticed?

Every national figure who is a Democrat is going on TV these days goes on and on about how "unified" the party is and about how the Hillary and Obama folks are all going to love each other to death all fall.
Fact: political parties who are truly united...
...don't have to have their spokespersons saying how united they are every five seconds.

No bare chests... Wisconsin indoor high school athletic events, maybe:

"A committee of the association that governs high school sports in Wisconsin wants to ban bare-chested fans from indoor games. The prohibition would apply to those with painted chests too. Tom Shafranski of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association says it's not a matter of trying to take the fun out of high school sports. He says students can't sit in classroom without shirts so why should they be able to do it at indoor sporting events?"

Well, because athletic events on Friday nights aren't exactly to be equated to sitting in classrooms.
Don't these people have better things to do?
The idea that high school males showing their school spirit through bare chests at games is something to worry about, is simply ludicrous. And since this kind of thing is often associated with conservatism, it gives it a bad name.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Clinton campaign funeral watch (to be continued)

From today's NY Times:

"Bill and Hillary Clinton have stirred virulent passions in their nearly two decades in the national spotlight. They have been known as many things, good and bad — brilliant policy analysts, manipulators of facts and friends, tireless campaigners, skillful political tacticians, monumentally self-absorbed baby boomers. But most of all they were known as winners. Until now....Mrs. Clinton, who survived public humiliation as first lady and then easily won two Senate races in New York, entered the 2008 Democratic presidential primary as the odds-on favorite because of money, connections and celebrity. But through a series of blunders and the appearance of a once-in-a-lifetime opponent, Mrs. Clinton saw the prize slip through her grasp despite a valiant personal effort that lasted through the final contests in South Dakota and Montana. Both Clintons often seemed out of touch with the political times — cautious when they should have been bold, negative when they should have been inspirational. Exquisitely attuned to the political winds in 1992, they watched Mr. Obama almost effortlessly ride the wave in 2008. Former President Clinton, forever a riddle as a man and public figure, was seen by many at the beginning of his wife’s campaign as a political genius, statesman and racial healer who had done much through his charitable work to erase the stigma of his impeachment for lying about an affair with a young White House aide and other personal sins. But his conduct during the campaign on his wife’s behalf, right up to a blistering tirade against a magazine writer last week, raised new questions about his judgment and blotted his legacy."

There's also this, from the same newspaper:

..."“What hurt them was their sense of entitlement that the presidency was theirs and all the acolytes should fall in line,” said Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a former Clinton cabinet officer who endorsed Mr. Obama only to be branded a Judas by James Carville, the architect of Mr. Clinton’s original rise to power. “Instead of accepting it, they turned on the acolytes. It was their war room mentality, to attack when something doesn’t go their way, and it just reminded me of the old days.”

..."As for Mr. Clinton, he boiled with resentment that a candidate with as little experience as Mr. Obama was given what he considered a free pass by the news media. Yet his tone struck some as dismissive. When Mr. Clinton referred publicly to Mr. Obama as a “kid,” Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, recalled in an interview that a fellow black congressman said, “I don’t know why he didn’t just call him ‘boy’ and get it over with.” In private, Mr. Clinton was making matters worse. On the night of the South Carolina primary, Mr. Clinton called and Mr. Clyburn said he told him to tone down his rhetoric against Mr. Obama. Mr. Clinton responded by calling him a rude name that Mr. Clyburn would not repeat in an interview. Mr. Clinton called back a few days later for what Mr. Clyburn called “a much more pleasant conversation,” but the damage was done. “Clinton was using code words that most of us in the South can recognize when we hear that kind of stuff,” Mr. Clyburn said."

Friday, June 6, 2008

The meaning of a championship

The other night I blogged about how much winning the Stanley Cup means to old Wings fans, and indeed to Michigan sports fans in general.

And today you can see even more evidence of this--hundreds of thousands of fans jam downtown Detroit to cheer their Cup champions.

Well done, Wings; well done.

Clinton campaign death watch (nearly completed)

Note that they're still at it, spinning fictions about how it is supposedly a fact that Senator Clinton "won" the "popular vote" vs Barack Obama:

"In her description this morning of the Obama/Clinton meeting at her house, Dianne Feinstein dropped in something that caught our eye. Bearing in mind that she is a Clinton supporter, Ms. Feinstein said that a big reason why Mrs. Clinton is justified in trying to protect “the issues that she cares about” and to see to it that her views are represented at the convention is that she “has the popular vote.” We checked back with Real Clear Politics, the chief source for these numbers. Real Clear breaks down the vote according to six methods (with Michigan, without Michigan, with the four caucus states where the vote is only estimated, and without those states, and combinations thereof). In three of the six tallies, Mr. Obama won; in the other three, Mrs. Clinton won."

Years from now, however, Hillary and her minions will be claiming that her victory in the popular vote was a "fact."

There's also this today, from Peggy Noonan--who, as she often does, nails it:

"We will hear a lot of tasteful tributes this weekend to Hillary Clinton's grit and fortitude. The Washington-based media may go a little over the top, but only out of relief. They know her well and recoil at what she stands for. They also know they don't like her, so to balance it out they'll gush. But this I believe is the truth: America dodged a bullet. That was the other meaning of the culminating events of this week. Mrs. Clinton would have been a disaster as president. Mr. Obama may prove a disaster, and John McCain may, but she would be. Mr. Obama may lie, and Mr. McCain may lie, but she would lie. And she would have brought the whole rattling caravan of Clintonism with her—the scandal-making that is compulsive, the drama that is unending, the sheer, daily madness that is her, and him. We have been spared this. Those who did it deserve to be thanked. May I rise in a toast to the Democratic Party....they threw off Clintonism. They threw off the idea that corruption is part of the game, an acceptable fact...They threw off the idea of inevitability. Mrs. Clinton didn't lose because she had no money or organization, she didn't lose because she had no fame or name, she didn't lose because her policies were unusual or dramatically unpopular within her party. She lost because enough Democrats looked at her and thought: I don't like that, I don't like the way she does it, I'm not going there. Most candidates lose over things, not over their essential nature. But that is what happened here. For all her accomplishments and success, it was her sketchy character that in the end did her in."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Life in these United States dept

Among teens, sexual activity rises, but condom use declines, says a report.

It doesn't say what our liberal friends will claim it says, though.
Our liberal friends will claim it means we need more sex-ed and condom distribution. False.
We've had over 30 years of sexual education classes. And more high schools and other youth centers distribute condoms and other forms of protection than ever before. It's THAT--suggesting that teen sex is OK and fine but hey, use a condom--that doesn't work.

Clinton campaign death watch (contd)

She finally recognizes reality and will quit the race on Saturday.
What about this Clinton-for-VP speculation?

In my view, Obama would be crazy to pick her as vice-president.
He clearly doesn't really like her. Nor, from all reports, does Michelle Obama.
Choosing her would mobilize more Republicans and independents against Obama's candidacy, and further energize them. Choosing her would undermine Obama's claim of bringing "change" to Washington.

And I don't think he'll want to appear as if he chose Clinton under pressure.
I'd like also to think that Obama, too, doesn't want the Clintons to be too close to the power after which they clearly hunger. We'll see if I'm right.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

From the sports desk: Winging their way to a championship

So the Detroit Red Wings are hoisting the Stanley Cup at last, having won the championship of the National Hockey League by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2 this night; and thus winning the Stanley Cup finals series, 4 games to 2.

And as a Michigan native, as someone who grew up back in the 1970s rooting for the Wings, I couldn't be more proud. Let me put the win in some perspective.

The Detroit Red Wings are a proud franchise. Led by legends such as Gordie Howe and Terry Sawchuk, the Wings back in the 1950s and 1960s were often dominant teams, winning the Stanley Cup several times, and challenging for it at other times. But by the time I began following them, in the early 1970s, the team had fallen on tougher times.

Stars such as Howe had retired. Detroit's management was suspect. The organization declined. Soon the Wings were lucky if they were even able to come close to the playoffs. Often they didn't even manage that. Still, I as a young sports fan in western Michigan, who'd come to like hockey, followed them. They weren't even on TV or radio in my locality; to follow a game live, I had to move my battered old radio to odd spots in my bedroom, where the signal from WJR radio in Detroit, which carried the Wings, might come in (on clear nights). But sometimes it did, and I can remember cheering on infrequent Wings victories in the privacy of my room and, more often, sagging as another defeat became obvious. I can remember the Wings missing the playoffs by 1 point on the very last day of the 1973 season. I can remember savoring rare Detroit victories over good teams, such as Philadelphia or Montreal; but I can also remember that sad feeling as, with the seasons moving towards their end, Wings teams with only faint chances at the playoffs blew games at home against subpar teams.

When the Wings actually made the playoffs in 1978 and even won their opening series, Red Wings fans everywhere were in near euphoria. When not long after that the Wings crashed and burned and won only 16 games out of 80, no one was too surprised.

So. With all that background, you can understand why fans like myself don't take the Wings' capturing of the Stanley Cup for granted tonight. I applaud once again the team's owner, Mike Illitch, who bought the team when they were bad and has presided over their building into an NHL power. I'm happy for the fans of Detroit, who know how to celebrate their championships, because they don't come every day (heck, the Detroit Lions haven't won a championship in over 50 years!). And I applaud this Wings team, which is full of good skaters and passers, and who seem to play the game in a way it was meant to be played. And this championship is especially for those old Wings fans, and I know I'm far from the only one--Wings fans who remember the bad days, and the mediocre days, and the many seasons in which there was no championship, and yet who stuck by the Wings and made Detroit the "Hockeytown" that it is today.

It's a good night to be a sports fan and a native of Michigan, too; we're all smiling right now. Because we know: championships don't come around every day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It is indeed an historic night

Barack Obama claims victory tonight, and appears to have it, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton won't concede defeat.

And make no mistake about it. Obama's victory is indeed remarkable. Partly this is because he will become the first African-American candidate to gain a major-party presidential nomination in American history. But it's also stunning because Obama was such an underdog in this race. Remember last fall? Most observers thought that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in to win the nomination, that there was no question whatsoever that her victory was inevitable. Many believed the race would be over after February 5th; indeed, the Clinton campaign itself believed that, which overconfidence was one of the factors that proved to be its undoing.

Underdog candidates can indeed win. Campaigns aren't won on paper. This is why they actually have the elections. But I suspect Senator Clinton STILL cannot believe what has happened to her; hence her refusal, even now, to admit the obvious. I wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall at her staff meeting tomorrow; would you?