Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Stem Cell Breakthrough You Won't Hear About

...because it doesn't involve embryonic stem cells.

Scientists at Australia's Griffith University have engineered a breakthrough in the field of adult stem cell research that's so significant, say experts, that it could render the debate over embryonic stem cell research moot.

The results of the four-year research project showed that olfactory stem cells can be turned into heart cells, brain cells, nerve cells – indeed, almost any kind of cell in the body – without the problems of rejection or tumors forming, a common side effect with embryonic stem cells.
I'd call that noteworthy, wouldn't you? Stem cells that can do everything the embryonic variety is sold as being capable of, minus all the deleterious side effects. Miracle cures without the hideous, Mengelesque moral blowback.

But it gets better - wait until you see what the price tag was:

The poorly funded Griffith University team – which conducted its research with a mere $200,000 in grants – appears to have found a direct and non-controversial alternative to the use of stem cells derived from leftover embryos created during fertility treatment, reported the Australian newspaper.
But of course, the social Left will hear nothing of a stem cell technique that doesn't provide moral cover for their twin fetishes of child-sacrifice and wasting gobs and gobs of taxpayer dollars:

The breakthrough, first announced two months ago, has been largely ignored by the U.S. media, which has focused on embryonic stem cell research as the only option to cure debilitating ailments like Hodgkin's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

As a result of the lopsided press coverage, California voters passed a $6 billion referendum to fund embryonic stem cell research last November, with similar programs proposed around the U.S. - though embryonic stem cell research has yet to show any significant medical progress.

Australia's Catholic Archbishop George Pell is needlessly generous in attempting to explain this anti-life myopia:

"One of the complicating factors is that a lot of people have a lot of money tied up in embryonic stem cells."

Yeah - a lot of other people's money. But that's just the means; the end is the relentless cultivation of the same left-wing moral supremacism, the same insufferable pseudoscientific hauteur, in defense of the escalatingly abhorrent jettisoning of any and all ethical perspective on the notion that life is not ours to do with as we will, but is a gift, and possession, of God.

If the goal of the stem cell research debate is truly pragmatic and utilitarian - i.e. to determine what will actually work - the Aussies would seem to have settled that question in the best of all possible worlds. If the goal is to further a disgustingly nihilistic ideology that is now even further removed from reality than it was before, than the Griffith University researchers have, as it were, "created a monster" - one that the liberal Mengeles and their Extreme Media mouthpieces will spare no effort to squelch at all costs.

The Bush Administration needs to get this message out by any means necessary. Say, via a PSA campaign with the message, "Pick your nose, save your life."

The evil scientists wouldn't know what hit them.

Captives Told To Claim Torture

Well, we certainly couldn't see this coming, could we? The Washington Times reports that al Qaeda prisoners were coached to claim they had been tortured if they were captured.

"In a raid on an al Qaeda cell in Manchester, British authorities seized al Qaeda's most extensive manual for how to wage war. A directive lists one mission as "spreading rumors and writing statements that instigate people against the enemy."

If captured, the manual states, "At the beginning of the trial ... the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security before the judge. Complain of mistreatment while in prison." The handbook instructs commanders to make sure operatives, or "brothers," understand what to say if captured. "Prior to executing an operation, the commander should instruct his soldiers on what to say if they are captured," the document says. "He should explain that more than once in order to ensure that they have assimilated it. They should, in turn, explain it back to the commander."

It certainly helps the enemy when there is such a willing press in the United States to publicize those claims and report them as fact. Rags like Newsweek and the New York Times are more willing to believe al Qaeda detainees than they are their own countrymen. They so believe that America is in the wrong that they jump at the chance to report abuses by American servicemen on the flimsiest of evidence.

Ahmed Omar Abul Ali, accused of planning to assassinate President Bush, made an appearance in U.S. District Court and promptly told the judge that he had been tortured in Saudi Arabia, including a claim that his back had been whipped. He is accused of meeting there with a senior al Qaeda leader.

Days later, a U.S. attorney filed a court document saying physicians had examined Ali and "found no evidence of any physical mistreatment on the defendant's back or any other part of his body."

Where are Newsweek and the Times? Why don't they report the training these terrorists go through in order to fool their enemies into thinking they are the victims? Because, very simply, our MSM is not interested in showing America's enemies in a bad light. Heck, they won't even call them terrorists. They are "insurgents." Rush has it right...our press and media really believe America is the bad guy in all this. They are so quick to believe the other side because they so desperately want it to be true.

No wonder they're losing audience. Most Americans love their country, and I think are getting a little bit tired of hearing it put down day after day by the major media.

It's Time to Dump Darth Queeg

I'm not a big believer in the "big tent" theory of Republican base-building. I think there is a critical difference between standing for a set of principles and leaving the welcome mat out for all who see something to follow, even if they don't buy into the whole platform, versus jettisoning principles altogether in a cynical effort to pander to the lowest common denominator.

But, by the same token, I've never been one who called for so-called "moderates" to be bum's-rushed out of the party for not being ideologically "pure." If the Rockefeller remnant wants to remain in the party, they are perfectly welcome - so long as they understand that the party is not going to forfeit what it stands for just to keep them around.

This is why, despite all the lib gibbering to the contrary, "Jumpin' Jim" Jeffords (aka "Triple J") was not "driven out" of the GOP four years ago, but rather defected of his own greedy, ill-advised accord.

However, I think a parting of the ways has been reached, or is, at the very least, fast approaching, with another so-called "Republican" senator who is making it his life's mission to, in political terms, make Benedict Arnold look like man's best friend:

One of John R. Bolton's leading Republican backers, Senator John McCain of Arizona, signaled his support on Friday for a compromise in which the White House might allow Senate leaders access to highly classified documents in return for a final vote early next month on Mr. Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador.

The conciliatory signal from Mr. McCain came as Senate leaders traded blame over who was responsible for the miscalculation that led to Mr. Bolton's nomination being blocked Thursday....

Appearing on the Fox News Channel, Mr. McCain reiterated his support for Mr. Bolton. He also praised an argument made by, among others, Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, who has urged the Administration to provide the Senate with more information related to Mr. Bolton's conduct. Senators calling on the Administration to share the documents "have some substance to their argument," Mr. McCain said.

Unfortunately for the Supreme Chancellor, this time it wasn't Bill "Doofus" Frist he was undermining, but the man who kicked his ass five years ago:

But the White House showed no sign that the Bush Administration might change course.

"The Democrats who are clamoring for this have already voted against John Bolton," Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said in a telephone interview. "This is about partisan politics, not documents. They have the information they need."

Or, in plain, non-Beltway English, "No deals." (It's a pity the White House didn't display this mettle a week ago when it would have come very much in handy, but I digress.)

The NYT story eventually gets around to disclosing the "substance" to which "Sailor" makes pompous reference:

The third factor, and perhaps the most important [in producing the filibuster of the Bolton nomination], Congressional officials said, was the success of Mr. Biden and Mr. Dodd in convincing fellow Democrats in dozens of phone calls that the vote was not about Mr. Bolton but about standing up for the Senate and its prerogatives against incursions by the executive branch. [my emphasis]

There's a word for this; instead, I'll substitute one of Rush Limbaugh's standbys: "phony-baloney, plastic banana, good-time rock & roll rotgut." This is the most flagrant example of opposition projection I've seen yet. They're the ones attempting to dictate the staffing of the Executive Branch as well as the Judiciary; they're the ones who are trying to emasculate the Constitution in the most blatant power grab attempted in this country since the aftermath of the Civil War; and they're the ones who are openly proclaiming the principle of oligarchy - minority rule - and claiming that it is the salvation of both the founding documents AND the Republic!

This is the effective coup de tat to which John McCain is lending his active and insufferable assistance.

Ed Morrissey makes a couple of good observations about this man, but doesn't go quite far enough:

Once again, we have the senior Senator from Arizona falling all over himself to validate Democratic tactics while maximizing his weekend press profile. McCain has to be considered one of the leading dupes from the Seven Dwarves who fashioned the last capitulation, the one one which Frist relied when he scheduled the Bolton vote. McCain has to prove that the "comity" that he claims to have revived still exists, and so he has transferred the blame for this impasse from the Democrats to the White House....

It gives him another opportunity to stick a white hat and ride a donkey to the rescue of the Democrats, whooping and hollering all along the way in order to make sure that every newspaper sees how reasonable he is. In his own way, he has become the Jimmy Carter and/or the Neville Chamberlain of the Senate: he jumps into disagreements and surrenders almost everything he can in order to wave a piece of paper over his head and claim victory.

I don't think that McCain is a "dupe" at all. I think he knows exactly what he's doing.

A week ago I said that he had finally gotten his revenge on George W. Bush. But that's just the beginning. I think what the political Sith master is attempting is no less than the overthrow of the conservative leadership and platform of the Republican Party and its replacement by the neo-Rockefelleroids he truly represents. This he intends to do by full, open cooperation with the Democrat minority to completely obstruct the entire Bush agenda, both legislative and appointive, in order to prevent his intra-party rivals from gaining any bigger of a foothold nationally. In so doing, his high, and nauseatingly, rubbing-our-noses-in-it media profile will, he hopes, swamp any and all rivals for the '08 GOP presidential nomination, and will bring the GOP base along behind him when we realize that the choice is between him and Hillary Clinton - and, of course, we'll have "no choice" but to elect McCain, and transform the Supreme Chancellor into the Emperor. Then, once ensconsed in the Oval Office, he would proceed to govern as far to the left, or even farther, as Mrs. Clinton would have, and all under a "Republican" label.

As I said in another post last week, "Arrived, the Dark Times [will] have." At least, if McCain realized all his objectives. But as I also concluded in yet a third post, he doesn't have a prayer of achieving the above, but can and will still do maximum damage to the party he so falsely claims as his own, which would morph his swansong into a strafing run.

It is for all of these reasons that I think the GOP has to start considering ousting John McCain from the party. This would be a case of surgically removing a cancerous tumor from the Center-Right body politic. As the old saying goes, "It's easier to slip a knife into an ally's back than an enemy's." It's McCain's continued presence on the Republican side that both facilitiates all his mischief and feeds him all the press attention he craves. Once ousted, all of that would evaporate; nobody would care about him anymore, and his influence on the weak-minded (e.g. Mike DeWine, Lindsey Graham) would be substantially diminished. Don't believe me? How long did the aforementioned Senator Jeffords' notoriety last?

Even more to the point, it would send a message that while the GOP is still a "big tent," that metaphor will not be allowed to stretch to the point of grandstanding dissidents shooting holes in the tent roof with opposition cannons.

It'll never happen, of course - Bill Frist, as the Cap'n rightly observes, can't even keep "Sailor" on a "short leash," much less grab the SOB by his collar and belt and bounce him out of the caucus so hard he'd use his nose for a brake.

But the longer John McCain is allowed to RINO-ize the GOP, the more the party's fortunes will erode, and the farther from our collective grasp this golden opportunity for conservative hegemony will slip, until it's gone altogether.

Boy, now I know how Yoda felt.

UPDATE: Trent Lott, on the other hand, should be taken to the woodshed....

Monday, May 30, 2005

First Amendment For Me But Not For Thee

The irony of this story is just toe-curling:

Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Massachusetts in defense of the First Amendment rights of a high school student whose promotional posters for an extracurricular club were removed and censored by school officials because of their conservative political viewpoint.

Sounds pretty standard for this day and age of intolerent left-wing dominance of the academy and public education, doesn't it? But that's not the money shot:

In their complaint, Institute attorneys charge that by censoring Christopher Bowler’s Conservative Club posters, officials at Hudson High School in Hudson, Massachusetts — one of only eleven pilot schools in the U.S. that participate in the "First Amendment Schools” program — violated Bowler’s First Amendment right to free speech and expression and discriminated against him and the Conservative Club on the basis of the club’s political viewpoint. [my emphasis]

One has to marvel at just how blatant the left's biases, and their fanatical willingness to impose them so openly and recklessly, has become. Mr. Bowler's story is, in that contemporary sense, eminently describable as "all-American":

Responding to what they perceived as a persistent anti-Bush, anti-conservative environment at Hudson High School during their junior year in high school, Christopher Bowler and fellow student James Milello formed the Hudson High School Conservative Club as a forum for pro-American, pro-conservative dialogue and speech and to advocate respect and tolerance for their conservative point of view at school.

In the fall of 2004, school officials officially recognized the Conservative Club as a Hudson High School student club, which qualified them to meet on school property during non-instructional time, as well as have access to school facilities for club-related activities and place posters in authorized locations throughout the school.

Bowler and Milello chose to affiliate their club with a national organization, High School Conservative Clubs of America (HSCCA), whose stated mission is "to support the United States Constitution, uphold the Bill of Rights, advocate the moral standards of our Founding Fathers, encourage traditional American values, and assist students to form chartered conservative clubs in high schools throughout the nation.”

In an effort to publicize and promote the club and its meetings, Club members prepared and placed ten posters, which included information about the club and a reference to HSCCA’s website, on walls and bulletin boards throughout Hudson High School on Friday, Nov. 12, 2004. By the following Monday, school officials had removed seven of the ten club posters, allegedly out of a concern that they promoted violence and were anti-gay.

There's no indication mentioned of why the club's posters were considered "anti-gay"; most likely that was an oblique reference to a defense of traditional marriage. But the "promotion of violence part" is specified, and is just as stiltedly flimsy:

School officials reasoned that because the posters referenced the HSCCA website, which contained references to visual depictions of beheadings of hostages by Iraqi insurgents and terrorists, the posters thereby promoted violence, were inappropriate, and could not remain posted.

Got that? Referring to a conservative website that, in turn, refers to the medieval, barbarous tactics of our enemies in the GWOT is, somehow, akin to "promoting" them. Apparently the same operative principle behind the Extreme Media's adamant refusal to show any 9/11 images - you know, to "spare public sensibilities" and "avoid inflaming anti-Muslim bias." Meanwhile, I'd wager a week's pay that liberal student clubs put up posters touting the "torture" at Abu Ghraib and "Bush lied/kids died" and the rest of the usual lineup of "anti-war" blood mendacities without the selectively worry-warting educrats giving them a second glance.

Given where Mr. Bowler lives and where this suit has been filed, I would be surprised if it manages not to get summarily dismissed. But if nothing else, he will end up as another...well, "martyr" for the cause, and perhaps a poster boy for the need to restore the federal judiciary to the role the Founding Fathers intended it to fulfill.

I'd love to see the posters they're putting up 'round campus now.

A "Neutrality" Most Foul

Looks like Newsweek may be inching toward a retraction of their retraction of their "Holy Flush" smear.

Just days after Newsweek "retracted" its Quran-flushing story, a top editor with the magazine seemingly backed away from its flat-out retraction, telling the U.S.-hostile al-Jazeera network that Newsweek was "neutral" on whether Americans had desecrated the Quran.

In a May 19 interview with the Arab TV network...Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief Daniel Klaidman admitted the magazine made a "mistake" in publishing the story, and promised: "In the future, we won’t make these kinds of mistakes."
Notice that subtle difference? Not, "we published a mistaken story," but "we made a mistake in publishing the story." The difference became less subtle as the interview unfolded.

The Memri transcript shows that Newsweek was cleverly telling millions of Arab viewers there story may still be true – they just did not have the evidence to support their original allegations. The al-Jazeera reporter asked Newsweek’s Klaidman, "But there is no proof that it [the Quran desecration] did not happen either."
Ah, nothing like the old "prove a negative" canard to bring back old message board memories....

Klaidman replied:

"We are neutral on whether any form of Quran desecration took place. There are allegations out there, but the allegations have not been subjected to the kind of scrutiny or legal processes that normally ... you need before you can establish whether they are true, and we certainly know that the military has not confirmed any of these allegations.

"As to whether these things happened or not, we are, like the rest of the people out there and news organizations – we don’t know. We have heard the allegations, we continue to report, and the U.S. military and other entities are investigating, and as I said, we are neutral on whether any of this ever happened."

In other words, "No, we can't prove that no Korans were flushed, but we have faith that they were, and we'll keep 'reporting' that they were until our 'investigations' come up with some proof, even if we have to borrow CBS's document-fabricators to do it." Why else would Newsweek stubbornly refuse to reveal the identity of their "source"? Especially since other Extreme Media outlets have taken to spreading the same strain of anti-military slander.

Along those same lines, Powerline noticed an interesting development the other day:

The Pentagon reports that the Guantanamo detainee who claimed in August 2002 that a guard flushed a Koran down a toilet (do they have really big toilets there, or what?) was recently re-interviewed, and recanted the allegation:

"We've gone back to the detainee who allegedly made the allegation and he has said it didn't happen. So the underlying allegation, the detainee himself, within the last two weeks, said that didn't happen," chief Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita told a briefing.

But don't worry - I'm sure Newsweek will be "reporting" soon on how this recantation was the product of "torture" at the "gulag" of Guantanamo. Just one more "story" that will be just too good to let unsubstantiation get in the way.

"A Nazi-Like Assault on Catholicism"

Golly gee whiz, why do Penn & Teller keep beating around the bush? Why don't they tell us what they really think?

When shareholders of media conglomerate Viacom showed up for their annual meeting last Thursday, they faced the wrath of Catholic League President Dr. William Donahue over a shocking Showtime episode that slandered the late Mother Teresa and her order of nuns in the vilest of terms.

According to Donahue, who plans a press conference in front of the hotel in New York City where the Viacom meeting is being held, an episode of Showtime's Penn and Teller show "Holier Than Thou" was a "Nazi-like assault on Catholicism, and on the person the show calls "Mother Fucking Teresa." Showtime is owned by Viacom.

Stormed Donahue: "In the 12 years that I have been president of the Catholic League, I have never witnessed a more vicious attack on Catholicism than what appeared this week on the Showtime program Penn and Teller. The episode, 'Holier Than Thou,' was a frontal assault on Mother Teresa and her order of nuns, Missionaries of Charity (as well as Gandhi and the Dali Lama).

"Like most Americans, I like parodies and have no problem, per se, with irreverent humor. But when humor becomes insult, that is a different story. And that is what happens here: comedy quickly morphs to vitriol. Indeed, as the show progresses, the level of anger becomes palpable and the degree of distortion becomes mindboggling. This is no comedy – it is Nazi propaganda right out of the Leni Riefenstahl school of filmmaking.

"The Mother Teresa that the world has come to love and revere is made to look like a cruel, exploitative, self-serving nun who ripped off the poor. We are told that Mother Teresa intentionally let the poor suffer, providing neither beds nor bathroom facilities. 'She had the fucking coin and pissed it away on nunneries,' says Penn. As for the nuns who worked with Mother Teresa, they are referred to as 'fucking cunts.'

"It does not bother me when they call me 'Catholic Boy' on the show (though the term 'Jew Boy' would never cross their lips), nor does it concern me when they talk about 'fuckers like Bill Donohue [who] only see good in her.' But when they mock the Catholic Church's teaching on the meaning of suffering, and when they say of the poor that 'They had to suffer so that Mother Fucking Teresa could be enlightened,' then they are behaving like monsters.

"We will mail a tape of select portions of this broadcast to many interested parties, including the bishops. And we will hold a press conference tomorrow outside the hotel where Viacom is holding its annual stockholders meeting. They haven’t heard the end of this yet."

I wasn't overtly aware that Penn & Teller were so virulently anti-Catholic. And if Showtime had been exercising even the barest, most minimalist level of editorial judgment, I would still be unaware of it. One can certainly blast Penn & Teller themselves for a profanely bigoted rant that would have made George Carlin blush (if blood was capable of rising above his neck level), but how on Earth did Showtime let that garbage make air, pay cable or no pay cable? And even if Showtime execs share P&T's sentiments, how utterly devoid of PR awareness does one have to be to fail to grasp that if you're going to broadcast Catholic-bashing programming, desecrating the memory of Mother Teresa - a name even more famous for a lifetime of selfless charity than it is her religious affiliation - is about the most dunderheaded way imaginable of approaching it?

No, I'm not going to make any "F'ing Penn and F'ing Teller" references. Frankly, there's a reason why those two "entertainers" are relegated to the sparsely watched reservation of pay cable. I'll just content myself with highlighting that in naming that episode "Holier Than Thou," P&T were displaying an unwitting talent for irony on more levels than they could keep plates spinning at the same time.

And that, even though the Catholic League ain't what it used to be a couple of generations ago, P&T, and Showtime, might just wished they had left this particular stain of "irreverent humor" on the cutting room floor.

McCain Campaign Poster

Check this out!

Over at Right Wing News, they have captured the spirit of the McCain Mutiny perfectly!

In Remembrance

For those of us who truly appreciate the sacrifice made by our brave men and women in the Armed Services, there is truly a moving web site which celebrates the life and honors the death of our servicemembers who have died in the line of duty. Legacy.com has some great tributes to our fallen heroes. Be sure and click on the "guest book" option under the servicemember's name, and read the comments from grateful Americans.

Also, over at Blogs for Bush, Mark Noonan has some great thoughts up regarding our fallen soldiers. It is difficult for those of us who have not lost a loved one in war to understand what kind of pain these families are going through. All we can do is thank them, and let them know that though they may hear unkind, uninformed comments from some on the Left regarding the mission their loved one died for, most of us in America are grateful from the bottom of our hearts. Since they won't hear that from our mainstream media, we must let them know in other ways...person to person, letters to the editor, funds like Sean Hannity's Freedom Alliance.

Don't let their sacrifice be in vain! Stay involved, support our troops and our President, and verbally set straight anyone who puts them down.

Happy Memorial Day!

JAS ADDS: Do yourselves a favor and check out this Mark Steyn column from last year's Memorial Day. As usual from the "one-man global content provider," he hits the nail on the head:

[T]hat's the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screw-ups worth re-examining, but they weren't a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn't lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.

There is something not just ridiculous but unbecoming about a hyperpower 300 million strong whose elites - from the deranged former vice president down - want the outcome of a war, and the fate of a nation, to hinge on one freaky jailhouse; elites who are willing to pay any price, bear any burden, as long as it's pain-free, squeaky-clean and over in a week. The sheer silliness dishonors the memory of all those we're supposed to be remembering this Memorial Day.

Playing by Gore-Kennedy rules, the Union would have lost the Civil War, the rebels the Revolutionary War, and the colonists the French and Indian Wars. There would, in other words, be no America. Even in its grief, my part of New Hampshire understood that 141 years ago. We should, too.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Bill Frist's Only Choice

Yesterday I expressed pessimism that the "compromise" in the Senate between seven agents of Minority Leader Harry Reid and seven traitors to Majority Leader Bill Frist would be only a short-term truce, but that it is already becoming the firmly established status quo ante.

However, if that status quo is to have any chance of being reversed, the reversal will have to come very, very soon, before it can become "set in cement." And a post over at Blogs for Bush got me thinking about the means Fristy could utilize to turn things around.

Sounds to me like the Democrats plan to violate the judicial filibuster compromise:

"Aides to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told FOX News that Democrats will filibuster the nomination of Saad and William Myers to the 9th Circuit Court. Democrats say both nominees are exempt from the "[extraordinary] circumstances" clause in the bipartisan agreement...."

How is Saad an "extraordinary circumstance"? The article tells us Saad "has been endorsed by the United Auto Workers and, in the past, by the AFL-CIO. He's been lauded with praise by some high profile Democrats, and was given the American Bar Association's highest rating of "well qualified."

If the Democrats filbuster Saad and Myers they will have violated the agreement.

Actually, no, they will not have.

The "agreement" doesn't specify what "extraordinary circumstances" mean, which means they can mean whatever Harry Reid wants them to mean. The only concessions the Dems explicitly made were to allow up-or-down votes on Priscilla Owen, Janet Rogers Brown, and William Pryor. If they filibuster either or both of the latter two, then you'd have an unambiguous breach. That's why Frist said that Saad and Myers are in "limbo."

The explicit concession the McCain Seven made (to which the other 48 Republicans did not consent) was to eschew the Byrd Option for the remainder of this Congress. Frist, of course, isn't constrained from invoking it, but he's also deterred from doing so because, by design, he won't have the votes to sustain it.

Of the seven, I think five are actively committed to this "deal" (for their own respective, nominally overlapping reasons): McCain, Warner, Chafee, Snowe, and Collins. That leaves DeWine, who appears to have simply wanted to make a name for himself, and Graham, who fancies himself as McCain's towel boy.

I would wager that the last thing the latter two want to see is Frist calling their bluff on invoking the Byrd Option. As long as that doesn't happen, they can continue to bask in the short-term adulation of the opposition elites and defer confronting the longer-term consequences in the hopes that "the folks back home" will forget their treachery. But if Frist chooses not to be deterred and, in effect, calls them out, that confrontation will not only be vastly hastened, but will be maximally public in the same timeframe as their defection.

These men made an unprincipled choice to duck having to make a principled one. Poetic justice demands that they not be allowed to escape the latter; yet the gamble for Frist is that calling the "Seven Dwarves'" bluff will finish DeWine's and Graham's drift in their perfidious direction.

However, I don't think Frist has much of a choice. One B4B commenter suggests that

If Frist pursues the nuke option now and McCain somehow prevents it from being successful, Frist is gone, the party will be shattered, and standing on top of the rubble will be McCain, his rabble, and the smirking donks.

But the reality is that this is pretty much already the case. In fact, it's worse because McCain has, at this juncture, already prevented the breaking of the filibuster without Frist even making the attempt.

This is precisely why Frist must do so. If he tries and fails, the onus will be on McCain's treachery at least as much as Frist's dithering that contributed to it; if Frist doesn't try at all, the onus will be on him, and McCain will largely escape lasting blame for the debacle altogether.

If I were Majority Leader, I would move Saad and Myers ahead of Brown and Pryor on the calendar. Don't let the Democrats build a false PR momentum of confirming three Bush judges in a row. Force them to either yield on those two to keep DeWine and Graham from looking even more foolish, or filibuster them and run the risk of the "deal" collapsing under its own lopsidedness.

This might have been part of Frist's thinking in putting the Bolton floor debate right after now-Judge Owens' confirmation. If he applies that strategy in an actually relevant fashion, it just might work.

But whether or not it succeeds, it's the right thing to do.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Another Contributor Signs On!

Please join me in welcoming Jennifer Crawford to the board of contributors at Hard Starboard!

Jennifer is from Richmond, Indiana. She is married and has two children. She enjoys reading, outdoor sports, politics, music, and of course, online debate - and now, blogging. She works for the United States Postal Service and also owns a small business which she runs out of her home.

Jennifer is a conservative Christian and is passionate about freedom and free enterprise. Her home is the Republican Party, and she is determined to encourage Republicans to keep their focus on lower taxes and smaller government.

Another Clinton Courtroom Fait Accompli

Well, that didn't take long:

The former national finance director for Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate campaign was acquitted Friday of lying to the government about a lavish 2000 Hollywood fundraising gala.

David Rosen was charged with two counts of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission about the cost of the star-studded gala, which attracted such celebrities as Cher, Melissa Etheridge, Toni Braxton, Diana Ross, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. The jury deliberated about six hours before reaching its verdict.

DagneyT comments at GOP Bloggers that, "The judge was a Clinton appointee, what did we expect?"

Yes, but the prosecutor was even more pro-Hillary than the judge was. He made a far more vigorous case for her innocence than he ever did for David Rosen's guilt. And that's because he couldn't honestly prosecute Rosen without implicating Hillary, who, as the biggest micromanager this side of her husband, could not possibly have been unaware of all the financial chicanery going on at that Hollywood fundraiser.

What disturbs me is that the Bush Justice Department, in a high-profile criminal case involving the Clintons, conducted itself as if Janet Reno were still running the show.

Something stinks about that, as in "pungent aroma of rotting goat entrails steaming in the early morning stench of a compost pile overun with the leakage from the neighboring sewage treatment plant" stinks.

Or "grab a t-shirt at random from my college roommate's dirty laundry pile" stinks, which would be even worse.

If it's the latter, Bush may have to be impeached for his own good.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton is still ducking the question of whether she'll promise to serve out a second senate term if re-elected, one she can't honestly make if she plans to run for president but one that polls keep showing her New York constitutents want from her:

During an interview on CNN's Inside Politics, Mrs. Clinton was asked point blank: "If you were asked to pledge, at some point between now and next year, whether you will definitely fill out a six-year term in the Senate, what would you say?"

Instead of answering directly, Senator Clinton suggested the question was a diversion:

"I am focused on winning re-election," she told host Judy Woodruff. "That is what I work on every single day, just as I have worked my heart out for the last four years. And I'm going to continue doing that every day, and I'm not going to get diverted."

A Quinnipiac University survey of New Yorkers earlier this month found that by an overwhelming margin - 60% to 30% - they want Clinton to take the full-term pledge and not run for president in 2008. Fifty-one percent don't want her to seek the White House even if she doesn't run for a second Senate term.

I can't believe that this is an issue that's going to cause any real problems for Senator Thunder Thighs next year or in 2008. It's almost like her constituents want to be double-crossed and are setting her up to do just that so that they can revel in the betrayal and flock to the polls to put her in the White House two years later.

On the other hand, I also can't believe that Hollywood isn't going to be in the tank for her, either, and yet, if Robert Novak has it right....

An exception to Senator Clinton's support is Hollywood, where some of the entertainment industry's big givers question her electability.

Of course, Novak also reports that Hillary "has cornered Eastern and Midwestern Democratic contributors, helping to make her the prohibitive early favorite for the 2008 presidential nomination." And if Mrs. Clinton is so awash in cash that she doesn't need Hollywood - which will only guarantee that they'll pursue her, since they certainly will want (and need) the access they had during the first Clinton regime - then this is, for those on the Right who can't wait to take her on, another tempest in a teapot.

Just like the great campaign fundraising trial of 2005.

Why the "Deal" is Setting in Cement

Mark Noonon opines at Blogs for Bush that...

[I]t appears, from where I sit, that the firestorm of outrage has made at least two of the seven compromisers are bit uncomfortable.

That would be Mike DeWine and Lindsey Graham after the Democrats blew off the vaunted "truce" and an explicit assurance to Bill Frist and filibustered the Bolton nomination.

I don't think the minority would have done that if a recess wasn't imminent. They just wanted to quiet any minor grumbles in their own camp that were emerging from acquiescing to the Owen, Brown, and Pryor nominations. Week after next they'll probably allow cloture on the latter two and Bolton, primarily to not drive DeWine and Graham back to GOP lines.

The conventional wisdom is now that this "compromise" is untenable, unsustainable, can't last, doomed, etc. I think it has a lot more durability than CW gives it credit for. After all, when was the last time you saw a dog not react happily to being fed scraps from the dinner table and get a pat on the head or scratch behind the ears?

There is always the possibility of the Donks overplaying even this hand. Remember that we're not talking about the Clinton machine, but rather, Harry Reid and his merry band of the verbally incontinent. They've been stepping on rakes for years now, and they could still make things so "uncomfortable" for Graham and DeWine that they'd be almost forced to repent.

But I'm pessimistic about it. This "Deal" has the feel of a watershed, a climactic turning point. In order to get back to the point we were at Monday afternoon there's a ton of ground that has to be regained and a ton of negative momentum to be overcome. And our bunch wasn't getting much done even with the wind of last November's victory at their backs.

It's like a baseball team with a punchless lineup. The only way such a team can succeed is by holding the score down and keeping the game close. If it falls behind early, it's finished.

Our Senate "team" doesn't know which end of the bat is up, and thinks it's playing wiffleball for a round of root beers. And now seven of its members have all but changed uniforms between innings.

Maybe DeWine and Graham can be lured back. But I don't know what Frist can offer them that can compete with what this "Deal" shows they most craved.

UPDATE: Captain Ed brings our attention to an AP article that shows this "deal" was, from Harry Reid's standpoint, a set up all along (as if further confirmation was necessary).

The signatures of 14 Senate centrists, seven from each party, spilled across the last page of a hard-won compromise on President Bush's judicial nominees. But whatever elation the negotiators felt, the Senate's Democratic leader did not share it.

In the privacy of his Capitol office last Monday night, Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, asked for commitments from six Democrats fresh from the talks. Would they pledge to support filibusters against Brett Kavanaugh and William Haynes, two nominees not specifically covered by the pact with Republicans?

Some of the Democrats agreed. At least one, Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, declined.
Amazing what facing re-election in a "red" state will do for a Donk's integrity. Pity it won't have the same effect on Pachyderm intelligence or fortitude.

So, there it is, Senators Graham and DeWine. You have become the biggest suckers, saps, and patsies of all. So much so that even the Extreme Media can't help pointing and laughing.

In the meantime, the "home folks" are readying the tar and feathers. In another B4B post, Mark Noonan is reporting that...

I've been hearing that a couple of the Supine Seven got an earful from the conservative base after their deal with the Democrats and they may be amenable to reason on the issue; Senator Hatch's article tends to confirm this view.

That, presumeably, would also be DeWine and Graham. And "got an earful" hopefully means, "liquified their audio canals."

These two men (the other five are beyond hope) now stand at a crossroads. They can either realize the horrendous error in judgment they made and "come on home," or they can get their backs up, stop listening, and complete their assimilation into drones in Dirty Harry's collective.

Upon so capricious and impulsive a duo does the fate of the Constitution itself depend.

My God, we really are doomed.


First of all, thank you Jim, for the invite to be a part of your excellent blog. What follows are my thoughts on the events that have transpired this week in the Senate.

I have wavered between anger, despair, and downright disgust. And I'm the one who usually tries to look at the bright side! We could have shot the Democrats down and gotten a vote on every judge, period. We could have castrated the leftist snakes and gotten these judges confirmed without 'em. But no, our infamous Wussy 7 decided to trust the likes of Robert Byrd. What has it gotten us? Well, as of Tuesday "the way had been cleared" for a vote on John Bolton. Now look where we are...they are filibustering him yet again, though they lack the guts to call it what it is. Even the MSM is providing cover for them, the Washington Post is calling it a "procedural delay" rather than what it is, a filibuster. If this doesn't piss the Republicans off to the point of finally flipping off the Democrats and doing what needs to be done, what will? And now Thune?? Heck, many of us from other states sent money to help him dethrone Daschle, and now it looks as if he will side with the Democrats against Bolton. GEEZ...

I guess my first post on your blog doesn't really show my normal sweet side, Jim. I'll do better in the future. [g]

Friday, May 27, 2005

In Jersey, Honesty Is Next To Virginity

Senator Jon Korzine (D-Hoffa) kicked off his campaign for the governorship of New Jersey today with the following declaration (via GOP Bloggers):

"I promise you one thing, I'll be honest when I sit in that governor's chair," Corzine said in his speech to Democrats in Essex County...

Corzine's pledge - obviously meant to be an attention-grabbing novelty in that state - reminds me of the man who decides to patronize a "house of ill-repute" one fine Saturday night. He rings the bell on the front counter and the madam comes out to greet him.

"Good evening, sir, how may I help you?"

"I'd like a woman, please," the man replies.

"Well, you've come to the right place," the madam replies amiably. "We have a wide...um, I mean, large...er, that is to say, a diverse selection."

Chuckling in turn, the man asks, "May I see your 'menu'?"

The madam obliges him, calling out half a dozen beauties of varying heights, hair-colors, and builds for him to ogle.

After disclosing the particular skills and specialties of each, she comes to the "model" at the end of the row, who doesn't wait for an introduction.

"Hi, big boy, my name is Jonna Korzine, and I think we could have a very good time together," she purrs.

Looking her droolingly up and down, the man quite obviously concurs, but, curious about her specifics, asks, "I have no doubt, but what is it that you do best?"

"I'm a virgin," Ms. Korzine coos.

At his look of astonishiment, the madam jumps back in. "It's true, sir. Jonna here has never been touched by a man."

"You're kidding! Really?"

"Try me and find out," Ms. Korzine says with a wink.

Overwhelmed at the very concept, the man begins to stammer self-consciously. "But how did you...I mean, how is it that a girl who never has would...And I don't know if I can..."

Cutting back in again, and intent on closing the "deal," the madam says, "I assure you it's true, sir. Jonna is pure as the wind-driven snow."

"But don't take too long to decide. Jonna's shift ends at midnight, and next week it's Francine's turn to be the virgin."

Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest

My office has been shorthanded this week, and today "real" work finally overwhelmed even the snippets of free time I'd previously had for blogging. Guess I'll have to either learn how to stay awake all the time or lobby Congress to graft four to six more hours onto the standard day.

Anyway, I just thought I'd relay the expressions of astonished dismay uttered last night, following the Democrats' resumption of filibuster hostilities against John Bolton, by Darth Queeg, his ass-kissing li'l buddy, and that sublime superfluity known as Mike DeWine:

"It is unfortunate," conceded Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio and a prominent member of the so-called Gang of 14 who drew up the judicial compromise. "It is too bad. But the deal was on judges, not anything else." ...
Pontius Pilate couldn't have washed his hands with any more cynical self-consciousness.

"In this atmosphere of trust, you have to take people's word," said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, as he left the Senate chamber. ...
You mean like any Republican voter is ever going to take your word again?

"Atmosphere of trust"?!?!?

"This is what is disappointing," said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and another one of the Gang of 14. "The spirit of the deal was that we can do better if we all try."

Note that this was said while his tongue was firmly ensconsed in "Sailor's" rectal orifice.

I guess that comment earns Graham a new nickname: The Stuart Smalley of Capitol Hill. Next he'll be building camp fires and strumming folk ballads on the Senate floor.

*sigh* I dunno. Maybe the two above who aren't Sith masters can somehow be lured back to Republican lines. But that presumes that either man's capacity for self-abasement is finite. And from these comments, those are vast depths yet to be plumbed.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

More Fuel For Operation Syrian Freedom

Yesterday came the underreported revelation that Syrian troops engaged U.S. and Iraqi forces along the Iraq-Syria border during last week's Operation Matador. Now today comes the news that a Syrian spook has been captured right smack in the middle of Baghdad conducting suicide bombing operations.

A Syrian intelligence officer detained in Baghdad has admitted to launching the missile attack on the late premier Rafik Hariri's Future Television in June 2003, according to Al-Rai al-Aam Kuwaiti newspaper. In an article published on Wednesday, the newspaper said Hussein Ahmad Tah, 32, was arrested by Iraqi police when he was attempting to assassinate employees in an Iraqi public institution. Following his arrest, Tah decided to admit to his previous crimes, among which is the Future TV bombing.

Tah said he worked for Syrian intelligence services, adding that he worked for a long time in Lebanon where he perpetrated several attacks. He then moved to Iraq, where he committed several attacks against mosques and Iraqi civilians. Security sources in Iraq said that Tah recounted the details of the attack on Future TV. The television station, situated near Raouche in Beirut, was attacked on June 15, 2003, resulting in the destruction of one of the newsrooms. No casualties were reported. The attack was considered as a message to then-owner of the station, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Sources said the car used to perpetrate the crime was stolen in 1997 and hidden in a garage until the date of the attack. A previously unknown group called Jamaat Ansar Allah had held itself responsible for the attack in a statement issued the next day. However, Tah told Iraqi police that the group did not exist and that he had written and issued the statement.

Although a little too reticently for my tastes, Ed Morrissey does end up drawing the proper conclusion:

If this can be substantiated - and that may be a tall order - it would corroborate our intelligence that Syria has at least assisted in the insurgency that has gripped the Sunni Triangle in Iraq since the end of the war. Once substantiated, then we need to take some action against the Syrian dictator that will push him from power.

This latest discovery is one more brick in the Great China Wall of evidence of the "Terror Masters'" assymmetrical war against the Coalition in Iraq - a war that it is far past time to convert to our own brand of military assymmetry.

Senate Business As Usual

Well, the cloture vote on moving to a final up or down vote on the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (as opposed to U.N. Ambassador to the United States) failed this evening by a final tally of 56-42, which would have been 58-41 had Arlen Specter not blown town early and Bill Frist not changed his vote to the "winning" side so as to gain the right to schedule the next attempt at closing off debate. Yes, that's still two votes short, but my fingers needed the exercise.

This is no surprise for at least two reasons.

One, I read a week or two ago that the head count on Bolton's nomination was 58-42 in favor, so the fact that there were forty-two votes against cloture is consistent with the estimate.

Two, the Democrats were always going to filibuster Bolton - no matter what they said a whole, whopping forty-eight hours earlier - and if they hadn't been before, they sure as hell were after using Supreme Chancellor McCain and his six dimwitted droids to squash Bill Frist like a grape Monday night.

Reportedly de facto Majority Leader Harry Reid verbally pissed himself again after the vote, but frankly it's hard for me to muster the partisan energy to ridicule that pie-eyed pissant anymore because, after all, he played Bill Frist like a ten-cent flute. Besides, if I have to listen to that insufferable pencil-neck gloat any more, I'm liable to burn him in effigy and mail him the ashes.

As for what majority (heh) Republicans can do two weeks from now to dislodge this latest deliberative tumor, let the fightin' words of Dr. Schlock speak for themselves:

It certainly sounds like a filibuster. It quacks like a filibuster. It does disappoint me...We are going to come back to this issue...but I think what America has just seen is an engagement of another period of obstruction by the other side...once again, another filibuster...

Oooooh, that'll make the Dems and RINOs knock their knees together in paralyzed terror, huh?

UPDATE: Ho, boy, I'd clean forgotten about this blurb (via B4B) from this morning:

Republicans face another showdown vote but seem confident of muscling John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador through the Senate, giving the post to the man President Bush says will reform the world organization.
Goodness, if that didn't telegraph the debacle de jour, nothing else could.

The Ultimate McCain Mutiny Is Still To Come

For anyone who thinks that we can make John McCain pay for his supreme act of betrayal the other day, I'm sorry to have to inform you that in the end, Darth Queeg is destined to have the last laugh.

The newly-minted Supreme Chancellor is indeed finished as far as the 2008 GOP presidential nomination is concerned. But, once he has been denied yet again, that will simply open the way for him to launch a third party/"independent" candidacy with which to torpedo whatever poor schmuck does end up as the Republican standardbearer. And you know he'll do it, too.

This template ought to sound familiar. Annoying, faux folksy, Bush-hating egomaniac with a grudge against the GOP sabotaging the Party's presidential candidate, to the generous benefit of a Democrat with a surname beginning with the letter "C".

What better vengeance could "Sailor" exact against the Right than to be the instrument of Hillary Clinton's conquest of the White House?

Kinda makes this "Deal" look like a sprig of parsley next to a twenty-four-ounce New York steak, doesn't it?

Party Loyalty Is A Two-Way Street

A dual tretise on the pervasive, intractible Republican penchant for self-destruction.

~ ~ ~

I think we're quite a long ways from being in a situation where the Congressional GOP will lose in 2006

I don't. Remember 1986? 1992? 1998? Even if we didn't deserve to lose, we're overdue for it.

However, if you look back over those years you see a definite pattern emerge. Start with 1992. Bush41 loses his bid for a second term? Why? Because he broke his "no new taxes" pledge two years earlier, and the base punished him for it. Next, 1994. The GOP wins in a rout. Why? Because the Party grew spines of tensiled steel and stopped HillaryCare. How about 1998? Instead of making the big gains that history indicated they should, Republicans instead only broke even. Why? Because every single GOP candidate ran away from impeachment, and the base stayed home as a result.

2000 is interesting in that we picked up a few House seats but lost four senate seats. Dems insisted that House Republicans would be "punished" at the polls for impeaching Clinton, but in fact it was the Senate, which cynically acquitted him, that paid a price.

Aided considerably by President Bush, the GOP picked up six Senate seats over the past two election cycles. The momentum was ever upward.

Until the "Deal." For the first time in six and a half years the GOP caved on a huge issue with its own base. Like it or not, that will be the lingering perception if Bill Frist doesn't move swiftly and massively to contain the damage from this disaster.

It's way too early to speculate on the size of Republican losses next year, but conversion of their newly minted pseudo-minority into the genuine article has to be considered a distinct possibility.

~ ~ ~

That's why you don't ever hear Democrats say "I'm staying home and not voting because my party has abandoned its principles". Their base admires them for "doing whaterver it takes" to get the job done - principles be damned.

Winning is their "principle." For Democrats, that demands unprincipled conduct because their other principles are broadly unpopular. Their base understands this and applauds them for it because they're not interested in persuading people back to their way of thinking, but rather to impose their way of thinking on the people. For their "own good," of course.

For Republicans, it's just the opposite. Their principles are popular, but they're not willing to fight for them to anywhere near the same degree as the Democrats are theirs. So they cave, their base feels betrayed, and the latter takes it out on the former by withdrawing support.

This is what Matt and Mark simply do not grasp: withdrawal of support is the only leverage the base has by which to hold our elected counterparts accountable. If the Dems don't do it to their people, perhaps, just perhaps, it's because their people don't have a spinal problem, while we're continually having to ram titanium rods up our reps' suit jackets.

At some point in any dysfunctional business relationship the party on the short end has to start asking him/herself what s/he is getting out of it and whether it makes sense to perpetuate it or try to make some changes.

Think of the team sports analogy: if a vastly talented team that should be dominant instead underachieves to the point of failing to make the playoffs (no mean feat in this day and age), what usually happens? The coach or manager gets the boot. Why? Because he's primarily accountable for the success level of his team.

The problem Senate 'Pubbies have is that if you sack Bill Frist (who unquestionably deserves to be sacked), who are you going to put in his place that would do any better? Assuming there is such a person (George Allen, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Cornyn), there's no way that his/her colleagues would ever elect him. You'd probably have to go back most of a century to find the last strong GOP Senate leader. The culture of the upper chamber doesn't breed Tom DeLays; what it does breed is the perfidious narcissism we saw on display Monday evening.

And that means that the caucus itself will take the heat, and the punishment, for the manifest failure of a leader so feckless and bumbling and weak, and so reflective of the caucus that elevated him.

Might not be fair to all the casualties come November 2006, but at least maybe then the message will be reiterated that party loyalty is, after all, a two-way street.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Salsa Train

Not that either political party gives a rip, but I think this little story ought to be an attention getter for the rest of us.

"Undocumented immigrants" and residents of northern Mexico who seek medical care in the U.S. are costing Americans hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

All along the U.S.-Mexico border, American hospitals are the place Mexicans go when they need care.

In an emergency, friends or relatives will drive a stricken resident of a border town in Mexico to a U.S. checkpoint - and U.S. ambulances will take the sick individual to a U.S. hospital, where the person is treated and is sometimes sent to more sophisticated facilities for further work, a report in USA Today reveals.

In some cases pregnant women cross the border after going into labor, seeking good medical care and citizenship for their newborn children.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association took a survey and discovered that in 2002, Arizona medical centers reported losses of over $150 million due to treatment of foreign convalescents.

In Tucson, 75 miles north of the border, the University Medical Center will lose $12 million treating Mexicans because they will never be able to pay back the costs of their care. Hospitals do use international collection companies to pursue payments, but most costs go uncollected, reports USA Today.

University Medical president Greg Pivirotto said, "It's a drain that hurts your ability to render care."

That's an understatement.

Jim Dickson, chief executive officer at Copper Queen hospital in tiny Bisbee, Arizona, has had to lay off about 25 percent of his hospital staff and close the long-term care center and the maternity ward altogether, because of the losses incurred by treating foreign nationals.

Since hospitals are required by law to treat all emergency patients, regardless of nationality or legal status, the medical centers have no choice but to bear the costs - and cut U.S. jobs because of it.
You can see where this is going, can't you?

The federal government, after years of pressure from the health-care industry, finally announced last week a plan to reimburse U.S. hospitals for up to 30% of the unpaid bills they run up treating foreign nationals.

That still leaves losses of over $100M for the 38 hospitals along the Arizona border.

It always comes back to picking the pocket of John Q. Taxpayer sooner or later, doesn't it?

For my tax ducats, it seems like we'd save money by just invading Mexico again and this time annexing the entire thing. Either that or building a twenty-mile-wide moat from San Diego to Brownsville. For all the hoopla about past "boatlifts" in the Caribbean, we don't have twelve million "undocumented" Haitians overrunning the country and bleeding our social services down to the marrow.

If the Feds won't undertake "Operation Deportation," this just might be the next best thing.

Pyrrhic Victory #1

Well, I guess the new Democrat/RINO majority in the Senate decided not to run up the score too badly.

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Priscilla Owen as a federal appellate judge, ending the four-year ordeal of the Texas jurist who was thrust into the center of the partisan battle over President Bush's judicial nominations.

The 56-43 vote to appoint Owen to the New Orlean-based 5thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was a consequence of an agreement reached earlier this week that averted, for the time being, a bitter dispute over Democratic use of the filibuster to block Bush's judicial choices. [my emphasis]

That italicized passage is why I can't get excited about this ostensibly positive result. That and the fact that I'm not convinced the Gang of Seven won't still screw over Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor.

Do I really have to spell out why? Justice Owens' nomination didn't need this "agreement" to enable her confirmation. Minority Leader in all but name Bill Frist had the votes to break the Dem filibuster but was too squeamish to pull the trigger, and the RINOs finally seized this golden opportunity to strike. So now the new majority coalition deigns to give us a crumb or three from our own table, and we're suppose to rejoice?

Think of it this way: "terrorists" take ten hostages. They execute three of them in cold blood and refuse to release the remaining seven. Over the course of the standoff SWAT teams gradually and painstakingly surrounded the "terrorists'" hideout and get in position to storm the place and save the hostages. But, just as the order to attack is about to be given, one of the SWAT team members pulls out a bullhorn and announces that he's secretly negotiated a "compromise." He and six others walk openly into the hideout and gun down four of the remaining hostages themselves so that, he then declares, the other three can be rescued.

If you're a loved one of one of the three, I suppose you're relieved and grateful that s/he survived, but would you really consider that to be a satisfactory resolution of the standoff?

I think we're off base to call this "Deal" another Munich; "Waco II" seems a much better metaphor.

[HT: Captain's Quarters]

Can We Get (Half) An "AMEN"?

Hugh Hewitt twenty minutes ago:

Senate members and staff long ago abandoned basic human decency when they decided to cover ideological opposition with attacks on character. How refreshing it would be if, say, Barbara Boxer would stand up in the Senate and say "I oppose Justice Owen because she's a center-right Republican and I'm a liberal." Fine. Boxer won the election in California. She can do whatever she wants with her vote. But to try and turn William Meyer or Janice Rogers Brown or Miguel Estrada or all the others into ogres is disgusting.

Now we see the Democrats routinely sliming excellent public servants, some of whom get confirmed after their ordeals, and others of whom are just chewed up. This is the part of the process about which people shouldn’t chill even if they like the filibuster. The MSM voices demanding "moderation" and a "return to civility," have got to track the collapse of the confirmation process which got started under Reagan. and ask how rancor can be expected to ebb as the political body count keeps going higher and higher.

Precisely. I, for one, do not think I could serve in the U.S. Senate - and not just from the fact that I'm from a state that's bluer than the Pope's balls - because I doubt I could get through an entire floor debate on one of the President's nominees without either tackling Ted Kennedy or Chuckie Schumer or "Leaky" Leahy or the Kleagle and beating them senseless (otherwise known as "pulling a Franken") or just skipping the whole sorry display other than when it was my turn to speak. I am so sick and tired of listening to the same insults, the same invective, the same lying BS hurled so cynically at good people these solons don't even know for no other reason than the basest of partisan politics.

What makes it even worse is that these nominees by rule and custom cannot even defend themselves - and Republicans, by and large, won't defend them either. Why do they let this systematic viciousness go on? Why does no Pachyderm set aside the alleged "comity" and "colleagiality" and "clubbiness" of what is more accurately labeled "the world's greatest reputational slaughterhouse" and start firing back with equal venom? Where is our Robert Welch to stand up and exclaim with righteous indigation, "Have you no decency sir?!?"

It's just that sort of squeamishness that allowed "Sailor" McCain to submarine Bill Frist the other day. If Frist had been the LBJ-style SOB that the importance of this confrontation called for - IOW, if he'd been Tom DeLay - McCain would not have been able to cajole enough waverers over to tip the balance in the Democrats' favor, because the filibuster would have been broken on the first day of this Congress, and by this time all seven Bush nominees would have been long since on the appellate bench.

Thus it is that this "deal" is simply the logical terminus of a spinelessness already long nurtured over the past decades by a party that lost its soul in the New Deal and, for all the efforts of the Barry Goldwaters, Ronald Reagans, Newt Gingriches, and George W. Bushes, still hasn't gotten it back.

I just don't understand how any true Republican, moderate or conservative, could even feign "chumminess" with such loathsome (sorry for all the barnyardisms of late, but they're definitely needed) assholes. To modify a line from another Star Trek novel, "If I became a tenth as twisted as [insert Dem Senator's name here], I would merit a whuppin'." Kind of like McCain does, along with the hill of fireants and the gauntlet of Klingon painstiks.

Unfortunately, Double-H wasn't as incisive with his proposed remedy:

What needs to happen is a bipartisan agreement, formalized in a new rule, on how all nominations should be handled - with no blue slips, no "holds," no endless delays, no last minute witnesses appearing with conjured up tales of harassment, no filibusters. Perhaps more nominees without majority support will lose - and on simple ideological grounds - but at least we can start to drain the swamp.

Sorry, Hugh, but this idea founders on its seventh and eighth words: "bipartisan agreement." The "Deal" was a "bipartisan agreement," and it's not going to be long until we see, yet again, just how tissue-thin the promises of the DisLoyal Opposition really are. Trying to get them to agree to stop smearing constitutionalist judicial nominees when that's been their bloodsport pasttime for the past twenty years is nothing but a fool's errand. Indeed, it would be an attempt to regulate senatorial speech, which might drive Senator Byrd to dig his sheets out of mothballs and burn a cross or two on the Capitol steps (or outside the White House gate, take your pick).

Enough with "deals" and "agreements" and gibbering about "minority rights" that will disappear into the ether the moment the Donks are no longer in the minority. They cannot be trusted other than to be untrustworthy. The goal should be to keep defeating them at the ballot box and then use the majority power so gained to slap them down, keep them in their place, and teach them what being in the minority is supposed to mean: powerlessness. Only by that path can being in the majority have the opposite meaning and elections truly matter.

It doesn't matter how few Democrats there are in the U.S. Senate (or House, for that matter), or how bad their manners are, if they're functionally unopposed.

And right now, all we hear from the alleged majority side is a chorus of crickets.

What Can Bush & Frist Do?

According to ex-Republican and hopelessly ideological pugilist Pat Buchanan, they can fight back, that's what.

What ought Frist to do?

Hold a press conference and declare to the party and country that, while the McCain Compromise may bind the seven, it does not bind the Senate, and, as majority leader, he intends to give every nominee to come out of the Judiciary Committee a floor vote. Should any nominee be filibustered, he will move to invoke cloture and shut off debate.

If McCain's Gang of Seven wishes to vote with 45 Democrats to let judicial nominees be filibuster-vetoed, that is their right. But they will have to vote with Reid, Barbara Boxer and Kennedy, and against their fellow Republicans and President Bush. [my emphasis]

McCain has thrown down a challenge to Bush, as well. Before Monday, the Democratic minority was dictating which judges would be held hostage and which ones would be released. Now, it is the Democratic minority, plus the McCain Seven, that is doing the dictating.

What Bush should reply is: There is not an extremist among them. All are men and women of integrity, intelligence and judicial demeanor. I want them all voted up or voted down. To deny them a vote is to do them and the nation an injustice.

If the President and Frist move toughly, and together, they can scatter the McCain gang, get every judge voted on and disarm the Democrats of their lethal weapon.

They have the votes. The question is: Do they have the nerve?

That may be more than a little overoptimistic. First off, because Frist by definition of this "Deal" doesn't have the votes to trigger the Byrd Option, and second, if Frist had the mettle and the ruthlessness to pursue the course Buchanan urges, this fiasco would never have happened in the first place. The good doctor is just too much of a gentleman in a job that requires its occupant to be a son-of-a-bitch when the circumstances call for it. They most definitely call for it now, but Frist won't force this confrontation because he doesn't have it in him. And those other non-signatory Republicans who are making defiant noises about not being bound by this "Deal" are just as much "all hat and no cattle."

And if you were looking for presidential leadership to turn back this tide, you may or may not be disappointed

So, to formally answer PJB's rhetorical question, no, they don't have the nerve. Which only amplifies the tragedy, because, as was the case with the futile stand for the rule of law taken by House Republicans in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, even a doomed effort to break the filibuster would at least reiterate the constitutionalist principle that the McCain Mutineers vitiated and force them off of their "We're above politics" fraud pedestal and to have to publicly identify with their real allies, the Democrat Left.

And who knows? Perhaps DeWine and Graham, who were the most wobbly of the seven, would wilt under the heat and skulk back to GOP lines, where they would be assigned latrine duty until their asses could be keelhauled in 2006 and 2008, respectively. That'd give Fristy his fifty.

Frist and other loyal Pachyderms like John Cornyn continue to insist that the Byrd Option is still "on the table." It had better be, because if we can no longer have it out with the DisLoyal Opposition on this issue, we can at least settle accounts with the quislings who gave away the keys to the kingdom.

UPDATE: According to Captain Ed, Frist is f'ing up already:

Next up for the Senate will be John Bolton, who got moved ahead of Janice Rogers Brown on the calendar. That's a mistake. Brown has waited longer than Bolton for action on her nomination, and the pressure of media and constituent curiosity about possible secret parameters of this Memorandum of Understanding between the 14 so-called centrist Senators will wane quickly. Frist should have acted on both Brown and Pryor while the momentum exists for speedy judicial confirmations. Bolton could have waited another two weeks.

Inherent to the Gang of Seven's political calculation on this stunt is that the voters will have a long stretch of time in which to forget all about it. Well, that's certainly not going to happen, but as with all things, the passage of time cools passions and people grow accustomed to the new status quo. If Frist wanted to use this base anger to try and salvage something from this debacle of his, he's just put two more bullets through his podiatric appendages.

What's Wrong with this Picture?

The judge has made it clear that Hillary Clinton is not on trial in the trial of her 2000 senate campaign's finance director, David Rosen. Okay, I understand that. And the US Attorney has made it clear that he's only prosecuting Mr. Rosen, not Mrs. Clinton. Okay, I understand that.

Well, I don't, really, but let's take that at face value for the moment.

I don't think my ability to understand this stuff is going to stretch this far.

The prosecution rested yesterday in the trial of Hillary Clinton's former finance director David Rosen, without calling several key witnesses in the case - a move that some say was a bid to avoid implicating the former first lady.

"They're the elephants in the room," an attorney familiar with the trial told the New York Sun. "The jury may ask: 'Where were they?' That's the risk," he added, requesting not to be identified.

Among those not called to testify is Peter Paul, the man whose allegations spurred an FBI probe four years ago into a Hollywood gala fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign. Mr. Paul underwrote the bulk of the event's $1.2 million cost, a figure Mr. Rosen allegedly underreported to federal regulators by $800,000.

While prosecutors have bluntly stated that Mrs. Clinton had nothing to do with allegations against Rosen, Mr. Paul charges in a separate civil lawsuit that both Senator Clinton and her husband committed a variety of crimes in connection with the same fundraiser.

The prosecution is claiming that Mr. Paul's past convictions for stock manipulation and cocaine possession make him a less than credible witness, a claim I could take seriously if they weren't so obviously hell-bent upon protecting Mrs. Clinton at the same time. Indeed, the latter appears to be a priority even over building the best possible case against Mr. Rosen. That case, in the absence of Mr. Paul's testimony, could very well founder for lack of evidence precisely because a full-scale prosecutorial effort couldn't avoid implicating Mrs. Clinton, as Mr. Paul asserts.

The question at this point is day-glo obvious: Why is the Justice Department prosecuting David Rosen at all? It's becoming increasingly clear that they can't bag him without impacting Hillary's 2008 coronational processional, and they're willing to shred their own professional credibility and torpedo their own case rather than cause the latter to happen.

And never let it be forgotten that this is the Bush DOJ we're talking about. I don't care if the judge and entire prosecutorial team are Clinton appointees, the latter ultimately answer to the President, and it seems to me that their bending over backwards to this ludicrous an extent rather than just prosecuting the case in an even routine fashion has to imply that the White House is aware of this case and is signing off on this extraordinary leniency.

The increasing chuminess of the Clintons and the Bush family has been gaining more notariety of late. If that's being taken to the extent of subverting the criminal justice process, then the "New Tone" has officially crossed over from aggravating nuisance to full-fledged scandal.

A "Stiff" Price for Kofi Annan's Departure

We've joked about it for years, in gallows fashion, but now it looks like they're getting ready to start laying the astroturf down at Turtle Bay.

"There's still more to come, there's still more to the story," a veteran U.S. diplomat told NewsMax regarding U.N. chief Kofi Annan's role in the ever-expanding Iraq Oil-for-Food scandal.

The diplomat, closely tied with the world body's most influential members, said pressure is building for Annan to resign. "It is possible that the secretary-general could, for the good of the organization, eventually offer his resignation," he told NewsMax's Stewart Stogel.

But who would replace Annan?

"Bill Clinton," the source said with a smile.

The U.S. official admitted that Bill Clinton as secretary-general, while still a long shot, is now being taken more seriously than in the past.

I'll give you all a few moments to finish retching and shuddering.

...Alrighty, then.

There are no legal roadblocks for a Clinton election to the U.N.'s top post.

During the term of Javier Peres de Cuellar a U.S. diplomat, Joseph Verner Reed, held the U.N.'s No. 2 slot - under secretary-general for General Assembly and Secretariat Affairs. Reed would have assumed Peres de Cuellar's responsibilities had the secretary-general been killed or incapacitated.

"When I am not in the house, Joe Reed runs the show. You take orders from him the way you take orders from me," Peres de Cuellar often told his senior staff.

Clinton, under his assignment of coordinator for Tsunami relief, has already been given a United Nations office, a U.N. identity card and diplomatic passport.

It was Bill Clinton who, as U.S. president, sponsored Annan's move to unseat Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1996. [my emphasis]

You can just imagine the phone call (in Rush Limbaugh's Clinton impersonation):

"H'lo? Kofi? Hey, it's Bill! How ya doin'? Say, you know all that Oily Food stuff that you're havin' such a problem with? I gotta tell you, I'm a bit disappointed in you about that. Didn't ah tell you howda cover things up? You remember, make sure there's at least half a dozen layers of proxies, gofers, and underlings between you and the action, blackmail the investigators before they can get on yer tail, kiss a lotta babes - babies! - ah, you know what ah mean, so that the Oily Food program becomes like the international school lunch program and anybody...yeah, anybody who even calls your gravy train a scandal is a heartless, child-killing, warmongering fascist scarab. You remember, classic demagogic misdirection.

"Well, ah guess ya didn't remember, and now they're closin' in on ya, and besides, you were late on delivering me mah cut, so here's what we're gonna do. What? Oh, no, you don't have to double yer security arrangements, heh heh, jest slowly ease on out of yer job there and let me ease on into it. Yeah, that's right - after all, heh heh, remember who got you that job in the first place. And before I forget, make sure you get me the number of that peacekeeping escort service. That's the one, right, ya might wanna let 'em know that they'll be gaining another regular customer. But don't let anyone know yet, heh heh, alright? And...yeah, you can have my sloppy seconds. What's that? Yeah, we'll have 'em screened for AIDS and stuff...yeah, assuming, you know, that you ease yerself out on schedule. Otherwise mah selective amnesia might start coming back. Heh heh..."

Supreme Chancellor McCain (aka Darth Queeg), Secretary-General Bill, and President Hillary.

"Arrived, the dark times have," indeed.

Did Syria Cross the Line?

Here's a potentially momentous development that's slid completely under the public radar:

A top source from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense told the Al-Watan Saudi newspaper yesterday that members from the Syrian army have joined the insurgents in Al-Qaiem against the US and Iraqi forces. [my emphasis]

Al-Qaiem is on the border with Syria which is used as a cross safe heaven point for the Saudi and other Arab insurgents from Syria.

At least 35 among the Syrian army who were arrested during the fighting confessed about their ranks and their Syrian army units. They also confessed about their role in training the insurgents inside Iraq. Part of that training was professional including anti-aircraft missiles. The US army earlier mentioned that the type of training and weapons was different and well organized this time. This now has been confirmed that such professional training needs a well organized state's army behind it.

Anti aircraft missiles and other sophisticated weapons have been found this time.

Now I'm the first one to admit that my professional speciality isn't international law, but doesn't the overt presence of Syrian troops on Iraqi soil engaging in "major combat operations" against Iraqi and American forces mean that a state of war exists between the government of Syria and the governments of Iraq and the United States?

Jed Babbin seems to concur:

The President has too much on his mind, and his advisers are divided. The CIA and the State Department point to the small amount of cooperation we have been getting from Syria, and insist that we can compel them to do more without taking firm action. The Defense Department is less tolerant. It wants to act, but apparently hasn't even been allowed to ask the Iraqis for permission to mount an attack into Syria. Our failure to take decisive action costs too much. The time has come to act.

First, either Vice President Cheney or the President himself needs to knock heads together, because no one else can. CIA, State, and Defense have to be brought into line and resolved to action. Then State should deliver a final ultimatum to Assad. If he fails to end his regime's support for terrorism forthwith - and that means not only the Iraqi insurgents, but Hezbollah and all the others that have operated from Damascus for decades - he must be told we will end it for him. The Iraqi government should be consulted, but its reluctance - if it has any - to a cross-border attack must be dispelled or politely ignored. As soon as it is, special operations forces should cross into Syria covertly, to lead a combined air and ground attack against the terrorists and whatever Syrian assets are supporting them, from Qaim to Damascus. Whatever it takes, that is what we must do.
As Michael Ledeen has argued on occasions too numerous to count, this is a regional conflict, not limited merely to Iraq and Afghanistan. We must intervene wherever our enemies are, ultimately, to wipe them out before they can get us here at home. And it is folly to sit in, as it were, the middle of Babylon and allow the "Assyrians" on one side and the "Medes and Persians" on the other slowly bleed us (and the "Babylonians") to death from Cambodia-like sanctuaries that we ourselves designate as officially out of our reach.

I've been saying this for as long as Ledeen has (just without his eloquence). It is inevitable if the GWOT is to retain its seriousness and also be won. And what better way of turning up the heat on the mullahs to the east than to remove their junior (and final) partner in the region?

The road to Damascus awaits, Mr. President. Time to light that mother up.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Chain Reaction

It started with judges yesterday; now today the GOP House (you know, the supposedly sane side of the Capitol) passed what amounts to John Kerry's stem cell research plan, which President Bush has promised to veto, and (so says Business Week magazine) "Republicans seem increasingly willing to abandon Bush-style [Social Security personal] accounts and their opposition to any tax increases."

And nobody's even talking about John Bolton's UN ambassadorship floor vote yet, either.

Well does Jonathan Rothenberg observe:

[W]hy bother voting Republican if it means blocking originalist judges and raising taxes? If a Republican majority in the House and the Senate follow up a surrender to Democrats on judicial nominations with tax increases, you can mark this day as the day the Republican majority began to disintegrate.

I'll take it one step further: Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, whose cloture vote passed 81-18 today, will, I predict, be voted down tomorrow with the unanimous assistance of the Gang of Seven. Similar defeats will await Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. The Dems will get their clean sweep of all ten of Bush's "extreme" appellate court nominees, and will have the bipartisan loin cloth to cover their dangling PR erections after the buggering finally draws to a close.

It only makes sense. Dems have spent years denouncing these three as not just "extreme" and "out of the mainstream," but the worst of the President's lot. What better way to put the exclamation point on their outrageous claims than to be able to crow that "even the Republicans recognized how fascist these three judges were, and cooperated with us in a patriotic effort to keep them out of the federal judiciary. We now call upon the President to consult with us in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation to ensure that we retain and nuture a responsible, independent judiciary that safeguards civil rights and..."

Sorry, I'm starting to make myself sick.

Again, I hope I'm wrong about this.

But then, that's what I said about a "deal" pre-empting the Byrd Option, too.

[5/25 AM UPDATE: Great minds think alike....]

[5/25 AM UPDATE II: Justice Owen was confirmed 56-43.]

UPDATE: Speaking of Bolton....

One Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer of California, had sought to block a Senate vote on Mr. Bolton, saying she would oppose any vote until the State Department provided documents related to the nomination that the department has so far refused to hand over.

On Tuesday afternoon, however, a spokeswoman for Ms. Boxer said she had decided to lift a hold on Mr. Bolton's nomination. Ms. Boxer's spokeswoman said she would join with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware in agreeing to a Republican plan to move toward a vote on Mr. Bolton after allowing up to 40 hours of debate.

It appeared unlikely that any Senate Democrat would try to use a filibuster to block a vote, Senate Democratic officials said.

Once again, I'll believe it when I see it, and not a moment before.

[HT: Captain's Quarters]

Speedy Gonzales to the "Rescue?"

Remember how we all breathed a sigh of relief that avowed "moderate" former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales was routed to the attorney-general slot instead of the SCOTUS bullpen? Well, in the wake of yesterday's act of Republican ritual suicide, guess what skeletal hand is rising anew from that musty lake?

How true to their word Democrats will be may become apparent in about a month, when Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist is expected to announce his retirement. Already in Washington rumors are swirling that current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may be under serious consideration for the empty slot left vacant after one of the sitting justices is elevated to fill Rehnquist's role.. "You look at what he hasn't done in his few months at Justice," says a former White House staffer, "and it makes you think he's really been looking ahead and trying to keep as clear from controversy as he can."

Gonzales has managed to sidestep taking a position on the Terri Schiavo legal battle, and beyond stating his basic support for the eight judicial nominees in limbo, he has avoided being embroiled in this current debate. As well, he has made very few public appearances where anything remotely controversial could have been uttered."

Everything points to a Gonzales nomination," says a lobbyist aware of the White House thinking on prospective judicial nominees.

This, of course, would only infuriate an already livid party base even more:

Gonzales would be unacceptable to just about every conservative group in Washington and beyond."I don't know of any conservative who worked to reelect this president who would be satisfied with a Gonzales nomination," says a Senate Judiciary staffer.

"This President was reelected because conservatives want to see a conservative on the Court. If the President has a second opportunity, then perhaps there is room for Gonzales. But only after the President fulfills his promise to voters."
I think this Senate Judiciary staffer understates the matter dramatically. After this latest cave-in, no non-conservative will be acceptable from this President, period. The Gang of Seven stabbed us in the back precisely because the leadership cut them way too much slack. Anybody who thinks that conservatives are not going to start making rafter-rattling demands as a result of this debacle are deluding themselves.

And yet, the President has been put in an impossible position. As a result of "the Deal," he now has no hope of ever getting a conservative past the Democrat/RINO blockade. The minority has effectively assimilated its way, Borg-like, back to majority control. He can still send up one constitutionalist after another, but with the el foldo of the McCain Mutineers in hand as a ready-made PR billyclub, he would only consign himself to irrelevance by doing so. And yet by giving in to Dem demands, he essentially condemns himself and his presidency to the same fate.

That was quite a day's work Arizona's senior senator put in yesterday. Came in for a landing on his own ship and turned kamikaze on the bridge instead. A veritable political USS Forrestal.

Or, perhaps, a political USS Arizona.