Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rudy Giuliani, Colonel Morgenthaler, and Democrats changing course

Giuliani saying Democrats will change mind about Iraq War
Rudy Giuliani said at a town hall meeting Monday that he thinks the Democrats are going to change their minds about the Iraq War and again support it.

"Do I think the mission in Iraq is the correct one? I think without a doubt it is," Giuliani said in Londonderry, New Hampshire. "And I think the Democrats are gonna change their mind about it again."

"I think Edwards has apologized for it. She (Hillary Clinton) hasn't apologized for it but she said it was a mistake, but it was George Bush's mistake. I guess he got her to vote that way," he said.

The former Mayor of New York went on to tell the crowd, of over 250 people, again that he thought over time the Democrats will change their minds about the Iraq War and that "over time history will show it was the right decision."
If the Democrat's candidate in Illinois's 6th turns out to be Colonel Morgenthaler and she sticks with this diary entry,
As she told me the horrors of living in Kuwait under the occupation, I realized that if we had not had the first war, Saddam may have been impossible to stop with the oil under his total control. The men who did terrible things to the Kuwaitis, especially the Kuwaiti women are very similar to the men we are fighting. As people get upset about Abu Ghraib, one thing that should never be forgotten: these are men who have murdered Americans and would continue to murder Americans if given the opportunity. (my empahsis)
...then I'd say Democrats have started the turn.

John Judis on Rudy: the Pope makes him do it.

Judis in TNR on Rudy the Authority Figure, HT WurfWhile Get ready for lots of this kind of mumbo jumbo if Rudy get's it.
There are two aspects of Catholic philosophy that show up clearly in Giuliani's political outlook. The first, which he would have found at almost any religious school, is a tendency to view politics and history as a moral contest between good and evil. That is sharply in contrast to a secular post-Enlightenment view of individuals--from presidents to petty thieves--as products of historical forces greater than themselves. The difference between Giuliani's view and the secular one would show up in his attitude toward crime and criminals.

Second, Giuliani was exposed to a specifically Catholic (as opposed to Protestant-individualist) view of the relationship between authority and liberty--one that dates from Aquinas's Christian Aristotelianism, was spelled out in Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical on the Nature of Human Liberty, and still enjoys currency today, even in the wake of Vatican II. Catholic thinkers do not see liberty as an end in itself, but as a means-a "natural endowment"--by which to achieve the common good. For that to happen, individuals have to be encouraged to use their liberty well; and that is where authority comes into play. Authority, embodied by law and the state, encourages--at times, forces--free individuals to contribute to the common good. Or, to put it in Aristotelian terms:Authority--by creating a just order--encourages liberty over license.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kruathammer on the GOP field

Sums up my thoughts perfectly,
...no more gnashing of teeth. Republicans have 4 1/2 good presidential candidates. All five would make fine Cabinet members: Romney at Treasury, Thompson at Justice, McCain at Defense, Giuliani at Homeland Security, Huckabee at Interior. All the team needs now is to pick a captain who can beat Hillary.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Aleida Guevara in Teheran: "My father never mentioned God"

Sarah Baxter describes a culture clash between between the children of Che Guevara and the Mullahs at Teheran University. From Times Online via Belmont Club
A glorious culture clash took place in Iran recently that made me laugh out loud. The children of Che Guevara, the revolutionary pin-up, had been invited to Tehran University to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their father’s death and celebrate the growing solidarity between “the left and revolutionary Islam” at a conference partly paid for by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president.

There were fraternal greetings and smiles all round as America’s “earth-devouring ambitions” were denounced. But then one of the speakers, Hajj Saeed Qassemi, the co-ordinator of the Association of Volunteers for Suicide-Martyrdom (who presumably remains selflessly alive for the cause), revealed that Che was a “truly religious man who believed in God and hated communism and the Soviet Union”.

Che’s daughter Aleida wondered if something might have been lost in translation. “My father never mentioned God,” she said, to the consternation of the audience. “He never met God.” During the commotion, Aleida and her brother were led swiftly out of the hall and escorted back to their hotel. “By the end of the day, the two Guevaras had become non-persons. The state-controlled media suddenly forgot their existence,” the Iranian writer Amir Taheri noted.

After their departure, Qassemi went on to claim that Fidel Castro, the “supreme guide” of Guevara, was also a man of God. “The Soviet Union is gone,” he affirmed. “The leadership of the downtrodden has passed to our Islamic republic. Those who wish to destroy America must understand the reality and not be clever with words.”
Note the, Those who wish to destoy America... here. Give these folks credit for saying what they mean.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Former Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts on Giuliani

Jason Bonham interviews Gov Cellucci on Giuliani. HT Backyard Conservative

Benazir Bhutto: ...everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology.

Benazier Bhutto's Journeying to democracy which has new meaing after the slaughter of the attack against her. Temendous courage...
As I board the plane to Pakistan, I am fully aware that the supporters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have publicly threatened my assassination.

Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander, has said that his terrorists will "welcome" me on my return. Everyone understands the meaning of these comments. And I fully understand the men behind Al Qaeda. They have tried to assassinate me twice before. The Pakistan Peoples Party and I represent everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology. We represent the future of a modern Pakistan, a future that has no place in it for ignorance, intolerance, and terrorism.

The forces of moderation and democracy must, and will, prevail against extremism and dictatorship. I will not be intimidated. I will step out on the tarmac in Karachi not to complete a journey, but to begin one. Despite threats of death, I will not acquiesce to tyranny, but rather lead the fight against it.

Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy

A link to the Navy's website for him.

72-Year-Old Concerned Citizen takes down suicide bomber

A CENTCOM Press Release,
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – A 72-year-old man stopped a suspected suicide bomber from detonating himself at a checkpoint in Arab Jabour Oct. 14.

The man approached a checkpoint where Mudhehr Fayadh Baresh was standing guard, but did not make it very far.

Baresh, a tribal commissioner and member of the Arab Jabour Concerned Citizens program, said he ordered the man to lift his shirt - using training received from Coalition Forces - when he did not recognize him as a local villager.

The suspect refused to lift his shirt. Baresh repeated the command again, and the suspect exposed his suicide vest, running toward the checkpoint.

Baresh opened fire which caused the vest to detonate, killing the suspect.

“I did it for the honor of my family and the honor of my country,” said Baresh, when he met with Col. Terry Ferrell, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Eric Lee on Globe and Mail's survey of Afghans on NATO

Eric Lee lays out the numbers and comments on Globe and Mail's survey of Afghans on NATO's presense in Afganistan.
And here is what the Afghans believe:

51% say that the country is heading in the right direction
59% believe that President Hamid Karzai represents their interests
60% say that the foreign presence since the fall of the Taliban has been a good thing
60% feel that they are better off now than they were five years ago
64% say that those foreign countries are doing a good job fighting the Taliban
65% say that foreign countries are doing a good job providing reconstruction assistance
71% have a very or somewhat positive view of their government
73% think that women are better off now than under the Taliban
84% have some or a lot of confidence in the Afghan national army

Unsurprisingly, when comparing the results by gender it turns out that women “tend to be more negative about the Taliban.”

Now imagine if the same poll were conducted among, say, readers of the Guardian or Independent in the UK. Would it show huge majorities expressing support for and confidence in both the Nato mission and the elected Karzai government? Probably not.

Gen Harbord's recommendations to Congress from his Mission to Armenia

Harbord laid out the Commission's recommenations on the US Gov accepting a mandate to govern the fledgling state of Armenia in two columns: one Pro and one Con. The final 14th Pro recommendation lacked a matching Con. Here it is from page 28,
14. Here is a man’s job that the world says can be better done by America than by any other. America can afford the money; she has the men; no duty to her own people would suffer; her traditional policy of isolation did not keep her from successful participation in the Great War. Shall it be said that our country lacks the courage to take up new and difficult duties?
Our decision to not accept the mandate for Armenia would have been an interesting topic for Congress to reflect on.

House Resolution 106 just noted this response by Congress to Harbord's report,
(13) Senate Resolution 359, dated May 11, 1920, stated in part, `the testimony adduced at the hearings conducted by the sub-committee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have clearly established the truth of the reported massacres and other atrocities from which the Armenian people have suffered'.

(14) The resolution followed the April 13, 1920, report to the Senate of the American Military Mission to Armenia led by General James Harbord, that stated `[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages'.
Congress noted Armenia's suffering but strangley silent on how it responded to Harbor's recommendations on what should or should not have been done.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hastert to announce resignation today

That's what Fox and Politico are saying. (A quick search of the Sun Times and Trib showed nothing.) Here's from Fox,
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will resign his seat in Congress later this year, and not serve out the remainder of his term, FOX News has learned.

The Illinois Republican has informed the House GOP leadership of his early departure, according to Republican sources. No date has been chosen for a formal announcement, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, sources told FOX News, but the resignation is expected to become effective in December or January.

Hastert's leaving in the middle of the 110th Congress means his Illinois district will have to hold a special election, one more likely to favor a GOP candidate since the party is expected to be more adept at turning out voters in a low-turnout special election.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Seattle Times: $4.5 million for a boat that nobody wanted

An interesting chart from a Seattle Times article Defense Industry Earmarks. Who gets the earmarks and which Reps get contributions from the industry recipients. The chart below shows the Reps.

HT by Sylvester McMonkey Mcbean's post: You'll Agree with a Republican After Reading This over at dKos

dKos: Murtha's "pet rock" bankrolled apparent AF suicide victim

A dKos diarist speculates on the suicide Sunday of Charles D. Riechers, 47, the Air Forces Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisitions.

Riechers made the WaPo Front page for temporarily taking a "no work" job with a company close to Murtha while awaiting confirmation for his position as Dep Asst Sec,
A leading patron of Concurrent in Congress is Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who represents the district where the company is based. Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, announced the creation of the company in 1987.

Murtha recently arranged $10 million in earmarks for the company for fiscal 2008, according to records compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group. One $3 million earmark is for an Air Force project.

Through a spokesman, Murtha said he has no financial ties to Concurrent. Murtha said the company's "quality work and research has resulted in improved equipment for our troops. Their competitive price has saved taxpayers money, and they continue to deliver on-time results."
I don't think Murtha will politically survive this one. It's way too ugly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SCHIP and Liberal Passions

Capitan's Quarters and Bruce Kesler on USA Today's poll on SCHIP expansion.

I'm not surprised. My liberal friends have become surprising deficit hawks. They're older and have often worked in public sector jobs. They're cynical about things like SCHIP.

Now Gore and global warming will get them excited but they sense the politics on this one. They're not worked up.

Hardly a scientific survey I know. It's just what I've observed.

Global Cairene: Alaa Al Aswani Disappoints with “Chicago”

GC reviews Al Aswani's new book Chicago.

I took first semester Arabic at College of DuPage. A big class with spouses of Arabic speakers trying to learn the inlaws language, and kids from Arabic-speaking families trying to improve their kitchen-Arabic.

They seemed the typical Chicago experience: work hard, school at night, aiming for a better job and big house in the 'burbs.

Guy Moquet's Letter

Powerline notes French President Nicolas Sarkozy said this letter needs to be read in French Schools ...as a celebration of resistance and sacrifice for one's country. PL writes,
There's a good reason why Moquet's letter should not be read to students. Moquet was a Communist agitator, not a member of the French resistance. And his letter, though brave, says nothing about sacrifice for one's country. Indeed, it doesn't even mention France. That's not surprising -- as a Communist Moquet presumably was an internationalist at best (and a Russia-first Stalinist at worst), not a French nationalist.

It's not clear, however, that the resistance by France's teachers to Sarkozy's decree stems from Moquet's lack of credentials as a patriot. In the news report I saw tonight on French television, the resistance seemed to have more to do with (a) resentment at being told what to do by Sarkozy and (b) a lack of desire to promote patriotism and sacrifice for country. One teacher sniffed that there are better ways to teach about the French resistance. But Sarkozy isn't devising a course on the resistance movement; he's trying to inject a little bit of patriotism into one school day. The problem is that he picked a poor example.

But that's not to say that Sarkozy made a mistake. More likely, I imagine, he made a gesture to the French left.
And I'd say not a bad gesture at all. Moquet doesn't mention country but neither did he mention Stalin. He writes of his family. This letter not a bad example at all for kids.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jed Babbin: Pelosi’s Most Dangerous Ploy

Babbin deconstructs Pelosi's ploy,
Turkey is our most under-appreciated ally. Its eighth president, Turgut Ozal, was a great friend of America, once referring to his nation as, “little America.” When Ozal died suddenly in 1993, neither President Clinton nor Vice President Gore went to the funeral, an insult the Turks remember. Europe has been even less appreciative. Turkey has practically begged to become a member of the European Union, but its applications to what some Turks call the “Christian club” have been stalled again and again because of European criticism of its human rights record.

There is a deep-seated cultural sensitivity among the Turkish people and their government on the issue of the Armenian massacre nine decades ago. Amb. Sensoy may have been thinking about the far-reaching effects – including on Turkey’s application for EU membership -- of the House genocide resolution when he told us, “No nation would like to be labeled with that greatest of human rights violations.”

House Republican leaders are very concerned about the effects the Democrats’ resolution could have. House Minority Leader John Boehner told me, “If the Turks cut off our ability to use Incirlik, there’s no question that this could jeopardize our troops on the ground in Iraq. And frankly, if this is just the latest in the Democrats’ string of back-door attempts to force a retreat from the war against al Qaeda, it’s certainly the most dangerous.”

Speaker Pelosi is apparently so intent on forcing an end to American involvement in Iraq that she is willing to interfere in our tenuous friendship with Turkey. When she does, it will be an historic event: the House of Representatives will be responsible for alienating a key ally in time of war and possibly interdicting supplies to US troops.

Chicago Public Schools to open Marine-run academy

Someone at CPS has been reading Making the Corps. via the AP from WQAD
The Chicago Public Schools will commission today the nation's first public high school run by the U.S. Marine Corps.

The opening of the Marine Military Academy on the near West Side is seen as another blow to activists who have fought to keep the armed services out of city schools.

Novak: Rudy and Religion

Today's ST,
The most surprising recent national polling result was an answer given by Republicans who attend church weekly when Gallup asked their presidential preference. A plurality chose Rudy Giuliani, a Catholic who in 1999 said: "I don't attend regularly, but I attend occasionally." Their choice raises deep concern among prominent conservative Republicans who feel it would be a serious mistake for leaders of the religious right to scorn the former mayor of New York.
I think God is speaking to them.

Al Gore and ignoring the 'final solution' to eliminate Tutsis

The Guardian from March 2004: US chose to ignore Rwandan genocide -Classified papers show Clinton was aware of 'final solution' to eliminate Tutsis
President Bill Clinton's administration knew Rwanda was being engulfed by genocide in April 1994 but buried the information to justify its inaction, according to classified documents made available for the first time.

Senior officials privately used the word genocide within 16 days of the start of the killings, but chose not to do so publicly because the president had already decided not to intervene.

Intelligence reports obtained using the US Freedom of Information Act show the cabinet and almost certainly the president had been told of a planned "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis" before the slaughter reached its peak.
The National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute based in Washington DC, went to court to obtain the material.

It discovered that the CIA's national intelligence daily, a secret briefing circulated to Mr Clinton, the then vice-president, Al Gore, and hundreds of senior officials, included almost daily reports on Rwanda. One, dated April 23, said rebels would continue fighting to "stop the genocide, which ... is spreading south".

Three days later the state department's intelligence briefing for former secretary of state Warren Christopher and other officials noted "genocide and partition" and reported declarations of a "final solution to eliminate all Tutsis".

However, the administration did not publicly use the word genocide until May 25 and even then diluted its impact by saying "acts of genocide".
A guy who remained silent during this a heck of a choice for a peace prize.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Today's WaPo Editorial: The evidence of a drop in violence in Iraq is becoming hard to dispute.

Today's WaPo Editorial,
This doesn't necessarily mean the war is being won. U.S. military commanders have said that no reduction in violence will be sustainable unless Iraqis reach political solutions -- and there has been little progress on that front. Nevertheless, it's looking more and more as though those in and outside of Congress who last month were assailing Gen. Petraeus's credibility and insisting that there was no letup in Iraq's bloodshed were -- to put it simply -- wrong.
But it's got to make it easier for Iraqis to reach that real solution.

James W. Ceaser: The Stupid Party - How the Democrats earned the epithet previously reserved for Republicans.

A shock it was. I remember the look on their faces. via Weekly Standard,
For those in the party's mainstream, the revolt of the New Left and the "counterculture" came as an enormous shock. It was as if their own offspring had suddenly and unnaturally turned on their progenitors and set about mercilessly to devour them. The New Left called into question almost everything liberals had deemed to be progress: material well-being, American power, and especially the enlightened motives of the leaders of the American nation. Liberalism was part of the problem, not the solution. In the words of the movement's political manifesto, the Port Huron Statement, "What we had originally seen as the American Golden Age was actually the decline of an era." The moral disaster over which liberalism had presided, culminating in the Vietnam war, was so fundamental, so interwoven into the fabric of American life, that only a revolution could save us. The New Left married a deep pessimism about America to an unbounded optimism about the transforming power of revolution.

Iraqi Liberal Khudayr Taher: My Journey from Darkness to Light; America Is the Prophet of Liberty

MEMRI's translation of Khudayr Taher's essay at the liberal Arab e-journal Elaph.
"Allah's Justice and Mercy Encompass All Humanity," Except for the Terrorists, Wahhabis, and Khomeinists

"It is illogical to think that Allah, Who is just, would prefer one sect… and love only [those belonging to it], and bring them into the pleasures of Paradise while bringing the rest of humanity into hellfire. It is impossible that Allah's justice and mercy [would allow this]. Allah's justice and mercy encompass all humanity, all religions, and all countries, and no one has the right to claim a monopoly on truth and faith.

"[But] naturally, I exclude from Allah's mercy the terrorist movements and the criminal takfiri groups like the Wahhabis, [the followers of] Khomeini's [theory of] the rule of the jurisprudent… and all the Islamist [political] parties, [both] Shi'ite and Sunni… Theirs is ignominy in this world and punishment in the next world.

"I left the prison of sectarianism… and turned to the concept of Allah… as a philosophy and a belief that symbolizes beauty, justice, love, virtue, and the principle of human brotherhood for all, without differentiating between Sunnis, Shi'ites, Christians, Jews, or Buddhists…"
Curious liberals and religous liberals wouldn't talk about an essay like this more.

Belmont Club on Sanchez's statement

Belmont Club on Sanchez's full statement. A quote from the General,
Since 2003, the politics of war have been characterized by partisanship as the republican and democratic parties struggled for power in washington. National efforts to date have been corrupted by partisan politics that have prevented us from devising effective, executable, supportable solutions. At times, these partisan struggles have led to political decisions that endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield. The unmistakable message was that political power had greater priority than our national security objectives. Overcoming this strategic failure is the first step toward achieving victory in Iraq - without bipartisan cooperation we are doomed to fail. There is nothing going on today in Washington that would give us hope.
I caught the Q and A with Sanchez after the speech and thought he got a little too coy with the reporters asking for the names and specifics on who failed America here.

Also, this earlier Belmont Club post on Sanchez's address.

Cooperation moves the public

A plug for the Shoreline Interurban Historical Society's history of the Garfield Park "L".
The first publication in the Dispatch Series is Cooperation Moves the Public, the story of the integrated operations of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and later the Chicago Transit Authority over the Garfield Park Branch of Chicago's rapid transit system until September 19, 1953. Trains were operated seconds apart "on sight" as there were no signals and no radios. This was a very complex operation, best described as cars of wood operated by men of steel pursuant to a book of rules that included a rule stating that no collision with another train will be excused.
We excuse all sorts of train wrecks in Illinois politics today and you'd be hard pressed to find men or women of steel skillfully operating much of anything complex.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's blog found an editorial in The Kankakee Daily Journal suggesting the rule book's flawed.
The first year of the four-year statewide term finds the state's three most powerful Democrats locked in a battle to determine which one of them is really in charge. Leaders do this sometimes, but the check on this bad behavior is usually the other 173 legislators who serve as ballast, pulling their leaders back to more rational positions.

But not this year. While the leaders squabble, the other 173 have been just witnesses. Why? The Kankakee Daily Journal editorialized over the weekend with a list of reasons. And their main focus? The concentration of campaign funds in the Four Tops.

"The leaders get to decide if you will have an opponent who's well-funded -- or none at all. To be competitive in a "targeted" race means $500,000 for a House seat and $1 million for a Senate seat."

Their fixes include a host of campaign finance reforms to end the concentration of money at the top: stop transfers, bar stockpiling of money, eliminate giving by gambling interests. Lastly? Limit donations, to force members to broaden their financial base and reach out to small donors.
So is this a way to run the railroad?

Mark Pera, IL-3rd and the GOP

Today's ST,
Mark Pera stopped in Chicago's Mount Greenwood recently to mingle with the community.

As a candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, Pera wanted to introduce himself to voters. He was warned about the potential for an unfriendly reception. Pera is a pro-choice Democrat from Western Springs. Mount Greenwood represents the heart of a heavily working-class Catholic - and by extension, pro-life - voting base. U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, a pro-life Democrat, serves the area in Congress.

But Pera said he was surprised at the level of enthusiasm for his candidacy and the cynicism that still exists over the way in which Lipinski was placed on the ballot. Lipinski's father, former U.S. Rep. William Lipinski, retired from Congress in August 2004 when it was too late for an outsider to get on the November ballot.

The elder Lipinski personally called upon the committeemen in the district to appoint his son as his replacement. Not only that, William Lipinski had arranged for a Republican challenger to fill the opposing slot - a challenger who had no intention on campaigning or winning the election.
When the wealthy are flocking to the Democrats, doesn't it make sense for the IL GOP to quit making deals with Democrats and start seriously campaigning among people sympathetic to their principles?

Schakowsky on H.Res. 734 on corruption in the Iraqi government

H.Res. 734 expresses the sense of the House that the State Department has abused its classification authority by withholding from Congress and the American people information about the extent of corruption in the Maliki government.
Wonder if she sould sign off on a resolution about corruption in the Blagojevich government.

The link to H.Res. 734

Friday, October 12, 2007

Illinois Pancakes

A blog devoted to Illinois Pancake Houses.

It's good... they keep it updated.

The Forward: Divided Bosnia Puts Forward a Jewish Face

From The Forward about a country where we still have troops,
More than a decade after the end of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s vicious civil war, ethnic and religious divisions in the country remain stark. The Balkan nation effectively exists as two autonomous mini-states, one for Christian Orthodox Serbs and one for Muslim Bosniaks and Roman Catholic Croats.

The hybrid form of government has been a hindrance to national unity and made Bosnia’s aspirations to membership in NATO and the European Union all the more difficult to realize. So it is perhaps surprising that in a country divided strictly along ethnic lines, particularly one where Muslims have the greatest numbers, the international face of the government is a Jewish one.

Sven Alkalaj, one of only 600 or so Jews remaining in Bosnia, was appointed foreign minister earlier this year, putting him in the select company of Israel’s Tzipi Livni and England’s David Miliband.

Wurf While: Congressman Judy Biggert Why Aren’t You Proud To Be An American?

Wurf While seems over reaching just a bit here asking: Congressman Judy Biggert Why Aren’t You Proud To Be An American?

The merits of expanding SCHIP to the middle classes just doesn't seem the decisive issue. Certainly not decisive enough to differentiate the American from the UnAmerican. (Right Wing NutHouse covers SCHIP expansion nicely here by the way. He expressed my thoughts on the policy.)

I'd argue the progressive stand is to be more concerned about the 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 kids (estimates vary) already eligible for Medicaid who fall through the cracks. Outreach to poor kids seems more important than expansion to wealthier families. But I won't call you UnAmerican for disagreeing with me about it either.

Why Cook County built Stroger hospital vs more community clinics another decision that ought to give progressives pause as to who public expenditures for health care really benefit.

Anyway, since her Americanism questioned, I'd suggest Biggert answer with Illinois's Harold Ickes's What is an American? My post on it generates some of the most hits on my blog.

Here's Icke's' final words as true now as they were in May 1941,
What constitutes an American? Not color nor race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Not his social status nor his bank account. Not his trade nor his profession. An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor. An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security in order that he and his children may retain the rights of free men. An American is one in whose heart is engraved the immortal second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

Americans have always known how to fight for their rights and their way of life. Americans are not afraid to fight. They fight joyously in a just cause.

Joshua Muravchik's The Past, Present, and Future of Neoconservatism

I'm always called one. So here's the final paras from Muravchik's Past, Present, and Future,
This suggests a few priorities. First, for all our failures in Iraq, we cannot afford to accept defeat there; nor do we have to. True, our more fanciful images of what Iraq would become after Saddam’s removal have gone by the boards. But there is still a world of difference between a relatively stable if troubled country and a state of anarchy.

And then there is Iran. Even if we turn a corner in Iraq, our relative success will be negated if we allow Iran to obtain a nuclear bomb. Once it does, not only will we be haunted by the specter of nuclear terrorism, but we may be constrained by nuclear blackmail from actions we would want to take in future chapters of the war against terror.

Next, only by enlarging our military can we base strategic decisions on military need and not on the availability of forces. How is it that a nation of 300 million cannot indefinitely sustain a force level of 150,000 in a given theater, meaning one soldier for every 2,000 Americans?

Finally, our efforts to foster democracy in the Middle East must not be curtailed but prosecuted vigorously and more effectively. True, the “Arab spring” of 2005 did not turn out to be as successful as the famous “Prague spring” of 1968. But then, it took two decades for that Prague spring to yield fruit. The modest liberalization in the Middle East and the democratic ferment that we have stirred there promise further advances if we persevere.

None of this offers a complete guide to waging the war against terror. But it does amount to a coherent approach, essentially similar to the one by means of which we won the cold war. By contrast, liberals and realists have no coherent approach to suggest—or at least they have not suggested one. That, after all, is why George W. Bush, searching urgently for a response to the events of September 11, stumbled into the arms of neoconservatism, unlikely though the match seemed. One can always wish that policies were executed better, but for a strategy in the war that has been imposed upon us, neoconservatism remains the only game in town.

New Lenox's Tim Baldermann on Springfield's proven dysfunction

Considering Durbin's well said comment,
"I wish I could blame the Republicans, but I can't figure out how to do it," Durbin joked. "I hope that they'll come to their senses and that the Democratic leaders down there will get together and compromise."
You have to wonder how far Republican's can ride the fiasco in Springfield for gain,
In announcing his entrance into the race for the 11th Congressional District seat Wednesday, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann took aim at state Sen. Debbie Halvorson, D-Crete, who also is seeking the open seat.

Baldermann slammed Halvorson, who is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, for serving in a leadership role in the General Assembly at a time when the legislature has been mired in a bitter, record-setting overtime session.

“Our federal government has problems, but the last thing we need is to have the proven dysfunction of Springfield infect Washington,” Baldermann said.

Halvorson said Baldermann should keep his focus on his Republican counterparts.
Halvorson wishes she could blame Republicans too.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wilfred M. McClay's review of Todd Gitlin's "The Intellectuals and the Flag"

via Belmont Club

From a review of a very good book,
This short, loosely organized collection of occasional essays makes for a surprisingly interesting and valuable book, well worth reading and pondering. Sociologist and radical activist Todd Gitlin, who has been a figure in the American Left since his Vietnam-era days in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), has made a serious effort to reflect on the failures of the American Left since the 1960s. The criticisms he puts forward here, which are inevitably self-criticisms in part, are unsparing and penetrating, made all the more memorable by his unacademic, direct, and often epigrammatic style.

Gitlin's criticism is relentless, and will win him few new friends on the Left, though it will likely energize the many enemies he already has there. He sees a story rich with irony, in which it has been precisely the Left's most triumphant expressions in contemporary American life that led it into the spiritual wasteland in which it now finds itself. And for this lost condition, he believes, the Left has only itself to blame. It embraced the smug disassociation from existing society epitomized in the sweeping call by émigré philosopher and '60s hero Herbert Marcuse for a "Great Refusal" of the confining ideals and crass manipulations of the modern capitalist political economy. But the embrace of Marcuse's influential but ill-defined slogan has amounted in practice to a "great withdrawal," a narcissistic retreat into self-proclaimed "marginality," an obsession with ever more minute forms of identity politics and the infinite "problematizing" of "truth," a reflexive opposition to America and the West, and an immurement in "theories" whose radicalism is so pure that they never quite touch down to earth—follies all underwritten and protected by the perquisites and comforts of academia.

Gitlin argues that the results may have benefited individual leftists, who have feathered their own nests quite nicely by fusing radicalism and academic careerism, but they have been unambiguously disastrous for the Left as a political force outside the academy. "If we had a manual," Gitlin remarks, "it would be called, What is Not to Be Done." The Great Refusal turns out to have been little more than "a shout from an ivory tower," an advertisement of futility that was unable to conceal the despair, paralysis, and general contempt, including self-contempt, that lay behind it.
Was nicht Tun liebe Genossen!

Mark D. Tooley: Friends of Mahmoud - The Iranian president gets a warm reception from the religious left.

The joke may not have been to far from the mark. From Tooley in the Weekly Standard,
NOT ALL OF Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's encounters in New York during his recent trip were testy. The Shiite theocrat had what the New York Times called a "warm, even friendly exchange" with 150 church officials at the United Methodist Women's Church Center for the United Nations.

One sponsor, the Mennonite Central Committee, called the gathering a "time of dialogue and prayerful reflection among the children of Abraham." A Mennonite official further explained that "mutual respect and graciousness in this conversation blunts the demonization which is part of the current rhetoric of both governments."

The meeting is the third between Ahmadinejad and his new church friends. Forty five of them had met the Iranian during his last New York visit a year ago. And 13 church officials saw him in Iran in February.

Seemingly, the church officials are fascinated and perplexed by the chief of Iran's Islamist police state. Unlike most of them, he has uncompromising theological views, especially about the end-times, about which he shares freely. Perhaps the apocalyptic dogma is bracing to these liberal religionists, who might be inwardly bored with their own mantras about endless tolerance.

"We haven't reached the point of hard truth-telling," explained United Methodist Women's Division chief Harriet Jane Olson, as reported in her news release. "But this dialogue may help to de-escalate the language of hostility, which is a necessary part of building bridges."
I knew a Communist once in the Merchant Marine who sailed on ships organized by the Union to bring relief supplies to the Soviet Union. He was watching the ship unload in Odessa and watched the guards shoot dead a kid trying to sneak inside the ship by climbing the anchor's ropes.

He quite the Party soon after and became a Mennonite in the West Burbs. I wonder what he would have thought of this story.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Petition here calling on the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the Burmese monks

via NormBlog,
There's a petition here calling on the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the Burmese monks. Please consider signing it. (Thanks: IH.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Political Cross-Dressing

Dan Erdman's review of Look Homeward, America. In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists and the growing appeal of paleo-conservative thinking among the left.
The past six years have found progressives, liberals, and socialists busily rethinking their ideologies, allegiances and priorities. The tumult of the post-9/11 world has shaken up the certainties of the right as well. The result has been what Tony Blair called 'an orgy of political cross-dressing'.

Most of the mainstream conservative intelligentsia in the US still support the 'war on terror', but even this is starting to sound strained and creaky. A significant minority weren't convinced in the first place; no less than William F Buckley Jr, founder of The National Review, wrote, on the eve of the Iraq War, that President Bush should have been 'more cautious when he spoke of the prospects for Iraq after liberation. Portugal, climbing out from monarchy soon after the turn of the century, moved towards an autocracy that lasted for 35 years, after which was the military coup, reaching an institutionalized democracy only in the late '70s.' [1]

Those on the right who agree with Buckley often come from the ranks of 'paleo-cons', isolationist, traditionalist conservatives who regard Franklin Roosevelt - whose two singular accomplishments were a more muscular internationalism and the beginnings of the modern welfare state - as a sort of traitor to something essential in American society. Lately, representatives of this tendency have gained a new confidence, as well as a new audience.
Ron Paul's the most flamboyant cross-dresser on the stage but the audience's tipping him. I wouldn't underestimate this actor's impact.

FOX News Poll: Nearly 1 in 5 Democrats Say World Will Be Better Off if U.S. Loses War

geez.. if true, that's going to be a winner for the party. via PJ Media
Nearly one out of every five Democrats thinks the world will be better off if America loses the war in Iraq, according to the FOX News Opinion Dynamics Poll released Thursday.

The percentage of Democrats (19 percent) who believe that is nearly four times the number of Republicans (5 percent) who gave the same answer. Seven percent of independents said the world would be better off if the U.S. lost the war.

Paratrooper Ben went to Afghanistan to protect us, now we can all help him

Saw this soldier's story on European Journal: Paratrooper Ben went to Afghanistan to protect us, now we can all help him

Gerard Alexander: Letter from Iraqi Kurdistan

From his letter in the Autumn 2007 issue of Democratyia,
Iraqis are eager for Western help. University students in Erbil and Sulaimaniya grasp at contact with the outside world. Businesspeople and political leaders are hungry for engagement with the global economy. Average citizens are desperate for foreign investment because of the employment they know it can bring. If anything, they are frustrated that Western countries have appeared shy to get more involved, or to show moral support to a people under siege from thugs who place nail-bombs in public marketplaces.

To be brutally honest, some of those who call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq would quickly move on to other issues if they got their way. Once Iraq is out of their sights, it will be out of their minds and cease to exert a moral pull on them. The Kurds are not going anywhere. What they want above all is a well-grounded, long-term relationship with the United States and Western Europe. One Kurd I spoke to said that Kurds will reach out to whoever extends a hand to them, and smile back at whoever smiles at them. They know it is they who will face the violent chaos that would fill the vacuum created by a precipitate withdrawal. We should keep smiling back.

WaPo: An Incursion of Briefs at Guantanamo

The legal beagle reality of getting to the truth for those who think we torture confessions out of terrorists.