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Kick Assiest Blog
Sunday, 14 May 2006
The Real Enemy: A Primer for Demented-crats
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Columns

The Real Enemy
By Arnold Kling

"The American left is where the American far right was in the 1950s -- besotted with anger, boiling in conspiracy theories."
-- Austin Bay

"Enemy sighted, enemy met, I'm addressing the realpolitik"
-- R.E.M., Exhuming McCarthy

Most of America is ready for a change of government. Except possibly the Democrats. I want to remind them that in addition to their internal enemies -- the Bush Administration -- they might want to pay some attention to America's external enemies.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi plans to use control of Congress to launch an investigation into the Bush Administration. For those of us who have not been drinking the Kos Kool-Aid, this seems like a questionable enterprise.

In the late 1940's, the Republicans finally took control of Congress. Seething after years of the Roosevelt Administration, one of the things that Republicans did in the late 1940's and early 1950's was launch investigations into the "treason" of the Roosevelt-Truman State Department, as well as former Communists in various professions. When I was three years old, one of the investigating committees decided that my mother, who had joined the Communists in the 1930's and left the Party in the 1940's, was of sufficient national security interest to be hauled before the Grand Inquisition. A few of the people that these committees investigated did turn out to be foreign agents or traitors. However, most of those investigated, like my mother, never did anything wrong.

In the 1950's, the Republican Right saw the investigations into "un-American activities" as a way to righteously smite down the Democratic Party. They wanted to expose their opponents' scandals and treason. Instead, they wound up exposing their own bad judgment, radicalism, and incivility. In the long run, the investigations damaged both parties. Certainly, the Republicans gained nothing. Apart from the war hero Eisenhower, their electoral fortunes sagged -- they lost control of Congress from 1958 until 1994. It seems rather odd that Democrats should want to try a similar strategy today.

The most famous of the inquisitors was Senator Joe McCarthy. In American politics today, McCarthyism is an epithet. I am not sure why the Democrats want to turn Pelosism into its synonym.

Some Basic Differences
For the Democrats in 2006, and more importantly in 2008, I would like to point out that there are some fundamental differences between America and its radical Muslim adversaries. You will forget these differences at your -- and our -- peril.

1. Many people have fled radical Muslim regimes to live in the U.S. Hardly anyone has fled the U.S. to live under radical Muslim regimes.
2. In the United States, women are allowed to choose whether or not to wear modest clothing. Radical Muslims deny them that right, as well as others.
3. Americans who abuse enemy prisoners cower in shame and are prosecuted. Radical Muslims celebrate war crimes, proudly display photos and videos of war crimes, and honor the criminals.
4. More Iraqis would like to see the terrorists give up tomorrow than see the Americans leave tomorrow. (If there is any doubt about that, we can put the issue up for a vote in Iraq.)
5. Americans see negotiations as a way to resolve differences. Radical Muslims see negotiations as a sign of weakness.
6. When Muslims come to live in America, we provide them with safety, tolerance, and equal rights. Jews and Christians do not enjoy equal rights -- or even safety -- inside countries run by radical Muslim regimes.
7. The American military is trained to try to minimize civilian casualties. For radical Muslims, civilian casualties are a measure of success.
8. Americans go to war reluctantly, when other means fail. Radical Muslims accept cease-fires reluctantly, when other means fail.
9. Americans desire the approval and support of the European people. Radical Muslims desire the intimidation and submission of the European people.
10. If radical Muslims would renounce violence, then we would not disturb them. If we renounce violence, then we will be conquered and brutalized.

Sooner or later, a party that wants to govern in the modern era has to pay attention to the real enemy.

Arnold Kling is a TCS contributing editor and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute. His most recent book is Crisis of Abundance.
Technology - Commerce - Society (TCS) Daily ~ Arnold Kling ** The Real Enemy

Posted by yaahoo_2006iest at 6:39 AM EDT
Saturday, 25 March 2006
Abramoff clearing DeLay
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Columns

Abramoff clearing DeLay

WASHINGTON - Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has advised friends that he has no derogatory information about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and is not implicating him as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors.

Abramoff's guilty plea on fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy charges requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress. That led to speculation that this would mean trouble for DeLay, who faces money laundering and conspiracy charges in Texas.

However, Abramoff has not given a clean bill of health to any other congressman -- including Rep. Robert Ney, who has stepped down as chairman of the House Administration Committee. Ney was the only member of Congress named in court papers connected with Abramoff's guilty plea Jan. 4.

While President Bush hits the road to build support, his spring offensive is bringing conservative activists and businessmen into the White House for briefings in small groups.

"I've been in the White House more in the last two weeks than I was in the last two years," Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform told this column. Norquist and conservative theoretician Jeffrey Bell were called into a meeting on the administration's embattled immigration bill. Also attending were representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Bush has been criticized for being reclusive as he and the Republican Party tumble in the polls.

Al Gore's withdrawal from consideration for another presidential try in 2008 is viewed by Democratic insiders as strengthening Sen. John Kerry's bid for a second straight nomination, running to the left of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Even before Gore's surprising decision, Kerry political operatives were telling Democrats that the senator was a likely candidate. Kerry's 2004 running mate, John Edwards, is also inclined to run. But his campaign is menaced by a possible candidacy by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who would block Edwards in the Iowa caucuses.

A footnote: Democratic politicians were surprised by the message from Sen. Clinton's camp that she henceforth would censor Bill Clinton's comments to prevent recurrence of their heavily publicized disagreements over Dubai Ports. While such restraint on the former president was considered desirable, it was viewed as something that should not be talked about publicly.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (right), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), has taken the unusual step of targeting his Republican counterpart, Rep. Tom Reynolds, for defeat in his upstate New York district this year. There is no record of a House campaign committee chairman ever being defeated for re-election by the opposition party.

The DCCC claims secret polls showed the supposedly safe Republican district represented by Reynolds is competitive this year. Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in 2004 won re-election to a fourth term with a surprisingly low 56 percent. His Democratic opponent was retired industrialist Jack Davis, who spent $1,250,000 of his own money in 2004 and is trying again.

In its campaign to seize control of the House, the DCCC is aiming at three other upstate New York districts to take advantage of the region's low popularity ratings for President Bush and the Republican Party. The Democrats have targeted ninth-term Rep. James Walsh and fourth-term Rep. John Sweeney, plus the seat left vacant by 12-term Rep. Sherwood Boehlert's retirement.

Full article at: ~ Robert Novak ** Abramoff clearing DeLay

Posted by yaahoo_2006iest at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006 8:13 AM EST
Thursday, 9 March 2006
The Democrats are the real party of arrogance
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Columns

The Democrats are the real party of arrogance
By Byron York

How many times have you heard Democrats describe George W. Bush as "arrogant"?

Too many to count. And truth be told, a number of unhappy Republicans are using the A-word themselves when referring to the president these days.

But if you want to see arrogance - lots and lots of it - you need look no further than the Democratic Party's plan to win the House and Senate this November.

Simply put, Democrats believe they can ask voters to give them control of the legislative branch without revealing any sort of policy or plan to deal with the most pressing issue before the country today: the war in Iraq.

And Bush is arrogant?

Not only do Democrats not have a plan, they're proud of not having a plan.

Last December, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat down with a group of reporters and editors of The Washington Post. The journalists asked what Democrats would do about Iraq were they to win power in 2006.

"Pelosi said Democrats will produce an issue agenda for the 2006 elections but it will not include a position on Iraq," the Post reported. "There is no one Democratic voice ... and there is no one Democratic position," Pelosi said."

It was dramatic proof of the party's disarray on the war, but the Post gave the story the most charitable headline possible: "Pelosi Hails Democrats' Diverse War Stances."

A better choice would have been: "Pelosi: Dems Have No Clue On Iraq."

Now, three months later, Pelosi's party is no closer to having a clue. And unfortunately for them, the voters know it.

Just look at the results of the latest Post poll, released this week. In the survey, the paper asked, "Do you think the Democrats in Congress do or do not have a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq?"

Seventy percent of those polled said the Democrats do not have a clear plan, versus 24 percent who said they do. (If there is anyone among that 24 percent who would like to share what the clear Democratic plan is, he or she should call Nancy Pelosi immediately.)

Of course, just 34 percent say the Bush administration has a clear plan, but that leaves the question: Why give power to a group that has even less of an idea what to do?

The Post also asked, "Which political party do you trust to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq?"

Despite all of the setbacks in the war, despite its growing unpopularity, Democrats had no advantage. Forty-two percent chose them, and 42 percent chose Republicans.

The Democrats' numbers on that issue have been falling for months. In November 2005, 48 percent of those questioned by the Post trusted Democrats to handle the situation in Iraq - versus 37 percent who trusted Republicans. In December and January, the Democrats' number ticked downward to 47 percent and has now fallen to 42 percent.

That's not exactly a show of confidence in Democratic leadership.

Nor is there much faith in the party's ability to handle other issues. The Post asked, "Overall, which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?"

Forty-two percent said Democrats, and 40 percent said Republicans, while 14 percent said neither.

As recently as January, Democrats had a significant lead in that category, 51 percent to the GOP's 37 percent. Now, nearly all of that is gone.

The paper also asked whether respondents have a favorable or unfavorable impression of each party. Results for Republicans were 51 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable. For Democrats, it was 55 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable.

After Abramoff, Katrina, prescription drugs - after everything, that's not much of an advantage.

As for that elusive agenda, Pelosi and her colleagues are still working on it. Even without Iraq, they don't appear to be able to agree on much of anything. There were reports the agenda would be out last year, and then early this year, but so far nothing has happened.

Questions that were unanswered many months ago are still unanswered. Should they come up with their own version of the Contract with America? Some say yes, and some say no. Right now, "no" is winning. Tomorrow, maybe "yes" will be winning.

And how about a slogan? Surely that's simple enough that everyone can agree, right?

Well, it took Democratic leaders months to come up with their big, catchy sales pitch: "Together, America can do better." But now the Post reports that "there is an effort afoot to drop the word "together." It tests well in focus groups and audiences, Democratic sources said, but it makes the syntax incorrect."

Ouch. After all that work, they're still looking for a few words to summarize what they stand for.

Well, if "together" tests so well, how about "Together, together, we can't get our act together"?

The Hill ~ Byron York ** The Democrats are the real party of arrogance

Posted by yaahoo_2006iest at 6:40 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 9 March 2006 6:51 PM EST
Sunday, 5 March 2006
Dude, Where's My Civil War?
Mood:  chatty
Topic: Columns

I'm sure Mr. Peters' account will be widely reported by all of the major news outlets... can't wait.

By Ralph Peters - In Iraq

BAGHDAD - I'm trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it.

Maybe actually being on the ground in Iraq prevents me from seeing it. Perhaps the view's clearer from Manhattan. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills.

And riding around with the U.S. Army, looking at things first-hand, is certainly a technique to which The New York Times wouldn't stoop in such an hour of crisis.

Let me tell you what I saw anyway. Rolling with the "instant Infantry" gunners of the 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery, I saw children and teenagers in a Shia slum jumping up and down and cheering our troops as they drove by. Cheering our troops.

All day - and it was a long day - we drove through Shia and Sunni neighborhoods. Everywhere, the reception was warm. No violence. None.

And no hostility toward our troops. Iraqis went out of their way to tell us we were welcome.

Instead of a civil war, something very different happened because of the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. The fanatic attempt to stir up Sunni-vs.-Shia strife, and the subsequent spate of violent attacks, caused popular support for the U.S. presence to spike upward.

Think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi intended that?

In place of the civil war that elements in our media declared, I saw full streets, open shops, traffic jams, donkey carts, Muslim holiday flags - and children everywhere, waving as our Humvees passed. Even the clouds of dust we stirred up didn't deter them. And the presence of children in the streets is the best possible indicator of a low threat level.

Southeast Baghdad, at least, was happy to see our troops.

And we didn't just drive past them. First Lt. Clenn Frost, the platoon leader, took every opportunity to dismount and mingle with the people. Women brought their children out of their compound gates to say hello. A local sheik spontaneously invited us into his garden for colas and sesame biscuits.

It wasn't the Age of Aquarius. The people had serious concerns. And security was No. 1. They wanted the Americans to crack down harder on the foreign terrorists and to disarm the local militias. Iraqis don't like and don't support the militias, Shia or Sunni, which are nothing more than armed gangs.

Help's on the way, if slowly. The Iraqi Army has confounded its Western critics, performing extremely well last week. And the people trust their new army to an encouraging degree. The Iraqi police aren't all the way there yet, and the population doesn't yet have much confidence in them. But all of this takes time.

And even the police are making progress. We took a team of them with us so they could train beside our troops. We visited a Public Order Battalion - a gendarmerie outfit - that reeked of sloth and carelessness. But the regular Iraqi Police outfit down the road proved surprisingly enthusiastic and professional. It's just an uneven, difficult, frustrating process.

So what did I learn from a day in the dust and muck of Baghdad's less-desirable boroughs? As the long winter twilight faded into haze and the fires of the busy shawarma stands blazed in the fresh night, I felt that Iraq was headed, however awkwardly, in the right direction.

The country may still see a civil war one day. But not just yet, thanks. Violence continues. A roadside bomb was found in the next sector to the west. There will be more deaths, including some of our own troops. But Baghdad's vibrant life has not been killed. And the people of Iraq just might surprise us all.

So why were we told that Iraq was irreversibly in the throes of civil war when it wasn't remotely true? I think the answers are straightforward. First, of course, some parties in the West are anxious to believe the worst about Iraq. They've staked their reputations on Iraq's failure.

But there's no way we can let irresponsible journalists off the hook - or their parent organizations. Many journalists are, indeed, brave and conscientious; yet some in Baghdad - working for "prestigious" publications - aren't out on the city streets the way they pretend to be.

They're safe in their enclaves, protected by hired guns, complaining that it's too dangerous out on the streets. They're only in Baghdad for the byline, and they might as well let their Iraqi employees phone it in to the States. Whenever you see a column filed from Baghdad by a semi-celeb journalist with a "contribution" by a local Iraqi, it means this: The Iraqi went out and got the story, while the journalist stayed in his or her room.

And the Iraqi stringers have cracked the code: The Americans don't pay for good news. So they exaggerate the bad.

And some of them have agendas of their own.

A few days ago, a wild claim that the Baghdad morgue held 1,300 bodies was treated as Gospel truth. Yet Iraqis exaggerate madly and often have partisan interests. Did any Western reporter go to that morgue and count the bodies - a rough count would have done it - before telling the world the news?

I doubt it.

If reporters really care, it's easy to get out on the streets of Baghdad. The 506th Infantry Regiment - and other great military units - will take journalists on their patrols virtually anywhere in the city. Our troops are great to work with. (Of course, there's the danger of becoming infected with patriot-ism...)

I'm just afraid that some of our journalists don't want to know the truth anymore.

For me, though, memories of Baghdad will be the cannoneers of the 1st Platoon walking the dusty, reeking alleys of Baghdad. I'll recall 1st Lt. Frost conducting diplomacy with the locals and leading his men through a date-palm grove in a search for insurgent mortar sites.

I'll remember that lieutenant investigating the murder of a Sunni mullah during last week's disturbances, cracking down on black-marketers, checking up on sewer construction, reassuring citizens - and generally doing the job of a lieutenant-colonel in peacetime.

Oh, and I'll remember those "radical Shias" cheering our patrol as we passed by.

Ralph Peters is reporting from Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where he's been riding with the 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
NY Post ~ Ralph Peters ** Dude, Where's My Civil War?

Posted by yaahoo_2006iest at 11:39 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006 11:44 PM EST

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