Tuesday, August 26, 2008


August 25, 2008
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Pelosi,
On the Sunday, August 24th, broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press, you stated "as an ardent, practicing Catholic, [abortion] is an issue that I have studied for a long time." As fellow Catholics and legislators, we wish you would have made a more honest effort to lay out the authentic position of the Church on this core moral issue before attempting to address it with authority.
Your subsequent remarks mangle Catholic Church doctrine regarding the inherent sanctity and dignity of human life; therefore, we are compelled to refute your error.
In the interview, Tom Brokaw reminded you that the Church professes the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being" (2274).
To this, you responded, "I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the Church, this is an issue of controversy." Unfortunately, your statement demonstrates a lack of understanding of Catholic teaching and belief regarding abortion.
From the Apostles of the first century to Pope John Paul the Great "the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law" (Catechism 2271).
Thus, your erroneous claim about the history of the Church’s opposition to abortion is false and denigrates our common Faith. For example, during the reign of Pope Innocent XI in 1679, the Church unequivocally stated it is an error for Catholics to believe fetuses do not have a soul; and confirmed the teaching that abortion constitutes homicide.
To reduce the scandal and consternation caused amongst the faithful by your remarks, we necessarily write you to correct the public record and affirm the Church’s actual and historical teaching that defends the sanctity of human life. We hope that you will rectify your errant claims and apologize for misrepresenting the Church’s doctrine and misleading fellow Catholics.
Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (MI)
Hon. Steve Chabot (OH)
Hon. Virginia Foxx (NC)
Hon. Phil Gingrey (GA)
Hon. Peter King (NY)
Hon. Steve King (IA)
Hon. Daniel Lungren (CA)
Hon. Devin Nunes (CA)
Hon. John Sullivan (OK)
Hon. Patrick Tiberi (OH


Bishops respond to House Speaker Pelosi’s misrepresentation of Church teaching against abortion
WASHINGTON--Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement: In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271) In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development. These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.


Dr. Jeff Mirus has the following disturbing news item on his blog
There are so many open secrets in the Catholic Church that it is sometimes difficult to figure out what should be reported as news.
The recent exposé of Catholic hospitals in Texas is a case in point, but it is not at all an isolated case. To take the most obvious example, veteran Church watchers knew for a generation before the priestly abuse scandals broke that homosexuality was a protected vice in some quarters of the American Church. But it was impossible to engage the attention of the bishops.
There is no need to cover old ground.
This new issue arises from a recent study of hospital records for the State of Texas which showed that Catholic hospitals in Texas reported some 9,684 cases of sterilization and 39 legally induced abortions from 2000 through 2003. This is a scandal, certainly, and it was greeted with surprise and horror on the part of many sound Catholics. Yet no one who has followed Church affairs closely over the past generation could have been surprised by the findings, as the frequent failure of Catholic hospitals to fulfill their moral mission is well-known. In fact, Catholic hospitals have suffered the same loss of Catholic identity that has afflicted most Catholic institutions over the past fifty years.
Indeed, one might well ask why any intelligent observer would expect Catholic hospitals to have a better record at implementing official Catholic teaching than parochial schools, universities, seminaries, parishes, religious orders, libraries, formation programs, retreat centers, and so on. In every category, both deliberate dissidence and well-meaning secularization have been extremely widespread.
While this is so, it does little to tell us what the Texas hospital statistics really mean. While it appears clear that many of the sterilizations were direct tubal ligations, which are clearly immoral, the study does not distinguish between direct and indirect abortions. Indirect abortions are unintended consequences of treating a serious pathological condition, and so may be moral.
To understand what the abortion numbers mean, one would also have to see comparable numbers from Texas hospitals as a group. For example, if 39 direct abortions were performed at Catholic hospitals, that would be 39 too many, but if thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands were performed in a similar number of other hospitals, it would put the Catholic failure in a much better light.
I do know that Texas law was revised in 2004 to require some kinds of abortions to be performed in special health facilities, including hospitals. Before that, perhaps most of them were performed in abortion clinics, and perhaps very few were done in hospitals at all. If so, the Catholic numbers would look far worse.
Given both the change in the law and the increased vigilance of many American bishops in the aftermath of the sex abuse scandals, it would also be interesting to know what has happened since 2004. If the numbers went down dramatically, that would be very positive news.
At present the only certain good news is that the Texas bishops are investigating this study. They are actually trying to find out what is going on. It will be interesting to see what set of answers they are willing to settle for, but we already know we’ve moved forward a little since the days when a bishop might have ignored the report altogether or might have merely phoned the hospital head to hear his reassurance that everything was all right. Until the investigation is finished, the meaning clear, and appropriate corrective action taken, we won’t really know what to make of it all.
Open secrets don’t give us hard data, and raw statistics don’t provide genuine meaning. I want to know what non-Catholic hospitals were doing during the same period, and I also want to see what’s happening now. If the bishops ask the right questions and actually figure out what this means—and then make their findings public—well, let’s just say we would have no doubts about the importance of that news.


Joseph Biden claims to be a good practicing Catholic who is familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The claim is hollow when one
looks at his record in the United States Senate in voting on important bills in which Catholics had a vital interest.
Brian Kinzia brings the following interesting information to me.
In the last 10 Bills that went through the Senate that were deemed non-negotiable issues with Catholic doctrine, Joseph Biden, Catholic in name only senator from Delaware, not once voted in line with the Catholic Church. He voted against Church teaching in 7 of them and was not present for 3 others (#6, 7 & 9). That makes him 0 for 10 when given the opportunity to support Catholic doctrine. These bills were:

1. Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act: passage (110th)
2. Marriage Amendment Act (109th)
3. Terri Schiavo: Federal Court Review (109th)
4. Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) (109th)
5. Abortion in Military Medical Facilities (109th)
6. Coercive Abortion/United Nations Population Fund (109th)
7. Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act: passage (109th)
8. Human Cloning Ban: passage (108th)
9. Partial-Birth Abortion Ban: passage (108th)
10. Unborn Victims of Violence Act (108th)

Besides, do you really think Obama is going to vote in line with the Church in ANY of those???


We live in a society that has become obsessed with a 'right to choose', even to choose death by suicide or euthanasia. Certainly every human being is created with the right to choose. That is part of human nature. We are created with an intellect such that we can know things. And, we are created with free will such that we can freely choose to act or not act, to speak or not speak, to have or not have, etc. But our freedom is not absolute. Our freedom is circumscribed by the natural law which is imprinted in our human nature. We are not free to kill innocent people walking down the street, for example, just because we would like a little excitement in our life. Nowhere is the freedom of choice being abused more than in the case of abortion. Now, increasingly the freedom of choice is being abused in the matter of suicide and euthanasia.
This story was published in the UK’s Guardian. It is a diary of Mieneke Weide-Boelkes, a woman with brain cancer who is euthanized. Since the dead woman’s son, Marc Weide, made it public, comment is warranted.
The story of Weide-Boelkes’ euthanasia amply demonstrates the abandonment that assisted suicide/euthanasia consciousness generates in society, within medicine, and among families. And it proves clearly that the “protective guidelines” are utterly meaningless. It also demonstrates that once mercy killing is sanctioned, families become almost remote bystanders to their loved one’s end.

To cases: One of the supposed requirements of Dutch euthanasia is that there can be no other way to alleviate suffering other than killing the patient. Yet, in this actual case, the woman who would soon be dead wants to die for fear of going bald during life-extending chemotherapy. From the story:
The prognosis is she could live another year if she undergoes chemotherapy. But she won’t. “I’m not going to go bald,” she says. “I don’t want people saying, ‘How sad, that beautiful hair all gone.’ Never.”
Despite the ability to extend Weide-Boelkes’ life, and the driving motives of worries that she will not be pretty (and hence not worthy of being loved?), and fears about losing the ability to engage in enjoyable activities as the reasons for wanting euthanasia, the doctor agrees to kill.
And here are two things so often seen in euthanasia/assisted suicide cases that are reported publicly: We have created a “choice” culture so pervasive that even in the face of impending killing families feel they are not entitled to resist their loved one’s desire to be made dead. Second, the fear of the future from the patient–precisely what happens in Oregon with assisted suicide–is what most often leads to the killing, not the actual experience of unalleviable pain and suffering:
The doctor says euthanasia can take place next week. Another doctor first needs to verify, though, that Mum cannot be cured, that her wish to die has been consistent, and that her suffering is unbearable.

Martin is convinced of the first two conditions but not of the third. If Mum is too energetic to stay in bed, then how is her suffering unbearable? Mum puts her coffee down. “Well, I have to die anyway, don’t I?” Then she asks us what we think.

I interrupt: “It should be your own decision. None of us is to say anything.” But Mum struggles to say she wants to die. Eventually I say, “I think what she finds unbearable is not so much her pain and sickness, but the fear of it getting worse and of losing control.” When Martin is finally satisfied that Mum wants to end it, he agrees to contact the second doctor. He leaves with an empathetic nod to us all.
None of us is to say anything! And yet he did! Weide, not his mother, found the words to justify the euthanasia. When she asked what the family thought, where were their kisses? Where were the assurances of always being there for her? Where were the phone calls to doctors to assure the patient her suffering could be alleviated through palliative care. Where were the efforts to obtain proper mental health interventions to help alleviate the woman’s terror of the future? Instead, a clearly struggling woman was left to sink or swim in the midst of an emotional crisis! I know we are not supposed to “judge” in these matters, but what an abdication of a son’s responsibility to his mother–what I call terminal nonjudgmentalism in action.

On the day she dies, she vacuums the house!
I can hear she is hoisting the vacuum cleaner up to the attic. It is just after 6 am. It is the start of an increasingly mad day, during which Mum hoovers the whole house and does six loads of washing (one of which consists of a single white shirt). She scrapes all the woodwork on the outside of the house clear of moss and cleans the windows.

After breakfast, I find Dad fuming after Mum has given him grief for not ironing fast enough. I ask him if it helps to see her as a mental patient instead of his wife. He grumbles. I think of what was said the night before, about Mum’s relative physical fitness and her obsession with material objects and cleanliness. I feel an increasing tension as the day progresses and I still don’t know whether it is going to be Mum’s last.
Even the doctor pushes through hesitancy on the part of the patient. 6.15 pm:
The doctor arrives shortly after the scene with the toilets. Mum greets him, then disappears upstairs, saying, “Best let me potter for a bit.” Nobody sees her for another 20 minutes.

”Does it happen at all that people pull out at the last minute?” I ask. “Yes,” Martin says. “Quite often I go home again and a new appointment is made. But in many cases the patient passes away between visits.”

When Mum comes back, listing things she has put in bags and boxes, Martin gently interrupts her: “Can I just ask you something? Is there still a lot you feel you need to do?”

”Yes,” she says, “I mean no. I’m just nervous.”

”I can always come back later if you are not ready,” says the doctor.

Mum sits down and listens to the doctor. Then she takes a deep breath and says, “OK. I am ready.” At 7 pm, with my father, brother and me around her bed as well as Martin, who has given her the injection, Mum goes to sleep.
This is beyond awful. Euthanasia leads to the most profound abandonment of frightened, depressed, and suffering people.
(Posted by Wesley J. Smith on his blog {www.wesleyjsmith.com} at 5:30 PM
on August 23, 2008)


I watched some of the Olympic games, probably not more than 25%.
Part of the reason was that I really do not have much interest in some of the sports. I liked the swimming, the beach volley ball, the relays, the diving. But even as I watched the sports I like, I had mixed emotions. It is not that I did not appreciate the athletes skill and dedication; it was more of a sense of antipathy that the games were being played in a totalitarian regime. I have read some of the news stories about the persecution, oppresion and denial of human rights which preceeded the games and continued during the games, but I was not aware of the extent of the horror until I read Jeff Jacoby's column below.
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe

Sunday, August 24, 2008


China, the world's largest dictatorship, ruthlessly represses freedom at home while abetting the vilest tyrannies abroad. Letting such a regime host the Olympic Games, many people warned, would prove a mockery of the Olympic charter, which is dedicated to the goal of "promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."

But Beijing and its supporters insisted that the Olympics would make China better. The Games would "foster democracy, improve human rights, and integrate China with the rest of the world," promised Liu Jingmin, Beijing's vice mayor and a senior member of its Olympic organizing committee. "By allowing Beijing to host the Games, you will help in the development of human rights."

The International Olympic Committee repeatedly seconded that motion. "We are convinced," IOC president Jacques Rogge assured one interviewer, "that the Olympic Games will improve human rights in China." He told another: "We believe that the Olympic Games will have definitely a positive, lasting effect on Chinese society."

Well, the Games have certainly had a lasting effect on one segment of Chinese society -- the 1.5 million men, women, and children expelled from their homes in Beijing to make room for the construction of Olympic facilities and urban beautification projects. To clear them out, the Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions found, Chinese authorities resorted to "harassment, repression, imprisonment, and even violence." Demolitions and evictions frequently occurred without due process -- sometimes with no advance notice. Many dispossessed residents were not compensated; those who were usually received a fraction of the amount needed to make them whole.

In America, you can fight an eminent-domain taking all the way to the Supreme Court, and protest publicly if you don't like the outcome. In China, you suck it up and keep your mouth shut. Otherwise you end up like Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying, two former neighbors who were unhappy with the compensation they received when their homes were demolished. Rather than suffer in silence, they sought permission to demonstrate during the Olympics in one of Beijing's three official "protest zones." Permission was denied. Instead they were charged with disturbing the public order and sentenced to a year of "re-education through labor." Wang, who is nearly blind and walks with a cane, is 77. Her friend is 79.

The two elderly women weren't the only Chinese citizens locked up for seeking permission to protest peacefully. "Gao Chuancai, a farmer from northeast China who was hoping to publicize government corruption, was forcibly escorted back to his hometown . . . and remains in custody," The New York Times reported. "Two rights advocates from southern China have not been heard from since they were seized last week at the Public Security Bureau's protest application office in Beijing." Relatives of Zhang Wei, another Beijinger upset about the demolition of her home, were told she would be locked up for a month.

All told, at least 77 people filed applications to demonstrate during the Games. Not one was approved.

A million and a half residents expelled. Free speech strangled. Elderly women jailed. That's what it means when a police state like China hosts the Olympics. That's what you get when the IOC and its corporate supersponsors care more about television ratings and market share than about the values of the Olympic movement. That's what happens when the free world cons itself into believing that China's Communist rulers, who have no scruples about sustaining genocide in Sudan and torturing nuns in Tibet, will refrain from doing whatever it takes to turn the Olympics into a vehicle for totalitarian self-glorification.

The cruelty and deceit were on display right from the start, from the digitally faked fireworks to the last-minute yanking of a 7-year-old singer because a Politburo member decided she wasn't pretty enough. To produce the synchronized pageantry of the opening extravaganza, thousands of performers were forced to endure horrendous rehearsal conditions. The ceremony's 2,200 martial artists, for example, drilled 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for months, and were forbidden to leave the army barracks where they were quartered. Prolonged exposure to the relentless summer sun "resulted in heatstroke for some students," AP reported; one grueling, rain-drenched rehearsal lasted 51 hours, "with little food and rest and no shelter from the night's downpour."

When thugs host the Olympics, thuggish behavior can be expected. According to Reporters Without Borders, 22 foreign journalists were attacked or arrested during the Games. At least 50 human-rights activists were arrested, harassed, or forced to leave Beijing. Scores of websites related to human rights, Tibet, and Darfut were blocked or digitally attacked. Far from easing up, Beijing turned the Olympics into an opportunity to intensify its crackdown on dissent.

As in 1936 and 1980, the 2008 Games were a showcase for a dictatorship. In such a travesty, Americans should have played no part.

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)


Only a stauch supporter of the Democrats would deny that the media has favored Barack Hussein Obama, and yet it was a staunch Democrate, Governor Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania, who spoke the truth about media bias.
It was an uncomfortable moment for the hosts of three network Sunday morning news shows.
Tom Brokaw of NBC News, Bob Schieffer of CBS News and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News had just finished a panel discussion at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel during which they had concluded that the media's coverage of the campaign so far had been largely fair.
Then Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell took the podium to deliver "closing remarks."Mr. Rendell, a Hillary Clinton backer, came to bury the Big Three, not to praise them. He told the crowd of 300 political luminaries that the media's coverage of the Democratic primaries had elevated personalities over substance and he complained of sexism in its treatment of Senator Clinton.
He called the media's kid-gloves handling of Barack Obama "absolutely embarrassing," and suggested that the media had essentially given the presumptive Democratic nominee, whom he now supports, "a free pass." Journalists, he said, had allowed themselves unprofessionally to be "caught up with emotion and excitement" in the historic nature of the Obama candidacy.
He even called MSNBC "the official network of Obama's campaign.
"Tom Brokaw jumped to his network's defense, saying he and others had expressed dissatisfaction with on-air comments by NBC reporters like Lee Cowan. He also agreed that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews had "gone over the line" at times in comments about Mrs. Clinton but emphasized they were "commentators" and not reporters.
Mr. Rendell wasn't mollified. "Chris Matthews loses his impartiality when he talks about the Clintons," he told the audience.
At that point, moderator Judy Woodruff moved to wind up the proceedings before they could become even more heated.Many in the audience were surprised at the extent to which Mr. Rendell was still carrying a torch for Hillary Clinton and criticizing media coverage of Barack Obama.
"I thought he was a Democrat," one person next to me commented. "Here, he is a Hillarista first," her companion commented. "Her campaign for the next presidential election begins at this convention."
-- John Fund,
writing in the Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


While it may be true that Barack Hussein Obama was only eight years old when his friend, William Ayers, organized THE WEATHERMEN, a group of domestic terrorists who bombed Federal buildings during the Vietnam War, and while it may be true that Barack Hussein Obama finally condemned those acts of violent domestic terrorism when pressured to do so, it is nonetheless true that William Ayers has never disavowed those bombings for which he was found guilty and served prison time. Barack Hussein Obama and William Ayers are not only neighbors in Chicago, they serve together in 'community organizing' activities in Chicago. Barack Hussein Obama announced his candidacy for public office at a reception in the home of William Ayers.
Ayers Head

Barack Obama's supporters insist that an ad from a conservative group attacking his ties to unrepentant 1970s radical William Ayers is irrelevant to the campaign. Cass Sunstein, a University of Chicago law professor and close friend of Mr. Obama, says that while he is "very disturbed by [Mr. Ayers'] past and by his refusal to disavow what the did . . . the implications of this for Obama are zero."
You wouldn't know that from the reaction of the Obama campaign. Yesterday, it took the extraordinary step of airing a response to the Ayers ad, which links Mr. Obama to the former Weather Underground organizer who took credit for a series of non-fatal bombings at the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon during the Vietnam War era.
"With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the 60s, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?" the Obama ad asks. "McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes, committed when Obama was just 8 years old."Obama lawyers have also sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project, the conservative group behind the ad, for potentially violating campaign finance laws.
McCain aides say they are perplexed by the Obama ad (attacking the supposed McCain ad) "It is misleading," McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt told National Review. "It states the McCain campaign is running an ad on the issue and it's not. Obama described Ayers as just a guy who lives in his neighborhood. We know that's not accurate."
Also unexplained is the sudden sensitivity on Team Obama's part. It's already known that Mr. Ayers, now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, hosted a key fund-raising party during Mr. Obama's first bid for public office and also served with Mr. Obama on the board of a Chicago-based charity until 2002.
Today, the University of Illinois will finally release documents it tried to keep from the public on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the liberal school reform effort founded by Mr. Ayers and chaired by Mr. Obama. Obama campaign aides insist the two men had only a casual relationship.
During a Democratic primary debate last April, Mr. Obama said that "the notion that . . . me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense."
We may know more about the relationship between the two men later this week, after reporters have plowed through the once-suppressed Annenberg Challenge records.
-- John Fund
writing in the Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


Sycophant, n. a self-seeking or servile flatterer; fawning parasite.
Sycophantic, adj.
- The Random House Dictionary of the English Language
Olbermann in Love
The national news media are still entranced with Barack Obama.
That's not my opinion. That's the view of 65% of Americans who told pollsters from Sacred Heart University that the media "love affair" with Mr. Obama is either very real (31%) or somewhat real (34%).
Even 59% of Democrats agreed that the media are in love with Mr. Obama.When it comes to deciding who is getting the most favorable media coverage, 68% said Mr. Obama and only 11% said John McCain.
Sacred Heart polling director Jerry Lindsley says the lopsided results should be a message to the press: "When just 6% of those surveyed were unsure about the balance of media coverage for the candidates, it's a good indication that [media bias] is obvious to Americans -- but maybe not to the national media."
Media bias was certainly obvious last night on MSNBC, where the coverage was anchored by Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews. Following Michelle Obama's speech praising her husband, Mr. Olbermann simply said, "Ye-a-h-h-h. Case closed." Mr. Matthews responded with a guttural "uh-h-h-h." Taking that as a cue to continue, Mr. Olbermann, declared: "That could not have done better from them," then repeated the phrase and praised the evening as "terrific." He noted: "There were tears throughout [the hall] among the women." Finally, in the middle of his rhetorical power dive, he pulled up: "There was just a -- I know, I'm beginning to sound borderline sycophantic on this. So I'll stop."
I'm not sure which was the more remarkable event -- Mr. Olbermann deciding he should stop talking or the truth-in-advertising of his description of his own comments as "sycophantic."
-- John Fund
writing on the Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The timing was perfect. The President of the United States was in China for the opening of the Olympic Games. The attention of the world was focused on China.
Quietly Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia, slipped away from the Games and boarded a plane for the Republic of Georgia. Hours later he reappeared with the Russian troops and tanks inside Georgia.
The rape of the young democratic Republic of Georgia had begun.
For those of us who were old enough in 1968 to recall the horror
of the rape of the democratic Republic of Czechoslovakia by
Leonid Brezhnev and the Russian troops and tanks the Olympic games
suddenly held no interest.
The charade of seeing Russian atheletes embracing Georgian atheletes
as the rape of Georgia progressed, seemed obscene - however sincere the motives and feelings of the atheletes might have been.
Jeff Jacoby has done an excellent of refreshing our memory or
of educating those too young to have been around in 1968.
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe

August 14, 2003


The tanks and planes crossed the Czechoslovak border late on the night of Aug. 20. It was a massive show of force -- half a million troops from the Soviet Union and four of its Warsaw Pact satellites: Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, and Poland. They met virtually no resistance and by dawn every major city in the country was under occupation.

Radio Prague announced the invasion early on the morning of the 21st. Almost at once, thousands of residents -- determined to protect the nation's most important source of information and moral support -- began converging outside the radio headquarters on Vinohradska Street. At 7:25 a.m., the on-air announcers told their listeners that a column of tanks was approaching the building. Moments later, blasts of machine-gun fire drowned out their voices. "We hear a terrible noise" -- those were the last words broadcast before the Czechoslovak national anthem was played and Radio Prague went off the air.

The crushing of the "Prague Spring" 35 years ago this month was one of the Cold War’s most heartbreaking events. The extraordinary developments that preceded it had given rise to the hope that Communism could be made decent -- that even after decades of totalitarian ruthlessness, state socialism was capable of transforming itself into something more tolerant. But what the Czechs and Slovaks called "socialism with a human face," Moscow regarded as a plague bacillus, and was determined to wipe out before it spread.

Hope had first stirred in January 1968, when the Czechoslovak Communist Party deposed Antonin Novotny, the aging Stalinist who for 15 years had wielded virtual one-man rule, and replaced him with Alexander Dubcek. No one expected Dubcek to rock any boats, but before long he was calling for the "widest possible democratization" of
Czechoslovakia and the creation of "a free, modern, and profoundly humane society." In April, the party adopted a platform criticizing the regime's past abuses, endorsing freedom of speech and the press, and opening the door to the gradual introduction of multiparty elections.

This was heady stuff. In the Eastern European country that had been the most slavishly obedient to Moscow, the deep freeze of Communist repression was suddenly thawing. Criticism of the government was being tolerated. Journalists working for the state-controlled media were becoming more daring. An intoxicating whiff of freedom
was in the air. On May Day -- May 1, 1968 -- Czechoslovaks poured into the streets to celebrate. And the reforms kept coming. Censorship was lifted. Travel restrictions were abolished. The secret police were curbed. Cultural activity -- music clubs, avant-garde plays, raucous discussion groups -- blossomed. The "Prague Spring" was underway.

And then, almost literally overnight, it was over.

Dubcek and the other party leaders were seized and put on a Soviet plane. "The prisoners were flown to Poland," journalist Patrick Brogan later wrote, "where they were incarcerated for 60 hours without being allowed to wash, shave, or change. Then they were flown to Moscow."

They expected to be killed, but were driven instead to the Kremlin and taken to a large room to wait. "Then [Leonid] Brezhnev marched in, followed by the Soviet politburo. . . . The prisoners were browbeaten into signing a 'Moscow protocol' approving the invasion. They were then sent back to Prague, where in due course they all lost their jobs, and were replaced by quislings."

The Soviet justification for the invasion came to be known as the Brezhnev Doctrine. It declared that Moscow would not permit any Communist country to voluntarily leave "the world socialist system." The United States vigorously protested and LBJ demanded that the Soviets withdraw their troops. But the US reaction was limited to words, and the troops remained. The Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia would last another 23 years.

Thirty-five years on, it is clear that Brezhnev and his hard-line allies diagnosed the Prague Spring correctly. Dubcek's reforms were indeed a threat to their power. Unchecked, they would have toppled Communist rule not only in Czechoslovakia, but across Eastern Europe. Brezhnev understood what Dubcek did not -- that "socialism with a human face" -- a government both democratic and Communist -- was a contradiction in terms. If the Dubcek government had insisted on Communist Party supremacy, it would soon have lost its human face. And if its democratizing humaneness had continued, the Communists would soon have been swept from office.

Which is just what happened two decades later, when another Communist leader -- Mikhail Gorbachev -- pursued the same chimera. He called it "perestroika" and "glasnost," not "socialism with a human face," but the effect was no less transformative. Each new taste of freedom and openness only intensified the hunger for more. This time, with no tanks to abort the experiment, Gorbachev learned what Dubcek never realized: Communism and freedom cannot coexist.

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)


My friend, Ephie Patrickson, started to write a comment on my recent Post on Barack Hussein Obama's posturing as a 'new' kind of politician seeking to change things in Washington, but got carried away and ended up writing the excellect article which I have posted below. He offers some excellent insights into the present political campaigns.
Ephie Patrickson
The whole issue of pretending one is bi-partisan for a few brief moments when the issue unpleasantly surfaces in a direct and confrontational way is akin to asking anyone (the party affiliation matters not, for the issue plagues both parties) exactly where the largest campaign contributions come from and whether there are conflicts of interest against 'the good of America' and the funding of their existence as politicians when one considers the weight of the strings so often attached to the donations.
The question is fair in discussions on 'the common good'. Granted, it is an awkward and delicate question, not unlike asking a pole dancer who her clients are and exactly how she manages to make her car payments. Yet it is a question worth asking.
During the last set of Supreme Court Senate Hearings (the bulk of which I caught on C-Span) I was struck by the frequent use of phrases such as 'ethics' and 'the good of America'. I was particularly struck by how many of the Senators during their speeches repeatedly assured everyone they were not attempting to engage in 'politics', simply 'the good of America' and ethical conduct The Democrats declare they are above politics; the Republicans the same if the media bothers to ask. Yet they are all politicians. That is what they are. They practice politics, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer. Why do they attempt to pretend otherwise?
Aristotle would have a thing or two to say about this...
It would be akin to a pole dancer making a press declaration that she is not engaging in the sexual industries sector or a lawyer not engaging in legal activity, but wishes to have an ethics bill proposed to explain why he or she is engaging in some other presumably more lofty type of activity.
To return to my admittedly tawdry but perhaps timely example, I personally have never seen a pole dancer perform, although I was bemused to witness recent news stories covering the issue on the television. Those on both sides of the aisle regarding the issue were consulted on the politics of a State changing the tax structure on pole dancers. There were many opinions in the news stories on topics such as 'ethics' and 'the good of the State' in terms of political conflicts of interest as well as freedom of expression and fair commerce from both sides. Regardless of one's stance on the morality of pole dancing, a tremendous amount of politics appears to be involved from all angles in terms of practical discussions on tax structures for pole dancers. Are the discussions in the end even really about pole dancing?
Now when a politician admits he is a politician practicing politics then I may be willing to listen to him, but I invariably find these endless 'ethics bills' to be simply stratagems of one party against the other side having nothing to do with ethics. The dishonesty is in the intention and the naming. It is akin to the pole dancer or nightclub owner launching a task force on chastity, a task force that eventually would be scuttled without any final effect after the initial press furor on its starting subsides. How many of these congressional 'ethics bills' ever go through in the end? What about ear-marks, though?A politician who uses his authority (that is the word: authority) actually to effect policy 'for the common good' has some real potential.
I think of St. Thomas More, patron saint of politicians. He did not give pretentious speeches on politics and ethics. He was no doubt painfully aware of the gruesome messiness of his profession, but through prayer, sacrifice, humility, courage, and the embodiment of virtue he was able to make strong choices and live within an ethical structure in order to have the political structure be at the service of the common good. He paid for it with his life, but 'might' in the longer battle is no arbiter of of the rightness of ethics, truth and orthodoxy. This article on political vulnerabilities in our Presidential campaigns is salient, especially the whole issue of 'self-interested partisan posturing', which is yet again another example of how our political leaders seem to dance around any issues we may wish to have them explain with any clarity. I fear little resolution of a positive nature will come from the Battle to Be at Denver, but there no doubt will be much dancing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Mother's Milk
Coming from Mayor Daley's Chicago, Barack Obama's promise to transcend the "old politics" has always been viewed with skepticism by Democratic Party bosses.
During Pennsylvania's hard-fought Democratic primary in March, Mr. Obama said: "We're not going to pay for votes, or pay for turnout." He was referring to the practice of handing out "street money" -- i.e. cash paid to partisan workers to get out the vote. Mr. Obama wound up losing Pennsylvania badly, with many party leaders blaming his failure to provide the traditional lubrication.
One ward leader told me he expected Mr. Obama would change his tune in November if he became the party's nominee.Indeed he has. The Philadelphia Daily News quotes Congressman Bob Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party, as saying street money is now back in vogue. "They [the Obama campaign] told me there are going to be resources here. That's what we do in Philadelphia; we pay people to work," Mr. Brady said.
Mr. Brady went on to say that by his calculations, Mr. Obama needs a massive Philadelphia win in order to carry the state's 21 electoral votes because he doesn't have the support in central and western Pennsylvania that Al Gore or John Kerry enjoyed. "I think we're going to need that because of the middle part of the state. McCain plays right in there," he said.
Of course, the massive size of Democratic margins in Philadelphia (often exceeding half a million votes) has regularly been a subject of controversy. A key state legislative victory by Democrats was thrown out by a federal judge a few years back due to massive vote fraud. The rolls of city voters have for years contained more registrations than the city contains people over 18, according to Census data. These excess registrations represent an open invitation to turn "street money" into phantom votes if a sufficient number of the living kind can't be drummed up.
For all the hype about his successful Internet campaign, it appears Mr. Obama has reluctantly decided that the "old politics" has it uses after all and must now be embraced.
-- John Fund,
writing in today's Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


A Time for Mouth Action?

The Russian invasion of Georgia benefits John McCain
by allowing him to show off his foreign-policy credentials -- that's conventional political wisdom and Barack Obama did his best to confirm it last week with his halting and shifting responses from his vacation spot in Hawaii.

After initially even-handedly blaming both sides for the fighting, Mr. Obama got "tough." But even his toughness had a way of betraying him. "Now is the time for action -- not just words," Mr. Obama finally got around to saying Tuesday.

But Mr. Obama couldn't list any actions that America, as a country, should take,
or that Mr. Obama, as president, would take.Instead, his action plan was a list of things for the Russians to do:

"It is past time for the Russian government to immediately sign and implement a cease-fire. Russia must halt its violation of Georgian airspace and withdraw its ground forces from Georgia."Mr. Obama's statement was, well, just words, offering little comfort to those wondering how Mr. Obama would handle himself in a foreign policy crisis.
-- Brian M. Carney,
writing in today's Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


Quote of the Day

"A former Senator and vice-presidential candidate misused campaign contributions and money pledged to fight poverty so he could bring his mistress on the campaign trail with him during the presidential campaign where he was constantly making appearances with his widely admired cancer stricken wife then fathered the mistress's child sometime around the time he was getting a Father Of The Year Award and then asked his loyal aide who already has a wife and kids to falsely claim paternity while the fake dad and the mistress were funneled money so they could move to be near the mistress's psychic healer friend while the former candidate continued to meet the mistress and baby until he was caught by tabloid reporters and hid in the bathroom and then confessed on national TV a couple of weeks later but both he and his wife continued to lie during that interview and in subsequent statements. And the press is supposed to yawn that story off?"

- liberal blogger Lee Stranahan,
writing at HuffingtonPost.com
on why media interest in the John Edwards scandal isn't going away.


Obama's Abortion Position? It's a One-liner!
He is pro-abortion!
Barack Obama had made real strides in defusing the abortion issue with pro-life voters as late as last week. The Democratic platform had been modified to include language signaling the party's commitment to reducing the number of abortions and supporting women who decide to have a child. In a significant symbolic move, pro-life Senator Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania has been invited to address the Democratic National Convention on its second night. Back in 1992, Democrats did enormous damage to themselves with pro-life voters when they blocked Mr. Casey's father, the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, from speaking.
But Mr. Obama eroded many of those gains last Saturday when he told Pastor Rick Warren during a nationally televised forum that deciding when the rights of personhood should be extended to the unborn was "above my pay grade." Even Doug Kmiec, a conservative Pepperdine University lawyer who has become one of Mr. Obama's most prominent pro-life backers, was unsettled. He called the candidate's answer "much too glib for something this serious."
Mr. Obama compounded his problems after the forum when in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he accused pro-life groups of "lying" about his record in the Illinois State Senate on legislation that would have protected viable babies born after botched abortions. Mr. Obama acknowledged voting against the bill but said he would have voted "yes" if the bill had contained language similar to a federal bill's language making clear that the intention wasn't to diminish overall abortion rights. But, as recently revealed, the Illinois bill had indeed included such language and Mr. Obama still voted against it.
"Senator Obama got caught in the twisting of the truth," says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. "His campaign was later forced to put out a clarifying statement that it was the Senator himself who was actually wrong on the facts. He did indeed vote against a bill in the Illinois State Senate that was identical to the federal legislation that sought to protect babies who survive abortions."
Mr. Obama's stand on the issue is significant. The federal "Born Alive Infant Protection Act" sailed through the Senate in 2001 on a vote of 98 to 0. The bill was supported by Senator Barbara Boxer, the body's leading pro-choice spokeswoman, and was not opposed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
By getting his facts wrong, Mr. Obama is now in the difficult position of trying to explain why he voted against a bill that the legislative record shows addressed infanticide rather than abortion.The Associated Press reported on Sunday that a group calling itself The Real Truth About Obama is working to establish a Web site and air radio ads to publicize its view of Mr. Obama's voting record. MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan says he's been told other outside groups are planning their own ad campaigns on Mr. Obama's abortion votes.
-- John Fund, writing in today's Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


Catholics who support abortion should not receive Communion, says Archbishop Burke

Archbishop Raymond BurkeRome, Aug 19, 2008 / 10:00 am (CNA).-
The prefect of the Apostolic Signature, Archbishop Raymond Burke, said this week that Catholics, especially politicians who publically defend abortion, should not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”
In an interview with the magazine, Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke pointed out that there is often a lack of reverence at Mass when receiving Communion. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege,” he warned. “If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege.”To illustrate his point, he referred to “public officials who, with knowledge and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law. For example, if they support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and defenseless human lives.
A person who commits sin in this way should be publicly admonished in such a way as to not receive Communion until he or she has reformed his life,” the archbishop said.“If a person who has been admonished persists in public mortal sin and attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to deny it to him. Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person, preventing him from committing a sacrilege,” he added.“We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist,” the archbishop continued. “Secondly, there could be another form of scandal, consisting of leading people to think that the public act that this person is doing, which until now everyone believed was a serious sin, is really not that serious - if the Church allows him or her to receive Communion.”“If we have a public figure who is openly and deliberately upholding abortion rights and receiving the Eucharist, what will the average person think? He or she could come to believe that it up to a certain point it is okay to do away with an innocent life in the mother’s womb,” he warned.
Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an abortion supporter from receiving Communion, “it is not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather in the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well.”“Therefore, it is simply ridiculous and wrong to try to silence a pastor, accusing him of interfering in politics so that he cannot do good to the soul of a member of his flock,” he stated.It is “simply wrong” to think that the faith must be reduced to the private sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging Catholics “to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to Christ.”

Monday, August 18, 2008


Smart Republicans like Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Jeb Hensarling of Texas are starting to recognize their party holds the ultimate trump card in the current energy debate.
In 41 days, the long-imposed moratorium on offshore oil drilling and domestic oil shale production is set to expire -- gone. This happens automatically and can be stopped only if Congress votes to reestablish the ban. Lifting the moratorium might free up as much as 100 years worth of oil and gas for domestic consumption.
But keeping domestic energy supplies off limits is something Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and their environmentalist allies desperately want to do.
Ms. Pelosi has said that stopping new oil production is about "saving the planet." Nevertheless, Mr. DeMint tells me it would be "tough vote for congressional Democrats to make just weeks before an election."
No kidding, with gas prices at near $4 a gallon and polls showing voters supporting an America-first drilling strategy by a two-to-one margin.
An even bigger headache for Democrats, Mr. DeMint has his hands on a letter signed by only 38 Senators who have pledged to maintain the ban. Democrats would need 60 votes to get a budget passed with the drilling moratorium rider attached.
Can Republicans keep it together? A House Democratic leadership aide says Democrats will accuse Republicans of shutting down the government and preventing seniors from collecting Social Security checks. But Democrats run Congress now, so "it will be difficult for Pelosi and her gang to blame the minority Republicans for a congressional train wreck," answers Mr. DeMint.
Yet some Republicans are gun-shy, recalling the failed shutdown strategy of 1995. There's concern that Republican leaders may not be able to hold the line under pressure and that northeastern Republicans might crack.
Newt Gingrich has a more sanguine take: Democrats are going to have a hard time explaining why they "shut down the government to prevent oil drilling," he says.The consensus among conservatives on Capitol Hill aligns with Mr. Gingrich. A high stakes showdown is exactly what these Republicans believe the GOP should be seeking. Democrats are on the run on high gas prices, and the only thing that can bail them out is a bad compromise like the bipartisan so-called "Gang of 10" proposal that calls for higher taxes, more subsidies and leaves two-thirds of the outer continental shelf oil off-limits.
-- Stephen Moore,
writing in today's Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


John McCain had a good night during Saturday's joint appearance with Pastor Rick Warren, especially when he and Barack Obama were separately asked to cite examples when each "went against party loyalty and maybe even against your own best interest for the good of America.
"Mr. McCain said he had "a long list" and provided specifics from global warming to runaway spending under a Republican Congress.
Barack Obama offered only one answer: "Well, I'll give you an example that in fact I worked with John McCain on," Mr. Obama said, "and that was the issue of campaign ethics reform and finance reform."
Mr. Obama may want to think carefully before trying that line in too many future debates. While it's true he briefly teamed up with Mr. McCain on rewriting a Congressional ethics bill, their alliance didn't last long. Back in February 2006, Mr. Obama wrote to Mr. McCain that he was declining to join a bipartisan task force and was instead signing onto the Democratic leadership's ethics bill.
Mr. McCain responded with a harsh note accusing Mr. Obama of retreating into "self-interested partisan posturing." Mr. McCain concluded his letter: "I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances [of cooperation] as typical gloss." In the end, both men found a way to kiss and make up, and both found reasons to oppose the final ethics bill.
But Mr. Obama is now the one citing work on a relatively minor ethics bill as an example of his unself-interested pursuit of the national good. The actual history isn't so clear and draws an unfortunate contrast with Mr. McCain's well-known independence from party orthodoxy. A shortage of examples of him breaking with his party's line remains one of Mr. Obama's big vulnerabilities.
-John Fund,
writing in today's Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


The Barack Obama campaign apparently went outside the normal spin guardrails yesterday in trying to explain how John McCain did so well in Saturday's Saddleback Forum with Pastor Rick Warren.
As NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted on Sunday's "Meet the Press," what the Obama campaign is "putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. . . . He seemed so well prepared."
But Pastor Rick Warren assured CNN that Mr. McCain didn't hear any of the questions in advance, even if the candidate was stuck in traffic and was a bit late arriving to the pre-arranged quiet room or "cone of silence." Charlie Black, a McCain adviser who was with him at the time, confirmed that Mr. McCain was in a motorcade and "then a holding room in another building with no TV."Mr. Warren says he trusts "the integrity of both" candidates, and joked that while Mr. McCain may not have been fully in the "cone of silence," "he was in the cone of a Secret Service motorcade."
For its part, the Obama campaign officially says it now assumes both candidates were equally unaware of the questions and isn't interested in pursuing the matter.
Interestingly enough, Mr. McCain's campaign is and has written a letter to NBC News citing Ms. Mitchell's ruminations as evidence of bias in its campaign coverage. "Instead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points," wrote campaign manager Rick Davis. "This is irresponsible journalism and sadly indicative of the level of objectivity we have witnessed at NBC News this election cycle."
Somehow I doubt if Team McCain had been privy to any of Pastor Warren's questions, it would now be seeking to raise the stakes by challenging Andrea Mitchell's bizarre report. It will be interesting to see if Ms. Mitchell does any further "reporting" on her scoop or simply tries to let the issue fade away.
-John Fund
writiing in today's Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE


By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe

Sunday, August 17, 2008


It wasn't so long ago that erstwhile supporters of the war in Iraq were invoking hindsight to justify their newfound opposition to it. "Obviously if we knew then what we know now," Senator Hillary Clinton said in December 2006, when asked whether she regretted her 2002 vote authorizing military action, "I certainly wouldn't have voted that way."

Many of Clinton's colleagues said the same thing. An ABC News survey of senators in January 2007 found that "an overwhelming number" of Democrats who had voted in favor of going to war -- including Joe Biden of Delaware, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, John Breaux of Louisiana, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia -- had had a change of heart.

Liberals and Democrats weren't the only ones going wobbly. "If I had known then what I know now about the weapons of mass destruction," Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, told the Houston Chronicle, "I would not vote to go into Iraq." The conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg pronounced the Iraq war "a mistake by the most obvious criteria: If we had known then what we know now, we would never have gone to war with Iraq." Others singing from the same hymnal have included Jonathan Rauch, National Journal's respected semi-libertarian essayist, and (somewhat earlier) Michael Howard, the former leader of the British Conservative Party.

The prevailing wisdom 18 months or so ago was that invading Iraq had been, in retrospect, a disastrous blunder. It had led to appalling sectarian fratricide and an ever-climbing body count. Iraqi democracy was deemed a naive pipe dream. Worst of all, it was said, the fighting in Iraq wasn't advancing the global struggle against Islamist terrorism; by rallying a new generation of jihadists, it was actually impeding it. Opponents of the war clamored loudly for pulling the plug -- even if that meant, as The New York Times acknowledged in a bring-the-troops-home-now editorial last July, "that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave."

But what if we had known then what we know *now*?

We know now that the overhauled counterinsurgency strategy devised by General David Petraeus -- the "surge" -- would prove spectacularly successful, driving al-Qaeda in Iraq from its strongholds, and killing thousands of its fighters, supporters, and leaders.

We know now that US losses in Iraq would plummet to the lowest levels of the war, with just five Americans killed in combat in July 2008, compared with 66 fatalities in the same month a year ago -- and with 137 in November 2004, the deadliest month of the war.

We know now that the sectarian bloodletting would be dramatically reduced, with numerous Sunni tribal leaders abandoning their former al-Qaeda allies, and Shi'ite radical Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army being thoroughly routed by the Iraqi military.

We know now that by the summer of 2008, the Iraqi government would meet all but three of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress to demonstrate security, economic progress, and political reconciliation.

And we know now that, far from being undermined by the campaign in Iraq, the wider war against Islamist violence would show significant progress, with terrorism outside Iraq's borders having "in fact gone way down over the past five years," as Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria noted in May -- and with popular support for jihadist organizations plummeting across the Muslim world.

So what does hindsight counsel today? That Iraq is a pointless quagmire, from which we can’t get out quickly enough -- or that it is a costly but winnable war, in which patience, tenacity, and smarts have a good chance of succeeding?

Hindsight isn't always 20-20, particularly in wartime, when early expectations of an easy rout can give way to an unexpectedly long and bloody grind -- and when victory has so often been achieved only after persevering through strategic debacles, intelligence failures, and wrenching battlefield losses.

There are no guarantees in Iraq. As with every war, we will know for sure how it ends only after it ends. But an effort that so many critics have sourly called the worst foreign-policy blunder in American history -- the drive to emancipate Iraq from a monstrous and dangerous dictatorship and transform it into a reasonably civilized, law-abiding democracy -- looks increasingly like a mission nearly accomplished. Had we known six years ago what we know today, would we have done it? Differently, no doubt. But we would have done it.

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)


Barack Hussein Obama incredibly said on TV that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the most brilliant justices to serve on the Court in a long time, did not have enough experience to serve on the Court.
Here are some reactions from the Internet:

OBAMA JUST SAID CLARENCE THOMAS DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH EXPERIENCE TO SERVE ON THE COURT: Kinda ironic, huh? (Scalia's qualified, but Obama wouldn't have nominated him).

Low Blow [Mark R. Levin]
Without a doubt, the lowest moment of the night was Obama's smear of Clarence Thomas. He, like Harry Reid, can't simply disagree with Thomas, he has to try to degrade him. On Obama's best day he can't hold a candle to Thomas's intelligence. Obama can barely make it through a press conference and ducks town hall debates with McCain because of his inability to speak in complete sentences when pressed to show his much noted but usually absent brilliance.
McCain Tonight
John Podhoretz - 08.16.2008 - 9:57 PM
I don’t know how to say this more clearly: If John McCain can perform during the three debates the way he is performing tonight with Rick Warren, he will win this election. The contrast between him and Barack Obama (who answered the same questions an hour before him) has really been quite startling. In every case, McCain has answered substantively, directly, and with a surpassing command of detail. Obama talked around most issues; perhaps most oddly, he said Clarence Thomas was the one Supreme Court justice he would not have selected because he hadn’t had enough experience (Thomas had been on the federal bench for a year and a half before he was nominated, which is about as long as Obama was in the Senate before he began seriously considering a run for the presidency). Once again, as was true in his debates with Hillary Clinton, Obama has a problem when matters get down to specifics and his rival is better prepared and more comfortable with them than he is.

Saddleback: The Contrast [Rich Lowry]
A fascinating night that gave us a peek at the fundamental contrast between these candidates. They both were very good, but in entirely different ways. Obama was relaxed, reflective, polished, and conversational—truer to the spirit of the event. McCain was energetic and forceful, but relied more on his favorite lines—treating it more like one of his townhall meetings (he had the advantage of an overwhelmingly friendly crowd). Obama was every bit the impressive, likable young man. McCain was the elder statesman telling his best stories. Obama was fluid and comfortable talking about his faith. McCain said the bare minimum about it.But the starkest contrast came as soon as McCain started his half of the forum. Asked the three people he would listen to as president, McCain said right off the bat Gen. Petraeus (Obama had led with his wife and grandmother). It was an immediate signal that this is a man who is concerned first and foremost with matters of war and peace—just as you expect from someone who wants to be president of the United States. Asked when he had bucked his party at risk to his self-interest, McCain rolled off his greatest hits, and went all the back to differing with Reagan on Lebanon (a reminder of how long he has been immersed in national-security issues). It made Obama's answer about promoting an ethics law with McCain seem incredibly weak in comparison. Then, McCain's answer about the toughest decision he had ever made—refusing early release in Vietnam—was riveting and moving.In the first fifteen minutes, McCain had established a moral seriousness stemming from his conduct in Vietnam as a POW and his long-time as a national leader that Obama can't match. Throughout the rest of the night, he brought up Iraq, al Qaeda, and the Georgia crisis, when Obama was more inward-looking. McCain sounded like a potential commander-in-chief, Obama more like a potential friend. This is not to say, again, that Obama was not impressive. But the skills he showed tonight—the thoughtfulness and verbal dexterity—were those of a very talented memoirist, which, of course, he is.As for the social issues, tonight should throw a damper on the notion that Obama is going to make major inroads among evangelicals voters. Why would they vote for his social liberalism couched in exquisite equivocations, when they can vote for someone who agrees with them on most everything like John McCain?
Tonight, Tonight, Tonight [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
An e-mail:
I have never liked John McCain. I have followed him closely, which is why I've not liked him.

He has hit a grand slam tonight.

He's making Barry look like the vague, socialist, intellectual that he is, in fact.

McCain...is sounding like an American.

He LOVES our country.

Barry wants to improve it..

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


When will we learn? Words do not deter aggression by ruthless madmen like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Brezhnev, Saddam Hussein, Castro, Chavez, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, Kim il Jong, Ho Chi Ming, and countless others in recent and past history. Words, meaning denunciations however artfully phrased, are powerless to stop aggression.
The current raw exercise of Soviet style imperialism by Vladimir Putin
is further evidence of his true KGB formed character.
Barring Russia from further participation in world meetings of G-8, for example,would send a stronger message than denunciations of
the Russian rape of Georgia.
Putin must pay a price for his madness.
By Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Apartment buildings in the Georgian city of Gori, which was bombed by Russia on Saturday

Henry Kissinger used to say that while it can be dangerous to be an enemy of the United States, to be a friend is fatal. The people of South Vietnam learned that bitter lesson when the United States abandoned them in 1975. The Poles learned it after Yalta, the Hungarian freedom fighters learned it in 1956, the Cubans learned it at the Bay of Pigs. And tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Shiites learned it in 1991, when at the urging of George H.W. Bush they rose against Saddam Hussein, only to be slaughtered when American support never materialized.

We can now add Georgia to that list.

The current President Bush has been a vocal champion of the young democracy in the former Soviet republic. He lauded the Rose Revolution that swept Mikheil Saakashvili to power, he backs Georgia's bid to join NATO, and he traveled to Tbilisi in 2005 to give his "pledge to the Georgian people that you've got a solid friend in America." In return, the Georgians firmly aligned themselves with the United States, sending troops to fight alongside ours in Iraq and Afghanistan and even naming a main road in Tbilisi after Bush. At the White House in March, Saakashvili effusively thanked the president for having "really put Georgia firmly on the world's freedom map."

Yet last week, when Russia contemptuously wiped its boots on that map, sending tanks and bombers to smash and kill their way across Georgia's frontier, Bush's response was feckless.

As the president horsed around in Beijing, posing with bikini-clad Olympic volleyball players, Russian ruler Vladimir Putin -- no longer pretending to have relinquished executive power -- was in the Caucuses directing Russian military operations against Georgia. The first response from the White House to Moscow's naked aggression was milquetoast: evenhanded mush about the need for "a stand-down by all troops." It took four days before Bush finally blasted Russia's "dramatic and brutal escalation" in Georgia, and declared such behavior "unacceptable in the 21st century." By then it was too late. Not only had Russia seized control of the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it had taken the Georgian city of Senaki with its military base, and was bombing two other key cities, Poti and Gori.

This was a "3 a.m. phone call" if anything ever was, and the White House bungled it. So did Barack Obama, whose first response was the same as Bush's. "Now is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint," he announced, seemingly unwilling to choose between the imperialist invader and its weaker neighbor.

It took Obama three tries to catch up with John McCain, who had recognized at once the import of Russia's first military offensive beyond its borders since Soviet rule ended in 1991. McCain denounced Russia's aggression as soon as the news hit, then followed it up on Monday with a forceful explanation of the moral and strategic stakes in this crisis.

And what are those stakes? Simply put, whether Russia can intimidate the countries on its periphery into toeing Moscow's line and keeping their distance from America and the West. Putin couldn't care less about the rights of South Ossetians or Abkhazians. But he cares intensely about restoring Moscow's Cold War hegemony in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

In 2005, Putin characterized the end of the Soviet Union -- i.e., the emancipation of Eastern Europe and tens of millions of human beings -- as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." Putin, the apparatchik who spent 17 years in the KGB, aims to restore the glory that was the Brezhnevite USSR, and has revived every Soviet technique in pursuing that goal: The jailing and exile of political opponents. The murder of aggressive journalists. Gross interference with foreign elections. Top-down control of the media. Advanced weapons sales to villainous regimes. Anti-American obstructionism at the UN. Cyberwar against Estonia. Energy extortion against Ukraine. Savage destruction in Chechnya.

About the only Brezhnev-era tactic not tried was the invasion of a neighboring country. Now that line has been crossed too, and with impunity. For months, the United States has claimed to be ready for a military alliance with Georgia; that is what NATO membership means, after all. Yet it was unready to do a thing when its potential ally came under attack, except ferry Georgian troops home from Iraq.

"Why won't America and NATO help us?" a distraught Georgian farmer asked a Western reporter this week. "If they won't help us now, why did we help them in Iraq?"

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)

Monday, August 11, 2008


If you thought Marie Antoinette's reputed putdown of the starvingFrench masses, "Let them eat cake!" was pretty outrageous,
consider Nancy Pelosi's action in adjourning the
United States Senate for five weeks until September 8
to prevent the Senate from voting on a Republican sponsored bill to offer
some relief to the gasoline/diesel starved people
of the United States.
Adjourning the Senate for political advantage over the Republicans is bad enough, but when you consider that she immediately left for a book-signing
tour for her new book, Know Your Power, it becomes really outrageous.
It is bad enough that the book has received terrible reviews and that her
act of adjournment was an exercise of her own raw power
as Speaker of the House, but by her action she seems
to be saying of the plight of the American People:
"Let them read my book
Some House Democrats are privately fuming at the pickle Speaker Nancy Pelosi put them in when she turned off the lights in the House chamber and breezed out of Washington for the summer recess without addressing voter concerns about high gas prices.
By denying Republicans a chance to make floor speeches about the gas crisis on the day Congress was set to adjourn, she set off an ongoing protest on the House floor that has garnered much publicity.
The Republican floor protest was a completely spontaneous reaction against her heavy-handed tactics. Since then, many Democratic Members have been pressed by voters at town hall meetings and radio call-in shows about why they won't allow a vote on the GOP proposal for more domestic oil production.
"It's annoying," one Democratic House Member admitted to me. "We don't go back in session until September 8 and this leaves us hanging out there the whole time."
Even more annoying to some Democrats is that Speaker Pelosi's rush to adjourn and leave town seems to have been motivated in part by her desire to start a book tour promoting her new memoir "Know Your Power."
(Retrieved from John Fund's article on today's
Wall Street Journal Online Political Diary Online)


Former Nebraska Senator, Bob Kerry, always impressed Leo Rugiens as a
smart young politician with a bright future, until he started dating that singer, whats-her-name, and then he began to look too much like another 'smart' young politician named Jerry Brown of San Francisco fame.
since be began serving as President of that University in New York City,
he seems to have recovered from his past intellectual lapses.
Here, thanks to the Wall Street Journal's
Political Diary Online
we have a quote from Bob Kerry which is very
perceptive of the changing political climate
as we draw near to the November election.
Quote of the Day
"The country's still pretty divided. . . . People may want a divided government. They want change but I'm not sure that the Democratic agenda has the support of a majority of Americans"
-- former Nebraska Senator and 1992 Democratic presidential candidate Bob Kerrey,
speaking to Politico.com on how John McCain could argue against turning the government entirely over to the Democratic triumvirate of
Barack Hussein Obama, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid.