I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.
On the Merits of Self Determinism
This is a blog of one of my correspondents, which I recommend to you. Not the least because of his name: Wolfgang Sheehy. Is that a great name, or what? Next time I’m arrested, I’m telling the police that’s my name.
Administration officials and utility executives meet to salvage climate bill
Wrecking the healthcare system and helping their contributors on Wall Street weren’t enough damage before the elections. Excerpt: Top Obama administration officials met Tuesday with utility executives in another sign that senior Democrats are pushing to salvage a limited climate change bill this year. The White House meeting comes amid a growing consensus among utility officials involved in the talks that a climate bill is dead for the summer, raising the question of whether it is possible at all this year.
Firing of USDA official highlights larger political problems involving race
Growing consensus that the administration jumped too quickly in firing her, that the full video shows her explaining how she over came her feelings about race to help the white farmer, who has come to her defense. Pretty balanced account from the WaPo. Excerpt: Shirley Sherrod, a black woman appointed last July as the USDA's Georgia state director of rural development, was forced to resign after a video surfaced of her March 27 appearance at an NAACP banquet. In a speech, she described an episode in which, while working at a nonprofit organization 24 years ago, she did not help a white farmer as much as she could have. Instead, she said, she sent him to one of "his own kind." The video was posted Monday on the Web site of conservative activist Andrew Breitbart as a counterattack on the NAACP, which passed a resolution last week accusing the "tea party" movement of having "racist elements." But for some on the right, Sherrod's comments also reinforced a larger, more sinister narrative: that the administration of the first African American to occupy the White House practices its own brand of racism. The controversy comes on the heels of another one surrounding the Justice Department's decision to scale back its 2008 voter-intimidation lawsuit against a group known as the New Black Panther Party. Suspicions on the right that Obama has a hidden agenda -- theories stoked in part by conservative media and sometimes involving race -- have been a subplot of his rise, beginning almost as soon as he announced his campaign. They lie beneath many of the questions that conservatives on the political fringes have raised about his motives, his legitimacy and even his citizenship. On the other hand, some of the president's allies on the left have at times reflexively seen racism as the real force behind the vehemence of the opposition against Obama's policies and decisions. The White House has pointedly distanced itself from this line of defense. When Vice President Biden was asked Sunday on ABC about the NAACP resolution regarding the tea party, for instance, he said that racist sentiment exists only at the periphery of the new political movement. "The president doesn't believe that the tea party is a racist organization," Biden said. "I don't believe that. Very conservative, very different views on government and a whole lot of things. But it is not a racist organization."
Black Caucus accuses Vilsack of overreaction
Excerpt: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack overreacted by forcing the resignation of a Shirley Sherrod, the Congressional Black Caucus said today. "It is now apparent that Secretary Vilsack did not have all of the facts available to him and overreacted," CBC chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "The Congressional Black Caucus continues to believe that Ms. Sherrod was unfairly asked to resign, without due process and should be reinstated immediately," Lee added. Sherrod was forced out this week after a short video clip of her seemed to suggest she discriminated against a white farmer. The longer, unedited video, however, made clear that the incident took place more than 20 years ago, and Sherrod was recounting it to demonstrate how her views had changed. Vilsack said this morning that he will re-examine the facts surrounding Sherrod's dismissal. While Lee called for Sherrod's reinstatement, she also suggested the USDA should re-examine which employees might have actively discriminated against blacks.
Durbin's office chastises some DREAM Act supporters
Durbin (D-Trial Lawyers) comes out for educating illegals. Excerpt: Approximately a dozen young people dressed in blue valedictory caps and gowns were arrested Tuesday afternoon in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. The group appears to be part of a larger group of students who were on Capitol Hill Tuesday to lobby for passage of the DREAM Act, an immigration reform bill that would allow undocumented residents to apply to U.S. colleges. At approximately 4 p.m. the group sat down on the floor in the center of the atrium, around a 6-foot sign that said "Undocumented and Unafraid," and "Dream Act Now." They sat for approximately 15 minutes before being handcuffed in plastic cuffs and escorted away by Capitol Police. Earlier in the day, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), author of the DREAM Act, addressed the larger group, which was staging a mock graduation ceremony. Reached for comment following the arrests, a Durbin spokesman said, "Today's demonstrations by some DREAM Act supporters ... crossed the line from passionate advocacy to inappropriate behavior. The tide of public opinion has long been on the side of the DREAM Act -- it has broad bipartisan support in Congress and poll after poll shows that people of all political persuasion believe in its goals. Sen. Durbin believes that we will win this fight on the merits, not through public demonstrations or publicity stunts."
The secrets next door
The on-going series. See the next article. On the one hand, everything the government does seems to grow into a highly complex and expensive bureaucracy you can never get rid of. On the other hand, imaging the reaction if a newspaper had gone after our intelligence services in 1943. Excerpt: Fort Meade, Md., is the capital of Top Secret America -- an alternative geography of the United States defined by the concentration of top-secret government organizations and the companies that do work for them. It is the largest of a dozen such clusters across the United States that are the nerve centers of Top Secret America and its 854,000 workers.
Dumbing down Intel
Excerpt: The fundamental problem with our national intelligence system is that it assumes that quantity can substitute for quality. The result is a vast, expensive network that's far less than the sum of its parts. It's as if the Yankees, stung by a string of losing seasons, avoided seeking out talented ballplayers in favor of hiring a thousand Little Leaguers (at major-league salaries). This week, The Washington Post has done something of a service with a series of articles, "Top Secret America," chronicling the lack of accountability in our intelligence community. The analysis is a bit superficial, but diligent reporting drives home the point that we're just not getting our money's worth. That's been the case at least since The 1960s. But waste took a quantum leap after 9/11. I spent two ultimately disheartening decades at various levels of our intelligence system, from dirty boots to Beltway snoots. Expenditures are far more lavish today, but the "four pillars of failure" remain in place:
China's Dubious Energy Accolade
Excerpt: News that China consumed more energy than the U.S. last year will be taken by many as another sign that a new epoch is upon us. Indeed, that's how the International Energy Agency, source of the data, described its findings Monday. But the headline numbers only tell half the story. The underlying data say a lot about the challenges facing both economies. China consumed half as much energy as the U.S. in 2000. Last year, it burned through slightly more. Yet the energy mix for each country couldn't be more different. Coal accounts for 22% of U.S. energy consumption, but a full two-thirds of China's, up from 57% in 2000.
Federal Health Care Legislation Adds to Push for Medical Tourism
I don’t think Mayo has “opted out” of Medicare fully, but stopped taking new patients, particularly in primary care, in some places. Excerpt: Changes to the U.S. health care system under President Obama’s new law may have the unintended consequence of increasing Americans’ demand for medical tourism. David Boucher, president of Companion Global Health Care, says demand will in part originate from Medicare recipients. “Now that the health care reform bill has passed, we expect more employers to seriously consider medical tourism, for several reasons,” said Boucher. “One impact of the national reform law is that more doctors are going to be giving up their private practices. “In 2008, 28 percent of Medicare beneficiaries looking for a primary care doctor had trouble finding one. Think about what that’s going to look like in a few years, considering that the number of doctors participating in Medicare has been dropping since 1990s,” he added. According to Boucher, Medicare recipients are eventually going to find it much easier and faster to get treatment outside the country as hospitals drop their coverage of such patients. “This trend is becoming evident in surprising ways,” Boucher said. “The Mayo Clinic was named as the number one United State hospital in 2009, and just thirty days later they announced that they would be opting out of the Medicare program.”
Stimulating Unemployment: If you can't create any jobs, pay people not to work.
Excerpt: Mr. Obama's ostensible purpose was to lobby Congress for the eighth extension of jobless benefits since the recession began, to a record 99 weeks, or nearly two years. And he whacked Senate Republicans for blocking the extension, though Republicans are merely asking that the extension be offset by cuts in other federal spending. But Mr. Obama was nonetheless obliged to concede that, 18 months after his $862 billion stimulus, there are still five job seekers for every job opening and that 2.5 million Americans will soon run out of unemployment benefits. What happens when the 99 weeks of benefits run out? Will the President demand that they be extended to three years, or four? Only last week Vice President Joe Biden was hailing the stimulus for "saving or creating" three million jobs. This week the White House says we need even more stimulus, in the form of jobless checks, to make up for the jobs his original spending stimulus didn't create. The one possibility the President and Congressional Democrats won't entertain is that their own spending and taxing and regulating and labor union favoritism have become the main hindrance to job creation. Since February 2009, the jobless rate has climbed to 9.5% from 8.1%, and private industry has shed two million jobs. The overall economy has been expanding for at least a year, but employers still don't seem confident enough to add new workers. The economists who sold us the stimulus say it's a mystery. But maybe employers are afraid to hire because they don't know what costs government will impose on them next. In the immediate policy case, Democrats are going so far as to subsidize more unemployment. If you subsidize something, you get more of it. So if you pay people not to work, they often decide . . . not to work. Or at least to delay looking or decline a less than perfect job offer, holding out for something else that may or may not materialize.
Son of CRA: The Scandal Lives On
Thomas Sowell points out the black owned banks made loans to whites at greater rates than to blacks. And both black and white owned banks made loans at greater rates to Asians than to whites. The banks are there to make a profit, don’t care as long as you can pay. Asians are not discriminating against white folks, but as a group they have better credit histories. If they are denying loans to blacks, but giving them to whites with similar credit histories, incomes and assets, THEN it would be discrimination. But it was destroying the economy to buy votes from folks with bad credit. Excerpt: Changes that the Clinton administration made to the Community Reinvestment Act bent underwriting rules, paving the way for the easy-credit boom and bust. Now come hearings to expand the CRA. The Obama administration has ordered a "comprehensive review" of the 1977 anti-redlining law. It seeks to update it "to reflect changes in current housing and community development needs" in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, which has hit inner cities hardest. "There are new challenges" for minorities seeking loans, lamented Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke. Yes there are. And while unfortunate, they're due in no small part to the last CRA reforms signed by the last Democrat president. In 1995, Clinton mandated banks adopt "flexible" underwriting practices to boost minority homeownership. This triggered an explosion in subprime and other risky mortgages that left communities of color worse off than ever. No matter, the Fed and the three other federal agencies regulating banks under the CRA are holding public hearings through August to gather input from inner-city activists hellbent on expanding the misguided regulation. "The agencies want to ensure that the CRA remains effective for encouraging institutions to meet the credit needs of communities," the Fed said in a press release, even if the evidence shows it encourages banks to make unsafe loans.
Guv: Only two state workers tied to ‘the list’
Doesn’t Utah have a “whistleblower law” to protect state workers who expose illegal activity? Think they should sue. Excerpt: Two women who plucked information from a state database to compile a list of 1,300 Utah residents purportedly in the country illegally are being fired, and Gov. Gary Herbert said no other state employees were involved. “It appears the actual act of breaching the database, going through a very sophisticated and methodical approach to breach security protocols, is confined to two people,” Herbert said in an interview. The women, who performed technical roles for the Department of Workforce Services — such as document scanning, data entry and processing data — were placed on paid administrative leave last week. One was a temporary worker who was fired Monday. The other, a permanent worker, was notified of the state’s intention to terminate her, said DWS spokesman David Lewis. Under state law, she can appeal her termination, a process that can take two weeks.
Vote on their fate
If you scroll down the page, on the left you can vote on what should happen to these two Utah Employees.
GRACE’s warts – new peer reviewed paper suggests errors and adjustments may be large
Excerpt: Below is a GRACE satellite map. The Earth looks like a warty ball, with red bumps and blue pits that represent measured fluctuations in the planet’s gravity. Note Greenland in the red. We’ve covered GRACE before, suggesting it may not be a good tool to measure ice loss in Greenland. See this WUWT story. The red spots represent measurements where Earth’s gravity is stronger. The blue ones are where it is measured to be weaker. The universal force of gravity itself does not vary, but the pits and bumps are a local indication that Earth’s mass distribution isn’t smooth and uniform. As seen on the image above, tectonic mountain building in South America produces red zones; elsewhere, tectonic movements produce thin, blue, ones. Even more interesting is the fact that the map changes over time, Earth as we know is not static. (Another seemingly innocent science article with the potential to blow up the entire AGW argument. The GRACE (NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment) data are being used to measure the weight of the Greenland icecap and glaciers. The weight is then, by various calculations and conversions, used to figure out how much of that ice has melted (presumably as a result of Anthropogenic Global Warming) raising sea levels around the world. For some time, this data has been questioned (there are two links to previous posts at WUWT within this article) because of all the massaging the data have to be put through before being useful in this fashion. There is now a peer-reviewed paper suggesting the unavoidable errors inherent in the original data itself are GREATER than the amount of melting claimed. This is significant because for years, getting peer review of ANY climate-related work has been almost impossible for anything that could be even vaguely interpreted as dangerous to AGW—that’s partly what the Climategate emails were all about. This paper could never have survived review unless the science was both solidly grounded in theory AND had results that could be reproduced. While not a death blow to AGW (it’s hard to kill a religion!), it will prove more than just a little inconvenient for the warmists. Ron P.)
Goldman Sachs in $nub of Dems
Problem with buying Democrats is they don’t stay bought. Excerpt: Goldman Sachs executives are pulling campaign cash away from congressional Democrats in the wake of their crackdown on Wall Street, and are now hedging their bets in the upcoming election, according to a Post analysis. During the last election cycle, 64 percent of Goldman's PAC contributions went to Democrats. Now, the cash split is an even 50-50, according to campaign data.
Speaking Up for American Capitalism
Excerpt: Because the financial crisis and resulting recession caused so much pain, a bashing of our entire free enterprise system may have been inevitable. My fear is that by remaining quiet in the face of this onslaught, we have allowed it to intensify. In fact, other than those companies that were a part of the system of easy credit and disguised risk that so spectacularly collapsed, American business as a whole has nothing whatsoever to apologize for. The good news is that despite the political cacophony, and our silence, most Americans still instinctively understand this. According to a recent analysis in The Economist magazine, the overwhelming majority of Americans say they prefer the free enterprise system to any collectivist alternative. In one such poll, as the Economist reports in a feature titled "The 70-30 Nation," the Pew Research Center asked respondents whether they were better off in a free market rather than a socialist economy "even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time." Seventy percent said yes. So why are the 30% in charge of the 70%? According to American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, the "game changer" was the economic crisis. As he writes in his book "The Battle," "the opportunity to expand the 30 percent coalition was not the Democratic sweep in 2008. It was the financial crisis of 2008-2009, which was used as a tool to attack the free enterprise system . . ." Furthermore, Mr. Brooks argues that it's time to make "the moral case for free people and free markets." I couldn't agree more. The free enterprise system, hard-wired into this country's DNA, has created more wealth and lifted more people out of poverty than any other system ever devised by human beings. For the entire history of our nation, people from all over the world have come here for the opportunity to succeed on their own merits.
Emergency Room Visits to Soar
Excerpt: One of the most oft-repeated arguments for health reform is that uninsured patients make costly and delayed trips to the ER when they do not have a health plan that pays for care at physicians’ offices. Insure the uninsured, it is said, and they will decrease their reliance on the ER and get prompter, less costly care elsewhere. Yet, as an AP story reported the other day, ER traffic in Massachusetts is higher than ever before. And as I predicted at the Health Affairs Blog, the number of such visits under the new national health reform is likely to soar. Why is that? As we pointed out in a recent National Center for Policy Analysis Brief Analysis, the use of the emergency room by uninsured patients is not that much different than usage by the insured. The heaviest users of the ER (in proportion to their numbers) are Medicaid patients, probably because Medicaid rates are so low that physicians are not anxious to see them. And the reason why that is important is that more than half of the people who gain insurance under the new health reform bill will enroll in Medicaid. At this point, any attempt to predict what will happen is very speculative. Yet a few back-of-the-envelope calculations convince us that there is reason for concern.
Making Americans Sick
Excerpt: "This is the first evidence we have that fructose increases diabetes and heart disease independently from causing simple weight gain," said Kimber Stanhope, a molecular biologist who led the UC Davis study, adding, "We didn't see any of these changes in the people eating glucose." You say, "Williams, glucose, fructose -- what's the fuss?" Glucose is the sugar sold in 5- or 10-pound bags at your supermarket that Americans have used as a sweetener throughout most of our history. Fructose is a sweetener that has more recently come into heavy use by beverage manufacturers and food processors. You ask, "How come all the fructose use now?" Enter the U.S. Congress. The Fanjul family of Palm Beach, Fla., a politically connected family, has given more than $1.8 million to both Democratic and Republican parties over the years. They and others in the sugar industry give millions to congressmen to keep high tariffs on foreign sugar so the U.S. sugar industry can charge us higher prices. According to one study, the Fanjul family alone earns about $65 million a year from congressional protectionism. Chairman Emeritus of Archer Daniels Midland Company, Dwayne Andreas, has given politicians millions of dollars to help him enrich ADM at our expense. For that money, congressmen vote to restrict sugar imports that in turn drive up sugar prices…. Congress' sugar policy not only reduces the health of American people, it reduces American jobs as well. Chicago used to be America's candy manufacturing capitol. In 1970, employment by Chicago's candy manufacturers totaled 15,000 and now it's 8,000 and falling. Brach's used to employ about 2,300 people; now most of its jobs are in Mexico. Ferrara Pan Candy has also moved much of its production to Mexico. Yes, wages are lower in Mexico, but wages aren't the only factor in candy manufacturers' flight from America. Sugar is a major cost and in Mexico, they pay one-third to one-half what they pay in the U.S. Life Savers, which for 90 years was manufactured in America, has moved to Canada, where wages are comparable to ours, but their yearly sugar cost is $10 million less.
The Slow, Painful Decline of the NAACP
Can’t call Williams a “racist,” as he’s black. They’ll have to use some other nasty name to marginalize him, like “Oreo” or “Uncle Tom.” Excerpt: For starters, the mere act of criticizing a black president is not racist. Nor is it racist to raise the public consciousness to the very important issues of spiraling debt, misguided bailouts, and a series of social policies that may bankrupt the country. Our nation benefits from uninhibited discussion about these serious issues. Very simply, when movements--Tea Party or otherwise--openly debate these issues, the truth rises up. When the NAACP labels and dismisses the Tea Party as racists, it has a chilling effect on this important debate. As a result, the national dialogue is stifled. It is sad that the nation's oldest and most revered civil rights organization has been so co-opted by the Democrats that use the racism epithet to chill political discussion, rather than engage opposing viewpoints on the merits. Please understand, I have the utmost respect for the NAACP. But I cannot ignore the simple fact that the issues supported by the Tea Party relate principally to smaller government, lower taxes, less government debt, enforcing the immigration laws and more individual freedom. These issues have nothing to do with abridging the rights and dignity of African Americans. By pretending otherwise, the NAACP has willingly allowed itself to be co-opted by the Democratic party. Even more alarming, they risk turning the word “racist” into a proxy for “someone whose politics you disagree with.”
Cartoon Ridicules Combat-Wounded Veteran Congressional Candidate, and Backfires
A few months back I wrote a story about Veterans for Congress, focusing in particular on Marine Gunnery Sgt. Nick Popaditch, who is running for Congress in San Diego’s 51st district. “Gunny Pop” as he was affectionately known in the Corps, was grievously wounded in the first battle for Fallujah, Iraq, when he was hit in the head by an enemy RPG. Medically retired, he lost one eye and retains 8 percent use in his second eye, only because of the medical staff’s heroic efforts and Nick’s indomitable spirit.
The Gunny’s website
UFOs Over China: Alien Invasion or Economic Indicator?
Probably Global Warming. Excerpt: In the past two weeks, China has had two major UFO sightings. The first, on July 7, was basically a glowing streak in the sky near Xiaoshan airport in Hangzhou, a city outside Shanghai. In the interests of passenger safety, airport authorities shut down operations for an hour, and eighteen planes were delayed. Eight days later, on July 15, another UFO appeared in Chongqing, a city in eastern China. Described as "four lantern-like objects forming a diamond shape," the lights "hovered over the city's Shaping Park for over an hour." Whether or not China has recently become a destination spot for space travelers, its recent spate of unexplained celestial phenomena may say a great deal about its emerging place in the world -- and its plans for the future.
The Federal Reserve Can Not Account for $9 Trillion in Off-Balance Sheet Transactions?
Hey, I’m often a few bucks off in my checking account at the end of the month, so I understand.
Balancing rights and prudence
Excerpt: This controversy has to be viewed in the context of New York City's 9/11 trauma -- and the context of one uncomfortable truth: 9/11 was a faith-based initiative. The hijackers were operating on strongly, perhaps primarily, religious motivations, and the religion that motivated them was Islam. To be sure, it was Islam as they understood it, and millions of Muslims do not understand their faith in that way. On the other hand, the number of Muslims who do understand their faith as Muhammad Atta did is far from insignificant. What we sometimes call "political Islam" is not a distortion of Islam; it is a particular understanding of Islam that crops up far too frequently to be so casually dismissed.
Pakistan: Christian brothers shot dead for 'blasphemy'
Didn’t get the “Islam is a religion of peace” memo. Excerpt: Two brothers were shot dead outside a courtroom in the Pakistani's Punjab province where they faced blasphemy charges after allegedly distributing Christian pamphlets. According to reports, two unidentified gunmen shot dead Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajjad, and left their police escort critically wounded, as they were leaving the court following a hearing.
Better send the pious ones the memo!
A new German study shows that boys growing up in pious Muslim families are more likely to be violent. The study, which involved intensive questioning of 45,000 teenagers from 61 towns and regions across the country, was conducted by Christian Pfeiffer of the criminal research institute of Lower Saxony. Pfeiffer was quick to assure the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that he was not a racist or ‘Islamophobe’ and that, in fact, he had been dismayed by the results of the survey. Pfeiffer’s work took into account the level of education and standard of living in the families of the children — aged between 14 and 16 — who were questioned. He also asked them how religious they considered themselves, and how integrated they felt in Germany. Pfeiffer said that even when other social factors were taken into account, there remained a significant correlation between religiosity and readiness to use violence. There were some positive correlations too he said, noting that young religious Muslims were much less likely than their non-Muslim counterparts to drink alcohol – or to steal from shops. The increased likelihood to use violence was restricted to Muslim boys, Pfeiffer said – Muslim girls were only as likely to be violent as non-Muslim girls.
Audio purportedly from al Qaeda No. 2 says victory coming
Excerpt: A man identified as Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2 man, promises his followers victory in Afghanistan and Iraq, vowing that these wars will eventually lead to a battle to liberate Jerusalem, in an audio message posted Monday on jihadist websites. The audio was released by As-Sahab Media, al Qaeda's production company. CNN could not verify the authenticity of the message. Radical Islamists often use the Arab-Israeli struggle as a propaganda tool to recruit militants because they believe that Israel has no right to exist on what they consider to be Muslim and Arab land.
UK: New report says counter-terror efforts are alienating Muslims
News Report, May, 1944. US & UK officials are worried that preparations for D-Day, as well as increased air defense of London, are alienating Germans! Excerpt: We hear this kind of thing in the U.S. as well, although usually in opposition to a specific counter-terror measure rather than as a comprehensive criticism of the government's entire approach: CAIR has opposed virtually every counter-terror measure that has come down the pike, and other Islamic advocacy groups have joined in also to oppose specific counter-terror strategies that are denounced for supposedly "alienating" otherwise peaceful Muslims. While the rest of the population has to put up with intrusive and annoying airport security procedures that have been instituted because of Islamic jihadists, and are required to endure all manner of inconvenience and expense because of those Islamic jihadists, ostensibly peaceful and law-abiding Muslims appear entirely unwilling to endure any inconvenience or hardship whatsoever in aid of rooting the "extremist" elements out of their communities.
A Seven Item Tea Party Agenda for a GOP House
Excerpt: Tea Partiers tend to be considerably more informed than the average person about politics; so most of them are well aware of the legislative limitations we'll face if the GOP takes back the House, but doesn't control the Senate or the presidency. Additionally, it's no secret that the American people and the Republican base have very little confidence in the GOP. So, let's be honest here: if the GOP takes the House back, it will be because of the American people's deep dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party, not their love for the Republican Party. With that in mind, it makes sense to have a humble, limited agenda that helps rebuild the American people's confidence in the GOP's ability to govern. Here are seven doable agenda items that can help make that happen.
Rising speculation about bombing Iran's nukes
Excerpt: Many years ago I was privileged to attend a dinner with James Rowe, one of the "passion for anonymity" young aides to Franklin Roosevelt, original author of the winning strategy for Harry Truman's 1948 campaign and close confidant of then-President Lyndon Johnson. Rowe described how Johnson tested insider opinion. He would call an ideologically wide range of acquaintances and ask their views on an issue of the day. Most responded as he expected. But when one or two said something he hadn't expected he would take notice. Maybe things weren't going as he thought. That memory returned as I read three recent articles saying there's an increasing chance that the United States -- or Israel -- might well bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. One was by Time's Joe Klein, who has been a harsh critic of George W. Bush's military policies and a skeptic about action against Iran. The other was by self-described centrist Walter Russell Mead in his ever-fascinating American Interest blog. Former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht in the Weekly Standard argues cogently that an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would not lead to all the negative consequences widely feared and could shatter the mullah regime. This is not out of line with his views over the years. Gerecht assumes that the United States will not launch an attack. Klein, contrary to his past views, disagrees. He cites American diplomats who feel that Iran's spurning of a reasonable deal justifies military action and American military officers who say they know more about potential targets than they did two years ago. Also, he says the Gulf Arab states favor a strike, as evidenced by the United Arab Emirates ambassador's July 6 statement saying that it would be preferable to a nuclear Iran. Klein thinks President Obama is still dead set against bombing Iran. Mead is not so sure. He thinks Obama is motivated by a Wilsonian desire for "the construction of a liberal and orderly world." Or "the European Union built up to a global scale." A successful Iranian nuclear program, in Mead's view, would be "the complete, utter and historic destruction" of Obama's long-term goals of a non-nuclear world and a cooperative international order. This may sound far-fetched. But recall that Woodrow Wilson was re-elected in 1916 on the slogan "He kept us out of war." Then in 1917 he went to war and quickly built the most stringent wartime state -- with private businesses nationalized and political dissenters jailed -- in modern American history. A Wilsonian desire for international order is not inconsistent with aggressive military action. Sometimes the two are compatible. It would be ironic if the professorial Barack Obama launches a military attack when his supposedly cowboy predecessor George W. Bush declined to do so. I remember attending meetings of conservative columnists with Bush in which his words and body language convinced me he would not order the bombing of Iran. The fact is that Iran has been at war with the United States since 1979, when it seized and held our diplomats for 444 days -- an act of war under settled principles of international law.
Public radio producer fantasized about watching Rush Limbaugh die on Journolist
Excerpt: If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would. But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio, that isn’t what you’d do at all. In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment. In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”
The empty vessel makes the loudest sound. – William Shakespeare