Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Lesson from the Ford Presidency

The WSJ has a fine piece on President Ford's legacy in today's WSJ which is available free at  It's a balanced account of a presidency at a rather difficult time in our history.

One point in the piece struck me.  An excerpt:

Congress had trampled over a weakened Nixon, and another Ford contribution was restoring some measure of executive authority. Far more than Nixon, he used his veto pen (66 times in 895 days), blunting liberal excesses after Democrats picked up 46 House seats in 1974. He also deserves credit for resisting the isolationism that was rampant as the Vietnam War wound down. It was a rare period in postwar U.S. history when the public favored spending less on defense.

Democrats exploited the mood in early 1975 to block Ford's funding request for our allies in South Vietnam, as the North began its offensive. Ford pleaded with Congress that "American unwillingness to provide adequate assistance to allies fighting for their lives could seriously affect our credibility throughout the world as an ally," but to no avail. Saigon fell by April, and the boat people and massacres in Southeast Asia soon followed. Thus one irony of this week's praise for Ford as a unifying President: At the time, he was mocked as clumsy and dull, and he was vilified for blocking Congressional priorities. Any of this sound familiar?

Vietnam was a scarring American defeat, but it could have been worse had Ford capitulated to the Congressional stampede. Instead, he fortified U.S. relations with the rest of free Asia, and he sent in the Marines despite liberal howls when the U.S. ship the Mayaguez was taken hostage by Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.

But, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford RIP

Gary, one of my compatriots on this blog reminded me that Gerald Ford brought us the WIN button (whip inflation now). The WIN campaign was absolutely fruitless. It took sound monetary policy to beat inflation, but Nixon and Ford exacerbated inflation with price controls and other social economic policies.

But Ford also took some dramatic action relative to the Mayaguez incident. He also had a number of conservatives on staff (just a number) who fully flowered in the Reagan administration.

Some will remind us that he was our first "unelected" president, but he also brought a culmination to the Nixon Calamity. He was mixed bag of a president, but also a gentleman and will be missed.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas 2006

Isaiah 9:2

"The people who walk in darkness shall see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine upon them."

Isaiah 9:6 - 7a

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will be upon his shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Might God
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

And there will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,..."

And the people said?

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Reed Flip Flop

Despite his ghastly and atrocious liberal record, US Senator Jack Reed is a friend of mine. He was my state senator many years ago, and I've met with him on numerous occasions through some conservative Democrat friends I have in Cranston.

A number of years ago I tried to visit the White House. To get passes, my first inclination was to request them from Senator Chafee's office. When his office did not respond at all to my requests, I called upon Jack's office and received them in a matter of days.

Lately he's been one of the go-to US Senators by the MSM. But is it me, or have I noticed a strange phenomenon lately.

Jack has consistently advocated for more troops in Iraq. He and Hillary seemed to have that same theme, despite the chorus of his colleagues to cut, run and blow town.

But lately, the news media headlines on Jack regarding "more troops" has ranged the gamut from "Jack Reed wants more troops in Iraq" to "he's now among those who feel it's time to gradually reduce the number of troops." When interviewed by a major MSM news outlet recently he sounded like he tried to double speak an answer somewhere in between so as not to sound out of step with his remaining colleagues.

So which is it Jack? Are you in or out?

Radical Islam - Why now?

Victor Davis Hanson walks us down the dark alley of history for a glimpse into the rise of modern day Islamic ruthlessness.  Is it the confluence of events or just serendipitous nuttiness? Below, an excerpt

In the 1930s, German-style fascism appealed to Arabs in Palestine and Egypt. Soviet-style communism had sympathetic governments in Afghanistan, Algeria and Yemen. Baathism took hold in Syria and Iraq. The secular Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser promised a new pan-Arabism that would do away with colonial borders that divided the “the Arab nation.” Then there is the more pragmatic authoritarianism that survives in Muammar el-Qaddafi's Libya or in the petrol-monarchies in the Gulf.

Radical Islam may be as totalitarian and as morally bankrupt as any of these past or mostly defunct “isms,” but its current appeal isn't hard to figure out. Unlike fascism or communism, radical Islam is locally grown, and not plagued by charges of foreign contamination. Indeed, Islamists claim to wage jihad against the modernism and globlization of the outside, mostly Westernized world. Such a message resonates in stagnant, impoverished Muslim countries.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Americans have Always Opposed Wars

Prior to World War II there was a huge resistance by Americans to getting into the war.  So much so that when England had gone through sustained attack and asked for our help, Americans were marching in the streets protesting involvement.

The only way to help our ally was the "lend-lease" policy initiated by Roosevelt.  The rationale for the policy was "if your neighbor's house was on fire, and threatened your own property, wouldn't you lend him a hose?"

It wasn't until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor that we entered the world war.

Tens of thousands of brave American soldiers died in that war, and there were many days where the number eclipsed the entire sum of those brave Americans who have given their lives in the current conflict.

My point here is that though war always has a sting, we are really better off today than in world wars past.  We cannot yield to the enemy because he has greater endurance.

Tony Blair recently reminded us that we cannot let "terrorism defeat democracy."

Americans have a proper distaste for war, and rightfully so.  But sometimes, as bad as war is, and it is hell, there are things worse than war.  William Buckley once remarked, "there is only one thing worse than war, and that is the acquiescence in slavery."  Will we yield only to become appeasers of wild eyed religious zealots who would kill us for our couch-potato culture?  Or will we, as has been done in the free world in history before, painfully put an end to such genocidally insane movements?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Now that the Democrats are fixin’ to assume their newly won role as congressional leaders, the talk of impeachment is flying, of both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Their crimes? I’ve yet to hear a clear listing of the “charges”, but what I’ve heard is: lying to get us into a war; lying to keep us in a war; mismanagement of that war; general ineffectiveness in office. The web site “The Patriot Ledger” lays out the crimes thusly:

“The Bush administration has lied our country into an immensely destructive war and subverted our Constitution by taking dictatorial powers for itself, attempting to muscle the courts and the Congress out of the governmental process.

They have blown our tax dollars on sweetheart contracts for their favorite connected corporations (for example, Halliburton), which in many cases have pocketed the money and failed to deliver the goods, resulting in grievous harm to our troops abroad and to Gulf Coast citizens at home.

They have created a misdirected energy policy designed to benefit their oil-industry cronies rather than address our country’s real needs and the problem of global warming.

They have illegally spied on U.S. citizens and have claimed the right to imprison people (including citizens) without the possibility of a court hearing, and to subject them to ‘‘intense interrogation’’ (torture).

George W. Bush may well be the worst president America has ever had.”

Are these impeachable crimes? What exactly high crimes? Are misdemeanors what we think they are—the same as the crimes carrying lesser punishment in criminal courts? And, if misdemeanors are exactly what we think they are, then would high crimes be the same as felonies? Should we worry about what the framers of the Constitution meant, and what those who brought the Constitution into effect thought they were approving, or is it only what we want it to mean today? Figuring this out would require study of the Federalist Papers, and perhaps the diary/correspondence of James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and their contemporaries. And perhaps looking at precedents. This would be a wonderful study, but whose got the time? And the resulting essay would be too long for this blog.

We ought to be able to figure this out from the language of the Constitution, applying common sense. So, here I go. I’m going to take the wording of the Constitution at face value, and change only one thing: impeachment of the president is for felonies and misdemeanors. I suppose those could be personal or office-related. If you obtain Federal office, and we find that while in office you were guilty of a felony—or even just a misdemeanor—you can be impeached. This is what the Nixon impeachment effort was all about: he committed crimes in an effort to assure his reelection. It seems to me that those who developed the Constitution must have been very concerned that the power of the office would lead someone to commit crimes, or that we would somehow elect a criminal to office.

I note that this seems to have nothing to do with ineffectiveness in office, or with disagreements with policy. It has to do with crimes. Assuming Bush did lie to justify going to war with Iraq, was that a crime? Assuming money was poorly spent, was that a crime [well, as a taxpayer I could almost say so]? If the tough interrogation of suspected terrorists has amounted to torture, is that a crime? I suspect not.

Impeachment is not the way an ineffective office holder is removed from office. That is done via the ballot box. Impeachment is the means of removing a criminal from office. While the charges stated by the “Ledger” include some things that could be considered crimes, the inclusion of clearly non-impeachable items as “charges” renders their entire thrust as laughable.

I'm going to do a little more research into this--at least read the main Federalist Papers segment on impeachment, and perhaps post again.

Tinkering with Tactics

Speaking about the Iraq Commission, a few generals had some feedback.  I'm not a big fan of former four-star General Barry R. McCaffrey, but was intrigued by his comments this morning on the Today show.  Here is what he said earlier after the release of the commission report according the Weekly Standard:

Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star general, said in an interview that the overall concept of withdrawing American forces as the Iraqis built up their military capability was sound. But he argued that the specific recommendations by the panel raised a second problem: if American combat brigades were withdrawn from Iraq, the thousands of American advisers who remained might find themselves dangerously exposed, particularly if the fighting in Iraq grew into a full-scale civil war. The advisers could be killed or taken hostage.[my emphasis]

"They came up with a political thought but then got to tinkering with tactical ideas that in my view don't make any sense," General McCaffrey said. "This is a recipe for national humiliation."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Jean Kirkpatrick RIP

The Weekly Standard has already posted an excellent piece by Norman Podhoretz on this remarkable woman. An excerpt:

Jeane Kirkpatrick, then, was a veteran of World War III (or what is more generally known as the Cold War), and I would say of her what the English used to say of those veterans of World War II who had done impor tant and interesting work and had come through unscathed--that she, like they, had had "a good war." And like them, too, she never really found anything afterward that engaged her intellectual energies and her political passions as fully as her own "good war" had done. Back in "civil ian" life after the war had been won, she resumed her academic career, she served on many boards, and as a famous and esteemed public figure, she continued to write and to speak out whenever the spirit moved her (as, for example, in a prescient piece, also written for Commentary, describing "How the PLO Was Legitimized").

But read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Windows Writer Beta

I'm trying some new software (offered free through Microsoft) which writes directly into Blogger.  This post is a test.  Thank you for remaining loyal to this Blog.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hot off the wire: Arlene is history. Perhaps it is time to bring back John DiPetro??

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