Bi-Partisanship is Doing Things My Way!

The are two prongs to bi-partisanship (or non-partisanship or post-partisanship, or whatever the ...-partisanship buzz word of the day happens to be). The first is the dog and pony show. So far, President Obama has done an excellent job at this aspect of bi-partisanship. Going to the Capitol to meet with House Republicans and answering their questions is great public relations for the President. Having a few top Republicans to the White House for dinner with the President and his chief of staff looks great on the network news (both broadcast and cable). Having four Republican members of Congress to your White House Super Bowl Party gets lots of air play on the morning shows (and is probably more fun than the Super Bowl Party that I will be attending).

Let's all agree that President Obama has mastered the first prong of bi-partisanship. Let's analyze the second prong - actions. After all of his talks with Congressional Republicans, the President took no substantive actions to incorporate their ideas into the so called economic stimulus bill. Sure, he forced the House Democratic leadership to remove funding for contraception and sodding of the National Mall, but with was just minor window dressing at best. (And, it had very little, if anything, to do with Republican concerns. It had everything to do with late night comedians and what they said about this type of spending.)

The fact is that Mr. Obama abdicated his leadership in regard to this stimulus package by allowing House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to the write the bill. The Democrats in the House saw this as an opportunity to shove 20 years of Congressional failure on their part into a single bill that would not be subject to the regular appropriations process. Taking Rahm Emanuel's advise, they didn't want to waste a good crisis and loaded this thing up with Christmas gifts that looked like they were under Hilary Clinton's tree.

Had the President exhibited real leadership, the bill would have been authored by the White House. He would have kept his word and ensured that this was a "clean bill" - no earmarks. The spending would have been for true stimulus. Instead, we have billions of dollars going to STD research, the National Endowment for the Arts, to David Obey's son at the National Parks Foundation, and the like.

In his first week and a half on the job, President Obama has shown a lack of leadership, been steamrolled by House members of his own party and broken his campaign promise of reaching out to the other side. It was not a good week for the President and it may signal that the real power for the next four years is at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue - on Capital Hill. As the leader of his party, he need to assert himself if he intends on changing the tone in Washington.

To summarize, not a single suggestion from the Republicans in the House was incorporated into the stimulus bill before it was submitted to the House for a vote. The President showed NO true bi-partisanship. Nothing was done to improve the bill in order to gain a single Republican vote in the House. As you can see, when it comes to the second prong of bi-partisanship, Mr. Obama has yet to do anything. If President Obama really hopes to change the way that Washington works, he better start doing more than hosting Super Bowl Parties. Otherwise, the American people will conclude that he defines bi-partisanship as everyone agreeing to do everything his way, just like an ordinary, partisan politician.


Biden Patriot-o-meter

Since paying taxes is part of the new patriotism, here's a quick tally of the most patriotic members of the Obama Administration, according to Vice President Joe Biden:
  1. Secretary of HHS (designee) Tom Daschle: $101,943
  2. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner: $34,000 

Partisanship, Politics of Fear and So On

How many times during the election were Republicans criticized for using the "politics of fear" or the "politics of division" or, now during the debate about Obama's stimulus package, of raging partisanship?

Hate to tell my good friends on the left, but your guys do it too, in spades. Without taking sides on the merits of the stimulus bill, let's look at some tactics of either the administration or its supporters and decide if they're deploying an us vs. them strategy
Joe Biden
"Every economist, as I've said, from conservative to liberal, acknowledges that direct government spending on a direct program now is the best way to infuse economic growth and create job."
Really, Mr. Vice President? Well here are 200 who don't agree, or did you mean to say "every economist other than those who disagree"?
President Barack Obama
“When we get past the politics of division and distraction and we start actually focusing on what we have in common, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish…’’
Americans United for Change is running ads in states with Republican Senators that say, among other things, "Every Republican voted with Limbaugh — and against creating 4 million new American jobs" in reference to Limbaugh's statement last week about hoping Obama fails, or something like that.

Maybe the stimulus plan has no waste, is optimally designed and will accomplish exactly what it's advertised to accomplish. Or, maybe, just maybe, Democrats are using a domestic emergency as cover to satisfy long standing policy goals irrespective of their stimulative value (but create a plausible argument that this or that expenditure is actually stimulative). Didn't they accuse another president of the same thing?

I have no clue if the administration's plan as passed by the House is good/bad/ugly/indifferent. I'll bet that of 435 representatives, 435 of them don't know either. I'd also venture that even the best economic minds have only a slightly better idea. No one knows. We can't run a test case, we can't have a do-over. Does anyone really believe we can just vote ourselves 4 million new jobs? If we could, we'd have done it already. Politicians and their supporters who like the bill are not automatically benevolent and bipartisan and those who oppose it are not automatically malevolent and hyperpartisan. Both sides are political, which means they look for ways to deliver goodies to their constituents and pass the cost onto the other guy's.

When a politician says "change" what he generally means is "do things my way for a while."


Elvis Has Left the Building

The Illinois Senate did the right thing in voting 59-0 to convict Gov. Rod Blagojevich on the impeachment charges and also voting 59-0 to prevent him from ever again holding public office in Illinois. Pat Quinn was then sworn in as the 41st Governor of Illinois. This comes under the heading of be careful what you wish for... Gov. Quinn's politics are very far left and I'm sure that we can look forward to higher taxes and more ineffective government spending, probably by March. And, there will be no one to stop him. That's the problem with one party rule!

A Stupid, Futile Gesture on Someone's Part

Sen. John "Second Place" Kerry (D-MArs) had this to say about Republican partisanship on the stimulus bill:

“If they’re not going to vote for it, let’s go with a plan that we think is going to work.”

Can I read that to mean JK wants Republicans to vote for a plan he thinks won't work, and if they don't support it, then Democrats will vote for one they think will work?

Who's the partisan now?


The First Interview

For the first sit down interview of his Presidency, President Obama chose the English language Arab network, Al Arabiya. This was an opportunity for the President to show his strength and resolve as Commander-in-Chief to our enemies, namely Islamic terrorists and their state sponsors (like Iran and Syria). Unfortunately, Mr. Obama showed neither strength nor resolve. Instead, he appeared defensive about past American actions in the War on Terror.

The President claims that we need a new partnership with the Muslim World based upon mutual respect and mutual interests. That is all well and good. We should respect the Muslim World and they should respect us. However, why is this new? If you will recall, about a week after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush went to a Washington, DC Mosque to show his respect and the respect of the American people. In fact, if anything, the Bush Administration showed too much respect in light of the fact that so called "moderates" in the Muslim World have done little to stop the terrorists in their midst (for example, Egypt has done nothing to stop the smuggling of arms into the Gaza Strip).

Respect goes both ways. Our five most recent major military operations have all been to free Muslims from tyranny. Both conflicts in the Balkans, both wars with Iraq and the war in Afghanistan were fought for the freedom of Muslims. The spilling of US blood and treasure has been the ultimate sign of respect. The Muslim World should repay this respect by taking actions to de-legitimize the use of terror in order to achieve political goals.

Mr. Obama also claimed that extremists of other faiths have used their faith as a justification for violence. While, of course, there are extremists of all kinds, I have no recollection of any mass casualty situation approaching the numbers that we saw on 9/11 caused by Christian, Jewish or Hindu extremists. All extremists should be shunned, but the power and influence of Muslim extremists far outweighs that of extremists of other religions. All you need to do is watch television in Saudi ruled Arabia or the Palestinian territories. There you will see anti-Semitic and anti-American rants, the likes of which will shock almost anyone.

Specifically, as it relates to Iran, the President said that he is using "all tools of American power, including diplomacy, in our relationship with Iran." Implicit in this statement is his hesitation in using US military power to prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons. This shows weakness on the part of the young President. Rogue regimes do not respond to chit-chat. The Bush Administration and our European allies have been engaged in diplomacy with Iran for years. The only result of the diplomatic efforts is that every day, Iran gets closer to having an operational nuclear weapon. The time for talking about this subject has long since past. Now is the time for action, before we are forced to face a nuclear armed enemy.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama also objected to the use of the term "War on Terror". It is as if this term is a derogatory term for Muslims. The fact is that terrorism should be one of the primary national security concerns of this administration. It is just happenstance that in today's day and age most international terrorists are Muslims. The combination of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction has the potential of changing our world as we know. Therefore, all of the resources of the US government must be used to end this threat. This is why our struggle against terrorists is properly characterized as a war, regardless of who is perpetrating the terrorism.

Finally, the President claimed that the same respect and partnership that the United States had with the Muslim world 20 or 30 years ago can be restored today. Evidently, Mr. Obama thinks that actions like the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s was a sign of respect toward their American friends. Or, maybe the numerous high jacking of western airliners during the 1970s was out of respect for our efforts in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the President missed an opportunity to show himself as a strong and confident leader. I certainly hope that John McCain was wrong when he said that it looks like Mr. Obama is trying to run for a second Carter term. If this interview is any indication, he may very well be right.


Don't Pimp My Jet

A Treasury official anonymously passes a message from POTUS to Citigroup about a plane it purchased two years ago: Don't.

I think I saw this in a movie once. Oh, yeah: Luca Brasi is quietly dispatched by the Don to carry a message to the Tattaglias: the Corleones won't help purchase Sollozzo's used Dassault Falcon. Such a thing looks bad on the front page of the NYT used to wrap the fish sent to Sonny telling him Luca's been killed in a double cross.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) demands, because letters from Senators are not requests, details from Microsoft about the company's plans to reduce its workforce by about 3,000 over 18 months, with particular detail about the citizenship and country-of-origin of those let go. The legal bills and workhours spent pushing paper to satisfy Sen. Busybody kills trees and jobs, jobs which Congress considers its proper role to protect (an act which, amazingly, actually destroys them, a post for another time).

This is how it works when Washington decides to run businesses (or gets to decide because, in Citi's case, it's the financier). Do this, don't do that. Keep it off the front page. Fire this guy, not that guy (how would Sen. G. know the comparative skill of one programmer over another and his relative contribution? Hint: he wouldn't). MSFT didn't even take any federal bailout cash.

Anyone else wonder how this ad hoc meddling affects risk-taking? Think Luca Brasi.


Political Judgment

During the entire 2008 Presidential campaign, the supporters of President Obama said that he should be elected, in large part, because of his judgment. They claimed that his opposition to the war in Iraq proved that he possessed judgment superior to that of any of the other candidates. I, of course, took exception with that analysis, but that was the mantra from his supporters and paymasters (Moveon.org, George Soros and the like).

What kind of judgment does it show to reflexively close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay just to satisfy his left wing supporters? I will tell you - very poor judgment. Not only are there questions about where to house the detainees and how to try them, but it raises questions about what to do if we capture a high value target today or tomorrow.

The President should have had answers to all of these questions before he announced the closure of Camp Delta. These are not minor details, but rather these are questions that are central to our successful prosecution of the War on Terror. John McCain made this point in an interview on Sunday.

As someone who prides himself on his judgment, it seems odd that the President would feel compelled to issue an Executive Order that left so many unanswered questions. If this action was for repayment of a political debt, as I suspect, then our new Commander-in-Chief lacks the judgment that his supports claim that he has. Surely, someone with all of that superior judgment would not purposely endanger the American people just to make George Soros and the girls at Code Pink happy, would he? Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that the new President does not have the kind of judgment that he claimed. At least not on issues that are of major import to the country. Apparently, however, he does have extraordinary political judgment.

My greatest fear is that, like President Clinton, President Obama will view the War on Terror as a law enforcement matter as opposed to a war. His comments as a candidate and his actions in the short time in which he has occupied the Oval Office lead me to believe that this is the case.
Treating the terrorist problem as a law enforcement matter resulted in the deaths of 3,000 American civilians in the streets of New York and Washington. Since President Clinton did not have the advantage of hindsight, it is easier to understand why he viewed the problem in the manner in which he did. President Obama has seen the results of this approach and is, therefore, on notice that it does not work. Unless his administration begins to understand that we are engaged in a war, the consequences will be dire and the President's supporters will no longer be able to rave about his superior judgment.


Sen. Feingold Reads This Blog?

On Friday the following was posted on this blog:
Replacing a Senator is, per the 17th Amendment, the domain of each state's legislature, which can assign their Governor appointment power or hold elections. Knowing what we now know about Rod Delusionojevich, no governor should hold that sort of power. Inescapably Governors will embed, in fact elevate, their interests into the appointment, which are irrelevant compared to those of the voters.
Today, CNN.com reports that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) intends to introduce an Amendment to the Constitution to replace gubernatorial appointment power of Senate replacements with mandated special elections. First, we got Caroline Kennedy to remove herself from consideration, now Sen. Feingold seeks to enshrine our view of the 17th Amendment into the Constitution of the United States.

Would you trust Gov. Eugene Gatling? That's who's running most state governments.

We're grateful and humbled.


Secret Sauce

From Obama adviser David Axelrod, on the issue of closing Gitmo (emphasis mine):
“That is an enormously complicated situation,” Mr. Axelrod said Friday afternoon in an interview in his West Wing office, adding: “Obviously, you can’t solve problems overnight. But what you can do is signal a sense of motion, a sense of ferment and activity and direction. And I think that he is doing that.”
I think we now know Obama's policy and political approach: Ferment, Activity and Direction, known more appropriately by its acronym:


Life's Like High School, Only With Money

Kudos to NY Governor David Paterson for appointing Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Not because I agree with her politics or I think Paterson's process was particularly refined. Kudos only because he picked a person who's actually been, um, elected to something by New Yorkers.

Replacing a Senator is, per the 17th Amendment, the domain of each state's legislature, which can assign their Governor appointment power or hold elections. Knowing what we now know about Rod Delusionojevich, no governor should hold that sort of power. Inescapably Governors will embed, in fact elevate, their interests into the appointment, which are irrelevant compared to those of the voters.

Politics is part popularity contest and part contact sport. Politicians are, on average, no smarter or mature than any other random slice of our population. Actually, they're probably below average on brains. Remember the really popular kids from high school? Were they also in the Physics Club or the Debate Club?

And what's another inevitable part of high school? Gossip and self importance. Here are a few comments from a few politically active New Yorkers who view Gillibrand strictly by her interest in their interests (and, preferably, her ability to fund them):
Gloria Cruz, Bronx president of the Million Mom March:
"When I heard Gillibrand was his pick, I thought it was a joke. This is an insult to the families of gun violence victims across the state. Shame on Gov. Paterson."

Alan Van Capelle, head of the Empire State Pride Agenda:
"After talking to Kirsten Gillibrand, I am very happy to say that New York is poised to have its first U.S. Senator who supports marriage equality for same-sex couples."

Kelli Conlin, NARAL Pro-Choice New York president:
"Like her predecessor Hillary Clinton, Rep. Gillibrand has shown herself to be an ally and advocate for New York and for women across the country, co-sponsoring legislation to ensure access to and funding for contraception."

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY):
Gillibrand is "an NRA poster girl."

Jay Jacobs, Democratic leader in Nassau County:
"I'm hopeful as our new senator begins to recognize she now represents the entire state of New York rather than a small Republican congressional district, that she will modify and moderate her views."

Edgar King, Northumberland dairy farmer:
“The dairy industry is facing an economic crisis. We’re looking at a 30 percent revenue decline. There are provisions in the Farm Bill that she championed that will provide for an increase in MILC (compensation) payments to farmers. What she’s delivered goes far beyond what you’d expect from a freshman congresswoman.”
Slowly, quietly, a fourth qualification for the U.S. Senate has emerged somewhere between 1787 and today: "advocate to make legal (illegal) the stuff I like (dislike) and have someone else pay for it, or I'll publicly call you an a**hole." Didn't a well known Democrat just this week say "the time has come to set aside childish things"?

That only took a couple of days to forget.


KSM and Justice for All

Now that President Obama has executed an Executive Order closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the question on most of our minds is "what do you do with all of the unlawful enemy combatants who are currently being held there?" That is an excellent question. However, I am most concerned about one of those unlawful enemy combatants - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (or KSM as he's known in intelligence circles).

KSM is the badest of the bad. He is responsible for a list of terrorist attacks that is unrivaled, with the possible exceptions of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Among them are:

1. 1993 World Trade Center Bombing;

2. The nightclub bombing in Bali;

3. The November 2002 suicide bombing of a hotel in Mombasa;

4. The beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl;

5. The attempted assassination of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf;

6. The Richard Reid shoe bomber incident; and

7. The September 11 attacks.

In addition to these, KSM actively plotted dozens of other attacks that were either foiled by Western security services or were stopped by his 2003 arrest in Rawalpindi, Pakistan by Pakistani and US intelligence agents. As you can see, KSM is not the kind of guy who is going to be rehabilated by a short stint in a federal prison.

The current thinking is that Mr. Mohammed will be transferred to the Southern District of New York where there is currently an outstanding federal arrest warrant for him for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center attack. So, if the US Attorney tries and convicts him in the Southern District of New York, it will be like convicting Al Capone of income tax evasion - at least he's put away.

There are several problems with this line of thinking. First, at the trial in Federal District Court of Ramzi Yousef and Omar Abdel Rahman for their involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center Attack, the government was forced to disclose many formerly classified details regarding our intelligence gathering. Some of these disclosures were crippling to our intelligence gathering ability. Most notably, during the trial, it was disclosed that the National Security Agency had been listening to all of Osama Bin Laden's satellite telephone calls. Surprise, surprise - once this disclosure was made, Bin Laden stopped using his satellite phone. We have not be able to listen in on him since. There is no reason to think that additional classified information about our intelligence gathering sources and methods will not be disclosed at another trail.

Next, it is unlikely that KSM was given his Miranda Warnings at the time of his arrest. Therefore, will any of his statements be available for prosecutors to use against him? If not, hopefully there is enough other evidence to convict him.

Finally, there is the notion of justice for the families of the 9/11 victims. The Al Capone theory is certainly better than allowing someone like KSM to be set free, but it is unthinkable that the Obama Administration would be unwilling to prosecute him for the 9/11 attacks when they have the goods on him, by his own confession no less. That is unfair and unjust to the 9/11 families. They deserve to have our government, the same government that failed to protect their loved ones, use every means at its disposal to make sure that justice is served upon those who committed the most heinous crime in our lifetimes.

The military commissions were established because the US civilian courts are unable to deal with unlawful enemy combatants. Our military is not, and cannot, be trained to arrest these people on the battlefield with the same procedures as our domestic police agencies. Marines are not expected to give Miranda Warnings or document the chain of evidence. Also, it is often impossible for these terrorists to able to confront their accusers. If the accuser is an undercover CIA operative, do we really want to disclose that for the purpose of one conviction? Also, when the CIA "turns" a terrorist, that person, by nature, is not the world's most upstanding citizen. Such an informant would not only have to have his identity disclosed, but he would be able to be impeached by defense counsel due to his undesirable background.

The military commissions are designed to handle situations like KSM. They protect the intelligence assets that we have at our disposal and provide justice and closure to the victims and their families. President Obama should allow them to proceed and justice will be served.


Very Good News

Well, looks like my criticism of Caroline Kennedy achieved its intended result. She's taking her name out of consideration to replace Hillary Clinton.

It's a good day for our Republic.

Define "What Works"

Folks, if you're fir im or agin' im, lighten up. If you're agin' im, take pride in the peaceful transfer of power. Take pride in the symbolism and take pride in your country's ability to move forward. It's not a small thing that a man who just 50 years ago would have had to use a separate drinking fountain in almost half the country is now the 44th member of the nation's most rarefied club. We're not the only country in the world that's elected someone from a disadvantaged demographic (e.g. U.K., India, Israel, Pakistan) but for us this is important. Obama's not a socialist, or a terrorist, or a U.N. loving tree hugger, so take a chill pill.

But if you're fir im, take a chill pill, too. Yesterday Obama mentioned "collective failures" and you'd be hard pressed to find a single bigger domestic collective failure than entitlements. We've promised ourselves more in health and retirement benefits than can ever possibly be paid even if we tax the rich to oblivion. Genuinely fixing them is going to require the reduction of benefits for somebody. Can you live with that?

Obama said yesterday "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified." People are going to disagree about whether those are appropriate functions for the federal government and, if they are, how to achieve them. For example, define "helps"; "decent"; "care"; "afford"; "retirement"; and "dignified". One person's version of "helps" can easily be another person's version of "hurts".

Whether or not you prefer a muscular, activist government is, for now, immaterial. Those who do are driving the bus. He wants to focus on what works but of course there isn't total agreement about what works. Crushing the opponent and then calling it compromise isn't post-partisanship. If that's his plan, it's his privilege to try but the opposition won't disappear. The left didn't die when Reagan took over and the right isn't going to die now.

My hunch is that Obama intends to move the center leftward. That will take time, a great deal of time and a lot of luck (Reagan in 1981 started moving the center rightward but it took 13 more years for Republicans to take Congress). If that is Obama's goal, it could easily get swamped by events. If Obama makes an unambiguous change to our anti-terror policies and another 9/11 happens, irrespective of a causal link, his political fantasy will fold like a: INSERT CLICHE HERE.

Democrats are in near total control but a smart, mature, post-partisan guy like Obama knows his side can't possibly have all the good ideas. Genuine post-partisanship means eventually Obama will have to step on toes connected to the large mouth of a supporter. He can steamroll the vested interests of his political opponents, what will he do about the vested interests of his political allies?


Still the Same

Now that Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States, it is amazing how everything is the same. The was no immediate end to the recession, no immediate end to the war in Iraq and no immediate closing of the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. In fact, the stock market was down over 330 points today (actually closing below 8,000).

I am sure that the majority of those who traveled to the National Mall to witness history, expect immediate results from President Obama. After all, most of them have been engaged in idolatry in regarding to Mr. Obama since his victory in the Iowa Caucus a year ago. Unfortunately, I think that they will be disappointed.

As it relates to international relations, I, thankfully, do not see big changes on the horizon. Last week, the President said that it may take until the end of his first term for Guantanamo Bay to be closed. Four years is a long time to wait for change that you can believe in. In the past month, Mr. Obama has made no public statements regarding the Israeli military action in Gaza. Hardly an audacious stand. And, in fact, it may very well be tacit approval of the operation.

Of course, during his inaugural speech today, the President said that we can remain secure and not compromise our principals. I assume that that was a reference to coercive interrogation techniques. Since none of those techniques have been used in the past five years, it is a nice, meaningless bone to throw to those on the left who do not understand the nature of the threat that we face from Islamists. Query, when push comes to shove, and the situation is dire, will this administration come to the same conclusion as the previous administration - that coercive interrogation is not torture? Time will tell.

President Obama face enormous expectations. The political risk is that he falls short in the eyes of his supporters and those in Congress. Remember, the Congressional leadership is to the left of the tone set by the Obama transition. Likewise, the big money leftists (ie George Soros, Media Matters, Moveon.org) are in line with the Congressional leadership. It's hard to heal the planet overnight and those engaged in hero worship may not understand that.


Pardon Scooter

Of all the situations in the last eight years where the Bush Administration let the narrative be controlled by the left and did not respond forcefully enough to ridiculous accusations, the Valerie Plame/Joseph Wilson "scandal" is among the worst. The picture to the left is from Vanity Fair's 2004 profile of the couple, clearly realing from Plame's supposed "outing" by the Bush administration.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald discovered near the beginning of his investigation that it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, not Scotter Libby, who originally disclosed Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak. Armitage was no fan of Bush's Iraq policy and certainly did not "leak" Plame's name as part of some conspiracy to punish her husband Joe Wilson. The reason her name was disclosed was that nobody could understand why Joe Wilson was sent to investigate the issue of whether Iraq had tried to acquire yellowcake from Niger, given his lack of an intelligence background and his opposition to Administration policies. Armitage simply provided the answer to the question.

Furthermore, Plame was not a covert operative, and had not been for the five years preceding disclosure of her identity. Therefore, intentional disclosure of her identity was not against the law. And clearly, given Armitage's well-known opinion of Bush and Cheney and their Iraq policy, the disclosure was not intentional anyway but an innocent comment to Robert Novak. Fitzgerald's investigation should have ended with this discovery. Instead he opted to question many witnesses at length regarding the memory of conversations that probably did not stand out to them as important at the time. He then decided to charge Scooter Libby with lying about when he first heard Valerie Plame's name, a fact that should not have mattered given that he did not first disclose her name to Robert Novak.

This non-scandal was manufactured by Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, and aided by a compliant press and an incompetent Special Prosecutor. As this article by Mark Levin from 2005 discusses, the only people lying in this affair were Plame and Wilson themselves.

A pardon of Scooter Libby will be controversial and cause predictable wailing from the left, but it is the right thing to do. Charles Krauthammer wrote this article shortly after Libby's conviction in 2007 calling for his pardon. Bush did commute Libby's sentence back then but did not pardon him. He has one day left to follow Krauthammer's good advice.


Economic Liberty

In speaking about the current financial crisis, President-elect Obama said that the situation can only be cured by the government. This is exactly the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives. The left believes that whatever ails us can be solved by government intervention. Those of us on the right believe that individuals, through a free market, are best able to solve our problems.

Conservatives have come to this conclusion for several reasons. First and foremost is the belief that government regulation is incompatible with the notion of individual liberty. Individual liberty is, of course, the basic value of Western civilization. Second, evidence often shows that the unintended consequences of government intervention leads to problems that are worse than what such intervention was intended to cure. Think about the War on Poverty and the increased in children born out of wedlock.

Since I am not a part time capitalists (meaning that I like capitalism when things are going well, but I like government handouts when times get tough), I am appalled by the spending packages that have been run up by the Bush Administration and those that are being proposed by the Obama Administration. The burden that this place on future generations is incalculable and it will inevitably lead to those unintended consequences that may be worse than the current situation.

Additionally, the leadership of the 111th Congress and the Obama Transition is using the proposed “stimulus packages” as an instrument for social engineering. How does providing health care for the recently unemployed increase GDP? Also the infrastructure spending that Mr. Obama has been advocating will take years to spend. Only a very small fraction of it will be spent in the next 12 months. If the point of the stimulus package is to immediately inject cash into the economy, how will spending money on roads and bridges 3 to 5 years in the future help the economy today?

What the Democrats are doing is obvious. Rahm Emanuel stated it right after the election. He said that politicians can’t afford to waste a good crisis. He said that a crisis gives them an opportunity to pass legislation that would never be acceptable during good times. They see this chance to make major changes to our society that would otherwise never be allowed. In these times, it matters not what the financial cost is or will be and whatever else they choose to socially engineer.

The premise of creative destruction under a free market system (meaning that those who do not provided a good or service that can sustain itself in a free market are gone, but those that do flourish), keeps us from subsidizing things that no one wants. Should the government be paying buggy whip manufactures? When left to their own devises, a free people will fill the voids in the market and sometimes at the expense of others. It may lead to short term pain, but an economy operating at maximum efficiency benefits society as a whole. There is nothing efficient about government intervention.

Remember that liberty is the solution to human condition and wealth is the cure for poverty. In a free market system, there is no such thing as a zero sum gain. Wealth will continue to be created and inure to the benefit of most. Short term dislocations should not be a source of panic. Conservatives know that the people can be trusted. Hopefully, the Obama administration will learn that lesson too. If not, beware of the unintended consequences.


Now That's Change!

So much for the death of the permanent campaign.

Want to know what's changed in Washington and about our politics? The players. For now.


The Daily Pander's Daily Read

This letter, from Bob Arya, former senior adviser to Gov. Rod Sociopathojevich, to the Illinois General Assembly's Impeachment Committee is utterly remarkable. Without giving away too much, Gov. Disgustingojevich comes across as:
  • Lazy
  • Profane (actually, that doesn't bother me)
  • Greedy
  • Remorseless
  • Callous
  • Narcissistic
  • Delusional
  • Juvenile
  • Breathtakingly unintelligent
  • Desperately in need of professional talk therapy and anti-psychotic medication
This guy could have used a few more hugs as a child. It would have saved Illinois taxpayers a fortune.


Good News/Bad News

Good News
Encouraging signs of intelligent life on planet Earth: New York State poll shows support for Caroline Kennedy to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate falling.

Bad News
The U.S. Senate is delaying hearings into Tim Geithner's nomination as Treasury Secretary because he allegedly missed self-employment tax payments while working at the IMF. Maybe he's a good choice, maybe he isn't. Giving serious people a hard time over nickel and dime crap is why serious people don't go into public service.

Human Shields

It now appears that we have visual evidence of Hamas using children as human shields. This comes from Israel Channel 2. The fact is that whether or not this short video is, in fact, a Hamas terrorist abducting a young child for the purpose of turning him into a human shield, as our friends on the left often say, the narrative is correct.

There is plenty of evidence that Hamas engages in the coerced use of women and children as human shields. The Daily Pander has mentioned it here and Charles Krauthammer often discusses it in his columns and on Fox News. How does it happen that whenever an Israeli bomb supposedly hits a "civilian" target, the Hamas news cameras just happen to be Johnny on the spot and the photographers seem to come away without so much as a scratch?

It is time that the Western World announces a policy that clearly states that those who use civilians as human shields are 100% responsible for all casualties that result. I cannot understand why our European allies, our own press and those on the left cannot understand this very basic principal.

Israel and the United States go far beyond what is necessary to reduce civilian casualties when engaging in military operations. In many instances, the rules of engagement are such that the soldiers themselves are endangered. This is because we are the ones who value life.

The true war criminals are those who do not value human life and sacrifice the weakest among them for their political goals. There should be war crimes tribunals at The Hague for those that perpetrate this type of crime. Maybe the UN prosecutors should spend their time on Jihidists like this instead of bothering US and Israeli government officials like Henry Kissinger, Ariel Sharon, and Dick Chaney.


Contracts? We Don't Need No Stinking Contracts!

When is a binding contract not a binding contract?

When Congress is politically vested in one of the participants.
  1. Congressional majority thinks allowing bankruptcy judges to modify mortgage terms for individuals is a good thing.
  2. Congressional majority thinks allowing bankruptcy judges to modify contract terms for automotive workers is a bad thing.

Ambassador Burris

The thinking inside Illinois Republican circles is that Roland Burris was seated in the US Senate in exchange for him not running for that seat in two years. In exchange for being the good solider and not running (and probably loosing that seat to Mark Kirk, every Democrat's favorite Republican member of the House), Mr. Burris will be given an ambassadorship courtesy of President Obama. Just another line on Roland's tombstone. Time will tell.


What Timing!

Another horribly gruesome photo from Gaza, in which a woman experiences a spontaneous burst of unbearable grief at the exact same moment a photographer was ready to click. The attack was fresh, the woman's shock was instant, but the photographer, thankfully, miraculously, remained unhurt (in a city with no readily accessible civil defense structures, BTW). Horror and misery, all perfectly centered and framed for a random nearby photojournalist.

I really don't think I'm the cynical one.


Senator Tough Guy

Now that the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White does not have to sign the Governor's Senate appoint, where does that leave Harry Reid? It appears that Sen. Reid (and his comrade in arms, Sen. Durbin) has backed himself into a corner regarding the seating of Roland Burris as the next Senator for Illinois. When Gov. Rod Blagojevich first announced the appointment of Mr. Burris to the Senate seat, Sen. Reid decided to play tough-guy. He announced that the Senate would never allow Burris to be seated.

As time went on, Sen. Tough-guy started backing down. On Meet the Press last Sunday, there seemed to be less certainty in his statements. Well, we still won't seat him, but we might. Non-sense statements like that. By the time Mr. Burris showed up at the Capitol on Tuesday, Reid and his lapdog, Sen. Durbin, had said that they couldn't seat Burris because his paperwork didn't include the signature of the Illinois Secretary of State. This is the same ridiculous line that these two used after their meeting with Mr. Burris on Wednesday. Of course, the entire time, they must have been thinking that the Illinois Supreme Court would come to their rescue and order Jesse White to sign the paperwork. This would allow them to keep their tough-guy personas, but allow Roland to take his seat.

Now, the justices of the Illinois Supreme Court have thrown the Senate Democratic leadership a curve ball. I do not see any legal grounds by which they can continue to deny Roland Burris the Senate seat. The Illinois Supreme Court clearly said that Jesse White's signature is not required for there to be a valid appointment. Neither the Constitution nor the Illinois statues grant the Secretary of State a veto power over the Governor's appointments.

Harry Reid and Dick Durbin have once again shown how hapless they are. To suggest that they are the Senate "leadership" is laughable. Maybe Mr. Reid should start to think before he speaks. You know, like saying that the war in Iraq is lost, right before we win, or criticizing the writing ability of Justice Clarance Thomas by citing a case that was a one paragraph decision. The upshot of all of this is that Reid and Durbin have taken a two or three day news story and turned it into a month long soap opera. Even the President-elect has told them to get this resolved. The first rule of being stuck in a hole is to stop digging. Evidently, these two geniuses don't even know that they are in a hole.


Politics of Fear?

As I recall, President Bush and Republicans generally were accused of "dividing, not uniting" or trafficking in the "politics of fear" pretty much any time they opened their mouths. Let's concede for a moment it's a fair criticism, though I'll wager one's agreement can be entirely predicted by one's partisanship.

But can we at least concede that the incoming administration, and Democrats generally, also engage in the politics of fear? Nobody gets, or stays, elected by gently uttering maybe there are a couple things going slightly wrong and a little tinkering could improve the situation for a small number of relatively untroubled people who have plenty of low impact alternatives if the thing we're moderately adjusting doesn't work out quite right. No, winning elections comes from SCREAMING HOLY SHIT THE SKY IS FALLING AND IT'S THE OTHER GUY'S FAULT AND ONLY I CAN FIX IT HOLY SHIT!!!

Robert Reich, Clinton's former secretary of labor (someone I consider neither a red meat thrower or eater and whose work is instructive and worth reading) testified yesterday the country "will lose another 3,000,000 jobs next year" absent a stimulus plan. Will? How about 95% confident there's a 66% chance the country will lose between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 jobs. That's probably what the regression analysis run by a smart guy like Reich bears out. But that doesn't persuade or get headlines.

Or how about our transcendent post-partisan soon-to-be President? Here's an excerpt from a speech he's giving today (emphasis mine):
For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.
Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. But we either act in the way he prefers or the pain is irreversible? Permanent decline? Sounds like an effort to gin up fear and close off debate to me. How very post-partisan.

I make no argument that everything is fine and Obama, Reich & Co. are Chicken Littles. But they, like all politicians, use fear as a lever. Yes, once in a great while there really are horrible things that go bump in the night, and making some of them go away is an appropriate role for government. But can the grown-ups in the room agree Democrats are perfectly happy to sell fear when it suits their purposes?


The New CIA

The selection of lifelong Washington insider, Leon Panetta, as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency is troubling on its face due to his lack of experience in the intelligence community. However, during a time of war, it is a horrible mistake that may have tremendous repercussions for our entire nation. His selection does not just signal the selection of a typical loyal party soldier, it also signals the end of the War on Terror as what it fact is, a war. By this selection, President-elect Obama has decided that we should return to the days of viewing the scourge of terrorism as a minor nuisance that should be handled in a law enforcement context.

Of course, the War on Terror cannot be handled in a law enforcement context. That approach resulted in 3,000 dead US citizens in the streets of New York and Washington. Since we began to prosecute this matter as a war, we have no dead citizens in the streets of our homeland. This is not a coincidence. It is a result of successful policies of the Bush Administration.

The CIA is at the point of the spear in the War on Terror. It, along with the military, is the principal agency involved in keeping the United States and her citizens safe from Islamist extremists. Through its covert operations, it has been able to eliminate or capture numerous high level Al-Qaeda operatives (as recently as January 1, 2009). This has resulted in a significant diminution in Al-Qaeda's capacity to carry out attacks. Instead of having a centralized command and control structure, Al-Qaeda now operates more like a franchise operation. Although it still presents a clear and present danger, the lack of centralization means that it is much more difficult for Al-Qaeda to launch a spectacular, 9/11 style attack.

Of course, in addition to its operational function, the CIA also engages in intelligence gathering. This has been the most controversial aspect of the CIA in the post-9/11 era. Principally, those on the left object to the agency's use of coercive interrogation and the Rendition program. If you will recall, Mr. Obama's first choice for CIA Director, John Brennan, was forced to withdraw his name from consideration in order to placate the left. Mr. Brennan, an intelligence professional, has made the fatal mistake of speaking out publicly in favor of the Rendition Program.

The Rendition Program has often been credited with providing valuable intelligence that would have otherwise never been obtained. Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit and an architect of the Rendition Program, has often told of the program's effectiveness. The fact that Mr. Obama will stop this program endangers us all.

As to coercive interrogation, it to has been proven to have saved American lives. On only three occasions, the so called water boarding technique was used. During the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the CIA learned of an Al-Qaeda plot to bomb the Brooklyn Bridge. Had they not learned of that plot, thousands more Americans could be dead in New York.

Not every detainee is subjected to coercive interrogation, nor should they. But, there are certain circumstances when it is necessary. It is an important arrow that the CIA must have in its quiver.

The leftist line, that has been been stated by Mr. Panetta himself, that all of our interrogators should abide by the terms of the Army Field Manual for the interrogation of unlawful enemy combatants is ridiculous. The Army Field Manual is meant for the typical soldier in a combat zone. It was never meant to be applied intelligence professionals acting in controlled circumstances.

Mr. Obama has stated several times that he plans on changing the role of our intelligence agencies. This will have a devastating impact on the agencies ability to protect us. If this change results in a successful attack against the United States, Mr. Obama will regret this decision and the American people will not reelect him.


Propaganda? Hamas? You're Joking, Right?

Perhaps you've seen the two adjacent horrible pictures of a child wounded in Gaza over the weekend. Take a closer look, if you can stomach it. I'll bet it's the same little girl in each picture.

Now, why would anyone deliberately delay medical care for a hurt child long enough for her to appear in two distinct globally disseminated photographs? What could be possibly be the reason? I wonder...

Great Words and Not So Great Words

I thought this might clear up a few things (emphasis mine):

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence
THE STATE OF ISRAEL...will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture

Article Eight of the Hamas Charter: The Slogan of the Hamas
Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.


Good Job, 41!

Later this week, the United States Navy will bestow one of our nations highest honors on our 41st President, George H. W. Bush, the naming of a US Naval war ship in his honor, the USS George H. W. Bush (a nuclear powered aircraft carrier). I was not a huge fan of the policies of our 41st President, but I am a huge fan of the person. This honor is clearly deserved in recognition of a life spent serving others and the grace with which he did it.

He ascended the Presidency with, arguably, the best resume of any of the 42 men who have occupied the Oval Office. A naval officer, Congressman, ambassador, CIA Director, chairman of his party and Vice-President, were all positions of selfless service to our country prior to being elected to the highest office in the land.

When Mr. Bush enlisted in the US Navy in 1942, he was 18 years old. He was qualified as a naval aviator in 1943 just prior to his 19th birthday. That made him the youngest naval aviator ever, as of that date. On September 2, 1944, the future President was in command of VT-51 aircraft launched from the US aircraft carrier, USS San Jacinto. His plane was then shot down, but he was able to successfully complete his attack. This is all quite impressive for the son of a United States Senator and a child of privilege.

After successful business ventures in Texas, Mr. Bush was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served two terms. After failing to win a Texas Senate seat in 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed his as Ambassador to the United Nations. Then, in 1973 at the request of President Nixon, Mr. Bush resigned his position at the UN and became Chairman of the Republican National Committee, a somewhat thankless task in 1973.

In 1974, President Gerald Ford appointed Mr. Bush as head of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China (essentially, US Ambassador to China). Mr. Bush served in that post for 14 months until President Ford came calling again. At the end of 1975, Mr. Bush accepted the appointment as Director of Central Intelligence. At that time, the CIA was an agency in crisis as a result of the revelations of Watergate. Mr. Bush served as DCI for only about one year. He returned to private life after the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976.

In 1979, Mr. Bush heard the call to public service again by seeking the Republican nomination for President. Of course his first attempt at the Presidency was unsuccessful, but it led to Mr. Bush being elected the forty-third Vice-President of the United States. In that office, he served President Reagan with wisdom, dignity and grace. He was a part of the most successful administration of the 20th century.

As an integral part of the Reagan Administration, Mr. Bush was rewarded by the American people by being elected the forty-first President of the United States on November 8, 1988. Again, as you can see, he entered the Presidency with a resume like no other before him.

While some of his Presidential decisions left a lot of us on the right disappointed, we were never disappointed by the way he conducted himself or the trappings of his office. As a matter of fact, one of the most disappointing decisions of his Presidency was being too trusting of the other side. He agreed to raise taxes only in exchange for spending cuts. When it came time to cut the spending, the Democratic controlled Congress refused to hold up its end of the bargain. Mr. Bush made the mistake of thinking that since he would keep his word, others on the Hill would do so as well. But this is emblematic of the way he conducted his life – as an honest man who’s word was his bond.

Upon leaving office, President Bush let it be known that as a former President, he would not be publicly critical of those who followed him. Unlike the behavior of President Carter, who has actively attempted to subvert the foreign polices of at least three of his successors, or President Clinton, who was often publicly critical of the current President Bush, Mr. Bush - 41, kept a low profile and only took on missions when asked (like the tsunami relief efforts).

His long record of selfless service to our nation is something that very few of us will ever achieve. In addition, his dignity and grace should be an example to all of us. It is people like George H. W. Bush who made this nation as great as it is. So to you Mr. President, I salute you and say a job well done! The honor of having our newest and greatest weapon of war named after you is something that you have earned and it is only a small way for all of us to say thank you.


Those of us who were uncomfortable with the blank slate also known as Barack Obama’s record of accomplishment received innumerable assurances that all would be well because “he’s so smart”. Putting aside that Mr. He’s-So-Smart refused to make public his college record and claimed to have “lost” his senior thesis at Columbia, let’s agree that He’s So Smart. Let’s also remember that the President-elect held the position of Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School for eleven years, during which time he taught constitutional law. One more thing, in less than three weeks he will swear “to the best of [his] ability, [to] preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

So when the much reviled Governor of Illinois made the Burris appointment, did the President-Elect offer a measured view taking into account the relevant legal considerations as he saw them (bringing to bear his considerable expertise in the subject), consistent with the oath of office he is about to take – possibly in contradiction of popular sentiment and the fervent (make that desperate) desire of his party’s leaders to get Rod Blagojevich off Page 1 (i.e., demonstrate leadership)? Let’s take a look.

Here is Obama’s statement on the Burris appointment in pertinent part: “The Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it. I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place.” Speaking of a “lawful process”:

1. The Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution enables a state's governor, authorized by that state's legislature, to appoint a Senator in the event of a vacancy, until an election is held to fill the vacancy. Illinois law provides: “When a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from this state, the Governor shall make a temporary appointment to fill such vacancy until the next election of representatives in Congress…” Thus, reading the Constitution together with Illinois law, it appears Governor Blagojevich’s authority to fill the Senate seat is unassailable.

2. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has indicated he will not certify any document as an official act of the State of Illinois which purports to be an appointment of a Senator by Governor Blagojevich. The Secretary of State is the official keeper of the Seal of the State of Illinois and is responsible for attaching the seal to official Illinois documents. The Secretary has no legal authority to approve or disapprove of the Blagojevich choice. Attaching the seal is analogous to the role of a notary in affirming a signature. The notary is simply authenticating the signature, not participating in the content of the document. If the lack of a seal were to be a stumbling block in seating Roland Burris in the United States Senate, it is likely the courts would order Secretary White to seal the document.

3. Article I, Section 5 of the US Constitution provides: “Each House shall be the judge of the … qualifications of its own members…” At first blush, this might appear to allow the Senate to deny a seat to a Blagojevich appointee. The Constitution sets forth three qualifications for a Senator in Article I, Section 3 as follows:

a) Be at least 30 years old,

b) Have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years , and

c) Live in the State he/she is to represent.

In 1969, the United States Supreme Court interpreted those two clauses together in the case of Powell v. McCormack. The House of Representatives had denied a seat to Adam Clayton Powell because of legal problems surrounding Mr. Powell. The Court said that a House of Congress does not have the authority to deny a seat to a properly credentialed candidate who meets the qualifications outlined in the Constitution. Mr. Burris is 71 years of age, a lifelong citizen of the United States and lives in Illinois. He meets the constitutional qualifications.

Hence, despite the statements of Secretary White, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and 50 other United States Senators, they do not appear to have the authority to deny a Senate seat to a candidate duly appointed under the United States Constitution and the laws of the State of Illinois. If Barack Obama sees it otherwise perhaps he will get around to enlightening us – or perhaps he won’t.

The Wall Street Journal has helpfully weighed in (with a nice touch about Chris Dodd) -- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123094461932550595.html#printMode.


Disproportionate Ridiculousness

As Israel’s inept and corrupt Kadima led government has finally decided to defend its citizens, I can’t help but be amused by the reaction of most of the so called “world community”, including the American left. Their principal talking point is that Israel’s reaction to daily Hamas rocket attacks against its civilian is a “disproportionate” response to these terrorist attacks. If the situation were not so dire, I would be doubled over in laughter.

What exactly is a disproportionate response to the daily attempted murder of civilians? How long would the United State government sit back and allow daily rocket attacks to be launched from British Columbia into Washington State? I don’t know, maybe one hour (I assume that’s the time it would take for our military to scramble the nearest Air Force F-15 fighter). Besides, when it comes to military action, proportion is irrelevant. The goal should always be outright victory. That was the lesson of the Viet Nam War. It was a lesson that the Bush Administration forgot during the first half of the Iraq War. Fortunately, they finally remembered it and launched the surge.

The talking points go on to site the civilians deaths in Judah (aka the Gaza Strip) by the Israeli military actions. While the loss of civilian life in any military conflict is unfortunate and sad, the blame for it in this case squarely lies on the shoulders of Hamas. It was Hamas that intentionally decided to place its security apparatus in the middle of civilian establishments, including schools and hospitals. Of course, they did it purposely so that when Israel finally decided to defend itself, they could claim that Israel was committing war crimes by killing civilians. In a rational world, everyone, including the useful idiots of the UN, would realize that Hamas is a terrorist organization and that it is 100% responsible for the deaths of the civilians it was suppose to protect.

Of course, there are a couple of world leaders who have not fallen for this terrorist canard. The Bush Administration is once again clearly indicating that Israel is acting properly and is engaging in this action in self-defense. Gordon Brown’s Labour government in the United Kingdom has also not been fooled by the Hamas terrorists (although the larger European Union, under the current French Presidency, has).

I’m also enjoying the almost universal line that Israel needs to negotiate with Hamas. As a general rule, negotiation is important, but no one has ever been able to explain to me how you can negotiate with someone who’s principal belief is that you have no right to exist. Until Hamas expressly recognizes Israel’s right to exist (in public statements made in Arabic), negotiation is impossible and the Israelis would be foolish to try. This would be like the United State attempting to negotiate with Al Qaeda. It would be a waste of time and it would lend legitimacy to the terrorists.

I am skeptical of the motives for the current Israeli offensive. It is obviously a domestic political ploy. It is being done because it currently appears that Benjamin Netanyahu will win the next Israeli general election, scheduled for February. Remember, it was Mr. Netanyahu who correctly predicated that an Israeli withdrawal from Judah would result in increased Palestinian attacks. Evidently, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert finally realized that the Israeli citizens have had enough of daily terrorist attacks originating from Hamas controlled territory and that because of his failure to act, his chosen successor, Tzipi Livni, was going to loose badly in the election to a leader who would use the military assets at his disposal to end the attacks.

However, every once and awhile political ploys result in proper policies. It is about time that Mr. Olmert acted to protect his citizens. Hopefully, unlike his unsuccessful incursion into Lebanon in 2006, the Prime Minister will take all actions necessary to rid the world of the cancer known as Hamas. If this happens, the so called world community can yell their talking points as loud as they want, to whomever will listen, but Israel in particular, and the world in general, will be safer than it is today.