Archive for February, 2009

Calls grow for Burris resignation

You had to have your doubts about anyone who was desperate enough to accept a Senate appointment at the hands of the badly tainted Rod Blagojevich. Roland Burris was that person, and he has proved those doubts justified, It now turns out that in sworn testimony, Burris concealed repeated conversations with the Blagojevich camp. He also didn’t mention that while asking Blagojevich for the appointment, he tried and failed to raise money on the governor’s behalf.

Now the Chicago Tribune is insisting that Burris resign:

“Let’s see if we have it right: Burris had zero contact with any of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s cronies about his interest in the Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama — unless you count that conversation with former chief of staff Lon Monk, and, on further reflection, the ones with insiders John Harris, Doug Scofield and John Wyma and, oh yeah, the governor’s brother and fundraising chief, Robert Blagojevich. But Burris didn’t raise a single dollar for …

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Bristol Palin says abstinence-only ‘not realistic’

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Israeli settlement growth endangers Israel

Proposition: A people forced to watch while a foreign country seizes its territory by force will naturally respond to such action with violence if possible, as a necessary act of self-defense.

Now, before we go further, do you have any argument with that basic thought? Based on the lessons of history, the proposition would seem to apply in every era and every region, meaning it is universal: If you use force to try to take land that is mine, I have a right to use force to fight back. I might not win, but I have a right to try.

OK, let’s turn to a specific case:

EFRAT, West Bank (AP) — Plans to expand a West Bank settlement by up to 2,500 homes drew Palestinian condemnation Monday and presented an early test for President Obama, whose Middle East envoy is well known for opposing such construction.

Israel opened the way for possible expansion of the Efrat settlement by taking control of a nearby West Bank hill of 423 acres. The rocky plot was recently designated state land …

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What can be salvaged in Afghanistan?

President Obama is moving a little slowly on sending additional troops to Afghanistan, leading some to suggest that he might be rethinking his commitment to escalating the U.S. effort there.

I have to confess, I’m having some second thoughts myself.

Part of it comes from reading Michael Yon, the war blogger/correspondent now working out of Afghanistan. Last week, in a post he headlined “How Much is Afghanistan Really Worth to Us?” , Yon wrote:

“The Russians are successfully wrestling us into a policy arm-lock. While Russia takes American money and gains influence over our Afghan efforts, we will continue to spend lives and tens of billions of dollars per year on Afghanistan in an attempt to civilize what amounts to Jurassic Park.

We must start asking Russia, and others, who the true losers will be if we abandon Afghanistan and leave a resurgent Taliban to lap at their doorsteps. I am not advocating that we abandon Afghanistan, but our own population and allies might grow …

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Public, simple logic both against Fairness Doctrine

Most Americans don’t support a revival of the old Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcast outlets to offer a balance of political viewpoints:

Just 38% of U.S. voters think that the government should require all radio stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary.

Forty-seven percent (47%) oppose government-imposed political balance on radio stations, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure which course is better.

These findings are a dramatic nine-point drop-off in support for the Fairness Doctrine from a survey last August when 47% said the government should require all radio and television stations to offer balanced political commentary.

While a handful of Democrats continue to raise the possibility in interviews, there’s no sign of any concerted effort to revive the doctrine in Congress, and I hope and believe it will stay that way. With the range of communications outlets …

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Economic freefall: The winners and losers

Richard Florida, an author and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, has a thought-provoking piece in The Atlantic about the long-term changes the economic crisis is likely to create on the American landscape.

“No place in the United States is likely to escape a long and deep recession. Nonetheless, as the crisis continues to spread outward from New York, through industrial centers like Detroit, and into the Sun Belt, it will undoubtedly settle much more heavily on some places than on others. Some cities and regions will eventually spring back stronger than before. Others may never come back at all. As the crisis deepens, it will permanently and profoundly alter the country’s economic landscape. I believe it marks the end of a chapter in American economic history, and indeed, the end of a whole way of life.”

Metro Atlanta isn’t mentioned directly, but it fits into several of the categories that Florida …

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Gov’t created only the illusion of food safety

If the allegations are correct, if Stewart Parnell really did repeatedly order his company to ship peanut products that he knew were tainted with deadly salmonella, current law may not be sufficient to deliver the punishment he deserves.

But at the very least, his family business, Peanut Corporation of America, is now bankrupt. The criminal and civil consequences of contributing to the deaths of at least nine people ensure that it will never produce another penny of profit for Parnell.

Unfortunately, however, the victims in this case go well beyond those sickened and killed by salmonella. Others in the peanut industry — growers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, many with sterling records of conscientious operation — have suffered extensive financial damage.

For those and others, the PCA case raises a larger question: Why has it taken death and a national scandal to identify an operation that was so clearly operating beyond the bounds of safety and even decency? This was …

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The greatest conservative movies

National Review has a list of what it calls “the 25 best conservative movies of the last 25 years.”

Top of the list was “The Lives of Others”, a 2007 German movie. National Review quotes the late William F. Buckley Jr. as calling it “the best movie I ever saw,” and I might even concur with Buckley. It is truly a wonderful film, with great characters and acting, high drama, politics, suspense, surprising twists — but I have no idea what makes it a conservative movie in the eyes of National Review.

The same is true of the No. 4 movie, “Forrest Gump,” and No. 6 movie, “Groundhog Day.” Jonah Goldberg writes that “for the conservative, the moral of (Groundhog) is that redemption and meaning are derived not from indulging your ‘authentic’ instincts and drives, but from striving to live up to external and timeless ideals. Murray begins the film as an irony-soaked narcissist, contemptuous of beauty, art, and commitment. His journey of self-discovery leads him to understand that …

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Iraq outcome far from settled

In his best-selling “Fiasco,” Tom Ricks of the Washington Post told the tale of the early blundering days of the Iraq occuption, with Gen. Ray Odierno cited as the epitome of the wrong-headed blunt-force approach taken by many American generals. When you talk to officers about the literature of the U.S. misadventure in Iraq, “Fiasco” is generally the first book they want to discuss.

In Rick’s latest book, “The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008,” Odierno becomes one of the heroes of the more recent years of our occupation. Until recently the No. 2 man in Iraq behind Petreaus and now the top U.S. commander there, Odierno and other U.S. military leaders switched tactics and strategies as the war went on, adopting the more community-based approach of counterinsurgency and advocating policies that came to be known as the surge.

I haven’t had the chance to read “Gamble” yet, but excerpts published in the Post lay out Ricks’ …

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My funny Valentine

and I are otherwise occupied for the evening.

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