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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

In their haste to paint Republicans as corrupt, the Democrats have apparently forgotten that they have committed their own improprieties. I have taken the liberty to list just a few of them for your enlightenment and edification:

  • Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia punished after his ex-wife produced cash "gifts" he had hidden in an overcoat (1979)
  • Abscam brought the indictment of several Democrats (1980)
  • Mario Biaggi, convicted (1988) in Wedtech scandal of bribery, extortion, racketeering, filing a false tax return, mail fraud, and false financial disclosure; resigned from U.S. House before he could be expelled
  • Speaker of the U.S. House Jim Wright from Texas, forced to resign after ethics committee investigation found dozens of violations of House rules, including alleged improper receipt of $145,000 in gifts by Wright's wife from a Fort Worth developer and large profits from "sale" of Wright's speeches (1989)
  • Anthony Lee Coelho of California resigns from U.S. House for unethical finance practices including "junk bond" deal (1989)
  • Alcee Hastings, federal district court judge impeached (1989) and convicted of soliciting a bribe; subsequently elected (1992) to U.S. House
  • Walter Fauntroy, Delegate to Congress from the District of Columbia, guilty plea regarding lying on financial disclosure form (1995)
  • Walter R. Tucker III of California resigned before bribery conviction (1996)
  • Secretary of Agriculture Michael Espy forced to resign from office despite ultimate acquittal on criminal corruption charges (1998)
  • Bruce Babbitt, Interior Secretary, independent probe (1998-2000) of alleged lying to Congress concerning influence of money in 1995 American Indian tribe casino decision finds no criminally prosecutable perjury by Babbitt
  • Dan Rostenkowski, post office scandal (1994)
  • Henry Cisneros resigns as Housing Secretary and, after lengthy probe that began in 1995, pleads guilty (1999) to lying to the FBI about money he paid former mistress Linda Medlar a.k.a. Linda Jones; later pardoned by President Clinton in 2001
  • Jim Traficant, financial corruption conviction and expulsion from House (2002)

Democrats also took part in the House Banking scandal, and the House Post Office scandal.

To quote the sage: “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Oil Company Profits Too High? Not When You Understand The Economics Of It

A lot of confusion, misunderstanding, misplaced anger, and wasted energy has resulted from the recent high gasoline prices, particularly following the hurricane damage to the Gulf Coast.

I recommend that everyone who thinks the oil companies are raping Americans read the following piece by economist Walter Williams.


Windfall profits
By Walter E. Williams


In the wake of high gasoline prices and high oil company profits, House Speaker Dennis Hastert demands that oil companies explain why they are making so much money and what they plan to do to bring down the cost of gasoline. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has introduced a 50 percent windfall profit tax on every barrel of oil selling for more than $40. Let's talk about profits.

First, there's normal profit, which is defined as the minimum amount necessary to keep entrepreneurial resources in their current usage in the long run. Normal profits reflect the opportunity cost of using funds to finance an operation, and they must be equal to, or greater than, the returns available elsewhere in the economy. Normal profits are indeed a cost of business -- the payment to equity owners.


Windfall or supernormal profits are any profits in excess of normal profit and are above and beyond that necessary to keep entrepreneurial resources in their current usage. However, windfall profits are a vital component to a smoothly operating economy. Windfall profits serve as a signal that there are unmet human wants. Let's look at it with a simple example.

Suppose there's a disaster wiping out food resources in Harrisburg, Pa., and I live in Philadelphia. Prior to the disaster, bread prices in both cities were $2 a loaf. I buy a truckload of bread, cart it to Harrisburg and sell it for $20 a loaf, earning huge windfall profits. When the word gets out that there are profits to be made, what do you think happens? If you said other people will start carting bread to Harrisburg, bakers will start working overtime to produce more bread, people who formerly used their oven to bake cakes and pies will switch to baking bread, there'll be bread conservation in Philadelphia and elsewhere and eventually bread prices will start to fall in Harrisburg and windfall profits would vanish, go to the head of the class. While some might find people earning windfall profits objectionable, the result of their actions, getting more bread to Harrisburg, is precisely what's desired.

What if politicians said, "People are profiting from the misery of others, and we're going to impose a bread windfall profits tax"? Say they legislated a 100 percent tax, taking all of the $18 of windfall profits. Would you expect to see people making all those efforts to get bread to Harrisburg? Suppose there were huge startup costs for companies to expand their operation or onerous regulations for people to get into the bread business, would that be good news or bad news for people in Harrisburg?

What prevents a robust supply response to changes in scarcity conditions in the gasoline market? U.S. oil refining capacity is now less than it was in 1980, and since that time there's been a 25 percent increase in demand. Because of costly environmental regulations, it's been 30 years since a new refinery has been built. According to the American Petroleum Institute, over the last 10 years, it has cost the oil industry $47 billion to comply with costly and sometimes useless environmental controls. There are restrictions on exploiting the huge oil reserves in Alaska, the Gulf and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Speaker Hastert said, "These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. We expect oil companies to do their part to help ease the pain American families are feeling from high energy prices." Instead of mouthing platitudes and beating up on oil executives, Speaker Hastert should lead the effort to reduce restrictions on drilling and refinery construction. Sen. Dorgan should review our 1970s experience with an oil windfall profits tax that reduced American production and increased our dependence on foreign sources.



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Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Read It in the Funnies


Perhaps some explanation is needed.

I am not in favor of abortion on demand, am adamantly opposed to abortion as birth control, and am unalterably opposed to late-term abortions.

I do not want Judge Alito confirmed so he can overturn Roe v. Wade, although I believe it should be overturned.

I believe that because there is no guarantee in the Constitution for a right to privacy, and Roe v. Wade hinges upon there being a right to privacy, that Roe is bad law—law made improperly from the bench, not properly through the legislative process, I might add—and should be overturned on that basis.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The High Price of Gasoline


One of the big questions these days is, “Why are gasoline prices so high?” The easy answer is that Big Oil is raping the little guy, making huge profits at the expense of the poor and those on fixed incomes. Big Oil, the theory goes, raises prices during disasters, thereby making “obscenely” high profits while much of the rest of the nation suffers.

That is the easy answer, but it is the wrong answer.

The U.S. oil industry is getting blasted by Members of Congress at the same time that Congress is preventing oil companies from new drilling and building new refineries.

Big Oil catches grief over its millions of dollars in profits in the most recent quarter of 2005 while the Tax Foundation reports that the industry paid $2.2 TRILLION in taxes over the last 25 years. The taxes paid to the U.S. government are THREE TIMES as much as industry profits during those same 25 years.

Conoco Philips reported third-quarter profits of about $3.8 billion. That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? That comes out to a profit margin of 7.7 percent on sales. ExxonMobile makes even more. For every dollar of sales Exxon gets nearly nine cents in profits.

Wow!!

But wait. McDonalds made 13.8 percent and Coca-Cola made 21.2 percent in the last quarter, and Google made 24.2 percent. Merck, Bank of America, Microsoft and the Citigroup all made much, much more than that. And here’s the one that ought to make you think: Two of the nation's largest newspaper chains grumble when they don't make over 15 percent on sales.

In fact, the oil and natural gas industries are less profitable than banks, pharmaceuticals, software companies, the telecommunications industry and many more.

The main cause of high prices and our domestic energy shortage is that for decades liberals in Congress and the environmentalists push tax increases on fossil fuels and oppose nearly every effort to increase domestic supplies of oil and gas. Believe it; it is the truth.

Former Indiana Rep. Roger Zion (1967-75), honorary chairman of 60 Plus and early '70s chairman of the House Republican Task Force on Energy, recently made the following points:
  • Nevermind the huge strides made in clean coal technology, we get stifling opposition.
  • Nevermind the extraordinary safety record of nuclear power plants, we get regulation.
  • Nevermind conservation efforts while drilling for more capacity offshore in the East, West and Southeast Coasts, we get blocked access.
  • Nevermind conservation efforts and the advance of proven environmentally sound techniques to open more drilling in public lands, we get demagoguery.
  • Nevermind the massive contribution to energy independence that may be had by opening up the ANWR, we get denied access.
  • Congress claims it's doing everything it can to alleviate high energy costs and eliminate shortages. Don’t you believe it. Congressional cowardice and environmentalist whacko-ism have resulted in the following:
  • No new refineries have been built in 29 years
  • No new nuclear power plants have been built in the last 32 years (France has built 58 that now generate 80 percent of the country's electricity)
  • A host of new regulations and blocked permits have held back development of new coal mines that produce clean coal and could provide much of America's electricity needs.
You don’t have to love Big Oil to find that the real culprit in the high gasoline price issue is not Big Oil. All you have to do is to look at the facts.

Cutting and Running

The new hero of the anti-war Left is a former marine, thrice decorated in the Vietnam conflict. Appearing out of thin air to fill the void created by the predictable obsolescence of Cindy Sheehan, whose usefulness has run its course, Representative Jack Murtha from Pennsylvania rose to the occasion by calling for the troops to come home, using his former military experience as qualification to know better than the generals and their civilian bosses exactly how to go about completing the Iraq mission. His call was not only foolish, coming from former military man who ought to know better, but it also demoralizes our brave men and women fighting for their country in Iraq, and emboldens the terrorists. So long as the Democrats and other opponents of the war continue their gaudy public displays of disunity, the enemy gets a better idea of how long it must hang on before we’re gone.

Having been a U.S. fighting man, you could rightly expect Mr. Murtha to empathize with our brave troops, and refrain from that grandstanding display of poor judgment he showed in calling for the pullout. But politics is a sometimes-powerful narcotic, seducing many a good man and woman to the dark side for narrow and selfish partisan interests, and Jack Murtha could not resist the warm, tingly feeling this narcotic brings.

However, Jack Murtha’s surrender to the warm rush his moment in the sun brought does nothing to change reality, and what the Bush administration has been telling us all along is still the order of the day: The troops will come home as soon as the Iraqi forces are capable of doing the job themselves, and not a moment sooner. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a plan. You may not like the plan, but it is nonetheless THE plan. To do otherwise would be irresponsible, and stupid. Get used to it and pipe down!

Jumping to defend their new hero’s dumb plan, Democrats descended upon Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt on the House floor for speaking up about Mr. Murtha’s pullout call. Her statement to the House merely said: “Yesterday I stood at Arlington National Cemetery attending the funeral of a young marine in my district. He believed [what we are doing] is the right thing and had the courage to lay his life on the line to do it. A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run; Marines never do. Danny and the rest of America and the world want the assurance from this body – that we will see this through.”

Well, from the Democrats’ reaction you might have thought Ms. Schmidt called Mr. Murtha a coward. Everyone except those who don’t understand English, particularly plain English like this, and those who are interested in the dishonest twisting of words for political purposes, knows she said nothing of the kind. She merely delivered a constituent’s message to its intended audience, Mr. Murtha and the rest of the House of Representatives. That message is simple: “Withdrawing troops in the manner Mr. Murtha has suggested amounts to cutting and running. Marines do not cut and run.”

English-impaired Rep. Harold Ford charged across the aisle screaming something about a personal attack, and Rep. Marty Meehan yelled that Republicans were “pathetic.” So much for decorum and civility. Ms. Schmidt must have hit a sensitive spot?

The same Democrats whose revised version of history now involves calling the President of the United States a liar, get their panties in a wad over a statement on the House floor that pulling the troops out of Iraq is the wrong thing to do. If the Democrats do not like the constituent’s message, tough. Do we not all pity their hurt feelings?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Reflections" Updated

Read "The Church Service" at Reflections.

Collage


Rights, Rights! I Demand My Rights!

Gertrude Himmelfarb, a brilliant observer of society and culture, had this to say about the state of American society: “The litigious temper of the times is a consequence of the decline of civility and the concomitant proliferation of ‘rights’—legal rights in place of the manners and morals that once arbitrated disagreements and disputes. In this sense the law has become not so much the aid and abettor of manners and morals as a substitute for them.”

The Left, and others who want to focus on “rights” as if they are sacrosanct and exist in a vacuum, will instantly jump upon this insightful piece of reality. Do they truly believe that the mere fact that a person has the right to do something absolves that person of the repercussions of exercising that right?

The answer is “yes.” That is precisely what they believe, because nothing is as important to these folks as their own desires. It’s okay, they say, to have a “society” as long as what’s good for the many does not interfere with what’s good for “me.”

Such a philosophy makes it impossible to maintain a society that, by definition, requires individuals to sacrifice a few of their abundant “rights” for the good of the many. Personal selfishness and the assertion of individual rights to the exclusion of what is good for the whole of society is a recipe for societal collapse, and we see substantial movement toward that frightening possibility every day.


Damn the Consequences, Full Speed Ahead!

The irresponsible caterwauling by the Democrats for bringing the troops home from Iraq as soon as it can be accomplished without regard for what happens after the American military leaves defies logical defense.

The truth is, though, that the Democrats do not want the troops withdrawn for the good of the troops, but for the good of Democratic Party hopes in the 2006 election. Nothing will sell with the American people, Democrat leaders reason, like the failure of a Republican administration in a war, and nothing will signal failure more clearly than withdrawing the troops prematurely.

On the other hand, nothing will make the Democrats’ plight more difficult than if the administration of a Republican President succeeds in establishing a democratic government in Iraq, and taking a big piece out of the terrorist initiative at the same time.

This is the dilemma of the Democrats, and that is the explanation for why they want to cut and run, despite the consequences for the nation.

A Thanksgiving Message


At this time of giving thanks for all that we have, it will serve us well to recognize that some of what we have done in recent years isn’t at all desirable.

We have exploited the poor and called it “the lottery.”

We have rewarded laziness and called it “welfare.”

We have killed our unborn and called it “choice.”

We have shot abortionists and called it “justifiable.”

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it “building self-esteem.”

We have abused power and called it “politics.”

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it “ambition.”

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it “freedom of expression.”

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it “enlightenment.”

In days like these, as we watch our culture gradually slip away to be replaced by a standards-less, morally bankrupt muddle, we should, indeed, be thankful for what we have left, and be thankful that there is still time to restore our character, honor and integrity.

I wish a happy Thanksgiving to all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Plame Name Blame Case Becomes Even Weaker

This is another of those times when someone else says what needs to be said, and says it well enough that the rest of us need not try. Wesley Pruden examines the supposed outing of Valerie Plame, and finds even less "there" there than we had been mislead to believe.


Mortuary Bob exposes another cover-up
November 18, 2005

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.

Mortuary Bob Woodward made his career by establishing that as an article of capital faith. You could ask the ghost of Richard Nixon.

Mortuary Bob became a Washington legend for cultivating sources among both the quick and the dead, and he's guilty so far of no known crime. Well, except the crime of not taking seriously the game of who outed Valerie Plame, Washington's most famous airhead, as a covert operative of the CIA. That "crime" may yet get him "terminated" with extreme prejudice.

The husband of the airhead yesterday demanded the pursuit of Mortuary Bob by the famous special prosecutor from Chicago who has spent $20 million in vain pursuit of a crime, and could only manage to indict Scooter Libby for not remembering who told him about something that didn't happen. V Somebody even now is writing a play about the Plame game, and it's a musical comedy. It's easy to see why. We can only hope the music will be better than the words. Mortuary Bob wrote the best review of what's happened so far, when he told an interviewer for NPR that "when all the facts come out in this case it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great."

The consequences, great or not, are likely to fall hardest on the head of Patrick Fitzgerald. The big wind from Chicago has seen his case against Scooter fall apart over the last 48 hours. Scooter stands charged with perjury, a serious crime that rarely yields a conviction, because he said he learned of Valerie Plame's supposed status as a covert CIA agent from Tim Russert of NBC News, and not from a government official, which would have made it a violation of the law. Mr. Russert says that's not how he remembers it.

Even if Scooter was telling a lie, and not merely misremembering something from a long time ago, this is pretty thin soup on which to go to a grand jury. But if you're a special prosecutor who has just blown $20 million, even if merely taxpayer money, you're likely to be in a mild panic to come up with any old bone to throw into the pot.

But now comes Mortuary Bob with his story that he talked to Scooter before Tim did, and his notes reflect that he wanted to talk about "yellowcake" and "Joe Wilson's wife." This suggests that a lot of people in town knew about Val and Joe, who covert or not devote a lot of their time trying to get their overt pictures in the papers. If Scooter, who talks to a lot of reporters, all of whom look alike in the dark, got Tim and Mortuary Bob confused who could blame him? Probably not a jury, unless it's a jury packed with diehard Democrats eager to nail a Republican hide to the barn door. Where but the District of Columbia could you find a jury like that?

The operating manual for U.S. district attorneys sets out the dilemma for Mr. Fitzgerald. The manual requires that no prosecution can commence unless the D.A. believes he has the evidence to get a conviction. Losing is for losers, and that's why the government lawyer always holds the winning card (sometimes in his sleeve or sock).

If all this strikes the average American who actually has a life as a lot of stuff about not very much, he's excused. That's what Mortuary Bob thought, too, and that's what his newspaper and other organs of the bag-Bush-at-any-cost movement are unlikely to forgive. Mortuary Bob apologized to The Post for not coming forward with his admission until now. The editors put the apology on Page One, taking up space usually reserved for sad stories about helpless gay, black, female victims of our dirty, rotten, no-account society where the sun never shines, children never smile, lovers never woo and the river never runs smooth to the sea.

Mortuary Bob repented, The Post reported, "even as an investigation of who disclosed [Valerie Plame's] identity mushroomed into a national scandal." Of course it's a national scandal. Doesn't everybody from Pottstown to Yuma get up every morning eager to know what's going on at The Washington Post?

The irony is that this investigation into the fluff from an airhead's navel came about because first the New York Times and then The Post demanded it, nurtured it and gave the story mouth-to-mouth resuscitation every time it began to fade into the mist along the Potomac. And to think that only yesterday Scooter was on his way to prison, Karl Rove was about to be flung into hell, and George W. Bush was looking for impeachment lawyers. Now all we've got are a gang of media stars with hot notebooks. But any story with a journalist in it is a candidate for Page One. You could look it up.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Visit "Reflections"


There's a new post on my sister site, Reflections, tonight.

Politics is such a farce these days that I just can't deal with it. So, I'm spending some of the little time I have for writing on things less political, and more personal.

I hope you'll take the time to visit Reflections.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Clarence Thomas Blasts Confirmation Process

As Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito prepares to go before the Senate in January, Justice Clarence Thomas has criticized the Senate confirmation process. If anyone knows how brutal and unfair the confirmation process can be, it is Clarence Thomas, who was assaulted by unsubstantiated accusations and dragged through the mud by a former co-worker, despite his obvious qualifications. This mugging took place for no better reason than the political Left feared the presence on the Court of a Justice who would rely on the U.S. Constitution to decide cases.

Justice Thomas told students and other audience members in a question-and-answer session at the University of Alabama School of Law that the process is so intense that federal court judges turn down the opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court. It’s a sad day in this country when qualified people shy away from public service because the process of getting approved is so poisonous and dirty that they don’t want to go through it.

According to a report in the University of Alabama's newspaper, The Crimson White, Justice Thomas also made these comments during the Q & A session:

The personal lives of Supreme Court nominees shouldn't be thoroughly bared during the confirmation process.

The Senate votes for people who make decisions for or against their interests, instead of deciding whether they are capable of interpreting the law.

The courts are being "held hostage" by the issue of abortion, which has been at the center of every confirmation hearing since Roe v. Wade.

When asked about religion and government, Thomas said the separation of church and state couldn't be found in the Constitution.

All of those statements are true. The most relevant one at the moment is number 2, for it foreshadows what may be coming next year when the Alito nomination comes up: that Senators sometimes put their solemn duty to fairly and objectively evaluate a nominee’s qualifications aside and substitute their personal feelings and political eiency when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. Such despicable behavior is a grave disservice to the nation, and a gross failure in the responsibility of their office.

The method of evaluating a nominee’s fitness for the Court based upon qualifications and experience was good enough for the Democrat’s when Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed, despite her liberal record. We’ll see soon whether the Democrats in the Senate today are fair minded, or just cheap political hacks who put nothing ahead of their selfish, narrow political agenda.

Senate Turns Down Troop-Withdrawal Mandate


Thank goodness the U.S. Senate had the good sense to defeat a Democrat-led effort to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. Had the measure passed, it would have been a dramatic demonstration of gross stupidity, colossal Constitutional impropriety, and callous arrogance.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas declared, "Americans do not cut and run, Americans do not abandon their commitments, and Americans do not abandon their friends." Sen. Cornyn said his party succeeded in its main goal of beating the Democrat troop-withdrawal proposal, appearing to defend the passage of a proposal by Republicans that calls for changes in the Bush administration's Iraq policy and requires the White House to draw up a schedule for transition to Iraqi sovereignty. The latter measure is only slightly less offensive and less improper than the Democrat measure.

It is not the Senate’s prerogative to decide how the war will be run, and even Senate Democrats ought to be smart enough to know that when they are so publicly anti-war it undermines the war effort, emboldens the terrorist enemy, and heightens the potential for harm to come to U.S. troops in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Democrats, however, are selfishly looking to the 2006 elections, and don’t care who they harm in the process of trying to appear relevant in a desperate attempt regain power in one house of the Congress. They should realize that irresponsible behavior such as this failed attempt, and the attempted rewriting of the history of how and why we went to war in Iraq, don’t sell with most Americans, who are far more discerning than the Democrats understand, and realize that such petty political hay-making is not supportive of our troops.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Does Idiocy Still Exist In The U.S.? You Bet!

From Michael the ArchAngel’s blog, evidence of enormous idiocy resulting from policies of the political Left:

It seems that Berkeley High School, a school that doesn't even allow certain textbooks to be taken home, has started a new school club (much like the chess club, the debate club) called the condom club. Yup, not only has the school started such a club, but by joining, each student get 12 condoms per week, FREE!!!!

What a strange world we live in. Young girls in California don’t have to tell their parents that they are pregnant and want to kill the fetus, and the kids in Berkeley High School in or near San Francisco can join a school club and get free condoms!!

What a freakin’ mess!

Here’s the story.

Couldn't Have Said It Better


Sometimes, when time forbids it, I post entire columns from the pros. I don’t like to do that as much as I like to post my own opinions, but time, as I said, sometimes forbids thoughtful, complete original posts.

So, having said all of that, I present the following comments from Wesley Pruden, an insightful observer of the passing scene. If you are at all interested in the truth, read this.


The mean trick on the critics

By Wesley PrudenPublished November 15, 2005

Now for the pause that refreshes. George W. Bush is off to China, where with a little luck he'll hear nary a discouraging word and the skies will be cloudy for only part of the day.

He let the Democrats have the other barrel of double-ought buckshot just as he left on the long flight to Asia, reprising the harsh rhetoric of last week targeting critics for sending mixed signals to both the troops and to an enemy that needs no encouraging.

"Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war," he said, "but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled the world and the American people. Only one person manipulated evidence and misled the world -- and that person was Saddam Hussein."

The president can be rightly warmed by the reaction to his long-overdue blast at Democrats who diet on milk and crackers, and his friends can be cheered that maybe he really means it -- that his Friday speech in Pennsylvania, calling out critics rewriting the history of the liberation of Iraq, was not merely a one-off outburst of pique and frustration.

He returned to the theme again at a refueling stop in Alaska, with a nod to congressional Democrats who can rightly say they have opposed the war all along. "I disagree with them, but I respect their willingness to take a consistent stand. Yet some Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force are now rewriting the past."

The president's willingness to mix it up with his critics, after months of offering mostly boilerplate clich├ęs about duty, honor and country, altered overnight Washington perceptions of his grit and resolve. The Sunday talk shows reflected something new on the public airwaves.

Chris Wallace of Fox News confronted Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia with the meanest trick in the journalist's playbook, quoting, accurately, a politician's words back to him: "The president says that Democratic critics, like you, looked at prewar intelligence and came to the same conclusion he did. In fact, looking back at the speech you gave in October 2002 in which you authorized the use of force, you went farther than the president ever did. Let's watch."

Onto the screen flashed a slightly younger visage of Mr. Rockefeller, fished from the video archives, saying: "I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11 that question is increasingly outdated."

How soon we forget when the rubble is cleared, but videotape has eliminated the places where timid politicians hide. And indeed, the senator's characterization of the Saddam threat as "imminent" was something the president never said.

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan had a high old time on CNN the other morning, accusing the president of distortions, prevarications, falsifications, deceptions and other euphemisms for "lies." He even accused the president of persuading the nation that "Saddam Hussein had participated in the attack on us on 9/11," which is the senator's own distortion, prevarication, falsification and deception. A bit more than ingenious, too, because here's what the senator himself said about Saddam Hussein on the eve of retribution:

To the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 19, 2002: "We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region."

Or this, on Dec. 12, 2001: "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as [Saddam Hussein] is in power."

In early October 2002, Hillary Clinton, every Democrat's vision of the Joan of Arc scheduled for arrival three years hence, was the queen of the mob mongering war on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Saddam Hussein, she said, "has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11 ... "

John Kerry's on-again, off-again enthusiasm for war in Iraq (which could in fairness be described as well as his on-again, off-again enthusiasm for doing nothing) is well-known, of course. He told interviewer Larry King a few days after September 11, when it was safe to be a courageous Democrat, that "this doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination ... I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, [after] Saddam Hussein."

But that was then. Not now, of course. Sticks and stones may, or may not, hurt. But whoever said words never hurt never met a Democratic senator trying to hide from his earlier self.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Do Muslims Have A Soul?

Radical Muslims have been committing murder in the name of Islam for decades. Sometimes the violence is directed at “infidels,” which the radicals say is justified in the holy texts of the Koran/Quran.

Much of the violence is carried out by Muslim fanatics who commit suicide in order to kill. The Koran makes it very clear that suicide is forbidden. The puppet masters of radical Islam dance around that very serious point by calling suicide bombers “martyrs,” as if it doesn’t matter that they blew themselves up in the process of killing “infidels.” This ranks right at the top of the list of rationalizations.

Increasingly, however, the victims of these attacks are not “infidels”; they are not American soldiers or American civilians. The attacks in Iraq are far more likely to kill Muslims—the countrymen of the suicide bombers and their leaders—than to kill Americans. And, as in the attacks in Amman recently, the victims are from the outset other Muslims.

The attacks in Amman, which were intended to kill only Muslims, have aroused the ire of the Jordan’s ruler and the people of Jordan. But their outrage, justified as it is, is really not as hot as it ought to be, and it is limited pretty much to Jordan

So, the questions hang there like a family of 200-pound gorillas: Do Muslims have a soul? Do they believe it is wrong to murder innocent Muslims just because some punk like Zarqawi wants to? Will “good” Muslims—assuming that there are good Muslims—ever condemn Zarqawi and the other perverts who use Islam as an excuse for murder? Or, will they stand meekly by and watch?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Predictions Of Bush's "Death" Are Premature

Rumors of George Bush’s demise following the election last week are foolish.

Sure, the President is having some problems, but mostly they are of his own making. He has failed to counteract the asinine warbling of Congressional Democrats, who don’t let the facts get in their way to a lynching over the universally accepted intelligence that Iraq had WMD, and he has failed to publicly make a case that the sky is not falling, contrary to the Chicken Little’s in the media and the Democrat Party.

The elections signals very little, if anything. Sure, it would have been better if Republicans had won, or if Californians hadn’t thrown parental responsibility in the trash, but Mr. Bush really had little control over those things. Virginia elected a Democrat to succeed a Democrat, and in New Jersey a stupid campaign tactic by the Republican candidate didn’t help him beat John Corzine. Bush’s fault? I don’t think so.

Mr. Bush has failed to talk convincingly about the importance of the Iraq war, either as an end in itself or as an element in the war on terror, and he hasn’t countered the media’s almost universally negative reporting from Iraq.

He has let gasoline prices take center stage and overshadow a pretty strong economic picture, and he just generally has been taking the beating the press and the Democrats have been handing out.

That had better change soon. I think it will.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Difficulties Continue




Since last June life has been a whirlwind. Posting has been at a minimum, due to travel, obligations and computer problems. This weekend we are spending the weekend in Gatlinburg, TN with some friends. After that, hopefully, things will settle down a little.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

You Care, I Don't


I received this email from a friend. The forwarded intro credited a particular individual with authoring it, but I will not publish the name, as I haven’t been able to confirm its authenticity. It is a letter to a family member serving in Iraq, supposedly written by a woman in Atlanta.

I agree. What about you?

What’s All The Fuss?

"Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001? Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania? Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet? Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

I'll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11.

I'll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia.

I'll care when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi tells the world he is sorry for hacking off Nick Berg's head while Berg screamed through his gurgling, slashed throat.

I'll care when the cowardly so-called "insurgents" in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.

I'll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs

I'll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution's Bill of Rights.

In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don't care.

When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college-hazing incident, rest assured that I don't care.

When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank that I don't care.

When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed "special" food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being "mishandled," you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts that I don't care.

And oh, by the way, I've noticed that sometimes it's spelled "Koran" and other times "Quran." Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and -- you guessed it, I could not have said this any better myself! Especially today!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Reference Books For Sale:


1 Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica
Assorted dictionaries
Assorted thesauri
Reference books of varying descriptions.

Reason: Have 17 year-old daughter

Knows everything

Try Terrorists In Court? No Way!

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the military tribunals proposed for accused terrorists.

U.S. citizens, and certain others who are not citizens, are covered by the Constitution. Prisoners of war, such as German or Japanese military personnel during WWII, are covered by the Geneva Conventions, and technically only the signatory nations are bound by and covered by its provisions. However, neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Geneva Conventions cover “enemy combatants,” terrorists and others who belong to no formal military, and who fight on behalf of no particular nation.

The Bush administration holds that military tribunals are the proper venue for dealing with these vermin. Others, however, including those who wish to make fighting terrorism as difficult as possible, hold that all people captured or arrested are due equal protection under U.S. laws. They put forth all manner of rationalized justification for that position, including that either the Constitution or the Conventions cover. A reading of each document plainly shows that to be wrong.

Next they say that we are a civilized nation, and even though the enemy combatants would not give our military such generous treatment, the United States ought to hold itself to a higher standard.

There’s a case to be made for the position that suicide bombers who indiscriminately kill innocent bystanders, people who crash airplanes into buildings to kill thousands of innocent people, and other sub-human excrement, are unworthy of justice or compassion. It’s expensive and time consuming to put these animals on trial, and it gives them far more credibility than they ought to have.

Opening the U.S. system of justice to terrorists is just plain stupid.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Collage


Muslim Violence

The Muslim violence in Paris is a sign of problems that are growing in Europe, where Muslim immigration has been going on for many years. The Muslims have been pretty much left alone, and instead of assimilating into the society they have adopted, they have created their own sub-culture.

This creates a serious threat to the stability and the future of Europe. Columnist Tony Blankley, in a recent column, had this comment: “The threat of the radical Islamists taking over Europe is every bit as great to the United States as was the threat of the Nazis taking over Europe in the 1940s.”


Blankley goes on to say, “[i]t is beginning to dawn on Europeans that the combination of a shrinking ethnic-European population and an expanding, culturally assertive Muslim population might lead to the fall of Western civilization in Europe within a century.”
Though Blankley thinks that position is premature, this is a wake-up call. Let’s hope the Europeans heed it.

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The Courts

A recent Supreme Court decision expanding Eminent Domain to cover private “needs” has allowed the City of Oakland, CA to lock the doors of a business that has been around for 56 years, and make the property available to a private developer whose use of the property suits the purposes of the City better than the “previous owner.”

Property ownership is a fundamental right of Americans. Clearly, the liberal Supreme Court no longer holds that right to be relevant.
If anyone wonders why it is important to have originalists on the Supreme Court, this is an excellent example.

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Violence

In Argentina, protesters opposed to free trade showed their disagreement with that concept by destroying local businesses.


This is the same reasoning used by people who didn’t or couldn’t leave New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit. Finding conditions dire and difficult, “victims” who didn’t have food and water looted TVs from abandoned businesses.


This underscores that violent people will use whatever excuse is available to be violent.


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Intelligent Design vs Evolution

I’ve previously taken the position in Observations that Intelligent Design is worthy of being discussed along side Evolution because if at some point we determine that their really IS a Supreme Being, ID will be a legitimate part of Science, a position that some scientists also hold.

Now, another biology professor has come out in support of classroom discussion of "intelligent design." He testified recently that major peer-reviewed scientific journals shun articles on the ID because it is a minority view.
"To endorse intelligent design comes with risk because it's a position against the consensus. Science is not a democratic process," University of Idaho microbiology professor Scott Minnich said.

He testified on behalf of the Dover Area School Board, in defense of an October 2004 decision to require students to hear a statement about Intelligent Design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution, which teachers oppose. The statement says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to the textbook "Of Pandas and People" for more information.


Eight families are suing to end the practice, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state because it essentially promotes the Bible's view of creation.

However, Intelligent design supporters argue that natural selection cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms.
Professor Minnich testified that intelligent design is based on science and doesn't require adherence to any religious belief.

The debate continues.


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Another Absurd Judicial Ruling



Federal court decisions continue to defy common sense. A recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling has the effect of telling parents that school administrators know best how to raise kids. The court dismissed a lawsuit by elementary school parents who were outraged that the Palmdale School District in Los Angeles County had surveyed students about sex.

While the surveys asked students (7- to 10-years old) how often they thought about sex, and other similarly inappropriate things dealing with “private parts” of youngsters, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, writing for the Court, said Wednesday that parents of public school children have no "fundamental right" to be the exclusive provider of sexual information to their children. How’s that?

The parents maintained they had the sole right "to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex." To those of us imbued with common sense and the desire to raise our own children, which is a basic responsibility of a parent, that makes perfect sense. But in the bizarre opinion of the 9th Circuit, government schools are better suited to make these decisions than parents are.

If schools have more rights than parents in such things, and are better equipped to make decisions about raising kids, perhaps the judge ought to order schools to feed, clothe and house the kids, as well.

The good news is that the 9th Circuit is so often preposterously out of step with reality, the Constitution, and the American people, that it is the frequently reversed on appeal.

The real tragedy is that there is no recourse against judges like those in the 9th Circuit who make absurd such rulings. That ought to be changed.

We need an independent judiciary, but there is a limit to how far judges should be allowed to go before being thrown off the bench.


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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Liberal Democrats, So Hypocritical


By Brent Bozell

Conservatives are rolling their eyes watching the political left’s outrage over the Valerie Plame identity controversy, wondering when it was exactly that liberals suddenly became the super patriots defending the virtues of the CIA. For a half-century the American political left has done everything in its power to undermine the national security of this country. Now we are to believe, as they wring their hands in agony and outrage – outrage, I say! – over Ms. Plame’s outing, that they…care? This goes beyond rank hypocrisy. It is intellectual dishonesty.

Let’s visit the left’s record on national security matters. History is not kind. Where was the left when the Rosenbergs, communists both, fed our nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union? Both were deep-fried for the treason they’d committed. Liberals tut-tutted then and tut-tut now, and don’t tell me there aren’t hardened leftists who favored giving nuclear weapons to the Soviets to thwart what they considered America’s imperial ambitions. What of Alger Hiss, another Soviet spy who also committed treason against his country? To this day he remains a darling of the political left. Up until the moment he died he was the left’s poster child for American national security oppression.

Rather than defend the integrity of the CIA, the American left has done everything in its power to destroy it. It was Seymour Hersh and the New York Times that launched a campaign to paint the CIA as a “rogue elephant” agency back in 1974. Their efforts led to both houses of Congress, led by Democrats, working overtime during the Carter administration, to gut the agency’s intelligence-gathering operations. Some liberals went further. CBS reporter Daniel Schorr lost his job when he leaked the secret House report on the CIA to the Village Voice, an action that outraged Americans but certainly pleased some folks at National Public Radio. They were pleased enough to hire him.

The left’s crusade against the CIA hit a wall when Ronald Reagan was elected, with anti-CIA stalwart senators like Frank Church sent packing along with Jimmy Carter. He signed into law the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 -- the very law that is at the center of the Plame controversy. It was a liberal, long-time California Congressman Don Edwards, who pointed out that "No amount of tinkering, either with the statutory language itself or with the report, can render this bill constitutional." Only 32 members joined him in his dissension – all liberal Democrats like Patricia Schroeder, John Conyers, and now-Senator Charles Schumer.

It passed the Senate by a margin of 81 to 4, with Sen. John Chafee, in a rare fit of political sanity, leading the charge by alleging that hard-left magazines “CounterSpy” and “Covert Action Information Bulletin” had outed more than 2,000 intelligence officers around the world. It took a liberal, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to denounce the proposed law “which, while making it easier to convict scoundrels, will chill the exercise of First Amendment rights." Joe Biden also voted against this bill.

Liberals outside of Congress also tried their best to undermine the law that could send “Scooter” Libby to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union slammed it as a "clearly unconstitutional infringement on the right of free speech." Morton H. Halperin, director of ACLU's Center for National Security Studies, not only promised to provide legal assistance to people who outed CIA agents, he also publicly stated that covert operations should be banned. Bill Clinton, a man who refused to lower himself to face-to-face daily CIA briefings, tried to appoint Mort Halperin to the Defense Department.

The liberal news media also did their very best. Just read the editorial page of the New York Times for March 22, 1982. Judith Miller’s employers declared that “an angry, flag-waving Congress is making it a crime to print names the Government doesn't want published, even when they are derived from public sources. Last week the Senate refused to be outdone by the House in making the Intelligence Identities Protection Act offensive to the Bill of Rights.”
The editorial concluded with a flourish. “What happens when Congress thus ignores the Constitution? Courageous members will continue to fight the issue in House-Senate conference. Resourceful journalists will maintain their vigilance against official secrecy. Government can forbear and use its illegitimate power sparingly. All should hope the courts will wipe the law from the books.”

The political left’s record on national security in general, and the CIA and the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in particular, is crystal clear. It takes gall, real gall, to pretend otherwise.

Let the Great Debate begin


George Will

With the nomination of Samuel Alito, the nation's long-term needs and the President's immediate needs converge. Our nation properly takes its political bearings, always, from the Constitution, properly construed on the basis of deep immersion in the intellectual ferment of the Founding Era that produced it. That is why our democracy inescapably functions under some degree of judicial supervision.

The nation has long needed a serious debate about the proper nature of that supervision. And the President needed both a chance to demonstrate his seriousness and an occasion to challenge his Democratic critics to demonstrate theirs in a momentous battle on terrain of his choosing.

The Alito nomination begins that debate. When Churchill's wife said it was perhaps a blessing in disguise that British voters turned him out of office even before the war in the Pacific ended, he growled that, if so, it was very well disguised. President Bush must realize that the failure of the Harriet Miers nomination was such a blessing.

He quickly cauterized that self-inflicted wound and acted on this political axiom: If you don't like the news, make some of your own. Presidents are uniquely able to do this, and Bush, because of his statesmanlike termination of the Miers nomination, was poised to reorient the national conversation.

And because of the glittering credentials that earned Alito unanimous Senate confirmation to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, those Democrats who are determined to oppose him are unhappily required to make one of two intellectually disreputable arguments.

One is so politically as well as intellectually untenable that they will try not to make it explicitly. It is that judicial conservatism may once have been a legitimate persuasion, but now is a disqualification for service on the Supreme Court. To which there is a refuting question: Since when? Since 1986, when 98 senators — including 47 Democrats — voted to confirm Antonin Scalia 98-0?

Since last December, when Harry Reid, leader of Senate Democrats, said that Scalia would be a fine nominee for chief justice? Reid doubtless would respond that Scalia would have been acceptableonly because he was replacing someone comparably conservative — William Rehnquist. Which brings us to the second disreputable argument Democrats will be reduced to making:

Because Alito is more of a judicial conservative than was Sandra Day O'Connor, he is unacceptable because it is unacceptable to change the court's intellectual balance. This argument is triply flawed.

First, nowhere is that rule written. Second, the history of Presidential practice — Democrats should especially study FDR's sweeping alteration of the court's composition — refutes the rule. Third, when in 1993 the Senate voted to confirm the very liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union, to the seat being vacated by the retirement of the conservative Byron White, 96 senators voted for her, including 25 Democrats still serving in the Senate. Including Reid. Including Pat Leahy, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein, Herbert Kohl and Russ Feingold, all members of today's Judiciary Committee.

Reid urged the President to nominate Miers, whose withdrawal Reid says he laments. Now Reid deplores the Alito nomination because it was, Reid says, done without Democratic "consultation." But it was during such consultation that, Reid says, he warned the President not to nominate Alito.

So Reid's logic is that nothing counts as consultation unless it results in conformity to Democratic dictates. When Reid endorsed Scalia for chief justice, he said: "I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are (sic) very hard to dispute."

There you have, starkly and ingenuously confessed, the judicial philosophy — if it can be dignified as such — of Reid and like- minded Democrats: Never mind constitutional reasoning, which is so annoyingly hard to refute, we care only about results.

How many thoughtful Democrats will wish to take their stand where Reid has planted that flag? This is the debate the country has needed for several generations: Should the Constitution be treated as so plastic, so changeable that it enables justices to reach whatever social outcomes — "results" — they, like the result- oriented senators who confirm them, consider desirable? If so, in what sense does the Constitution still constitute the nation?

This is a debate the President, who needs a victory, should relish. Will it, as Democrats mournfully say, "divide the country? Yes. Debates about serious subjects do that. The real reason those Democrats are mournful is that they correctly suspect they are on the losing side of the divide.

© 2005, Washington Post Writer's Group

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fishing license indictment

By Thomas Sowell

Nov 1, 2005

We have been hearing for a long time what a terrible thing it is to reveal the name of a covert C.I.A. agent -- and it is a terrible thing because that can be a life-and-death situation for the agent exposed and a devastating setback for this country's ability to get people in other countries to supply intelligence. But it was quite an anticlimax when the man who is accused of doing that -- Lewis Libby on Vice President Cheney's staff -- is not even charged with the crime for which a special prosecutor was appointed, with extraordinary powers and an extraordinary budget.

Unfortunately, this situation is not unique. It is not uncommon for a prosecutor to charge someone with a crime that did not even exist when the prosecutor's investigation began. In other words, the crime was created during the course of the investigation.

That leaves completely aside the question whether the person accused is in fact guilty or innocent of the crime with which he is charged. And presumably if the prosecutor had enough evidence to charge the accused with the crime for which the investigation was authorized in the first place, he would have done it.

One of the legal problems is that it is by no means clear that a crime was actually committed in this case.

It is one thing to tell the world the name of some C.I.A. agent operating in Iran or North Korea, for that agent may never come back alive as a result of being outed. It is something else to say that Joe Wilson got the assignment to go to Niger because his wife sits behind a desk at C.I.A. headquarters in Virginia.

Put bluntly, too often the authorization of an investigation is essentially a fishing license to enable the prosecutor to find something to prosecute, whether or not he can get evidence to prosecute the crime he was supposed to be investigating.

In the case of Lewis Libby, the case against him consists essentially of the fact that he remembers various conversations with reporters differently from the way those reporters remember those conversations.

Any married couple who have gone on vacation together and come back with the husband remembering some things differently from the way the wife remembers them can see why this can be a hard case in which to prove perjury, much less the original crime that was supposed to be investigated.

However, prosecutors nailed Martha Stewart, so they may be able to nail Lewis Libby. In the meantime, it is fascinating to see people who were downplaying an organized campaign of perjury and subordination of perjury by Bill Clinton a few years ago, now touting the indictment of Lewis Libby as proof that the whole Bush administration is corrupt.

There is no talk today about "move on," with or without the dot com. There is no one saying "get over it." More important, there is no orchestrated campaign of character assassination in the media against special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the way there was against special prosecutor Kenneth Starr during his investigation of Bill Clinton's perjury.

There is no need to demonize Mr. Fitzgerald. What really needs serious re-examination are laws under which special prosecutors are issued unlimited fishing licenses to go see if they can trip someone up on inconsistencies in their statements about something that was not even a crime in the first place.

After any special prosecutor has spent millions of tax dollars and is caught in the media spotlight, the temptation is to find something, anything, rather than say it has not been worth the expense or the bother. A regular prosecutor has many other cases to turn to if one particular case does not look worth investing more time and money in, when other cases are demanding attention.

A special prosecutor has only that one case and so has no incentive to weigh alternatives like a regular prosecutor.

Even aside from cases involving a special prosecutor, there are far too many complicated laws regulating too many things for which people can easily be indicted, leading to a media frenzy -- and often a biased frenzy at that.

To the liberal media, the accused is "innocent until proven guilty" -- when the accused shares their political views. Otherwise the standard is "the appearance of impropriety."


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