Thursday, June 25, 2009


We remember with fondness and gratitude the contribution she made to our young lives.

Monday, June 15, 2009



Why is conservative thought even needed in our universities? The Wall Street Journal, gives an excellent editorial in defense of conservative thought. Here is an exerpt:

That constellation (Conservative thought) begins to come into focus at the end of the 18th century with Edmund Burke's "Reflections on the Revolution in France." It draws on the conservative side of the liberal tradition, particularly Adam Smith and David Hume and includes Tocqueville's great writings on democracy and aristocracy and John Stuart Mill's classical liberalism. It gets new life in the years following World War II from Friedrich Hayek's seminal writings on liberty and limited government and Russell Kirk's reconstruction of traditionalist conservatism. And it is elevated by Michael Oakeshott's eloquent reflections on the pervasive tendency in modern politics to substitute abstract reason for experience and historical knowledge, and by Leo Strauss's deft explorations of the dependence of liberty on moral and intellectual virtue.

Without an introduction to the conservative tradition in America and the conservative dimensions of modern political philosophy, political science students are condemned to a substantially incomplete and seriously unbalanced knowledge of their subject. Courses on this tradition should be mandatory for students of politics; today they are not even an option at most American universities.

Of course, I'm having a hard time just getting my University to let me expose my students to William F. Buckley, much less Leo Strauss.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


A few weeks ago I ran across Wayne Allen Root’s challenge from last summer. Root was the Libertarian VP candidate and he was theoretically a schoolmate of Obama’s at Columbia.

Welch: Were you the exact same class?

Root: Class of '83 political science, pre-law Columbia University. You don't get more exact than that. Never met him in my life, don't know anyone who ever met him. At the class reunion, our 20th reunion five years ago, 20th reunion, who was asked to be the speaker of the class? Me. No one ever heard of Barack! Who was he, and five years ago, nobody even knew who he was.

Other guy: Did he even show up to the reunion?

Root: I don't know! I didn't know him. I don't think anybody knew him. But I know that the guy who writes the class notes, who's kind of the, as we say in New York, the macha who knows everybody, has yet to find a person, a human who ever met him. Is that not strange? It's very strange.

I’ve read over this several times since because it’s more poignant than all off the plot points that we heard last summer because it kind of explains everything with Wright, Ayers, Allinsky and what not.

He most likely skirted at Columbia and that’s why no one knows him there and it’s why he won’t release his grades. After four years in the real world and the added maturity he went to Harvard Law and applied himself and he’s more than willing to share those grades and stories. But like a talented athlete he treated Columbia like he was a bonus baby and he treated Harvard like he was playing in his option year.

I'm kind of getting the feeling that he treated the campaign last year as the option year and he's now skirting. It’s common to make campaign promises that you don’t intend to keep, but it’s surprising the number of times he’s made an actual policy decision as president and then backtracked. That’s clearly the tendency of a guy who isn’t doing his homework. It’s also one explanation as to why the teleprompter is going everywhere. He’s a talented guy use to getting by on glib philosophical statements and that just doesn’t work in the White House. The CEO of a successful corporation isn’t the smartest guy in the company but the hardest working.

Look at Obama's post Harvard Law years. Instead of using such a degree to find his own success he went into public service where even if he were a failure no one would ever know. We do know that he couldn't make enough money to buy his own house and needed the shady Tony Rezko to accomplish it for him.

When all the talk was going around last summer that he had no personal accomplishments it was derided because he was such an exciting person. But electing a man with no accomplishments gives such a man the idea that the world is about keeping cool rather than making tough decisions. Obama has been accomplished in getting elected to things, but he has yet to make his mark in any particular job.

Bush didn’t speak well, but he knew the issues and where he stood as President. Obama has been unable to understand how his radical upbringing fits into the real world decisions of the presidency. It’s going to take a lot of hard work for him to be as comfortable with decision-making as Bush and nothing in his past suggests that he is up to the task. Once the newness wears off so will the facade. At some point you have to actually judge a president based on his own accomplishments instead of his contrast to the previous leader. I hope that we can get there before the 2010 election.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


May 26, 1959 -- The Pirates' Harvey Haddix pitches a perfect game thru 12 innings and loses 1-0 in 13.

The Pirates were retired in the top of the 13th by Lew Burdette — who, like Haddix, had started the game and was still pitching.

Felix Mantilla, who was to record a lifetime batting average of .261, led off the bottom of the Braves' 13th. He hit a grounder to Don Hoak at third. Hoak appeared to take his time gripping the ball, got it right, but his throw to first baseman Rocky Nelson — who regularly fielded better than .990 — was on a bounce. Nelson could not dig it out. Hoak was given an error. The perfect game was over, but not the no-hitter.

With Mantilla at first, the Braves’ great home run hitter Eddie Mathews was up. He did something he was to do only two more times that season — hit a sacrifice bunt. It was successful, and Mantilla moved to second. Now Haddix was facing Hank Aaron, who was leading the major leagues in batting. Of course, Aaron was intentionally walked.

Then big Joe Adcock was up. He was a home run hitter who once had smacked four in a game against my Dodgers at Ebbets Field. This time, he stroked a low liner that went over the head of right fielder Roman Mejias, toward the fence about 330 feet from home.

From Aaron’s vantage point, it did not seem to clear the fence. Aaron
took off for second, saw Mantilla racing home, and Aaron thought that was the ballgame. So he touched second, then cut across the infield for the dugout. He believed the ball had landed inside the stadium and that the game was over. But the ball had cleared the fence.

Adcock continued running, though, and rounded the bases. He touched home and the plate umpire Vinnie Smith declared the game over.

But not so fast. There was some confusion. The Braves thought it was a 3-0 game, but Adcock had passed Aaron on the bases. That made Adcock out. That night, the National League president, Warren Giles, ruled that the game was actually a 1-0 affair, that Adcock’s hit was a double. And for Haddix, officially it was never ruled a no-hitter, nor a perfect game, even though it went beyond nine innings.

Haddix went on to win Game 7 of the 1960 World Series over the Yankees but nobody remembers that.

LINKS to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette archives here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Now being black is sufficient qualification in itself, and not endorsing whoever the black candidates are is racist.
Two Philadelphia state senators and the city Democratic City Committee chairman held a press conference today in front of the Philadelphia Inquirer building in support of the black female judicial candidates who did not receive the endorsement of Inquirer editorial board.

Is this what MLK had in mind?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The New York Daily News take:
Lest there be any doubt that civilian courts are precisely the wrong place for these folks, consider the prosecution of Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, who was arrested in Illinois in December 2001 and held as an enemy combatant in a Navy brig.

Al-Marri joined Al Qaeda in 1998. In 2001, he was approached by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, architect of 9/11, about becoming a sleeper agent for a second wave of attacks.

With $10,000, Al-Marri entered the country Sept. 10, 2001, researched how to make cyanide gas bombs and focused on dams, waterways and tunnels.

The facts are beyond dispute; Al-Marri confessed in a plea bargain. In return, the Justice Department agreed Al-Marri would face no more than 15 years in prison, with the possibility of having his sentence reduced by the time he has already served.

Al-Marri's term of incarceration for active confederation with the forces that attacked America, killing 3,000, is, in a word, pathetic.

Credit card fraud can carry a stiffer punishment.

It would be more of the same if he closed Gitmo and brought them here.

I heard Mike and Mike's interview with Roger Clemens this morning on ESPN Radio. After quite a buildup that Roger was taking to the airwaves to break his long silence, the actual interview provided a lot of nothing. Clemens missed his opportunity to speak straight up with the folks, and Mike and Mike missed their opportunity to make news by asking hard, direct questions. Maybe they had a softball agreement in place, sure seemed like it. What I learned is that Clemens talks to kids, lots of kids, and high school players too, and he has a foundation, and the foundation serves kids, and he likes to get out and talk to kids. Did he mention how warmly he is received by the kids he goes out to talk to?

Hall of Fame credentials are worth a great deal of money, not just ego strokes, during a ballplayer's remaining lifetime and to his heirs. That is really what Clemens is all about at this point methinks.

Thomas Sowell produced 4 great columns about this topic last week. A response of sorts from slate magazine.
Webster's defines empathy as "the experiencing as one's own the feelings of another." Obama, in The Audacity of Hope, described empathy as "a call to stand in somebody else's shoes and see through their eyes." To Obama, empathy chiefly means applying a principle his mother taught him: asking, "How would that make you feel?" before acting. Empathy in a judge does not mean stopping midtrial to tenderly clutch the defendant to your heart and weep. It doesn't mean reflexively giving one class of people an advantage over another because their lives are sad or difficult. When the president talks about empathy, he talks not of legal outcomes but of an intellectual and ethical process: the ability to think about the law from more than one perspective.

It's funny that this writer seems to know exactly what the President means while everyone suspects that empathy in the law is supposed to right those wrongs the legislature didn't get around to righting. We suspect this because every other liberal nominated to the court since the 1950s crusaded instead of applying the law.

The court has already become a super legislature that answers to no one and Obama is asking that a potential justice be willing to peek through the blindfold.

Monday, May 11, 2009


What she said doesn't surprise me, but I am surprised by how many people seem to be surprised. It's not worth blogging about except that James Taranto has a larger point about why it's funny to the Left.
The answer, it seems clear, is that this is an example of shock humor: a genre that relies on the frisson of violating taboos. By our count, Sykes runs afoul of five taboos in her Limbaugh joke: She equates dissent with treason. She likens a domestic political opponent to a foreign enemy. She makes fun of the disabled (Limbaugh's past addiction to painkillers would entitle him to protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act). She makes light of a form of interrogation that some people consider torture. And she wishes somebody dead.

Except for the last one, these are all taboos that liberals promote and enforce with especial vigor. If a conservative violated any one of them, he would be on the inside track to be named "Worst Person in the World" by that NBC blowhard (as indeed Feherty was).

What makes Sykes's joke funny to a liberal, then, is the sense of danger that accompanies her risky themes, combined with the secure knowledge that since the joke is at the expense of a liberal hate figure, the usual rules do not apply. It's the same reason people on the left evince particular glee when they attack Clarence Thomas or Michael Steele in expressly racist terms, or when they use antigay innuendo against their political opponents (regardless of the latter's sexual orientation).

One of the great PC tricks of the Left is making certain words and thoughts by the Right taboo. They reserve the ability to go down those roads to attack members of the Right before locking the thoughts and words up again for the sake of decency.

Buck Martinez made an interesting point today on XM's Baseball This Morning regarding whether DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak will ever be broken. He thinks not, because Joe faced 73 pitchers in those 56 games, whereas today a hitter would face any number of pitchers that he had not seen before, or had seen little. Deep in games, Joe would have seen the pitcher 3 or 4 times already. Buck cited games during the streak in which Joe saw the same pitcher 5 times and finally collected a hit. Now a hitter faces situational matchups designed specifically to get him out. Scott Graham's argument was weak but maybe right: that statistically anything is possible, and other records we never thought would fall have fallen.

Speaking of fallen, the Bucs started off 11-7 and have since lost 12 of 13, so they're out of it by mid-May and I can turn my attention to the Phils.

We saw a minor league game Saturday night and my younger son watched the whole game (and consumed many treats) without complaining, so I have entered the Golden Age of parenting. My older son scored the game, prompting the couple behind us to whisper how clever we were to find a way to keep him occupied, but he has been scoring games for years at his own initiative. He even tracks balls and strikes and the fielded location and relative arc of batted balls.

In other baseball news, apparently there is an ambidextrous pitcher having success in the Yankees system. There have been others who could throw both ways (Tulane pitcher and future Major League Gene Harris could do it while I was there in the 80s, but never actually switched arms on the mound as far as I know), but this guy is both an anomaly and a success. The catch is you have to start training the kid to do everything with either hand when he is 3.

You can see something right now that hasn't been around in baseball since the late 1800s: a switch-pitcher.

His name is Pat Venditte, he's 23, and he's pro baseball's only ambidextrous pitcher. This living piece of history is more than a YouTube star; he's throwing almost daily for the Charleston RiverDogs, the Yankees' Single-A club. And he's not just throwing: He's blowing through hitters like a Cub Scout through Skittles. At one point in April, the closer's ERA was 0.00 in 6 1/3 innings, and he hadn't blown a save in five games.

Last season, he had 23 saves for the Staten Island Yankees, with a 0.83 ERA. And best of all, the kid can relieve himself!

He wears a specially made six-fingered Mizuno glove with two thumbs. (His Dominican teammates call him Pulpo, Spanish for "octopus.") When he warms up, he throws four pitches righty and four lefty.

I feel bad for Dodgers management who were daily reaping from all things Manny and then this. And for all the dads who get to explain to their kids, as I did, that Manny will make $15m this year for cheating and will be joyfully welcomed back after his 50 games off. But eventually he becomes a rich retired ballplayer who everbody knows is a cheater, and he will pay that price forever. (I didn't ask what they would have done in Manny's situation; $15m buys a lot of Skittles.)

Friday, May 08, 2009


Megan Mcardle has the lowdown on why the bailouts are all about the unions:
Chrysler is a good company caught in a bad situation. Chrysler has been a bad headache for years. Daimler bought it for $36 billion in 1998, and actually paid $650 million to have Cerebrus take the company off their hands in 2007.

The hedge funds benefited from the government money, so they're getting more than they would have otherwise.
As far as I know, Chrysler has burned basically all the cash they got from the government, which is why they're in bankruptcy. They haven't bought exciting new assets the secureds can liquidate; they've just produced more cars that can't be sold at a profit, put more wear and tear on machinery, etc. The deal they made with Fiat doesn't put any cash into the company.

The administration isn't kowtowing to the unions; it's trying to prevent massive job loss. Chrysler employs about 60,000 people. This is a rounding error in the number of jobs that have been lost since this recession began.

To put it another way, we could have taken the $8 billion or so we gave to Chrysler and given every one of the company's employees $133,000 to start their own War on Poverty, while still providing much of their pensions through the PBGC. Of cours, the new Chrysler is going to cut many of those jobs, so the cost of actual jobs saved will probably top $200K per. For as long as the company lasts. Which most analysts do not expect to be long, given that their super secret surprise scheme for turning everything around is to have Chrysler sell retooled Fiats to a country with one-seventh the population density and almost twice the birthrate of Italy.

Good points all. Here is Business Insider.

Thursday, May 07, 2009



A couple of days ago I posted the Hiroshima history inspired by the Daily Show. May was on the show to talk about the memos and whether the United States tortured anyone. Dude said that Obama had a point and I rejoined that Obama was being disingenuous.

Here are some of May's points:
Obama's top intelligence official, Admiral Dennis Blair, says these techniques produced "high-value information" that gave the U.S. government "a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."

Former CIA director, Gen. Michael Hayden, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey recently wrote: "As late as 2006, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of Al Qaeda came from those [coercive] interrogations."

Former CIA Director George Tenet has said, "I know that this program has saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than [what] the FBI, the [CIA], and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."

Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said, "We have people walking around in this country that are alive today because this process happened."

Many other top intelligence officials say the same: coercive interrogations are the only way we have to get life-saving information out of trained, hardened al-Qaeda terrorists.

I think the evidence is clear. But if others do not, let's release the "effectiveness memos" as former Vice President Cheney has requested and let's release other data on this question. Perhaps at this point we need a national debate on security and morality.

By not releasing the memos, Obama and company can make people think the worst instead of analyzing the actual events. His supporters have been yelling torture since before the 2004 election and they won't be happy with a conclusion that says otherwise so therefore the memos and an honest discussion on the issue cannot take place.
Look, we know this: Khalid Sheikh Mohamed was captured. He said: "I want a lawyer." He didn't get one - I know some people think he deserved one but he's not a criminal defendant or an honorable prisoner of war. The Geneva Convention does not cover him - even Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder has said that.

Later, they asked KSM over and over: "Will there be another attack?" He would just smile and say: "Soon you will see."

Now maybe you think asking him again and adding pretty please with a cherry on top would have produced results in time. The intelligence officials didn't think that. They went to the Justice Department and said: "What can we do? How far can we go to save lives?" And they got the information they needed -- and we haven't had another attack on American soil since.

And after being waterboarded and suffering other coercive methods in 2002, Abu Zubaydah explained that he and his "brothers" were permitted to give up information - only once interrogators pushed them to the limit of their endurance. At that point, he provided information that helped the CIA capture terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh.

The current administration appears to have ruled out any coercive techniques: No sleep deprivation - not even for a night. No loud music - it drives the terrorists crazy! So it's torture! Better to let the attack proceed. The victims and their families surely will understand.

We basically have three weapons against terrorists: capture them, interrogate them, kill them. But there's no point in capturing if you can't effectively interrogate, so that leaves just killing. How do you justify that? How do you say, yes you can hit that terrorist with a Predator missile but you can't make him listen to Shady Slim?

I would hope that President Obama would change his mind. I would hope he would say to his advisors: "Give me a list of all the techniques that are effective. I'll take a red pen and cross out the ones we will never use no matter what. But I'll circle the ones that may be used if I'm asked -- and if I give specific authorization. As for other techniques that are clearly not torture but may inflict discomfort, there will be detailed guidelines and I want the director of the CIA to sign off every time they are used.

This sounds reasonable to me. Since we rarely have a debate on here I welcome Dude to identify the chicanery in May's depiction or conclusions.

The TV debate was more rancorous. Here it is:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Wednesday, May 06, 2009



Dr. Sowell and another gem.
Would you want to go into court to appear before a judge with "empathy" for groups A, B and C, if you were a member of groups X, Y or Z? Nothing could be further from the rule of law. That would be bad news, even in a traffic court, much less in a court that has the last word on your rights under the Constitution of the United States.

Appoint enough Supreme Court justices with "empathy" for particular groups and you would have, for all practical purposes, repealed the 14th Amendment, which guarantees "equal protection of the laws" for all Americans.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009



Much has been made by the Democrats in their latest attempt to demonize the Republicans and create a new moniker for them. Their latest efforts is in calling the Republicans the "Party of No." But there is more to this than meets the eye. In fact the Democrats are correct in form if not in intent. When I first heard this statement I was immediately reminded of a wise saying by my old Philosophy Professor "To Know something first begin by no-ing it. To no it, is to Know it and vice versa." What does this mean precisely? When humans first begin to learn language and learn we have choices or determination we begin exerting these new powers by saying, "no." Any parent of a 2 year old will tell you one of the reasons the terrible 2's are so terrible is because the 2 year old is saying no to everything. We know what we don't want before we know what we do want. This cognitive propensity continues into our adulthood. For example, if you go to a restaurant with a large menu you may not be certain immediately what you want. You may begin with narrowing your options by eliminating what you know you do not want before you arrive at what you do want. This is a process that happens anytime that there are a large number of choices.

Likewise, when the framers of the U.S. Constitution met to explore precisely how they were to create a new government, they too had many choices from the present as well as historical forms of government. They began the process of framing the constitution by saying no. The U.S. Constitution is a document that uses the words "no" and "not" dozens of times. The Future of Freedom Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, reports that the U.S. Constitution was a terribly shocking document when it was first written, especially to rulers all over the world. Because here were a people who were placing themselves in the role of master and placing government in the role of servant. In other words, in one fell swoop, the American people had inverted the historical relationship between citizen and government.

But there was a logic behind their actions. Think back to the Declaration of Independence. Expressing the commonly held sentiments of the people in that document, Thomas Jefferson had said that man has been endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights and that governments are instituted to protect those rights.

That was why the people of the United States called into existence a federal government — to protect rights that preexisted the government they were calling into existence.

Notice that they could have called into existence a government that had omnipotent powers over the citizenry. They did not do that. After all, that was the nature of the government they had recently rebelled against.

Instead, they created a government whose powers were limited to those enumerated in a document. They told the Government NO! It was the first time in history that people had had the audacity to limit the powers of their own governmental officials, by repeatedly saying "NO" to the powers of the government.

For example, Article 1, Section 8, sets forth the powers of Congress. Whether you believe that all of these enumerated powers are proper or not, one fact is indisputable: that the powers of Congress were indeed limited. In other words, if the powers of Congress were unlimited, there would have been no reason to enumerate specific powers. By listing the specific powers, the Founders made it clear that the federal government’s powers over the people were not omnipotent.

To clarify matters even more, the Founders enumerated specific restrictions on the powers of both the federal and state governments. See, for example, Article 1, Sections 9 and 10, and notice the number of times that the words “no” and “not” are used.

Look at the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The Founders didn't list every possible way religion or speech, or the press could be formed. They in their wisdom understood that was impossible. Rather, they limited the Government by saying "No." Most of the Bill of Rights are written this way.

Thomas Jefferson understood the sole purpose of good Government was to protect the freedom and liberty of it's people. When Government begins to grow beyond it's constitutional limits and threatens that very liberty it was originally designed to protect, it is then time for the American People to rise up and say with a loud and resounding voice, "No!"

And that is why, I am proud to be part of the party of "No."

Sunday, May 03, 2009



I'm not sure if any of you all have seen it, but Rio Bravo is my favorite Western and maybe my favorite movie of all-time. I first saw it in High School during the summer when Brother John and I stayed up all night to catch it on some Texas station when we had a satellite Dish in Indiana. I have seen it again and again and it never ceases to entertain. Here is Big Hollywood's take.
The next time you watch Bravo pay close attention to the compositions, most of which are medium-wide shots, with the camera at chest level. There are virtually no close-ups in the picture, a gutsy decision at a time when technique was becoming far more elaborate in Hollywood fare. In hindsight, it was a bold choice that enhanced the languorous, easygoing byplay between the film’s charismatic stars. Director Michael Powell once said that Hawks “had a very deep understanding of people, what was inside people.” The relaxed purposefulness of Rio Bravo’s confident compositions allows a rare richness of character to shine through.

Here is Hawks talking about the movie:
I like things like — I think it was in Rio Bravo — Wayne went over to a man and said, “So nobody ran in here?” Some man said, “Nobody ran in here.” And Wayne went like this and hit him right across here with a gun so blood was coming all over his face. And Dean Martin said, “Take it easy, Chance.” And Wayne turned and said, “I’m not going to hurt him.” The audience laughed so at that.

I anticipate that moment every time.
Most crucially, it was director Hawks who crafted John Wayne’s character into a master not only of action but of reaction, in the process establishing an overriding feeling of camaraderie that makes the film endlessly rewatchable. “John Wayne represents more force, more power than anyone else on screen,” Hawks claimed, and yet by dint of directorial will the star of Rio Bravo becomes everyone else’s straight man. During the course of the plot the Duke gets socked by Dean Martin (twice!), is verbally out-dueled by the precocious Ricky Nelson, suffers the outrageous behavior of Walter Brennan, is relentlessly teased by the ever-flirtatious Angie Dickinson, and is continuously rescued by all of the above. “You give everybody else the fireworks,” Wayne grumbled to Hawks at one point, “but I have to carry the damn thing.”

Wayne spends virtually the entire film loaning his star power to others in this fashion, not acting so much as reacting, and using those reactions to give his co-stars a much brighter spotlight in which to shine. Indisputably, we have Howard Hawks to thank for that. The Duke was known to sometimes distrust and argue with lesser directors, but along with John Ford only Howard Hawks commanded his absolute respect. “Hawks I trust with my life,” he once declared, a sentiment amply proven by the fearless bigheartedness of his performance in Rio Bravo.

The Wall Street Journal also has a nice story.


QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You've said in the past that waterboarding, in your opinion, is torture. Torture is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions. Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?

OBAMA: What I've said -- and I will repeat -- is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.

I would explain why it is torture, but I will instead say that other people think it's torture too.

I am absolutely convinced it was the right thing to do, not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.

2 years in the Senate, 2 years on the campaign trail, no real career beforehand and yet an expert in counter-terrorism that could have gotten anything out of these guys without making them uncomfortable.

I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, "We don't torture," when the entire British -- all of the British people were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat.

Germany was a signer of the Geneva Convention and al Qaeda was not. We shot 200 Germans by firing squad during the Battle of the Bulge because they impersonated American soldiers although it would be retroactively inconsistent with Obama's values.

And then the reason was that Churchill understood, you start taking short-cuts, over time, that corrodes what's -- what's best in a people. It corrodes the character of a country.

On the economy of course we need all the shortcuts I can dream up.

And -- and so I strongly believed that the steps that we've taken to prevent these kinds of enhanced interrogation techniques will make us stronger over the long term and make us safer over the long term because it will put us in a -- in a position where we can still get information.

Check out that answer. He's in the enhanced interrogation prevention business. It will make us stronger because it will put us in a position where we can still get information. Lighting my car on fire will make me stronger because it will still put me in a position where I can still get to work on Monday.

In some cases, it may be harder, but part of what makes us, I think, still a beacon to the world is that we are willing to hold true to our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy.

But not for the economy where we must spend the money of generations yet to come to maintain whatever creature comforts voters want now.

At the same time, it takes away a critical recruitment tool that Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations have used to try to demonize the United States and justify the killing of civilians.

Terrorists are simple folk just running the fruit cart for a meager living when they hear a report on NPR about innocent countrymen dunked into water in Cuba and they join the cause (without even pledging support to their local NPR station).

And it makes us -- it puts us in a much stronger position to work with our allies in the kind of international, coordinated intelligence activity that can shut down these networks.

Bush never worked with the allies. Any intelligence they sent he put it through the shredder.

So this is a decision that I'm very comfortable with. And I think the American people over time will recognize that it is better for us to stick to who we are, even when we're taking on an unscrupulous enemy.

Let's get back to treating these people as jaywalkers.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Let me follow up, if I may, on Jake's question. Did you read the documents recently referred to by former Vice President Cheney and others saying that the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" not only protected the nation but saved lives?

And if part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?

OBAMA: I have read the documents. Now they have not been officially declassified and released. And so I don't want to go to the details of them. But here's what I can tell you, that the public reports and the public justifications for these techniques, which is that we got information from these individuals that were subjected to these techniques, doesn't answer the core question.

Which is, could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn't answer the broader question, are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?

The underlying premise is that the Bush Administration was just too lazy or sadistic to do it the hard way. Does even the most staunch leftists believe that? But how many of the Far Left want these tactics to end because they were successful?

So when I made the decision to release these memos and when I made the decision to bar these practices, this was based on consultation with my entire national security team, and based on my understanding that ultimately I will be judged as commander-in-chief on how safe I'm keeping the American people.

Yes, I think we know that a president has consultants and a legacy.

That's the responsibility I wake up with and it's the responsibility I go to sleep with. And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe. But I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking short cuts that undermine who we are.

Is this idealism or veiled cynicism? Sometimes I'm not sure with him. Is the best way to keep us safe to live up to some imagined ideal? He needs to be a realistic leader here and say that there are no solutions in the war on terror just trade offs. He would rather trade a few more American lives not to look bad to his international friends. The American people will get to decide if he traded too many.

And there have been no circumstances during the course of this first 100 days in which I have seen information that would make me second guess the decision that I have made. OK?

I think this is an important point. Being President is the first job that Barrack Obama has ever had with real decision-making responsibilities. And so in his experience, so far so good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


So here we are, 100 days into the great eight-year triumph of Hope over Change, a new Era of Really Good Feelings in which only one thing has become increasingly, even irrefutably, clear: President Barack Obama is about as visionary as the guy who invented Dippin' Dots, Ice Cream of the Future. Far from sketching out a truly forward-looking set of policies for the 21st century, as his supporters had hoped, Obama is instead serving up cryogenically tasteless and headache-inducing morsels from years gone by.

Consider the president's recent "major" speech about transportation, yet another Castro-like exhortation in which Obama boldly rejected the failed policies of the past in favor of the failed policies of the future.

In nearly every key area of policy concern, from industrial bailouts to massive deficits, from Afghanistan to the Middle East, from education to energy, the president's standard operating or reach back into the Carter playbook for ideas that didn't work back then, either. All while rhetorically valuing "good ideas ahead of old ideological battles."

Obama's typical M.O. is to proclaim a new era of responsibility while ushering in a new era of irresponsible debt, promise to close the revolving door of lobbyists and government while keeping it open, and vow to post all bills online for five days without doing anything of the sort. He says the bailout is "not about helping banks—it's about helping people," then gives more of the people's money to banks. He says he doesn't want to run General Motors, then fires its CEO, guarantees its warranties, and wags his finger about the company's surplus of brands. He says he's taking a battle-axe to the budget, then offers to shave $100 million off a $3.4 trillion tab. At his gee-whiz, interactive, online town hall meeting, he laughed off the most popular question asked by web viewers—should marijuana be legalized—with a lame joke before embracing the status quo like Jimmy Carter hugging a Third World dictator.

Reason thinks that such policies will ultimately fail with moderates once they tire of the shtick.