Monday, July 24, 2006

Trouble at NRSC Corral

Interesting news and comment about Elizabeth Dole's efforts as chairwoman of the National Republican Senate Committee:
Senator Dole has been the victim of horrible timing. It's tough to be a Republican, right now. ...
But, if there is any room for criticism of the NRSC -- and Senator Dole's leadership -- it lies in their unwavering support of liberal Republicans, such as Lincoln Chafee. Granted, it may be part of the NRSC's charter to support all Republicans, but to what degree they support these candidates is a matter of discretion.
The Doles have never been trusted by conservatives. Bob Dole was once famously denounced by Newt Gingrich as "the tax collector for the Welfare State." He was also known as "the Senator from Archer Daniels Midland." Dole's 1996 presidential campaign was a waste of time and money. By Labor Day, everybody in the GOP knew there was no hope for Dole to win.

Despite conventional wisdom that the GOP is vulnerable this year in the House, I think the greater danger to Republicans is in the Senate, because of guys like Santorum (who was forced to walk the plank for Specter, thus alienating his pro-life base) and Mike DeWine (an open-borders enthusiast).


Do the (Non-Profit) Hustle!

So I'm over at Dan Riehl's site, in which he attempts the impossible task of taking Glenn "Lambchop" Greenwald seriously. And I read this about Greenwald:
He's propped himself up to be something he isn't and it led to Working Assets, in effect, paying him to write a book. Yet, as a first time author, he had 4 or 5 researchers, including a lawyer, an editor, and some others. He has also thanked Jennifer Nix for contributing to his book and spent another 20 hours with his formal editor before typing a word.
Having arrived late at this particular fisking (misplaced my VRWC secret decoder ring last week), I was forced to ask myself, "What the heck is Working Assets?" So I found out:
Working Assets was established in 1985 to help busy people make a difference in the world through everyday activities like talking on the phone. Every time a customer uses one of Working Assets' donation-linked services (Long Distance, Wireless and Credit Card), the company donates a portion of the charges to nonprofit groups working to build a world that is more just, humane, and environmentally sustainable. To date, over $50 million has been raised for progressive causes.
Yuck. A non-profit that hustles gullible liberals on behalf of the professional activists who run such festering sores on the body politic as Friends of the Earth, the Brady Center, Planned Parenthood, Veterans for Peace, and (I'm not making this up) Parents for Public Schools.

Non-profit scams

Let me explain something about non-profit organizations: Just because they're "non-profit" doesn't mean that the career "activists" who run them don't get paid. And in nearly every instance, I'll guess, the CEOs of these outfits are collecting six-figure salaries that far exceed the average income of the earnest donors who -- thinking they are advancing "progressive causes" -- donate to the non-profits via Working Assets.

Such "charity" thus involves convincing middle-class donors to give money that pays the salaries of professional activists who are in the top 2% of all U.S. income earners. It's Robin Hood in reverse.

C'mon: What's the salary of the CEO of the Brady Center? Or what are the salaries of the 5 highest-paid employees of Planned Parenthood? Do you think that even 1% of Working Assets donors have ever asked such a question? Of course not.

And here's another question the clueless liberal donor never asks: What's in it for me? In other words, by giving to some "progressive" non-profit, am I actually accomplishing anything toward the triumph of progressivism? Will this help elect Democrats?

We know that Working Assets has turned Glenn Greenwald into a bestselling author who's honeymooning in romantic Rio with a beau who may (or may not) be his partner in sock puppetry. What we don't know is exactly how the heck Greenwald's good fortune is going to help beat Karl Rove and the GOP on Nov. 7. But if I were a believer in "progressive causes," I think I'd want to know the answer to questions like that.

The 'activism' scam

This is a major reason, I would say, why conservatives routinely mop the floor with liberals. With their Calvinistic understanding of Original Sin and a fallen universe, conservatives are much more skeptical of "causes" and the activists who claim to advance them. Trust me, there are right-wing ripoff artists just like there are left-wing ripoff artists, but ripping off liberals is infinitely easier because liberals are just so dang gullible.

A true believer and his money are soon parted, as George Soros and other wealthy liberals may eventually discover. If I were Soros (or any other major liberal donor), I'd spend part of my wealth on some private detectives to ask such questions as:
  • These professional activists, who derive their incomes from my politically-motivated "philanthropy" -- where do they live? What is the assessed value of their homes? Have any of them recently purchased vacation homes?
  • How much time do these aforesaid activists spend working on what I am supposedly paying them to do?
  • How much expense-paid travel are the activists billing to the "cause," and what are the destinations of their travels?
  • If the non-profits are hiring outside consultants and contractors, can we ascertain that these are legitimate firms doing useful work directly related to the purpose of the organization?
Every since I took a freelance assignment in 2004 to write about, I've developed a nagging suspicion that vast amounts of liberal largesse are being soaked up by "activist" types who aren't exactly providing an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Soros and his rich friends spent jillions via 527s to defeat Bush in 2004, yet Bush got a higher percentage of the popular vote than any presidential candidate in 16 years. How does that make sense?

I don't have the time or inclination to go chasing this particular hunch. Honestly, if professional activists are partying away millions of dollars in liberal donations with expense-paid trips to exotic resorts, that's a hidden advantage to conservatism that I wouldn't want to see exposed. So if any such scam is afoot, the liberals will have to expose it themselves.

But just in case any liberal happens to have clicked over to this site and read this far, let me point out a bit of recent history: A key aspect of Jack Abramoff's scam involved a non-profit "think tank" whose headquarters was a mansion in Rehoboth Beach, Del., staffed by a yoga instructor and a lifeguard.

If Republicans do that kind of stuff, just imagine what insane tricks the party of Al "Beach Boy" Mollohan and William "Cold Cash" Jefferson might be up to!


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ko$ for $ale!

First, Nancy Pelosi backstabs William Jefferson and the CBC, and now we must ask: Has Markos Moulitsas Zuniga sold out to Cynthia McKinney's opponent? Dummie Funnies says yes:

You might not be able to buy Kos's support with Blogola payments via advertising or the Unknown Jerome "consulting" fees but at least you can buy Kos's silence which is just as important. Poor Joe Lieberman. Had he only paid big bucks for a Daily Kos ad months ago, he could have spared himself the agony of a close race with Kos-supported Ned Lamont.

One Kossack is ALL-CAPS ANGRY:
WHY IS KOS ALLOWING ADVERTISING FOR HER OPPONENT, a Republican stooge, Hank Johnson? This is a guy that Diebold could really get behind. Why is Kos behind it too?
Hey, man, it pays Markos' bills! Besides, as Dan Riehl points out, the whole DailyKos environment is pretty much a Caucasian thing.

But if you want the real explanation for Cynthia's problems, just ask Billy McKinney:

"Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-E-W-S."


Joe-Mentum or No-Mentum?

Two views of Joe Lieberman in today's Hartford Courant:
  • Go Joe by Reps. Rosa DeLauro and John B. Larson, both Connecticut Democrats.
  • No More Joe by Irving Stolberg, former Democratic speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
Stolberg gives his game away with this kind of rhetorical bombast:
And his defense of an incompetent president, a vice president who fits the dictionary definition of fascism and an extremist administration that has perpetrated torture, illegal eavesdropping and a general shredding of the Constitution is insulting to the people who elected him in the first place.

You can love or hate the Bush administration, but "the dictionary definition of fascism" is not a phrase intended for persuasion. On whom has this "extremist administration" illegally eavesdropped? Can Stolberg cited even one example? But this is not an argument, it's a sermon preached directly to the choir. Stolberg is parading his Bush-hating credentials before a presumed audience of anti-war Dems, courting the crowd's applause.

Remember when Joe Klein at least tried to pretend that he was an objective reporter/analyst? Check out the peroration of Klein's latest partisan stump speech in Time:
Joe Lieberman is, without question, one of the finest men I've known in public life. I could never imagine myself voting against him. But he was profoundly wrong about the most important issue of the past five years — and now, at the very least, he has to acknowledge that there's an elephant sitting in the pickup truck.

That Connecticut Kool-Aid must be some powerful stuff.


Buckley on Dubya

This is about the only way Bill Buckley could ever get favorable coverage by CBS:
"If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says.
Asked if the Bush administration has been distracted by Iraq, Buckley says "I think it has been engulfed by Iraq, by which I mean no other subject interests anybody other than Iraq. ... The continued tumult in Iraq has overwhelmed what perspectives one might otherwise have entertained with respect to, well, other parts of the Middle East with respect to Iran in particular." ...
"I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology — with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress, and in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge," Buckley says. Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. … So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable."
Who can argue? Except for tax cuts, Bush's domestic agenda is ... well, "indecipherable" is a good word. Of course, the 9/11 attack completely re-focused the Bush presidency and the administration's defenders would say that the invasion of Iraq was necessary to the war on terror.

How we got here

It should be remembered that in 2002, when the administration began beating the drums for war with Iraq, the Democrats in Congress insisted on a debate. At that time, the Democrats overwhelmingly endorsed the administration's claims that the Iraqi WMD program and Saddam's defiance of the U.N. were legitimate grounds for war. (In 1998, the Clinton administration had made the same arguments.)

The thing that must be remembered about 2002 is this: The White House and leaders of both parties in Congress expected a cakewalk in Iraq. And, at least so far as conventional warfare was concerned, they were right: From the first bomb until the fall of Baghdad took just three weeks. The vaunted Republican Guards were destroyed (or ran away), the dictator and his henchmen went into hiding or fled the country. U.S. combat casualties in the invasion and conquest of Iraq were about 400 dead; considering that Saddam's armed forces had once been the fourth-largest military in the world, this was not a particularly heavy toll.

The war was a success, but the subsequent peace has been marred by what most call an "insurgency," but which is actually a brutal terror campaign -- roadside bombings and kidnappings. (Very few U.S. casualties in the current phase are the result of small-arms fire, or even mortar attacks.) The terrorists are mostly foreigners, who are recruited, funded and supported by Iran, Syria and al-Qaeda. This is not to say that there are no Iraqis involved. But the Iraqis know that the U.S. forces can't leave until order is restored, so they have an interest in stopping the violence. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis, then, are opposed to this terrorism, which is killing more Iraqi civilians than U.S. troops.

What's happening

Iran, Syria and al-Qaeda know that the continued large-scale U.S. presence in Iraq is an irritant, so the terrorists -- backed by outside forces -- are escalating the violence in order to force U.S. troops to remain. Why? So they can inflict a Mogadishu-style humiliation on the United States.

Ever since Vietnam, America's enemies have believed that the U.S. does not have the resolve to sustain military operations long-term, if such operations mean significant numbers of casualties. To these enemies, our unwillingness to fight -- if fighting means U.S. casualties -- is weakness and cowardice.

No less an authority than Osama bin Laden has said that it is this weakness, as exemplified by the U.S. retreat from Somalia after the "Black Hawk Down" incident, that inspired al-Qaeda's belief that it could attack America with impunity. In the Third World, strength is admired and weakness reviled. Because of America's retreat after one battle, we were "a weak horse," and Osama reckoned that the Islamic world would rally behind the "strong horse" of al-Qaeda.
When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.
-- Osama bin Laden, 2001
Whether or not the U.S. invasion of Iraq was wise or good, it has accomplished one thing: It has put American troops on the ground facing al-Qaeda-backed terrorists. Thus, the American military has the opportunity to refute bin Laden's argument, to show that our troops are not afraid to fight in defense of freedom.

This refutation has cost the lives of 2,500 U.S. soldiers -- and the blood of thousands of others wounded -- but this is really a belated payment for more than 40 years of an American foreign policy based on risk-avoidance. The current mess might never have occurred, had it not been for ill-advised actions in Somalia and elsewhere.

Osama's assessment was entirely correct. People prefer the strong horse to the weak horse, and ever since 1968, U.S. policy has put us into the "weak horse" role, at least from the Third World perspective. What Osama did not understand, however, is this: The policies pursued by the American political elite do not necessarily reflect the wishes, interests or character of the American people.

I believe that the American people understand the stakes in Iraq. The American people understand that, if the U.S. military retreats in the face of a haphazard terrorism campaign carried out by a ragtag bunch of young fanatics, this will embolden fanatics everywhere.

Having expended the lives of 2,500 soldiers already, will we not stick it out another year or two -- risking perhaps another 800-1,000 U.S. deaths -- in order to crush the terrorists, and to establish a stable government in Iraq?

Dying for a mistake?

John Kerry likes to talk about war in terms of asking someone to be the last man to die for a mistake. This is foolish. Mistaken or not, wars end in victory for one side and defeat for the other. Having voted to send Americans to war -- back when he expected it to be an easy and popular affair -- Kerry's regrets now are worse than useless. Once war has commenced, the achievement of victory is the only proper object of the statesman.

One might argue that the War of 1812 was a U.S. policy blunder brought about by the anti-British resentments and expansionist ambitions of the "War Hawks," and thus that the last American killed in the Battle of New Orleans "died for a mistake." But New Orleans was a U.S. victory, the war enhanced American prestige in Europe, and the war did, after all, give us our national anthem -- inspired by the bombardment of Ft. McHenry.

Mistakes? I consider the Spanish-American War a folly, and I am still waiting for someone to tell me what good America accomplished by its intervention in World War One. And the 1999 war with Serbia - what was that about? But thinking such foreign adventures a fool's errand does not require me to cheer for American defeat, or to urge that we stop fighting merely because the fighting is difficult and deadly.

War means fighting, and fighting means killing, as Nathan Bedford Forrest once said. If the United States wishes to be as pacifist as Sweden or France, it may be that we may avoid wars in the future ... or not. But I hope that, the next time war fever strikes Congress, someone will speak up to remind them that wars don't always go as planned. Sometimes wars drag on and become unpopular. I hope, before they commit their nation's troops to fight another war, our leaders will be prepared to explain to several thousand American mothers and fathers -- and wives and children -- why their loved ones had to die in some god-forsaken desert or jungle.

It is obvious to me that Democrats like Kerry who voted for the war in 2002 weren't thinking about any of this. They were thinking about the elections, and their own ambitions. Now the Democrats (and not a few Republicans) want to blame the Bush administration for all that's gone wrong in Iraq and pretend that their Monday-morning quarterbacking is "courageous." It's really gutless irresponsibility. If they really believed their own rhetoric, then those who voted for the war but have since turned against it would resign from Congress. But they don't do that, do they?

The only fitting epithet: Weak horses!