Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Random Debate Comments

Lots of bashing of the president’s incompetence. Giuliani has decided to be THE competent, assertive guy when it comes to foreign policy and the war, and he was good--although the call for training nation-building soldiers at this point is a bit much. He’s also did well in positioning himself on immigration. He’s now simply running as a pro-choice candidate (with now not even a bow to judicial restraint) on the premise that abortion etc. aren’t important in our critical national security time. Whether based in honesty or expediency or both, his stand does clarify things. McCain also sounded tough and competent on the war etc.--although making the conflict between good and evil "transcendent" also seems a bit much. This immigration thing is killing him though. (I don’t see how his immigration view or Giuliani’s abortion etc. view coud possibly lead either to the nomination or to the united party the Reps. really, really need in November.) I had trouble focusing on Romney this time, although he didn’t outrage me even for a moment. Huckabee is a very eloquent man (even on the willful or moral dimension of foreign policy), and he may end up being a force in the primaries. At this point his momentum is building slowly, although his emphatic, even beautiful creationism is probably not a recipe for success in November. Generally, the transcript doesn’t make the array of candidates available for next year look bad at all, but it’s also not very interesting viewing or reading. I don’t know when the next one is scheduled, but it shouldn’t be until something like November.

Discussions - 28 Comments

Giuliani settling down on one side of the abortion issue is refreshing, and will probably do him good. You may not agree with him but at least you can trust him. I think.

Romney is coming across more and more as a GOP version of Kerry, and McCain as a feisty old man. Tommy Thompson did a decent job at trying to seperate himself from Fred Thompson. Ron Paul and Tancredo did okay, I believe. But, I think you hit it dead on about Giuliani-- he came across as honest and the best choice for national security.

Giuliani is indeed the guy who laid down some pretty bright markers last night. He intends to out imperial McCain with his rather emphatic neo-Wilsonianism (or maybe just trying to make the current war into an imperial humanitarian war, Clintonism plus Bushism). This could be trouble down the road. He also went further than I've heard him go in indicating he thinks Roe was rightly decided. I don't have the transcript in front of me, but he alluded to a constitutional right in connection with the woman's choice. We heard the first question about his Catholicism. Although he could profitably tweak his answer by explicitly affirming that Church teaching is correct, which is not entirely inconsistent with his position, few Catholics will take umbrage at a fellow Catholic refusing to engage a Bishop in a political context. I am also very tired of the putting women in jail canard, but I suppose it tests well. (Is it shorthand for saying that abortion restrictions couldn't be enforced? A version of the science can't be regulated position?) I disagree slightly with Peter on how he handled the immigration bill. I don't really think he distinguished himself from its advocates. His objections are to means rather than ends, he took the same tack as McCain did at first in treating it as a national security issue instead of a national one, and I strongly suspect he privately favors it. He joined with everyone else in beating up on Tancredo toward the end who had taken the Peggy Noonan position that we need a moratorium, that had most of NLT cheering a few days ago. One issue is the rule of law, but Peggy and Tom are correct that the even deeper one is the nation and the culture. By the way, McCain did the bill no good by blurting out at the end that America means no fences. Getting back to Rudy, I agree that he was strongest, mostly because he was the old engaging bon vivant we expected to show up someday. But there are pitfalls down the pike, and Peter is right that neither Rudy nor John would seem at this point to be able to lead a united party should they be nominated. I wanted to see Fred.

What Rudy is personally on the abortion issue is meaningless to me.

What I need to know is what kind of justices he would appoint to the Supreme Court. THAT'S decisive. What kind of lawyers is he going to appoint throughout his Executive Branch, who will he appoint as Solicitor General, Attorney General?

George W. Bush campaigned as a pro-life candidate, as did he father. His father slipped in Souter on the advice of Sununu, Rudman and Card. And the President KNEW full well that Card, Rudman and Sununu were Rockefeller Republicans who were pro-choice, and hostile to the Conservative wing of the Party.

His son, after REPEATEDLY saying he wanted judges like "Scalia and Thomas" wanted to appoint Gonzales, and when he was warned away from that selection, he later went with Meirs, who carried with her the recommendation of Harry Reid.

So right now, I don't give two damns what they have to say on the campaign trail, for our last two Presidents haven't felt themselves in the slightest degree tethered to their campaign promises and stump positions.

I want a promise that he will NOT depart from the platform of the GOP on legal issues, and I want a promise that he will take no action INCONSISTENT with the platform of the party on legal and judicial appointments.

I have another question.

Where is Steve Hayward in all of this?

This is a guy who spent a great deal of time studying the Presidencies of LBJ, Nixon and Ford. So if anyone is capable of writing intelligently on where this President is taking the country and the party, it's Steve Hayward.

Now I know that he's out there taking on the Goracle, one of the era's false messiahs. And I'm well aware that such a task is taking a great deal of his time.

But this issue, immigration and the direction of this Bush Presidency is a HUGE thing.

I feel like Nimitz sending out that message to Halsey during the height of the Battle of Leyte Gulf: "Where is Task Force 58, the whole world wonders...." Actually, I'm not sure that the Task Force was 58, may have been 54, can't recall right now. And the add on of the message was simply some bit of code thrown in to mask the real message, it didn't indicate Nimitz's real thoughts. But history so recalls the message, "Where is Halsey, the whole world wonders...."

So where is Steve Hayward, not to mention, where is his second volume on Ronaldus Magnus?

Dan, it's hard to see how Rudy could run on the old abortion plank. There would have to be a change. There would be a fight. Split party looming, as Peter says. It didn't have to be this way, which is what persuades me Rudy is sincere. I would not trust him now to nominate judges that would overturn Eisenstadt/Roe/Casey.

I've been waiting for Vol II of SH's magnum opus too.

America ought to mean no fences, but in the circumstances, America has no choice.

To be fair, the Noonan position had only a very few of us cheering on NLT, and even then some of us - well, I - admitted it was a tough stand on which to make effective policy. I am reading that the immigration bill will probably pass. This seems worse than continuing as we have, but I can't imagine any politician saying that.

Dan, how do we come to the place where we believe we can take presidential promises seriously, especially when given in the campaign season?

Jolly Guiliani, especially at the "lightning" moment was pleasant to see. They have all lacked appeal in that area, to me. And yes, I do think humor under fire means something in a candidate.

Absolutely, Rob, "putting women in jail" is shorthand for the idea that restrictions on abortions would be beyond control and that the country will not put up with it. Also, "if we cannot control our borders, we obviously cannot control...." any number of things, including abortion. It is a point, in that Americans may not like something in principle, but are reluctant to prosecute specific people in specific circumstances. Isn't this why we have never won the war on drugs and how illegal immigrants manage to stay in the country for so many years without being reported and deported?

I see one real result from this debate: It's becoming increasingly clear that McQueeg is toast. And richly deserves to be.

A secondary point: Kudos to Rudy for his strong response on the Libby outrage. Especially for not letting Wolf Blitzer push him around. It's also good that our candidates are, generally speaking, beginning to distance themselves from this sorry president.

Kate, I certainly cheered Noonan's column. If anything, I'd prefer an even tougher position on immigration, and I'd cheer it.

Your question about our ability to believe candidates' promises is a good one. The short answer is that we can't. However, we can learn quite a bit from the totality of what they've done and said. What matters is not the formal position a candidate takes -- unless it's a bad one. Far more important are indicators that the candidate really believes what he says. One such indicator is how strongly he says something. Another is how willing he is to say it in less than ideal circumstances. Another is how frequently he says it. Another is whether he's ever done anything about it. Another is whether he offers this viewpoint even at times when there's no apparent need to -- that's another clue to how serious he is. Evaluating the candidates takes some real mental work. But if we do real mental work in examining what they say AND don't say, we can learn a great deal about their probable general-election campaign (and presidency). Better yet, if we have the time, we should read up on what they've done AND not done in public office. Promises are almost the last thing we should consider. With two exceptions: Refusals to make certain promises are a real indicator in most cases. So are broken promises, although the reality is that everyone in public office sooner or later has to do this, and this should be kept in mind.

Great, Kate, for seeing the connection between the lack of restrictions on abortions and borders. Thanks. Worthy of Pierre Manent. By the way, with respect to your last point, see the informative column by Ernie Istook today at NRO on executive malfeasance in not enforcing the rulings of immigration courts.

Is anyone here bothered by the willingness of several of the candidates to endorse the first use of nukes to keep Iran from getting nukes?

I thought the way Paul answered the preeminent moral issue question was interesting. (He is my candidate for those who do not know.) I thought he was going to answer "freedom." I was surprised that he said preemption and the use of nukes. He is clearly putting all his eggs in the anti-war basket.

I am not sure that preemption is the paramount moral issue. I would argue that abortion is. But it is certainly the most pressing as nothing is likely to change on abortion any time soon, but something can change on the War and foreign policy. I also like that he used the words neocon and empire and invoked Christian Just War Doctrine.

And I though Huckabee's evolution answer was masterful. And I don't think that will hurt him in the general election at all as someone suggested. People, by and large, reject the pure naturalism of the militant evolutionists.

It would be an example of Karmic justice if the Iranian regime was taken out by tactical nukes.

Hardly a week goes by when that regime doesn't make some public statement about their nuclear plans, about their quest for nuclear weapons and what those nukes will be used for. They've got nukes on the brain, and they're literally foaming at the mouth thinking of what they'll do to Israeli women and little kids with those nukes. That regime is mulling over genocide. They're seriously giving thought to obliterating millions of Jews who haven't done anything to them.

So all of that being the case, wouldn't it be somewhat karmic if they met their ends via nukes.

However, having noted that purely as an aside, it would be an act of breathtaking stupidity if we allowed ourselves to get into a position where we had to nuke that regime and nuke those sites.

There are ways to end this particular problem without having to resort to nuclear or thermonuclear weaponry. And instead of asking questions zeroing in on the use of nukes, Wolf Blitzer should have asked about ways in which this nightmare can be ended short of a nuclear exchange, short of a preemptive nuclear strike.

"Hardly a week goes by when that regime doesn't make some public statement about their nuclear plans, about their quest for nuclear weapons and what those nukes will be used for. They've got nukes on the brain, and they're literally foaming at the mouth thinking of what they'll do to Israeli women and little kids with those nukes. That regime is mulling over genocide. They're seriously giving thought to obliterating millions of Jews who haven't done anything to them."

Dan, that kind of mindless gibberish is what is wrong with this debate. Please, provide one example of Iran saying they want to get nukes and they want to nuke someone with them. That is ridiculous. They have consistently denied that they want to make nuclear weapons and they have consistently stated that they are interested in nuclear energy only. Now I don't believe them, but they have never said they are trying to make nukes and then plan to bomb Israel with them. That is utterly absurd. Do you think they are complete idiots?

Even if that ridiculous statement was true, then why would it not be up to Israel to prevent that instead of the US?

Perhaps you should read a little before you spout off. That kind of heated foolish and blatantly untrue rhetoric is totally irresponsible.

And all along, I thought the mindless gibberish was flowing from the mouthpieces of that vile regime. Well, chalk it up to a case of learning something new every day.

"Please provide one example..., blah, blah, blah.

I've a better idea, why don't you go find those examples. I'm not going to waste so much as a nonosecond linking to comments from that Presidential lunatic in Tehran. Why don't you go listen to some of the speeches that Bernard Lewis has been delivering of late, go read some of his op-ed pieces. Go google Benjamin Netanyahu, listen to what he's been saying of late. Dennis Ross just said the other day on CSPAN that the Israeli government officially informed our government that Tehran's Manhattan Project represents an "existential threat to the state of Israel," and that they "cannot allow Tehran to go nuclear." Now why would they say that if the Iranians were merely pursuing a peaceful nuclear program? Or are you suggesting that the Israelis are paranoid or something. Our country is erecting surface to air missile batteries in Southeastern Europe. The purpose of those batteries is to destroy any long range missiles that Iran is currently developing, that could be used to intimidate or target Europe. That project probably costs a couple billion easy. Now why do you suppose that we're doing that. Just for the sheer hell of it? We're doing it because our government is convinced of the dangerous intentions of the regime in Tehran.

Why don't you go read some of the recent pieces written by our former Ambassador to the UN., John Bolton. Why don't you go do that. He just took The Financial Times to task for repeating the falsehood that Iran is "ten years away" from a bomb.

But as for the outrageous comments that you ask me to provide, I've a question instead, namely, where have you been for the last year? What have you been listening to, what news programs have you been watching? What blogs have you been frequenting?

Their President has said that Israel is going to disappear in "one blinding flash." Now what the hell do you think that means? And because certain State Department types refused to take him at his word, he went on later to say that "afterwards, no one will be able to say they weren't warned."

But hey, it's all for peace.

To trust Iran is to trust madness itself and says a lot about those that do so!

I never said I believed their denials. In fact, I said I didn't. But Dan you said that Iran has specifically said it is trying to develop nukes, and intends to use them on Israel. In fact, you said they say it weekly. That is blatantly false. Admit it.

How does reading Bernard Lewis or Benjamin Netanyahu have anything to do with what you said the Iranian regime said?

No doubt Dan Phillips would have favored the Ludlow Amendment, a proposal to amend the Constitution to require a popular referendum for a declaration of war that was a major distraction for FDR in 1938. "Illustrative of the fantastic naivete of the country in foreign policy matters," it was defeated in the House by a margin of 209-188. Lord Black notes that "it is hard to recreate the profound and prideful lack of foreign policy sophistication of the American voters and many of their representatives in this period."

"the profound and prideful lack of foreign policy sophistication"

Oh that's right; unless you embrace rampant interventionism then you are not sophisticated. So it is unsophisticated not to want American boys to die in Europe's war. And naive to think that the purpose of the American military should be to protect America. Whatever.

Of course, Dan, the assumption you are working under is that the GWOT, specifically, our operations in Iraq, are NOT in America's interests.

The same echos can be heard in the Godfather series when the consigliere made a comment about how the Japanese where responding to our aggressions/restrictions in the Pacific.

Same shit then, same shit now!

Change where to were.

The one time Iran had a democratically- elected government the CIA overthrew it. Why? Because that government planned to drive out American and British oil companies. Now we want democracy there? Give me a break.

We have invaded Iran's neighbor to the west and their neighbor to the east. Why do they want nukes? Looks like a simple question of self-preservation to me. We get our panties in a bind about them acquiring WWII era nuclear technology. What are they going to do with it that we haven't done already? We're the only country in the world that has ever dropped a bomb on someone.

And then there is Israel. They have had a bomb since the 1960s. Have they ever had to submit to sanctions or inspections? No.

Maybe if I spent my whole life listening to Sean Hannity, Netanyahu, and Bolton like Dan I could erase these basic facts from my mind.

So hold it, just because our CIA helped in the overthrow of a socialist regime way back in the day, {during the Cold War, which was going on, and influenced our decision} we're PERMANENTLY unable to ever support a democrat movement in that country.

And a Lib thinks that's a rational position, a rational observation to make in a political discussion.......

I thought one of the many benefits of being a democracy was that previous mistakes, if a mistake it was, can be undone later.

Someone just proposed that the entirety of our future foreign policy was set in stone because of a decision made way back in the 1950s. And that we're forever barred from taking a different position. That's like saying that because Chamberlain tried to appease NAZI Germany during the '30s, he was barred from even considering war in the '40s. This is ridiculous.

I like too the easy, cavalier moral equivalence being proposed. The islamic regime should be allowed to get bombs because the Israelis have 'em. Have the Israelis ever publicly threatened their neighbors, REPEATEDLY THREATENED their neighbors with utter extermination? When was the last time that Shimon Peres for instance went out there and said "You can kiss Mecca good-bye." When was the last time that Netanyahu was heard to say that he intended to "wipe the Persian entity off the map."

Why are we affecting this agnosticism about what the islamic regime intends to do with their new-found nuclear toys?

They've told us, they even said that "Afterwards, NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO SAY they weren't warned. NO ONE will be able to say they didn't know." But like the State Department, there are some who are determined, determined to ignore the clear and repeated stated intentions of that regime. And I'm not just talking about their Presidential lunatic, we're talking about that wondrous "moderate" Rastafani too. That entire regime is answerable to the supreme religious council. Just look at the faces of the members of that council. JUST LOOK AT THEIR FACES. Solzhenitsyn told us to do that in his great work The Gulag Archipelago, so let's heed his advice. Let's just look at their faces. And ask yourself what kind of vibe you're getting from them.

But hey, let's ignore reality, let's ignore that they're behind Hezbollah, that they're absorbing Hamas, that they're making a satrapy of Syria and penetrating Iraqi society. Let's ignore all of that and go read Barb Slavin of the USA Today. Let's pretend she has a clue. Or better yet, let's read columnist Trudy Rubin. Yea, let's forget about Caroline Glick, she's just a nasty warmonger, and let's listen James Baker, because he has all the answers.

Iran didn't threaten to wipe Israel from the map. They said that the regime in Israel needs to be "wiped from the page of time." It's not any different than our constantly threatening "regime change." It's not my fault that nobody in the English-speaking world knows how to read Farsi.

Now you can call me a liberal if you want, but I think that I am considerably more conservative than you are. I'm not sure what's so conservative about a complete lack of empathy. If Iran had used their secret service to overthrow our government, and then invaded Canada and Mexico how would you feel? Would you try to acquire nuclear weapons? Would you support any wacko who thought he could do it? If your answers are "just great," "no," and "no," than you are the wimpy liberal, not me.

I don't know where to begin with that first sentence: "Iran didn't threaten to wipe Israel from the map." That is a statement that can be disproved by the most cursory of Internet searches.

That statement makes subsequent discussion of the issue futile. Conclusions can be discussed once everybody is versed on the facts at hand. But when one of the most FUNDAMENTAL of facts is still in dispute, when it's so easy to learn otherwise, then discussion of the issue is an exercise in futility.

If I called you a liberal, it's because your statement is the kind that we're apt to hear from liberals. If you're a Paleo, a Webb type Conservative, and I got you wrong, then I stand corrected.

But really whether you're a Webb type Conservative, or a bleeding heart liberal, it's not really relevant.

The statements of the Iranian leadership over the last few years are a matter of public record. And they're not difficult to find. Just the other day someone said that I was wrong in the statements that I attributed to the Iranian regime. So I went off and did a simple Google search, and all of those quotes were easily found. I take the Iranian regime at their word. Many attribute their statements to their culture, and brush them off as the hyperbolic comment one is apt to find in the Mideast. As if it meant nothing. I learned the lesson of history, I learned the lesson of the 20th century. I take genocidal statements at face value.

As for the hypothetical about how we would feel if Iran invaded Canada or Mexico, you forget that the neighbors of Iran that we overthrew were the Taliban and Saddam. Canada and Mexico haven't invaded anybody. The Taliban attacked the United States on 9/11, and Saddam attacked Kuwait and Iran. Don't you remember how the Iranian delegation at the UN could barely control their glee at GW's speech laying out the facts about Saddam's regime, and his demand that the UN live up to their founding document. The Iranians weren't bothered that we took out Saddam, they were only bothered when we tried to impose a democracy in Iraq. They realized such a democracy represented a great threat to their totalitarian control of the Iranian masses.

You are trying to eliminate the factual record about the Iranian regime, and you're trying to eliminate the historical record about the neighbors of Iran. This issue isn't being discussed in a vacuum. The Iranians have a track record of supporting terror that PRE-DATED 9/11, and PRE-DATED our removal of the Taliban and Saddam. Their nuclear program stretches back to the 1980s. This isn't something they've conjured up on the fly. For decades, they've devoted HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to their Manhattan Project. They didn't decide to go for nukes only after we removed Saddam. Again, this is the type of stuff we hear from liberals. And the reason we hear it from liberals is because they're almost incapable of assessing a foreign policy problem without finding a way to blame it on the United States.

Perhaps you're too passionate about the issue. Perhaps you don't truly perceive that you're blaming America for the pathologies of the supreme religious council in Tehran. You're blaming us for their devotion to jihad. JIHAD is motivating them. ISLAM is driving them. They're not acting in response to the actions or inactions of this administration. Nor are their actions a reaction to American foreign policy of yesteryear.

It's all about islam.

It's ALL about islam.

Be careful what you find on Google searches. If you look carefully you will see that some experts who actually know Farsi and who actually care disagree about the proper translation of those statements.

I'm not so sure that it is all about Islam. When we help Muslims against their oppressors they seem to like us. Look at the reception the Albanian Muslims just gave Bush.

And I don't think that I'm all that passionate about this issue. Expanding the war into Iran is the hot-headed proposition; what I'm saying is simple prudence.

Why not go to the Cox & Forkum website. They're cartoonists. They have a section reserved just for Iran, you can find it along the right side of their homepage. Under each cartoon, they quote news stories that prompted the cartoon.

Just go through 'em. Everything I've said you'll find there. Holocaust denial, it's all there. Bloodthirstiness, it's all there. All grist for the cartoonist's mill. Easy to follow, no intense reading required. It's all there.

I propose not to wait until you get enough cash to buy goods! You should just take the business loans or car loan and feel fine

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