Monthly Archives: August 2007

Big Easy Boondoggle

Larry Kudlow on the New Orleans boondoggle.

His prescription:

Right from the start, New Orleans should have been turned into a tax-free enterprise zone. No income taxes, no corporate taxes, no capital-gains taxes. The only tax would have been a sales tax paid on direct transactions. A tax-free New Orleans would have attracted tens of billions of dollars in business and real-estate investment. This in turn would have helped rebuild the cities, schools and hospitals. Private-sector entrepreneurs would have succeeded where big-government bureaucrats and regulators have so abysmally failed.

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Tough Liberal

It’s a shame they don’t make liberals anymore like the late Al Shanker.

Actually, they do, but nowadays they’re called neocons.

From a review in the Wall Street Journal of a new biography:

It is odd and perhaps unfortunate that Albert Shanker (1928-97) may be remembered principally as the man who in 1968, as head of the New York City teachers union, shut down the city’s schools with a series of strikes. It was all in a good cause, to be sure, but the controversy of that episode, over the years, has stolen drama from much else of note in Shanker’s long and admirable life.

As Richard Kahlenberg reminds us in “Tough Liberal,” a thoroughly researched and engaging biography, Shanker was a charismatic labor leader at a time of union decline, a powerful voice for educational reform at a time of bureaucratic complacency, and–not least–an eloquent advocate of an aggressive, pro-democratic American foreign policy at a time of defeatism and retreat.

The Undocumented Criminal Community

Mark Steyn on the undocumented criminal community:

At the funeral of Iofemi Hightower, her classmate Mecca Ali wore a T-shirt with the slogan: “Tell Me Why They Had To Die.” “They” are Miss Hightower, Dashon Harvey and Terrance Aeriel, three young citizens of Newark, New Jersey, lined up against a schoolyard wall, forced to kneel, and then shot in the head.

Miss Ali poses an interesting question. No one can say why they “had” to die, but it ought to be possible to advance theories as to what factors make violent death in Newark a more likely proposition than it should be. That’s usually what happens when lurid cases make national headlines: When Matthew Shepard was beaten and hung on a fence in Wyoming, Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times that it was merely the latest stage in a “war” against homosexuals loosed by the forces of intolerance; Mr. Shepard’s murder was dramatized in plays and movies and innumerable songs by Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Peter, Paul and Mary, etc. The fact that this vile crucifixion was a grisly one-off and that American gays have never been less at risk from getting bashed did not deter pundits and politicians and lobby groups galore from arguing that this freak case demonstrated the need for special legislation.

By contrast, there’s been a succession of prominent stories with one common feature that the very same pundits, politicians and lobby groups have a curious reluctance to go anywhere near. In a New York Times report headlined “Sorrow And Anger As Newark Buries Slain Youth,” the limpidly tasteful Times prose prioritized “sorrow” over “anger,” and offered only the following reference to the perpetrators: “The authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive. Three suspects – two 15-year-olds and a 28-year-old construction worker from Peru – have been arrested.” So this Peruvian guy was here on a Green Card? Or did he apply for a temporary construction-work visa from the U.S. Embassy in Lima?

Not exactly. Jose Carranza is an “undocumented” immigrant. His criminal career did not begin with the triple murder he’s alleged to have committed, nor with the barroom assault from earlier this year, nor with the 31 counts of aggravated sexual assault relating to the rape of a five-year old child, for which Mr. Carranza had been released on bail. (His $50,000 bail on the assault charge, and $150,000 bail on the child-rape charges have now been revoked – or at least until New Jersey authorities decide to release him for the mass-murder charges on $250,000 bail.)

No, Mr. Carranza’s criminal career in the United States began when he decided to live in this country unlawfully.

Warm Mongering and the Hot One Hundred

Mark Steyn on NASA’s revised ranking of America’s hottest years.

An excerpt:

Something rather odd happened the other day. If you go to NASA’s web site and look at the “US surface air temperature” rankings for the lower 48, you might notice something has changed.

Then again, you might not. They’re not issuing any press releases about it. But they have quietly revised their All-Time Hit Parade for US temperatures. The “hottest year on record” is no longer 1998, but 1934. Another alleged swelterer, the year 2001, has now dropped out of the Top Ten altogether, and most of the rest of the 21st century — 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 — plummeted even lower down the Hot One Hundred. In fact, every supposedly hot year from the Nineties and Oughts has had its temperature rating reduced. Four of America’s Top Ten hottest years turn out to be from the 1930s, that notorious decade when we all drove around in huge SUVs with the air-conditioning on full-blast. If climate change is, as Al Gore says, the most important issue anyone’s ever faced in the history of anything ever, then Franklin Roosevelt didn’t have a word to say about it.

And yet we survived.

Michael Fumento on the same subject.

The Latest Leftist Cause Celebre

Ms. Coulter tracks the downward trajectories of liberal cause celebres.

Cheney Yes, Brzezinski No

Stephen Hayes tells us why we need more, not less, Dick Cheney.

An excerpt:

To many, the threats [of terrorist attack in America] no longer seem urgent. Critics speak of “the so-called war on terror,” and accuse the administration of exaggerating the threats. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a leading indicator of Democratic conventional wisdom, recently argued that the “culture of fear” created in response to the 9/11 attacks has done more damage than the attacks themselves.

But Mr. Cheney has not moved on. He still awakens each day asking the same questions he asked on Sept. 12, 2001. Then, as he sips his morning coffee, he pores over the latest intelligence on his own before receiving an exhaustive briefing on the latest threat reports. After that, he joins his boss for the president’s daily intelligence briefing. All of this happens before 9 a.m. He mentions the war on terror in virtually every speech he gives, and in a letter he wrote to his grandchildren he acknowledged that his “principal focus” as vice president has been national security.

The way that he has gone about his job has won him many critics. His approval ratings are low. A small but growing group of congressional Democrats is mobilizing to impeach him. Respected commentators from respected publications have suggested that his heart problems have left him mentally unstable. Others have called on him to resign. Some conservatives have joined this chorus of criticism, with one prominent columnist labeling the vice president “destructive” and another dismissing those who share his views as “Cheneyite nutjobs.” This past Saturday, protesters near his home outside Jackson, Wyo., tore down an effigy of Mr. Cheney in much the way Iraqis famously toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein.

So President Bush should ignore Mr. Cheney’s advice and the White House communications team should keep him hidden from public view, right?

Nonsense. With intelligence officials in Washington increasingly alarmed about the prospect of another major attack on the U.S. homeland, and public support for the Bush administration’s anti-terror efforts reclaiming lost ground, we need more Dick Cheney.

The Left's Larger Ideological Campaign

Today’s lead Wall Street Journal editorial gets to the heart of the wiretapping controversy:

To hear the critics tell it, the warrantless wiretapping law passed by Congress this weekend is an immoral license for a mad President Bush and his spymasters to eavesdrop on all Americans. For those willing to believe such things, mere facts don’t matter. But for anyone still amenable to reason, the deal is worth parsing for its national security precedents, good and bad. The next Democratic President might be grateful.

The good news is that the new law will at least allow the National Security Agency to monitor terrorist communications again. That ability has been severely limited since January, when Mr. Bush agreed to put the wiretap program under the supervision of a special court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The new law provides a six-month fix to the outdated FISA provision that had defined even foreign-to-foreign calls as subject to a U.S. judicial warrant.

The first duty of Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell is to prevent the next terrorist attack, and it’s disgraceful that some have vilified him for trying to revive our intelligence ability in that cause. His effort has been no different, and no less honorable, than a general arguing for more troops.

But it’s important to understand for the debate ahead why all of this has become so ferociously controversial. Opposition from the Democratic left to this intelligence program isn’t merely part of the partisan blood feud against a weak President near the end of his term. It is part of a far larger ideological campaign to erode Presidential war powers. Goaded by the ACLU and much of the press corps, many Democrats want to use the courts and lawsuits to restrict Mr. Bush and future Presidents in their ability to gather intelligence in the war on terror. For a flavor of this strategy, spend a few minutes on the ACLU’s Web site.