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Until God and Gerald Ford intervened, this was supposed to be the no-news week that would be the perfect time for John Edwards to become the first major candidate, Democrat or Republican, to formally announce a run for president.  Edwards is sticking with his plan and will make his announcement tomorrow in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward — could there be a better setting for the 2008 version of that famous Two Americas speech?

To some observers, Edwards on the stump seems almost astonishingly phony.  But he has an ability — it’s hard to describe precisely — to make something as contrived as a New Orleans announcement work for him.  I followed him for a short while in South Carolina in early 2004, and saw him turn around potentially damaging situations in which audience members clearly doubted his bona fides.  From an article I wrote back then:

After the church appearance, and a candidates’ debate, Edwards heads to the state capital of Columbia, where he will appear with the other candidates at an event called “Dialogue With America’s Families,” organized by a Washington-based activist group called the Center for Community Change. It’s a loony-Left gathering, with an atmosphere reminiscent of last year’s antiwar protests. In the program that precedes the candidates’ appearances, a woman takes the stage to sing her personal national anthem — “O beautiful, for darkened skies, for us there is no grain; for purple mountain majesties, above the fruitless plain.” Dreadlocked poets read their work from dog-eared notebooks. A speaker yells, “This is the creed for the people in need!” Someone beats an African drum…

[During the event] Edwards pulls off a trick that few other candidates could even attempt. David Stanton, the local TV anchorman moderating the event, asks Edwards, “You made millions of dollars as a trial lawyer. According to published reports, you and your wife recently purchased two multi-million-dollar homes in the Washington area. You talk about two Americas. Is it reasonable to think that you can relate to those who are less fortunate?”

As Stanton finishes, the crowd begins to boo Edwards; someone that rich clearly can’t know the creed for the people in need. Then Edwards begins to answer. “The life that I have lived is the dream that is being shut off from so many Americans every single day,” he says. He tells the mill-village story, the my-dad-was-a-mill-worker story, and then, turning to the crowd, he holds his arms out like a televangelist and says, “I grew up the way you grew up. I come from the same place. I spent twenty years in courtrooms fighting for YOU, against big corporate America, against big insurance companies. I will never forget where I come from, and you can take that to the bank.” By the time Edwards finishes, the crowd is cheering for him.

How that worked I just don’t know.  But it did.

By the way, on the Republican side, the timing of the candidates’ announcements seems to be still up in the air.  The word was, Romney would go on January 8 or thereabouts.  Giuliani is unknown.  And a McCain source says “a formal announcement won’t be made early in the new year.”

Federalism and Jim Crow


Ilya Somin comments. People often use the same argument to discredit judicial restraint: that is, that it is morally suspect because it helped the cause of white supremacy in the South. (I think it’s hard to make the argument against both sets of ideas simultaneously, because of the Civil Rights Cases of 1883.)


The Ford Legacy


Gerald Ford was a good and gracious man.

He was a dedicated and honest public servant—well liked by all who knew him personally. And I think his controversial pardon of Richard Nixon was a good idea—good in the sense that it got it off the table so the country could move on.

However, President Ford was one of a long line of American executives who presided over the decline of the U.S. in both national security and economic terms. This began under LBJ and stretched out through Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter.

In national security terms, Mr. Ford was a détentist who accommodated the Soviet Union in a number of ways, including unverifiable arms control deals that Ronald Reagan put an end to when the Gipper assumed the presidency in the 1980’s.

The U.S.’s Vietnam retreat from the rooftop of our embassy in Saigon was one of the low points in the history of American foreign policy—a disgraceful action. Reagan, of course, changed all this in the 1980’s with his many actions to overturn and defeat Soviet communism.

In economic policy, Mr. Ford was a traditional Republican budget balancer who had no pro-growth policies. Arthur Laffer tried to persuade Ford of the merits of supply side economics to reduce marginal tax rates and grow the American economy—but Ford, acting on advice of top economic advisor Alan Greenspan, rejected this.

June Wanniski called this root canal economics and Newt Gingrich described Ford’s futile obsession with the budget deficit as simply the tax collector for the welfare state.

The combination of high inflation interacting with high marginal tax rates led to stagflation and the continued decline of the American economy. And the infamous “whip inflation now” program was nothing more than price controls and state planning.

Again, it took Ronald Reagan to reverse all this by adopting the incentive-minded growth model which slashed tax rates and reignited the U.S. economy in the 1980′s – an economy whose fire still burns brightly a quarter of a century later.

At the end of the day, Ford was defeated by Jimmy Carter, who was just as baffled about stagflation and Soviet hegemony as Ford was.

Mr. Ford attempted one last play on the national political stage at the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit. Reagan had soundly trounced Papa Bush in the primaries to capture the nomination. But the Papa Bush forces—led by James Baker—attempted a bizarre co-presidency that would have made Ford the vice president and divided up all the executive branch responsibilities.

Reagan himself squashed this, chose Papa Bush instead, crushed Carter in the election, and went on to become one of the greatest presidents in United States history.

Thank God for Ronald Reagan.

Web Briefing: November 28, 2014



“I am for freedom of speech but not the freedom to insult,” said Hajji Ilgar, an imam at Baku’s Jama Old City mosque.

Ilgar’s feathers were ruffled by a newspaper article that blamed Islam for Azerbaijan’s lagging economic development. An Iranian cleric has demanded the death of the two authors. Demonstrations have erupted both in Azerbaijan and Iran.

Many Azeris openly suspect that the Tehran regime is actively undermining their country’s “secularity and stability by fomenting Islamic extremism.”

If this is way the Militant Islamist regime throws its weight around now, imagine what the mullahs will do should they defeat the US in Iraq and acquire nuclear weapons. An Azeri diplomat recently confided to me that there is increasingly concern on this score.

Azerbaijan has substantial energy reserves.

More here.


“he was just a terrific guy.”


Chevy Chase, who once had Gerald Ford as the butt of his jokes, remembers the former president fondly.

Long after his SNL days, Chase would find himself at a Betty Ford clinic :

The comedian Chevy Chase, known for his slapstick humor and pratfalls, is addicted to painkillers and has checked into the Betty Ford drug rehabilitation center, his public relations agent says.

Mr. Chase, 43 years old, who gained fame on the television satire series ‘’Saturday Night Live,’’ voluntarily entered the drug program several days ago, the agent Pat Kingsley, said Friday.

She said the treatment was for ‘’dependency on prescription drugs relating to chronic and long-term back problems’’ resulting from years of pratfalls and stunts dating to his days on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ ‘’ She would not give further details…

“The Greats”


BTW — in case you missed it — Michael Knox Beran reviews JOS’s book in the current NRODT and calls it “dazzling.”

“highly readable--and mercifully concise”


Anti-American Idol


So here’s why public diplomacy can’t be conceived as a popularity contest: Marathon Pundit points out that in early voting early voting in Islam Online’s Person of the Year poll, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is leading with 69 percent of the votes so far. In second place is Hamas leader Ismael Haniya with 15 percent. Running third is the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with 7 percent.

Very few votes are coming in for pioneering entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus or (relatively) moderate Shia cleric Ayatollah Sistani. (And Pope Benedict XVI is at 1.5 percent.)

McCain on Ford



Washington D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the death of President Gerald Ford:

“Cindy and I share the sadness of millions of Americans who mourn the passing of President Gerald Ford, and offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, Betty, and the Ford family.

“A man of great moral character and patriotism, he led our country during a time of great distress, and saw us safely through our troubles with grace and courage. In one of the most generous and selfless acts by a political leader in modern times, he sacrificed his own ambitions to help move our country beyond the divisions and disillusionment caused by Watergate and a lost war, and restore our trust in our governing institutions.

“In war and peace, he served America faithfully and well, and will be remembered as the good man to whom this nation turned in a difficult hour, and who did not let us down.”



Gallup has just released a poll of the most admired (living) world figures. George W. Bush is the most admired, named so by 13 percent of respondents. (In December 2001, that number was 39 percent.) Bush is followed by Bill Clinton, at five percent, and Jimmy Carter, at four percent. And then, the first non-president on the list is…Barack Obama, with three percent, tied with the Rev. Billy Graham. After that come Colin Powell and Pope Benedict XVI, with two percent, and then a bunch of people, including Nelson Mandela, George H.W. Bush (why is this ex-president rated so low?), Bill Gates, John McCain, George Clooney, Rudolph Giuliani, Al Gore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Jackson and, well, Mel Gibson — all at one percent. Bono and John Edwards failed to crack the one percent mark.

Mass. Marriage


AP :

The state’s highest court ruled Wednesday it had no authority to force lawmakers to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but it still criticized them for not acting.

Of the 11-page ruling the governor’s office says:

We are very pleased that the court has confirmed once and for all that the Legislature has a constitutional duty to vote on the marriage amendment and that any failure to do so would be a violation of their oaths of office

Boehner on Ford


Gerald Ford served his Michigan constituents and the American people with great distinction as Republican Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, as Vice President, and as President of the United States.  His steady hand of leadership guided our nation at a time when it needed him the most, and he will be known for the integrity, character, and grace he exhibited throughout his life.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Betty and the Ford family.

By the Way


You can read through NR’s archives — all the way back to 1955 — in the NR store .

“Steady Conservatism”


George Will on Ford, from the 7/4/1975 issue of NR. (Another PDF.)

Iran in Iraq, cont.


The New York Times continues to hammer away at the arrest of “Iranian military officials” in Baghdad.  I’m a fan of Michael Gordon, one of the two journalists bylined on this story, so I’m confident the Times is not going to run away from it.  Here’s a really good treatment (and not just because it is so generous in quoting me) from Power Line.

I wish we knew a lot more about those Iranians.  As I said before, one will get you ten they’re from the Revolutionary Guards Corps.  And a bit of luck, along with good interrogation, could well lead to our old friends at Hezbollah.

Romney on Ford


“Today, America mourns the loss of President Gerald R. Ford, a great public servant who showed steady leadership during a turbulent time in our country’s history.

President Ford was proud of his heritage and where he grew up. Wherever he traveled, both at home and overseas, ‘Hail to the Victors’ was played, a fitting accompaniment for a son of Michigan.

As a leader in the Congress, and then in the White House, President Ford demonstrated the highest levels of integrity and decency. He counted among his friends political rivals, and he worked across the political aisle to do the people’s business. And in a dark hour for America, he brought credit and honor to the highest office of the land and restored America’s faith in itself.

Ann and I extend our deepest sympathies to Betty Ford and to President Ford’s entire family on their loss.”



The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. … Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You’re not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated “shape charges” (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IED’s are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That’s why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges, in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and “Googleearth” for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys…?

Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly “foreigners”, non-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.), and then travel down the “rat line” which is the trail of towns along the EuphratesRiver that we’ve been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in various “sacrifice squads”. Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.). These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local govt.’s, the police forces and the Army. They have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80′s. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:
When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing AK’s and RPG’s directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time (see the M2 and M240 above). Jordan’s base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that’s the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo’s (Allah’s Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast mover’s, mostly Marine F-18′s, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre Gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.

Fun fact:

The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we’re seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber shit. The new strategy is just simple: attrition. The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for inflicting civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to influence people they are trying to influence but can’t reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.).

The first thing our guys are told is “don’t get captured”. They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet.

Morale: [M]orale among our guys is very high. They not only believe that they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like “Are we losing in Iraq” on TV and the print media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, is that there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren’t enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just can’t stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally …

Reading Around the Web




The war in Somalia is one of the least-covered big stories, which it has in common with most Africa stories except Darfur, which itself is only reported spasmodically. Dead Africans aren’t as interesting as dead Asians, Europeans and Americans. Yet Somalia, as I’ve been trying to convince my stubborn friends and colleagues (you know, the ones who think it’s limited to Iraq, or Baghdad, or Anbar Province) for many months, is part of The War, the real war, the big war in which we’re involved, like it or not.

Fortunately there’s Josh Trevino. And double fortunately, there’s Hugh Hewitt, who sees the war plain, and has given Josh ample space. Here’s Josh’s latest, courtesy of Hugh.



In NRO’s preditions for 2007, both Cliff May and I suggest that Barack Obama will stumble next year. A friend recently sent this link about Obama’s wife–she hasn’t made a mint on the cattle-futures market, but apparently she’s doing rather well. This comes in addition to some recent stories about Obama, an intern, and a political fundraiser.


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