Better Off Fred?

Here are just a few little-known facts about Fred Thompson: – Every night before going to sleep, Osama bin Laden checks under his bed for Fred Thompson.- Though Fred Thompson left the Senate in 2003, Harry Reid still hasn’t stopped wetting his pants.

Former U.S. Senator and actor Fred Thompson listens to U.S. President George W. Bush speak at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington in this April 13, 2007 file photo. It could be the defining role of Thompson’s varied career — the reluctant politician who saves a foundering party, restores its conservative principles and keeps it in the White House. For Thompson, the drama is real enough, even if the final act is uncertain. The former Tennessee senator, Watergate counsel and star of films like “The Hunt for Red October,” has been exploring a potential 2008 Republican presidential run and is expected to make his decision known soon. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files (UNITED STATES)

Related Audio:
Actor Thompson Inches Toward White House Bid

– Fred Thompson once ended a filibuster by ripping out a Senator’s heart and showing it to him before he died.

– Only two things can kill Superman: Kryptonite and Fred Thompson.

– Fred Thompson once stood on our south border and glared at Mexico. There was no illegal immigration for a month.

– Fred Thompson vows not only to win in Iraq but also to forcefully free Vietnam from Communism, thus giving America a perfect win/loss record for wars again.

– Fred Thompson can open clamshell packaging without the slightest trouble.

These are just a few of the “Fred Thompson Facts” posted on the conservative humor site IMAO ( in March.

As the old proverb goes, there’s truth in jest. Obviously, I don’t mean to say that it’s possible for anyone to open clamshell packaging easily. I nearly lost a thumb recently while trying to extricate a cowgirl doll for my daughter from its plastic cocoon.

But there’s no denying that Fred Thompson has one of the most profound personality cults we’ve seen in politics for a long time. While traveling around the country in recent months, I’ve been amazed at how many rank-and-file Republicans see Thompson as a secular savior, as if Thompson were designed by GOP-friendly alien scientists as some sort of Super Candidate.

For some skeptical observers, this has resulted in comparisons to retired General Wes Clark, the Democrats’ onetime man on a white horse. “Fred Thompson is to the Republicans in ’08 as Wes Clark was to the Democrats in ’04,” writes Jason Zengerle of The New Republic. “In other words, the highpoint of his campaign will be the day he gets in the race, because once he’s a serious candidate – and not just the fevered daydream of a dissatisfied base – voters will realize he’s not all that.”

On the surface, there’s merit to the comparison. Wes Clark, as I wrote in ’04, was the “Johnny Bravo” candidate. That’s a reference to the “Brady Bunch” episode where Greg Brady is picked to be a rock star, not because of his musical talent but because he fit into the glitzy costume that rock promoters had already created. Clark, with his admirable military record and perceived “toughness” in foreign policy, seemed like the ideal candidate to beat Bush in ’04.

Similarly, Thompson seems to be what Republicans are yearning for. But there’s a key distinction. Wes Clark was a candidate for Democrats who wanted to beat Bush. Thompson’s appeal is based partly on a desire for victory, but there’s also a desire to get beyond Bush.

First and foremost, Thompson’s articulateness can’t be underestimated. He shares with Ronald Reagan – another actor-politician – an ability to communicate ideas in folksy, almost conversational ways without losing important nuance or meaning.

Most Republicans won’t admit it, but Bush’s trouble articulating his views – compounded by a terrible communications operation (save for standout Press Secretary Tony Snow) – is a major irritation on the right. There’s a reason that IMAO’s No. 1 “Fred Thompson Fact” is “Fred Thompson has on multiple occasions pronounced ‘nuclear’ correctly.”

Bush’s sloppy speaking style only serves to bolster the perception of his incompetence. That’s why the least discussed but most important theme in the Republican primaries is competence. McCain, Giuliani and Romney are all running as the competence candidates (as would Gingrich, if he jumped in).

And Fred Thompson just seems so darn competent. Whether he’s the ideal president or just plays one on TV remains to be seen. He’s certainly typecast himself as the cocksure, wise, hands-on type in almost every movie role he’s had and as the district attorney on “Law & Order.”

There are other important differences between Clark and Thompson. As a candidate, Clark was a dud. He couldn’t explain the necessary flip-flops and contortions required to fit his record with the demands of the Democratic Party’s base, and the more he talked, the less likable and presidential he seemed. Thompson’s record isn’t a perfect fit for the GOP base either, but Thompson, unlike Clark, is a very capable politician who won his senate seat by the largest margin in Tennessee history. And the more he talks, the more likable and presidential he appears.

Thompson’s approval ratings may never be higher than on the day before he announces. We don’t know the man very well, but we know the character. And as long as he stays in character, it’s unlikely his ratings will drop anytime soon.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online.

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Fred Thompson tries out a campaign theme on Virginia Republicans

Fred Thompson tries out a campaign theme on

Virginia Republicans

As he studies a run for the GOP presidential nod, the former senator criticizes Democrats in Congress and takes a hard line on immigration reform.

From Associated Press
6:45 PM PDT, June 2, 2007

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RICHMOND, Va. — Republican Fred Thompson assailed Democrats and emphasized conservative stances Saturday, testing out a potential campaign pitch a day after taking a formal step toward a likely presidential candidacy.

In a speech to GOP loyalists, the former Tennessee senator and “Law & Order” actor lamented the country’s challenges and said that to overcome them, “we’re going to have to be more focused, we’re going to have be smarter and we’re going to have to be more determined and we’re going to have to be more together as a nation than we’ve ever been before.”

Then, he criticized Democrats.

“I listen to the Democratic congressional leaders and I hear them talking about how many (House and Senate) seats they’re going to pick up because of this war,” he said. “I listened to one of their presidential candidates talk about that this is a phony war, the war on terror. This is what passes for policy today in the Democratic party.”

That was a reference to Democrat John Edwards, who has challenged the idea of a global war on terror, calling it an ideological doctrine advanced by the Bush administration that has strained the U.S. military and emboldened terrorists.

Thompson also chided Democrats on President Bush’s tax cuts, saying, “The Democrats are hot after repealing all of that, the engine that’s driving this economy.”

In a half-hour speech to about 400 Republicans attending the Virginia GOP’s annual fundraising dinner, Thompson spoke of a strong defense, small federal government and lower taxes. On immigration, he took the hard line and drew the loudest applause of the night when he said, “You’ve got to secure the border first before you do anything else.”

An all-but-declared candidate, Thompson established a committee Friday to “test the waters” for a White House bid. The entity allows him to raise money, hire staff and gauge support without officially committing to a presidential campaign.

Thompson, 64, a Southerner with a right-leaning Senate record, would shake up an already unsettled race for the GOP nomination led by Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney.

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They call this a consensus?

They call this a consensus?

Lawrence Solomon
Financial Post

Al Gore's views have credible dissenters.
CREDIT: David McNew, Getty Images File Photo
Al Gore’s views have credible dissenters.

“Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled.”

S o said Al Gore … in 1992. Amazingly, he made his claims despite much evidence of their falsity. A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren’t sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn’t think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.

Today, Al Gore is making the same claims of a scientific consensus, as do the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of government agencies and environmental groups around the world. But the claims of a scientific consensus remain unsubstantiated. They have only become louder and more frequent.

More than six months ago, I began writing this series, The Deniers. When I began, I accepted the prevailing view that scientists overwhelmingly believe that climate change threatens the planet. I doubted only claims that the dissenters were either kooks on the margins of science or sell-outs in the pockets of the oil companies.

National Post’s Deniers series:
Scientists who challenge the climate change debate

The series

Statistics needed — The Deniers Part I
Warming is real — and has benefits — The Deniers Part II
The hurricane expert who stood up to UN junk science — The Deniers Part III
Polar scientists on thin ice — The Deniers Part IV
The original denier: into the cold — The Deniers Part V
The sun moves climate change — The Deniers Part VI
Will the sun cool us? — The Deniers Part VII
The limits of predictability — The Deniers Part VIII
Look to Mars for the truth on global warming — The Deniers Part IX
Limited role for C02 — the Deniers Part X
End the chill — The Deniers Part XI
Clouded research — The Deniers Part XII
Allegre’s second thoughts — The Deniers XIII
The heat’s in the sun — The Deniers XIV
Unsettled Science — The Deniers XV
Bitten by the IPCC — The Deniers XVI
Little ice age is still within us — The Deniers XVII
Fighting climate ‘fluff’ — The Deniers XVIII
Science, not politics — The Deniers XIX

More on the environment

My series set out to profile the dissenters — those who deny that the science is settled on climate change — and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible, I chose high-ranking scientists at the world’s premier scientific establishments. I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers. I next planned to stop writing after 10 profiles, then 12, but the feedback increased. Now, after profiling more than 20 deniers, I do not know when I will stop — the list of distinguished scientists who question the IPCC grows daily, as does the number of emails I receive, many from scientists who express gratitude for my series.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists — the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects — and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.

What of the one claim that we hear over and over again, that 2,000 or 2,500 of the world’s top scientists endorse the IPCC position? I asked the IPCC for their names, to gauge their views. “The 2,500 or so scientists you are referring to are reviewers from countries all over the world,” the IPCC Secretariat responded. “The list with their names and contacts will be attached to future IPCC publications, which will hopefully be on-line in the second half of 2007.”

An IPCC reviewer does not assess the IPCC’s comprehensive findings. He might only review one small part of one study that later becomes one small input to the published IPCC report. Far from endorsing the IPCC reports, some reviewers, offended at what they considered a sham review process, have demanded that the IPCC remove their names from the list of reviewers. One even threatened legal action when the IPCC refused.

A great many scientists, without doubt, are four-square in their support of the IPCC. A great many others are not. A petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine between 1999 and 2001 claimed some 17,800 scientists in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. A more recent indicator comes from the U.S.-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an accrediting organization whose 12,000 environmental practitioners have standing with U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In a November, 2006, survey of its members, it found that only 59% think human activities are largely responsible for the warming that has occurred, and only 39% make their priority the curbing of carbon emissions. And 71% believe the increase in hurricanes is likely natural, not easily attributed to human activities.

Such diversity of views is also present in the wider scientific community, as seen in the World Federation of Scientists, an organization formed during the Cold War to encourage dialogue among scientists to prevent nuclear catastrophe. The federation, which encompasses many of the world’s most eminent scientists and today represents more than 10,000 scientists, now focuses on 15 “planetary emergencies,” among them water, soil, food, medicine and biotechnology, and climatic changes. Within climatic changes, there are eight priorities, one being “Possible human influences on climate and on atmospheric composition and chemistry (e.g. increased greenhouse gases and tropospheric ozone).”

Man-made global warming deserves study, the World Federation of Scientists believes, but so do other serious climatic concerns. So do 14 other planetary emergencies. That seems about right. – Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and Consumer Policy Institute, divisions of Energy Probe Research Foundation. Email:

© National Post 2007

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Government Darlene Fitzgerald
June 2, 2007

My name is Darlene Fitzgerald and I have over 20 years of combined law enforcement experience in the military, private industry and as a Special Agent, and in 1999 I resigned in protest because I refused to work for an agency that is worse than the people I put in jail.

In 1998 I was in charge of a U.S. Customs task force operating an extensive investigation called Operation Rite Rail. We uncovered tons of narcotics and contraband being facilitated into the U.S. from Mexico via railroad tanker cars – with the apparent approval of U.S. Customs managers. Just a little over a year ago this resulted in the landmark civil case in federal court: Fitzgerald – Nunn Vs. Department of Homeland Security.

At this trial supervised by now-fired US Attorney Carol Lam, Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos took the stand and made history by being the first sitting Judge ever to testify against the U.S. Government.

The essential fact of my testimony, corroborated by other credible Special Agents and managers, is that high-level Customs managers shut down my investigation into narcotics smuggling.

I had already seized 8000 pounds of marijuana and 34 kilos of uncut cocaine in just one pressurized railroad tanker car. I had in my grasp five cars imported from Mexico that were improperly manifested as “empty”, yet contained 25 to 40 tons of suspect contraband. They had been sent from the same front company in Mexico where the previously seized tanker car was from, and I had high-level information from a reliable informant as to the contents of these five cars. Yet I was ordered off the case and told to shut down my operation.

At the trial, Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAIC) Gary Pinkava took the stand for Customs and admitted without elaboration that he would not allow me or my supervisor to pressure test, at no charge to the government, these highly suspected tanker cars. This would have been the largest seizure on record for any agency (25 to 40 tons), and it was under the command and control of ASAIC Pinkava.

Subsequently, as testified to by numerous witnesses, these tanker cars were released into the commerce of the U.S., uninspected by anyone.

Evidence of the following was most certainly exposed at the trial: Witness tampering, Facilitation of the importation of 25 to 40 tons of contraband into the U.S., Perjury, Misprision of Felony, and possible Subornation of Perjury.

This evidence was sufficient to warrant the initiation of a grand jury investigation yet there was none. All of these crimes remain Un-investigated! Complete transcripts of this trial testimony may be read at my task force and I also exposed is the horrendous national security terrorist threat that these tanker cars pose to our nation. Timothy McVey blew up the Federal Murrah Building in Oklahoma City with about one ton of ammonium nitrate in an unsealed-cargo truck. This cowardly attack killed scores of people and resulted in over eleven damaged buildings being torn down. Yet a terrorist can put forty times this amount of ammonium nitrate in a railroad tanker car and pressurize it. This would create what is essentially the world’s largest “pipe bomb.”

It is important to note that there have been no other rail tanker car seizures since that done by my task force in 1998. Have the drug smugglers and terrorists simply quit trying to enter the U.S., or have they been operating freely with the assistance of corrupt managers within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The real victims here are all of the brave whistleblowers who have come forward with important information that exposes threats to our national security in which I have chronicled in my recently released book entitled “BorderGate.” Most recently my fellow Whistleblower John Carman was arrested by the FBI for what appears to many to be a clear case of entrapment in order to shut him up.

This is the same FBI office that John and I have repeatedly exposed in the media for failing to investigate the facts revealed in “BorderGate.”

What has happened, and continues to happen to all of the Whistleblowers in the BorderGate story is not only wrong, but it places our country at grave risk as well. All we can do is put the facts before you. Henceforth, nobody can say they were unaware of what is going on.

To quote the famous French free thinker Voltaire, “Being right is dangerous when it is government that is wrong.”

How sad is it that so many years later this is still true today.

Editor’s Note: Ms. Fitzgerald urges all who choose to do so to contact the House Judiciary Committee and urge them to investigate this lack of action.

Darlene Fitzgerald has more than 20 years of successful experience in criminal justice: Military, federal law enforcement, and private industry. She is an honorably discharged, decorated veteran who served her country not only as a Captain in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps, but as a U.S. Customs Special Agent fighting on the front lines of the War on Drugs.

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Failure Is Not An Option

Failure Is Not An Option
Terrorism Jeffrey Epstein
June 1, 2007

Our current state of affairs certainly begs the question as to whether we can really afford to ignore costly lessons from history. One would think that we learned something from the murderous attack launched against us during the predawn hours of December 7th, 1941.

The first wave of 181 warplanes departed from six Japanese carriers to strike our fleet at Pearl Harbor and surrounding military airfields. At 7:00AM, the incoming squadrons appeared on the screens of the Army radar station at Opana. News of the steady-bearing “contacts” was immediately relayed up through the chain of command. However, senior officers falsely attributed those sightings to the anticipated echoes of returning American planes and never sounded the appropriate alarms – a costly assumption that contributed to the death toll of some 2400 servicemen.

Six decades later, three commercial airliners were commandeered by militant Islamist deviants and flown into their intended targets resulting in the deaths of 3000 innocent Americans. Once again, our nation was caught off-guard and paid a hefty price for underestimating an adversary’s resolve and capacity to do us grievous harm.

One could reasonably argue that we haven’t learned much from past mistakes and intelligence failures.

America is currently engaged in a deadly war that has the potential to last for decades and cost millions of innocent lives. Most experts agree that a far more deadly attack is imminent – a catastrophic strike involving a combination of tactical nuclear and/or radiological “dirty” weapons. Yet, Washington refuses to take legitimate actions to secure our homeland – that is, to properly identify the enemy, seal our borders and inoculate a number of terrorist-front groups that freely operate on our soil; subversive organizations that seek our destruction, spread seeds of hatred, fundraise for the enemy, support international acts of terrorism, recruit thousands of disgruntled “home-growns” and prepare scores of their followers to perpetrate acts of violence.

Of greater concern is the administration’s failure to come clean with the American people regarding numerous terrorist hits that we have already suffered – attacks both leading up to and following 9/11.

For unknown reasons, Federal law enforcement agencies continue to misrepresent barbaric acts of violence as being anything other than Islamist-inspired – a reckless policy that, in the long run, will only cost more lives.  There’s no legitimate reason to hide the truth from our citizenry while blood hemorrhages in various locations across America. An educated, vigilant society will only make our shopping malls, highways, houses of worship, college campuses and federal buildings safer to visit. Additionally, surviving family members deserve to know what really happened to their loves ones.

While in a holding pattern awaiting the unthinkable – news of simultaneous nuclear detonations occurring in major U.S Cities – our State Department is reaching out to those same terrorist-host nations that are conspiring to exterminate us. If that isn’t enough, the Department of Education is in the process of opening twenty Arabic-teaching schools for Muslim students across America, Kansas City International Airport recently installed foot baths to accommodate Muslim travelers and several federal agencies (including the FBI and TSA) have contracted with CAIR (a terror-friendly Islamic advocacy group) to provide sensitivity training to their field agents and employees.

For a variety of reasons, neither can we expect the truth to flow from mainstream media channels. In fact, issues concerning national security and terrorism are typically subordinated to far more important topics like the regeneration of Britney Spear’s hair follicles, Rosie O’Donnell’s personal self-destruction and paternity testing for Anna Nicole’s orphaned infant child.

Just how many more innocent adults and children have to perish before America comes to its senses regarding this very “Real” and menacing threat?

According to our nation’s leading counter-terrorism experts, it’s far later in the game than most folks realize, for the enemy has accomplished much in terms of their infiltration and entrenchment on our soil. These radical Islamist barbarians truly believe that America is their’s for the taking. They’re convinced that their imperialistic drive to conquer our nation is far stronger than our willingness to fight for what’s rightfully ours. Unfortunately, they’re probably right since just a scant few of us are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to resist these cretins at any cost.

Their victory would mean the end of the United States and the end of the free world as we know it. To them, it is not about politics, it is about religion, a radical religion where the law allows for beheadings, stoning and maiming; a radical religion that uses terror as its tool of choice to keep the masses in line.

There isn’t a better time to draw a line in the sand, take a stand and be heard.

Where the battle against the aggressive totalitarianism of Islamofascism is concerned, it is well past the time to act. If we allow politics to infiltrate the process of disseminating fact-based information – the truth – about the lethal foe we face we risk repeating the mistakes made in the waning days of Vietnam only this time the genocide may very well happen to us…on American soil.

Failure is not an option. To quote Winston Churchill:

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

Note: America’s Truth Forum, in conjunction with Basics Project, will be hosting another educational symposium that will bring together the most important voices on the subject of Islamofascism. This critical event, the third in a national series, has been scheduled for October and will feature world-renown speakers with extensive knowledge and first-hand experience. If plans hold, the event will not only prove most provocative but will generate substantial media attention. Please help us to help America and support this most righteous cause. Please either contribute via our website or forward your donation to: America’s Truth Forum, P.O. Box 802, Glastonbury, CT. 06033.

Jeffrey M. Epstein is the founder and President of America’s Truth Forum. He accumulated over thirty-five years experience in mortgage banking, marketing and business management. Mr. Epstein was promoted to Senior Vice President of the nation’s largest portfolio-lending institution (a $40 billion savings bank) after his initiation of an FBI/OTS fraud investigation that led to the conviction and incarceration of several real estate professionals for their roles in committing mortgage fraud. Mr. Epstein is civically active on the state, national and international levels. His organization (America’s Truth Forum, in association with Basics Project) took the lead in producing the first-ever and critically acclaimed symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. During the most recent presidential election cycle, Mr. Epstein served as Media Relations director for a 527 political action committee that successfully organized a major advocates rally in Washington DC. Mr. Epstein has been featured on Fox & Friends and has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio talk shows.

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Exclusive: Putin threatens to target Europe with missiles

Exclusive: Putin threatens to target Europe with missiles

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to target Europe with missiles, including potentially nuclear weapons, in a dramatic escalation of his Cold War-style showdown with the United States.

Mr. Putin, in an interview at his country residence outside Moscow, said he considers U.S. plans to build an eastern European anti-missile site to shoot down Iranian missiles a provocation aimed at Russia.

Asked what he might do to retaliate, he said he would return Russia to the Cold War status where missiles were aimed at European targets.

“It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States is located in Europe, and according to our military experts will be threatening us, we will have to respond,” he said.

Even as he has isolated Russia from the world by burning relations with allies and suppressing democracy, his popularity at home has grown. (Dmitry Astakhov/AFP)

Enlarge ImageRussian President Vladimir Putin poses a dilemma: Even as he has isolated Russia from the world by burning relations with allies and suppressing democracy, his popularity at home has grown. (Dmitry Astakhov/AFP)

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The Globe and Mail

“What kind of steps are we going to take in response? Of course, we are going to get new targets in Europe.”

He suggested that this could include powerful nuclear-capable weapons.

“What kind of means will be used to hit the targets that our military believe are potential threats to the Russian federation? This is a purely technical issue, be it ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, or some kinds of novel weapons systems – this is a purely technical issue.”

Mr. Putin held a three-hour dinner interview with the Globe and Mail along with one newspaper from each of the G-8 nations. He defended his nation’s economic policies and tough restrictions on political dissent, repeatedly criticized the U.S. as dangerous and hypocritical, and acknowledged that Russia needs to rid itself of corruption.


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Muslim Foothold At Public College Is Firm — So Far

Muslim Foothold At Public College Is Firm — So Far

Debbie Schlussel has done some reporting on the situation of the Muslim foot baths at UM Dearborn (“So Long Church/State Separation: University of Michigan to Fund Muslim Footbaths”).

Dearborn Underground also took a look at this earlier in the week (“UM-Dearborn Teaches How One Foot Washes the Other”).

I was amazed to learn in Debbie’s post that the University Vice Chancellor, Robert G. Behrens, was the only individual responsible for funding the Muslim foot baths. According to Debbie, UM–Dearborn spokesman Terry Gallagher “confirmed that…Behrens made the decision to install the footbaths. Behrens was the sole decisionmaker. He did not have to go before a committee of University Regents to get the approval or consult with anyone else.”

This sounds awfully strange to me. I don’t get how a Vice Chancellor can make a decision to spend money from the University’s general fund for any building project, especially one requiring retaining an outside architect’s services, without first having to obtain approval of the University Regents. (Not to mention one also involving compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act: Behrens must have consulted with the University’s legal counsel). Or does the Vice Chancellor have his own discretionary budget, upon which he can draw if need be to facilitate, say, a religious accommodation? Even one that violates both State and Federal Constitutions?

On a more practical plane, I can understand why the Vice Chancellor did not go to the Regents, knowing as he must have that his decision would be objectionable to lots of people if it became known beforehand. If he went to the Board, there’d have to be discussion in a public meeting, where he would have to face questions about the legality of the decision and the necessity of installing Muslim foot baths, and these discussions would have been preserved in the minutes and available now for folks like us to review. This way, it was all but a fait accompli before we knew what hit us. I say “all but” because the baths haven’t been installed yet.

UM’s decision goes way past the “reasonable accommodation” standard required under our laws. This is not accommodating a religion, but facilitating one. This is not permitting a religious practice, but affirmatively assisting one. Past religious-accomodation disputes that were a lot less cut-and-dried than this one have made huge headlines, entailing epic battles, and were fought all the way to the Supreme Court. And to think that now we no longer have Justice O’Connor shuttling her way back and forth from one legal church-state standard to the other.

But this whole story is being vastly ignored by the local press. I think that’s because the press likes to report conflict and drama, and it’s hard to get conflict when one side is getting all its own way without opposition. If a man punches his wife it just isn’t news. It’s only news when she hits him back. So far, UM and the Muslim students haven’t encountered any conflict.

The best way to change that and get the University’s attention is by filing a lawsuit. But that’s a fairly forbidding prospect for isolated citizens without lots of resources. And we all know the ACLU isn’t going to stand up for the right side on this one. That’s what UM was counting on when they tried this.

According to Debbie Schlussel, the University says it’s prepared to defend against a lawsuit if one is filed. Personally, I would love to see them try. And if a lawsuit ever were filed, the press would have to pay attention (if not necessarily full and fair attention).

In spite of UM’s claim to being ready to defend this nonsense if a lawsuit is filed, I actually believe that a lawsuit would make them drop their whole project as indefensible. If that’s so, all that’s needed to get UM in that defensive posture where they belong is: a Michigan plaintiff, a local lawyer who understands civil rights laws, (or better yet, a national advocacy group), and a few thousand bucks to get things started.

Let’s hope someone finds all that before construction begins

The Case for Conservatism

The Case for Conservatism
By George F. Will
Thursday, May 31, 2007; A19Conservatism’s recovery of its intellectual equilibrium requires a confident explanation of why America has two parties and why the conservative one is preferable. Today’s political argument involves perennial themes that give it more seriousness than many participants understand. The argument, like Western political philosophy generally, is about the meaning of, and the proper adjustment of the tension between, two important political goals—freedom and equality.

Today conservatives tend to favor freedom, and consequently are inclined to be somewhat sanguine about inequalities of outcomes. Liberals are more concerned with equality, understood, they insist, primarily as equality of opportunity, not of outcome.

Liberals tend, however, to infer unequal opportunities from the fact of unequal outcomes. Hence liberalism’s goal of achieving greater equality of condition leads to a larger scope for interventionist government to circumscribe the market’s role in allocating wealth and opportunity. Liberalism increasingly seeks to deliver equality in the form of equal dependence of more and more people for more and more things on government.

Hence liberals’ hostility to school choice programs that challenge public education’s semimonopoly. Hence hostility to private accounts funded by a portion of each individual’s Social Security taxes. Hence their fear of health savings accounts (individuals who buy high-deductible health insurance become eligible for tax-preferred savings accounts from which they pay their routine medical expenses—just as car owners do not buy insurance to cover oil changes). Hence liberals’ advocacy of government responsibility for—and, inevitably, rationing of—health care, which is 16 percent of the economy and rising.

Steadily enlarging dependence on government accords with liberalism’s ethic of common provision, and with the liberal party’s interest in pleasing its most powerful faction—public employees and their unions. Conservatism’s rejoinder should be that the argument about whether there ought to be a welfare state is over. Today’s proper debate is about the modalities by which entitlements are delivered. Modalities matter, because some encourage and others discourage attributes and attitudes—a future orientation, self-reliance, individual responsibility for healthy living—that are essential for dignified living in an economically vibrant society that a welfare state, ravenous for revenue in an aging society, requires.

This reasoning is congruent with conservatism’s argument that excessively benevolent government is not a benefactor, and that capitalism does not merely make people better off, it makes them better. Liberalism once argued that large corporate entities of industrial capitalism degraded individuals by breeding dependence, passivity and servility. Conservatism challenges liberalism’s blindness about the comparable dangers from the biggest social entity, government.

Conservatism argues, as did the Founders, that self-interestedness is universal among individuals, but the dignity of individuals is bound up with the exercise of self-reliance and personal responsibility in pursuing one’s interests. Liberalism argues that equal dependence on government minimizes social conflicts. Conservatism’s rejoinder is that the entitlement culture subverts social peace by the proliferation of rival dependencies.

The entitlement mentality encouraged by the welfare state exacerbates social conflicts—between generations (the welfare state transfers wealth to the elderly), between racial and ethnic groups (through group preferences) and between all organized interests (from farmers to labor unions to recipients of corporate welfare) as government, not impersonal market forces, distributes scarce resources. This, conservatism insists, explains why as government has grown, so has cynicism about it.

Racial preferences are the distilled essence of liberalism, for two reasons. First, preferences involve identifying groups supposedly disabled by society—victims who, because of their diminished competence, must be treated as wards of government. Second, preferences vividly demonstrate liberalism’s core conviction that government’s duty is not to allow social change but to drive change in the direction the government chooses. Conservatism argues that the essence of constitutional government involves constraining the state in order to allow society ample scope to spontaneously take unplanned paths.
Conservatism embraces President Kennedy’s exhortation to “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country,” and adds: You serve your country by embracing a spacious and expanding sphere of life for which your country is not responsible.

Here is the core of a conservative appeal, without dwelling on “social issues” that should be, as much as possible, left to “moral federalism”—debates within the states. On foreign policy, conservatism begins, and very nearly ends, by eschewing abroad the fatal conceit that has been liberalism’s undoing domestically—hubris about controlling what cannot, and should not, be controlled.

Conservatism is realism, about human nature and government’s competence. Is conservatism politically realistic, meaning persuasive? That is the kind of question presidential campaigns answer.
© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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