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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

MONDAY through FRIDAY, February 25 through 29, 2008
GS

SUNDAY, February 24, 2008
GS

SATURDAY, February 23, 2008

When this elder statesman speaks, we need to listen.   GS

Der Spiegel: Interview with Henry Kissinger: 'Europeans Hide Behind the Unpopularity of President Bush'

DER SPIEGEL 8/2008 - February 18,2008
URL: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,535964,00.html <http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,535964,00.html>

SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH HENRY KISSINGER
'Europeans Hide Behind the Unpopularity of President Bush'

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 84, has thrown his support behind John McCain. SPIEGEL spoke with Kissinger about Germany's Afghanistan mission, tepid European commitment to combatting Islamist extremism and whether direct talks with Iran should go ahead.

SPIEGEL: Dr. Kissinger, you have endorsed Senator John McCain as your choice for the White House. McCain, though, has said he would be prepared to stay in Iraq for another 100 years. Are you sure he is the right man for the job?

Jorgen Frank
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger thinks that John McCain would make the best choice for the next US president. He would also like to see more European involvement in the fight against Islamist extremism.

Kissinger: John and I have been friends for 30 years. I have great confidence in him.

SPIEGEL: Most Americans would like to see a rapid withdrawal from Iraq and possibly Afghanistan. But McCain has made his motto "No Surrender." <http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,534459,00.html>

Kissinger: He was trying to make a distinction between American military forces in a country where they were there as part of a civil war and military forces that are part of an alliance accepted by the population, such as in Germany after World War II. He did not say we should stay in Iraq in a combat mission. He was trying to make exactly the opposite point.

SPIEGEL: The Democrats have promised a rapid withdrawal. Is this a realistic option?

Kissinger: The issue is: Are American forces withdrawn as part of a political settlement? Or are they withdrawn because America is exhausted by the war? In the latter case, the consequences of an American withdrawal would be catastrophic.

SPIEGEL: Do you think there would be another eruption of violence?

Kissinger: There would be a high possibility of killing fields. Radical Islam won't stop because we withdraw. A rapid withdrawal would be a demonstration in the region of the impotence of Western power. Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaida would achieve a more dominant role, and the ability of Western nations to shape events would be sharply reduced. The virus would have huge consequences for all countries with large Muslim populations: India, Indonesia, and large parts of Europe.

SPIEGEL: That is not how many Europeans see it.

Kissinger: Some Europeans do not want to understand that this is not an American problem alone. The consequences of such an outcome would be at least as serious for Europe as for the Americans.

SPIEGEL: What does Europe not understand? Paris, London and Berlin do not see the "war on terror" as a common challenge for the West?

Kissinger: I don't like the term "war on terror" because terror is a method, not a political movement. We are in a war against radical Islam that is trying to overthrow the moderate elements in the Islamic world and which is fundamentally challenging the secular structures of Western societies. All this is happening at a difficult period in European history.

SPIEGEL: Difficult why?

Kissinger: The major events in European history were conducted by nation-states which developed over several hundred years. There was never a question in the mind of European populations that the state was authorized to ask for sacrifices and that the citizens had a duty to carry it out. Now the structure of the nation-state has been given up to some considerable extent in Europe. And the capacity of governments to ask for sacrifices has diminished correspondingly.

SPIEGEL: Thirty years ago, you asked for one phone number that could be used to call Europe.

Kissinger: ... and it happened. The problem now is: Nation-states have not just given up part of their sovereignty to the European Union but also part of their vision for their own future. Their future is now tied to the European Union, and the EU has not yet achieved a vision and loyalty comparable to the nation-state. So, there is a vacuum between Europe's past and Europe's future.

SPIEGEL: What do you expect from European leaders? Should German Chancellor Angela Merkel step up and ask the Germans to make sacrifices in the fight against terrorism?

Kissinger: I think Angela Merkel, like any leader, has to think of her re-election. I have high regard for her. But I do not know many Europeans who would deny that the victory of radical Islam in Baghdad, Beirut or Saudi Arabia would have huge consequences for the West. However, they are not willing to fight to prevent it.

SPIEGEL: For example in Afghanistan. Does NATO need more German troops in the southern part of the country?

Kissinger: I think it is obvious that the United States cannot permanently do all the fighting for Western interests by itself. So, two conclusions are possible: Either there are no Western interests in the region and we don't fight. Or there are vital Western interests in the region and we have to fight. That means we need more German and NATO troops <http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,535925,00.html>  in Afghanistan. What I am not comfortable with is that some NATO members send troops primarily for non-combat missions. That cannot be a healthy situation in the long term.

SPIEGEL: Many Germans say we have to stand up to the terrorists, but that Germans can't do the actual fighting, partly because of our history. You are intimately familiar with German history -- your family left Germany when you were nearly 15 years old. Is it fair for today's Germany to refer to the constraints of history?

Kissinger: I understand it, but it is not a sustainable position. In the long run, we cannot have two categories of members in the NATO alliance: those that are willing to fight and others that are trying to be members  la carte. That cannot work for long.

SPIEGEL: Do you think the Germans can be persuaded to change their approach?

Kissinger: The Germans have to decide that for themselves. But if they stick to that attitude, Germany would be a different kind of nation than Britain or France or others.

SPIEGEL: Isn't German and European opposition to a greater military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq also a result of deep distrust of American power?

Kissinger: By this time next year, we will see the beginning of a new administration. We will then discover to what extent the Bush administration was the cause or the alibi for European-American disagreements. Right now, many Europeans hide behind the unpopularity of President Bush. And this administration made several mistakes in the beginning.

SPIEGEL: What do you see as the biggest mistakes?

Kissinger: To go into Iraq with insufficient troops, to disband the Iraqi army, the handling of the relations with allies at the beginning even though not every ally distinguished himself by loyalty. But I do believe that George W. Bush has correctly understood the global challenge we are facing, the threat of radical Islam, and that he has fought that battle with great fortitude. He will be appreciated for that later.

SPIEGEL: In 50 years, historians will treat his legacy more kindly?

Kissinger: That will happen much earlier.

SPIEGEL: Will the next president of the United States ask for a greater European commitment?

Kissinger: It is not impossible that a new administration will say that we can't go on without more European commitment. And that they would use this as an excuse for withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan. I don't think John McCain would do that, though.

SPIEGEL: Barack Obama also says the conflict in Pakistan is the war Americans really need to win. Is he right?

Kissinger: You can always say there is some other war I would rather want to fight than the one I am in. What does it mean to fight the war in Pakistan? Should we use military power to control the tribal regions in Pakistan and to conduct military operations in a region which Britain failed to pacify in over 100 years of colonization? Should we use military force to prevent a radical take-over of the Pakistani government? Should we prevent the Pakistani state from splitting up into three or four ethnically based groups? I don't think we have the capacity to do that.

SPIEGEL: What about pushing for more military action against al-Qaida terrorists in the border regions with Afghanistan?

Kissinger: The audience listening to such exhortations believes that there is a master plan to bring another government there and that this democratic government will fight the tribal regions. In the short-term, this is an illusion.

SPIEGEL: What would be your advice for dealing with radical Islam and the governments in the region?

Kissinger: You cannot simultaneously attempt to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan in the name of democracy and fight radical Islam. The democratization processes and the war against radical Islam have a different time frame.

SPIEGEL: Is it time for a strategic reassessment? You have experience with that: In the 1970s, Richard Nixon and you stunned the world by flying to China and sitting down with the Communist dictator Mao.
Kissinger: We did not wake up one morning and say it would be beautiful to talk to Mao. Nixon and I both believed we needed to bring China into the international system. We tried to connect objective reality with moral considerations. And objective reality was changed by the Sino-Soviet tensions and the consequent commitment by Beijing to coexistence.

SPIEGEL: Times have changed, but such moral considerations still exist. Should the new US president fly to Tehran and sit down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Kissinger: Some believe that the mere act of conversation will alter the tension. I believe that negotiations succeed only if they reflect an objective reality. The key issue with Iran is whether it sees itself as a cause or as a nation. If Iran wants to be a respected nation-state in the region without claiming religious or imperial domination, then we should be able to come to some form of understanding. But we will not reach that goal unless Iran realizes that this is not a historical opportunity to resurrect Persian dreams of glory.

SPIEGEL: And the Iranians need to feel Western pressure to come to that conclusion?

Kissinger: We need a mixture of pressure and incentives. We must realize that painless sanctions are a contradiction.

SPIEGEL: Sounds like the old game of carrots and sticks. You think the US president should meet with an Iranian leader only after painful sanctions?

Kissinger: You would never start with such a step. Nixon sat down with Mao three years after we had initial contact. I think a meeting with an Iranian president would be at the end of a process, not the very beginning.

SPIEGEL: But looking at legacy again, will historians look back one day and write: The Iraq adventure prevented the US from focusing on other strategic challenges -- such as the rapid rise of India and China? Is the Superpower distracted rather than over-stretched?

Kissinger: I think we face three challenges currently: The disappearance of the nation-state; the rise of India and China; and, thirdly, the emergence of problems and challenges that cannot be solved by a single power, such as energy and the environment. We do not have the luxury to focus on one problem; we have to deal with all three of them or we won't succeed with any of them. The rise of Asia will be an enormous event. But we cannot say that we should therefore keep other challenges, such as the fight against radical Islam, in abeyance.

SPIEGEL: Is China still a partner or primarily a rival?

Kissinger: China has to be treated as a potential partner. We must use all ingenuity to create a system in which the great states of Asia -- which really are not nation-states in the European sense but large conglomerates of cultures -- can participate. We have no choice.

SPIEGEL: Does the fact that "guided democracies" like Russia or China are currently more successful in economic terms undermine the attractiveness of Western-style democracy? Is that a new model that is becoming attractive for young people?

Kissinger: The problem of guided democracies is that they have great difficulties solving the problem of succession and of giving access to the widest possible pool of talent. China has come closer to solving that problem than any other undemocratic system. I believe that the democratic model is better and more durable for the future but not automatically. It depends on our vision and determination.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Kissinger, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us.

Interview conducted by Gregor Peter Schmitz and Gabor Steingart in New York.

FRIDAY, February 22, 2008
GS

MONDAY through THURSDAY, February 18 through 21, 2008

"NO BRAINER" EDITION
GS

SUNDAY, February 17, 2008

Today, some very rapid responses to news of the day. 
Alright, this last one was not "very rapid".  But it is at least concise, and from a physician / attorney who has been in medical practice and in the battle for the last 45 years...and counting.

GS

FRIDAY and SATURDAY, February 15 and 16, 2008
GS

TUESDAY through THURSDAY, February 12 through 14, 2008
GS

MONDAY, February 11, 2008

The Crux of the matter regarding our "allies."  GS

Gates: Western alliance at risk
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
Sun Feb 10, 8:36 AM ET

MUNICH, Germany - NATO's survival is at stake in the debate over how the United States and Europe should share the burden of fighting Islamic extremism in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday.

"We must not — we cannot — become a two-tiered alliance of those willing to fight and those who are not," Gates told the Munich Conference on Security Policy, where Afghanistan was a central topic.

"Such a development, with all its implications for collective security, would effectively destroy the alliance," he added.

Washington has had innumerable disputes with its NATO allies in the 59 years since the security alliance was founded as a bulwark against the former Soviet Union. But Gates portrayed today's debate over the importance of the mission in Afghanistan and how to accomplish as among the most difficult ever.

A central theme of Gates' speech was his assertion that al-Qaida extremists, either in Afghanistan or elsewhere, pose a greater threat to Europe than many Europeans realize.

The Pentagon chief later took questions from his audience, which included dozens of top government officials, mainly from Europe and the U.S., as well as military officers, private security specialists, members of Congress and European parliamentarians.

A member of the Russian parliament, leading off the questioning, accused the U.S. of having created today's al-Qaida threat through American support in the 1980s for the mujahedeen resistance to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Gates disputed that assertion, but said he did regret that the U.S. abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

"The threat from al-Qaida began with the Soviet invasion of a sovereign state in December 1979, a state that up to that point had not represented a threat to anybody in the world, except to a certain extent its own people because of its weakness and poverty," Gates said.

Also addressing the conference was Sergei Ivanov, the former Russian defense minister who is now a deputy prime minister. He advocated joining forces to fight international terrorism, but suggested the U.S. has motives that are out of step with those of Russia and other countries.

"Some states strive to exploit anti-terrorist activities as a pretext to achieving their own geopolitical and economic goals," Ivanov said, apparently referring to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In his speech, Gates praised NATO allies for their contributions in Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement ruled in Kabul and provided a haven for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network until U.S. forces invaded after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But he said pointedly that more effort is needed and the alliance must find a way to win the fight against a resurgent Taliban.

"In NATO, some allies ought not have the luxury of opting only for stability and civilian operations, forcing other allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and the dying," Gates said.

He named no individual countries; U.S. officials have been pressing Germany to do more.

NATO, through its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is in charge of the military mission in Afghanistan. The top commander is an American, Army Gen. Daniel McNeill, and the U.S. is the biggest provider of troops. Of the 42,000 total ISAF troops, about 14,000 are American. The U.S. has an additional 13,000 separately hunting terrorists and training Afghan forces.

U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock, the NATO supreme commander, said in an interview shortly before Gates' appearance that the troops in Afghanistan would be making more progress if they had the resources they were promised more than a year ago. He said they are short at least three maneuver battalions, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools to track movements on the ground.

Referring to a "paucity of troops," Craddock said the commanders in Afghanistan are like the coach of an 11-player soccer team that is competing with two players short. He said the effect is that the commanders are unable to attack and defend as aggressively as they would like.

"Give us the resources," Craddock said in the interview with U.S. reporters traveling with Gates.

In his speech, Gates said the Bush administration had learned from mistakes made in Iraq, including the need to more closely integrate the civilian-led stabilization efforts with the military efforts. He said the U.S. and NATO must apply that lesson in Afghanistan to assure success.

Gates is hoping to persuade Europeans that they have a big stake in the outcome in Afghanistan.

"I am concerned that many people on this continent may not comprehend the magnitude of the direct threat to European security," posed by radical elements in Afghanistan, he said.

The defense secretary, who was a career CIA officer before retiring in 1993, said his remarks on Afghanistan were meant to reach "directly to the people of Europe" in a bid to persuade them on the war's importance.

"The threat posed by violent Islamic extremism is real — and it is not going to go away," he said, adding that Europe has seen a string of terrorist attacks — in London, Madrid, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Paris and Glasgow, Scotland. He ticked off a list of plots that were disrupted before they could be carried out, including a plan to use ricin and release cyanide in the London Underground and a planned chemical attack in Paris.

"It raises the question: What would happen if the false success they proclaim became real success? If they triumphed in Iraq or Afghanistan, or managed to topple the government of Pakistan? Or a major Middle Eastern government?

"Aside from the chaos that would instantly be sown in the region, success there would beget success on many other fronts as the cancer metastasized further and more rapidly than it already has," Gate said.

SATURDAY and SUNDAY, February 9 and 10, 2008

Another busy news cycle.
 
From The Foreign Desk:
From the Home Desk:
From the Local Desk:
GS

FRIDAY, February 8, 2008

FOUR GREAT STORIES (Authors Unknown)

        When in England at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell
was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an
example of empire building' by George Bush.

        He answered by saying, "Over the years, the United States
has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for
freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for
in return is enough to bury those that did not return ".

        It became very quiet in the room.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Then there was a conference in France where a number of
international engineers were taking part, including French and American.
During a break one of the French engineers came back into the room saying: "
Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft
carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended
to do, bomb them? "

        A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly: "Our
carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred
people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power
to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed
3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of
fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters
for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck..
We have eleven such ships; how many does France have? "

        Once again, dead silence.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that
included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French
Navies.
        At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a
large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those
countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks
but a French admiral suddenly complained that, "whereas Europeans learn many
languages, Americans learn only English" He then asked: "Why is it that we
always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking
French?"

        Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied: " Maybe
it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you
wouldn't have to speak German."

        You could have heard a pin drop.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        A group of Americans, retired teachers, recently went to
France on a tour. Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in
Paris by plane.

        At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his
passport in his carry on: "You have been to France before, monsieur???" the
customs officer asked sarcastically.

        Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.
        "Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

        The American said, "The last time I was here, I didn't have
to show it."

        "Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on
arrival in France !!!"

        The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look.
Then he quietly explained:... "Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on
D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find any damned
Frenchmen to show it to !!!"

WEDNESDAY and THURSDAY, February 6 and 7, 2008

HEREWITH, SOME ELECTION SELECTION SENTIMENTS.
GS

TUESDAY
, February 5, 2008

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT

>  How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?
>  By Ben Stein
>
>  As I begin to write this, I 'slug' it, as we writers say, which means I
> put a  heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is
> 'eonlineFIN AL,'  and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing
> this column for so  long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved
> writing this column so  much for so long I came to believe it would never
> end..
>
>  It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person
> and  the world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton's,
> while  better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to.
> It still  brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I
> saw Samuel  L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and
> right before  that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an
> elevator, in  which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super
> movie. But Morton's is  not the star galaxy it once was, though it
> probably will be again.
>
> Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think
> Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant,
> friendly  people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated.
> But a man or  woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and
> reciting them in front  of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star
> we should all look up to.
>
>  How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane
> luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone
> bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not
> riding  around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting
> trained in yoga  or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have
> Vietnamese girls do  their n ails.
>
>  They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any
> longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked
> his  head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could  have been met
> by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an  abject Saddam
> Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the  world.
>
>  A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a
> road  north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed
> him.
>
>  A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S.
> soldier  in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of
> unexploded ordnance  on a street near where he was guarding a station. He
> pushed her aside and  threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a
> family desolate in California  and a little girl alive in Baghdad
>
>  The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish
> weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two
> of  their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for
> the  sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.
>
>  We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the cove rs of our
> magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay
> but  stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines
> and  near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.
>
>  I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor
> values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that
> who  is eating at Morton's is a big subject.
>
>  There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen
> and  women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they
> will  return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who
> have been  in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the
> teachers and nurses  who throw their whole spirits into caring for
> autistic children; the kind men  and women who work in hospices and in
> cancer wards.
>
>  Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the
> World  Trade Center as the towers beg an to collapse. Now you have my idea
> of a real  hero.
>
>  I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that
> matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another
> way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier
> or  as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or
> as good  an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as
> Fitzgerald. Or  even remotely close to any of them.
>
>  But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above
> all,  a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to
> be my  main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty
> well with my  wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's
> help). I cared for and  paid attention to them in their declining years. I
> stayed with my father as  he got sick, went into extremis and then into a
> coma and then entered  immortality with my sister and me reading him the
> Psalms.
>
>  This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the
> soldiers in  Iraq or the firefighters in New York . I came to realize that
> life lived to  help others is the only one that matters and that it is my
> duty, in return  for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help
> others He has placed in  my path. This is my highest and best use as a
> human.
>
>  Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.
>

MONDAY, February 4, 2008

Wall Street Journal: McCain And The Supreme Court

By Steven G. Calabresi and John O. McGinnis

The conservative movement has made enormous gains over the past three decades in restoring constitutional government. The Roberts Supreme Court shows every sign of building on these gains.

Yet the gulf between Democratic and Republican approaches to constitutional law and the role of the federal courts is greater than at any time since the New Deal. With a Democratic Senate, Democratic presidents would be able to confirm adherents of the theory of the "Living Constitution" -- in essence empowering judges to update the Constitution to advance their own conception of a better world. This would threaten the jurisprudential gains of the past three decades, and provide new impetus to judicial activism of a kind not seen since the 1960s.

We believe that the nomination of John McCain is the best option to preserve the ongoing restoration of constitutional government. He is by far the most electable Republican candidate remaining in the race, and based on his record is as likely to appoint judges committed to constitutionalism as Mitt Romney, a candidate for whom we also have great respect.

We make no apology for suggesting that electability must be a prime consideration. The expected value of any presidential candidate for the future of the American judiciary must be discounted by the probability that the candidate will not prevail in the election. For other kinds of issues, it may be argued that it is better to lose with the perfect candidate than to win with an imperfect one. The party lives to fight another day and can reverse the bad policies of an intervening presidency.

The judiciary is different. On Jan. 20, 2009, six of the nine Supreme Court justices will be over 70. Most of them could be replaced by the next president, particularly if he or she is re-elected. Given the prospect of accelerating gains in modern medical technology, some of the new justices may serve for half a century. Even if a more perfect candidate were somehow elected in 2012, he would not be able to undo the damage, especially to the Supreme Court.

Accordingly, for judicial conservatives electability must be a paramount consideration. By all accounts, Mr. McCain is more electable than Mr. Romney. He runs ahead or even with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the national polls, and actually leads the Democratic candidates in key swing states like Wisconsin. Mr. Romney trails well behind both Democratic candidates by double digits. The fundamental dynamic of this race points in Mr. McCain's way as well. He appeals to independents, while Mr. Romney's support is largely confined to Republicans.

With many more Republican senators up for re-election than Democrats, the nomination of Mr. Romney could easily lead to a Goldwater-like debacle, in which the GOP loses not only the White House but also its ability in practice to filibuster in the Senate. Thus, even if we believed that Mr. Romney's judicial appointments were likely to be better than Mr. McCain's -- and we are not persuaded of that -- we would find ourselves hard-pressed to support his candidacy, given that he is so much less likely to make any appointments at all.

In fact, there is no reason to believe that Mr. McCain will not make excellent appointments to the court. On judicial nominations, he has voted soundly in the past from Robert Bork in 1987 to Samuel Alito in 2006. His pro-life record also provides a surety that he will not appoint judicial activists.

We recognize that there are two plausible sources of disquiet. Mr. McCain is perhaps the foremost champion of campaign-finance regulation, regulation that is hard to square with the First Amendment. Still, a President McCain would inevitably have a broader focus. Securing the party's base of judicial conservatives is a necessary formula for governance, as President Bush himself showed when he swiftly dropped the ill-conceived nomination of Harriet Miers.

Perhaps more important, because of the success of constitutionalist jurisprudence, a McCain administration would be enveloped by conservative thinking in this area. The strand of jurisprudential thought that produced Sen. Warren Rudman and Justice David Souter is no longer vibrant in the Republican Party.

Others are concerned that Mr. McCain was a member of the "Gang of 14," opposing the attempt to end filibusters of judicial nominations. We believe that Mr. McCain's views about the institutional dynamics of the Senate are a poor guide to his performance as president. In any event, the agreement of the Gang of 14 had its costs, but it played an important role in ensuring that Samuel Alito faced no Senate filibuster. It also led to the confirmation of Priscilla Owens, Janice Rogers Brown and Bill Pryor, three of President George W. Bush's best judicial appointees to the lower federal courts.

Conservative complaints about Mr. McCain's role as a member of the Gang of 14 seem to encapsulate all that is wrong in general with conservative carping over his candidacy. It makes the perfect the enemy of the very good results that have been achieved, thanks in no small part to Mr. McCain, and to the very likely prospect of further good results that might come from his election as president.

SUNDAY, February 3, 2008

Short and To The Point...
GS

FRIDAY and SATURDAY
, February 1 and 2, 2008

Didn't realize just how much he's missed, until I read and remembered some of the stuff he said... and stood for.

'Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.'
- Ronald Reagan

'The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'
- Ronald Reagan

'The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.'
- Ronald Reagan

'Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.'
- Ronald Reagan

 'I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.'
- Ronald Reagan

'The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.'
- Ronald Reagan

'Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.'
- Ronald Reagan

'The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.'
- Ronald Reagan

'It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.'
- Ronald Reagan

'Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.'
- Ronald Reagan

'Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book.'
- Ronald Reagan

'No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.'
- Ronald Reagan

'If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.'
- Ronald Reagan


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