In his first major interview after his loss, Rick Santorum tells the Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Salena Zito that he will not stop talking about the “greatest problem” confronting this country.
This is disconcerting to say the least:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped to head the Intelligence Committee when the Democrats take over in January, failed a quiz of basic questions about al Qaeda and Hezbollah, two of the key terrorist organizations the intelligence community has focused on since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
When asked by CQ National Security Editor Jeff Stein whether al Qaeda is one or the other of the two major branches of Islam — Sunni or Shiite — Reyes answered “they are probably both,” then ventured “Predominantly — probably Shiite.”
That is wrong. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organization and views Shiites as heretics.
Reyes could also not answer questions put by Stein about Hezbollah, a Shiite group on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations that is based in Southern Lebanon.
In an OpEd today on National Review Online Rick Santorum says that our leaders have failed us with respect to Iran. Iran, says Santorum, must be confronted if the war against Islamic fascism is to be won. According to Santorum, the Gates nomination signals an unwillingness on the part of the Administration and Congress to address the growing threat:
The president is not unaware of the situation in Iran, but his view of the country is informed by the advisers who surround him, a collection of people from the various sectors of the foreign-policy establishment. His intelligence team, led by the director of National Intelligence, will advise him that the opposition in Iran is weak and divided and that there is no legitimate exile community; thus we have no real alternative to either bombing the country or establishing by diplomacy a modus vivendi. The Pentagon will advise the president that our already stretched forces are unable to engage in another conflict. The State Department and our new secretary of Defense do not think that there is a casus belli and that our best hope for mitigating the many crises of that region is to negotiate with Iran.
So, if we should not expect the president to explain why we must confront Iran, what of the Congress?
The Democrats of course would never confront Iran because they attribute their wins in November to America’s growing dissatisfaction with Iraq. If continued instability in Iraq works to their political benefit, why would they change the subject to Iran, particularly when they have no solution to propose and have always been skeptical that military force will do anything to stop Islamic terrorism?
Many Republicans understand the problems that Iran is causing in Iraq, but they have no wish to be portrayed as warmongers by the media and the Democratic party. If Americans have had enough with Iraq, it would be only too easy to characterize any confrontation with Iran as the United States becoming hopelessly and dangerously entangled in a region whose ills defy remedy.
Yesterday the Senate confirmed Robert Gates as the new Defense Secretary by a 95-2 vote. Rick Santorum voted no, and in the floor speech in the extended section he gives his reasons which are worth reading. People will criticize Santorum for this speech and they will continue to say he is using scare tactics and that he is a warmonger. But unfortunately, I don’t think history’s judgement will be so harsh. I fear history’s judgement made prove Santorum right. He should keep giving these speeches…someone has too. Read the rest of this entry »
According to this report, it could happen.
The Washington Post:
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation’s intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.
It seems that old bulls in the Democratic Party having just found their way back to prized Committee Chairmanships are unwilling to give up any of their new turf in order to implement this 9/11 Commission recommendation. Here is what Heritage’s James Carafano wrote about this recommendation back in 2004:
The Commission’s criticism of the lack of effective congressional oversight of homeland security and intelligence is damning. Improving how the House and the Senate provide oversight of the Intelligence Community must be a priority. And as Heritage scholars have argued consistently, Congress must establish permanent homeland security committees in both houses.
There is no question that Congress has a major role to play in establishing an effective homeland security regime. While the Homeland Security Act of 2002 created a lead federal agency for many domestic security activities, that was only the first step. Building an effective department requires sound strategies, solid programs, personnel reforms, and integrating information technologies. Congressional oversight—lead by committees and professional staffs with the experience and expertise to address difficult, complex issues—plays an important role in achieving these ends. To this point, the Congress has failed to provide that kind of leadership.
Andrew Cline writing for the American Spectator:
Rangel has pushed for a draft for the past three years. He argues that the government would not start wars if the sons of the elites who decide such things were at risk of being deployed to fight the wars the elites start.The only problem with that thesis is that it has no basis whatsoever in reality. The United States had a draft from 1948 to 1973. We still went to Korea and (ahem) Vietnam. Rangel also has no idea who is actually in our military. He claims it’s the poor and unprivileged. (In other words, if you don’t study in school so you’ll have good career options, you’ll get stuck in Iraq.)
But the military today is not the military of the Civil War or even Vietnam. It is more educated and affluent than ever before. A report by Heritage Foundation researcher Tim Kane, released just before the election, found that “the average reading level of new soldiers is roughly a full grade level higher than their civilian peers” and that the high school graduation rate for enlistees was 17 percentage points higher than the rate for the civilian population.
The military is also not just a bunch of poor boys with no other options. “The wealthiest 40 percent of neighborhoods in America are the home of 45.6 percent of 2005 enlistees,” Kane found. “For every two U.S. recruits from the poorest neighborhoods, three come from the richest.”
So how is Rangel’s idea going over in poor neighborhoods?
“What, he was smoking pot or something?” 58-year-old James Brown of Harlem, one of Rangel’s own constituents, asked a New York Daily News reporter when asked for comment on Rangel’s plan.
Another Rangel constituent, 48-year-old Neil Davis, said Rangel “doesn’t represent the people of Harlem if he’s for the draft.”
UPDATE: Former Marine Corps Major Brian Bresnahan counters Rangel’s claims that the military is full of poor enlistees who have no other options:
I know our battalion of reserve Marines in Iraq was full of folks who took a pay cut when they were mobilized. In fact, the discrepancy in pay was so great for some of our enlisted Marines it created hardships for their families. We had Marines with graduate degrees and high level management positions in Fortune 500 companies.
There were enlisted Marines I served alongside who put lucrative computer programming jobs or the pursuit of a law degree on hold. Our battalion surgeon volunteered for the Navy Reserve to serve. He is one of the very few pediatric heart surgeons in the United States; certainly not a man without choices in life.
The angry parents and spouses of service members flooded some of the radio talk shows Monday with the stories of why their husband, wife, son, or daughter gave up scholarships, high paying jobs, or other opportunities to go fight.
So, Congressman Rangel simply made an incorrect scientific hypothesis. Honest mistake, right?
Wrong. The full measure of his outlook was unveiled when he expanded his argument about the troops and their deficiencies with respect to the rest of society. The truth is he doesn’t think much of us. In the end, his position and comments weren’t what anyone could call “supportive.”
On Fox News Sunday yesterday Charlie Rangel took John Kerry’s “botched joke” and turned it into a straight-faced argument. This is from the transcript:
WALLACE: Congressman Rangel, you caused quite a stir this week when you said that you’re going to introduce a bill to reinstate the draft. Here’s what you said this week in a newspaper article. Let’s take a look. “The great majority of people bearing arms in this country, for this country in Iraq, are from the poorer communities in our inner cities and rural areas.”But a recent and very detailed study by the Heritage Foundation, Congressman, found the following and I’m going to put that up: 13 percent of recruits are from the poorest neighborhoods. That’s less than the national average of people living in those neighborhoods. Ninety-seven percent of recruits have high school diplomas. Among all Americans, the graduation rate is under 80 percent. And blacks make up 14.5 percent of recruits for the military; the national average is 12 percent.
Congressman, in fact, contrary to what you’ve been saying, isn’t the volunteer army better educated and more well-to-do than the general population?
RANGEL: Of course not. I want to make it abundantly clear that I have been advocating a draft ever since the president has been talking about war, and none of this comes within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee.
But I want to make it abundantly clear, if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment.
If a young fellow has an option of having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.
So anyone who supports the war and is against everyone sharing in the sacrifice is being hypocritical about the whole thing. The record is clear, and once we are able to get hearings on this, everyone will see what they already know, and that is that those who have the least opportunities at this age find themselves in the military, as I did when I was 18 years old.
Notice how Rangel does not even try to address the well-documented facts put forth by the Heritage study. Hard data and facts are pesky little annoyances to Rangel who appears bent on pushing his insulting version of the truth.
Also notice how Rangel, with a straight face, insists that nobody would join the military unless they had no other career choices. How many of you reading this can count multiple friends and family who have chosen to serve in the military despite having lucrative career offers in other fields? I personally am lucky to know many such people. And regardless of this anecdotal test, the facts just don’t bear it out. As Wallace pointed out, the above mentioned study found the following:
Overall, the wartime recruits are more similar than dissimilar to their civilian counterparts. The all-volunteer force displays near proportional representation of income backgrounds. Whites serve in approximate proportion to their population, although representation of minority groups varies. Recruits must meet educational standards, and the military provides resources for furthering education to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend four-year colleges. Although rural representation is disproportional, the military offers the opportunity to gain new skills and enter industries that are not available in rural areas.
With regard to income, education, race, and regional background, the all-volunteer force is representative of our nation and meets standards set by Congress and the Department of Defense. In contrast to the patronizing slanders of antiwar critics, recruit quality is increasing as the war in Iraq continues. Although recent recruiting goals have been difficult to meet, re-enlistment is strong and recruit quality remains high. No evidence supports arguments for reinstating the draft or altering recruiting policies to achieve more equitable representation.
So not only is Charlie Rangel’s rhetoric insulting and demeaning to the finest military in the world, it is factually wrong.
Victor Davis Hanson is a MUST-READ today. I won’t even bother lifting any of the text…his column which asks, “Will the West stumble” must be consumed in its entirety. Read the whole thing, understand the stakes.
A friend from the hill writes, “less than a week after being put in power, Dems are trying to give rights to terrorists. Rights our soldiers wouldn’t have anywhere, in any war we’ve ever been in. At least the Court in Rasul just said there is a hole here, the Dems are trying to actually make the hole.”
This is in reference to this story:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) — A battle is shaping up betweenand the White House over the Military Commissions Act, signed into law last month by President George W. Bush.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is expected to take over as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and The (Calif.) Daily Journal reports that Leahy is drafting a bill to undo portions of the new law in an effort to restorerights for enemy combatants.
A spokeswoman for Leahy told the newspaper the bill would be intended to repeal portions of the law that prevent some detainees from pursuing federal court challenges to the government’s authority to hold them indefinitely.
Spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler told the newspaper the goal is to “try and do something to reverse the damage.”
Scott L. Silliman, Director of the Center for Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University School of Law, told the newspaper an attempt to amend the law could set up a partisan showdown in Congress, and possibly a presidential veto.
Civil rights attorneys filed a constitutional challenge to the act after Bush signed it Oct. 17, the Journal said.