Another Who Could Use Prayer

Hugh Hewitt just interviewed a 6-year-old girl who has a new website, Megan’s Home. Megan has a rare autoimmune disease known as Microscopic Polyangiitis (MPA). The disease has seriously damaged her kidneys, and she will need a transplant soon. She’s quite a little artist, and her dad has put plenty of her drawings of flowers on the website, along with an explanation of her disease and Megan’s prognosis.
You all were so kind with your prayers and thoughts for the First Mate, and the strength we took from that was tremendous. I’d feel remiss if I didn’t ask you to visit Megan’s website and sign her guestbook, drop her an e-mail, say a prayer, or all three.

Educational Death Penalty For Supporting Corporal Punishment?

CQ reader Dave Mendoza points me to an article that appeared in last week’s Daily Orange, the campus newspaper of Syracuse University, regarding the expulsion of Scott McConnell from nearby LeMoyne College. McConnell, a graduate student in education, does not fit LeMoyne’s atmosphere of political correctness. He believes in corporal punishment and rejects the focus on multiculturalism in the classroom:

While students are guaranteed the freedom of speech, LeMoyne College’s recent actions against a student have raised questions of whether or not academic papers are the place to exercise this right.
LeMoyne College expelled Scott McConnell, a student from its Masters of Education program, for writing a paper in which he advocated the use of corporal punishment in schools, he said.
The paper, written for a class on classroom management, originally earned McConnell an A-. However, when he attempted to enroll in classes for the spring semester, he found he couldn’t.

It wasn’t just corporate punishment that got McConnell banished from LeMoyne, ironically a Catholic college that proclaims its commitment to “the Jesuit tradition” — one that most Catholic-school kids would remember as not particularly shy about the paddle across the rear or rulers across the knuckles. (I went to public school, but in an era where both remedies remained available to teachers and administrators.) The Syracuse Post-Standard reported in an earlier story that McConnell’s viewpoint on multiculturalism offended the enlightened souls at LeMoyne:

Dr. Cathy Leogrande, director of the Graduate Education Program, told McConnell in the letter that she had reviewed his grades and talked to his professors.
“I have grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals,” leading to the decision not to admit him, Leogrande wrote. …
He said he’s also been trying to find out what Leogrande meant by “mismatch.” College administrators have told him, he said, that it stems from the four-page “Classroom Management Plan” he submitted Nov. 2 for his Planning, Assessing and Managing Inclusive Classrooms class.
In the opening paragraph of his essay, McConnell wrote: “I do not feel that multicultural education has a philosophical place or standing in an American classroom, especially one that I will teach. I also feel that corporal punishment has a place in the classroom and should be implemented when needed.” He got an A for the course.

I do not know Scott McConnell, so I cannot peer into his soul to see why he objects to multicultural education. Perhaps McConnell was expressing latent racism. A better explanation, however, is that he sees the American classroom as a place for classic learning instead of social engineering, and that multiculturalism amounts to little more than political indoctrination, no matter how benign one considers it. A belief in corporal punishment also hardly qualifies one for public shunning. The notion may not enjoy massive popularity, but it isn’t a fringe belief either.
Besides, the Jesuits have engaged in bitter irony in their treatment of McConnell. LeMoyne intends on protecting multiculturalism in the classroom — by ensuring that everyone who enrolls at their college thinks exactly like they do. The administration shows its opposition to corporal punishment by giving any student espousing it the academic death penalty. The intellectual posturing and moral hypocrisy in these actions and positions truly dizzies the bystander.
Some still scoff when conservatives refer to the overwhelming liberal and leftist bias at universities and colleges in the US. This shows that far from striving to provide students the ability to debate and discuss all points of view, colleges and their administrations have developed a thought police of almost Orwellian proportions to defend their last bastion of Utopian thought. Academia provides no freedom of speech or conscience, and LeMoyne and the Jesuits have clearly communicated that in order to stay enrolled, students must never speak their minds. What a sad and sorry state for LeMoyne, its students, its alumni — and for the students their graduates go on to teach in our classrooms.

So Many Names, So Little Capacity For Thought

I have received e-mail today asking why I’m not making a bigger deal of this portion of the Meet the Press transcript from yesterday, in which John Kerry appears to accuse American intelligence service of running weapons to the Communists during Viet Nam:

MR. RUSSERT: And you have a hat that the CIA agent gave you?
SEN. KERRY: I still have the hat that he gave me, and I hope the guy would come out of the woodwork and say, “I’m the guy who went up with John Kerry. We delivered weapons to the Khmer Rouge on the coastline of Cambodia [emphasis mine].” We went out of Ha Tien, which is right in Vietnam. We went north up into the border. And I have some photographs of that, and that’s what we did. So, you know, the two were jumbled together, but we were on the Cambodian border on Christmas Eve, absolutely.

The Khmer Rouge, of course, were the Cambodian Communist rebels that wound up sacking the country after we bailed out of Southeast Asia. Why Kerry would think that we ran weapons to the Communists in Cambodia while battling them in Viet Nam is beyond me. It’s apparent that he’s making this story up as he goes along. Every time he’s asked about Christmas in Cambodia, he changes the story. This time, he came up with a name that fits with the subject matter, but he’s so clueless that he either didn’t know or couldn’t remember exactly what the Khmer Rouge were.
It’s yet another marker of the dishonesty we’ve come to expect from the junior senator from Massachusetts. He won’t sign the Form 180, either, even with his promise to do so in the same interview. His prevarication has become pathological.

Burns Provides Balance On Pages Of NYT

Despite my dislike for the New Yorks Times’ editorial policies and the way it appears to infect its news reporting, one of the bright spots of the mainstream news media is John Burns, the veteran Times correspondent for the Middle East. His work cannot usually be characterized as biased, and he regularly provides balanced coverage.
His report today on the Iraqi election is no exception. Burns notes that while the Iraqis still remain skeptical about American motives, they clearly delighted in the ability to select their own leadership, and that the religious differences that has frightened the Left into hysteria is overblown:

Nobody among the hundreds of voters thronging one Baghdad polling station on Sunday could remember anything remotely like it, not even those old enough to have taken part in Iraq’s last partly free elections more than 50 years ago, before the assassination of King Faisal II began a spiraling descent into tyranny.
The scene was suffused with the sense of civic spirit that has seemed, so often in America’s 22 months here, like a missing link in the plan to build democracy in Iraq. Gone, for this day at least, was the suspicion that 24 years of bludgeoning under Saddam Hussein had bred a disabling passivity among the country’s 28 million people, an unwillingness, among many, to become committed partners in fashioning their own freedoms.
At the Darari primary school, east of the Tigris River in central Baghdad, the courtyard teemed with people of all ages, and of all ethnic and religious groups, doing what American military commanders here have urged for so long: standing up for themselves, and laying down a marker, with their votes, that signaled they could not be intimidated into surrendering their rights by the insurgents who have terrorized the country with guns and bombs and butchers’ knives.

Burns also relates a story that shows the Arabic predilection for conspiracy theories remains strong:

Nor, it seemed clear, could Americans assume that elections made possible by United States military power would reverse, except briefly, the hostility toward their country. Many voters said they would not have been there choosing new leaders if the United States had not led the invasion that rid them of Mr. Hussein. But as often as not, the words seemed reluctant, as if crediting Americans for anything was a step too far.
One man, Ahmed Dujaily, 80, a London-trained engineer who was agriculture minister under King Faisal II, put it politely. “We thank the Americans for destroying the regime of Saddam,” he said. “But often, they were not careful for the people; they did many wrong things. Now, we know what they are looking for. They are looking for oil, and military bases, and domination of the new regime. They will have their military headquarters for the region in Iraq, and when they will leave, nobody knows.”

Of course, Dujaily has plenty of company for his paranoia. Lynn Woolsey, supposedly a rational representative of American politics, said much the same thing on MS-NBC yesterday, claiming that the American military were in Iraq to generate profits for Halliburton. In fact, her fellow party members appeared all over the television talk shows yesterday urging Bush to abandon Iraq as soon as the transports could fly. Small wonder Dujaily thinks the way he does; al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya probably have news hours built for American defeatism on display.
Burns doesn’t rise to the bait, however, reporting that Baghdad had never seemed more relaxed to veteran travelers in the region, both for the residents and the American soldiers which helped secure the city:

American soldiers on checkpoint duty hundreds of yards back from the Darari school showed what a morale boost the elections had been for them as they relaxed in the sunshine beside their Humvees and Bradley fighting vehicles, with lowered weapons and ready smiles for the voters passing by. There had been no day like it since the first American units arrived to the cheers of crowds and the tossing of flowers in April 2003, and that lasted barely 24 hours, as unchallenged looting began to devastate the city.
Foreigners who have been visiting Iraq for 15 years and knew the tension that crackled under Mr. Hussein could remember no other day when the city, in wide areas, seemed so much at ease.
The sound of distant bombs, mortars and rifle fire punctuated the day, and televisions quickly spread the message that there were at least 28 new Iraqi victims of the insurgent violence in Baghdad. Overhead, American attack helicopters bristling with missiles were never far away.
But much of the larger part of the tableau, to those who have lived in a city paralyzed by the war, was the fact that great streams of people flowed down avenues and side streets emptied of traffic where, for months, the watchword has been haste and vigilance about the risks of sudden death.

Most Western coverage missed this perspective on Baghdad, even though milbloggers like Beef Always Wins had the photographic evidence to prove it. John Burns, as always, proves himself an invaluable resource for those who want to stay truly informed on Middle East events. Be sure to keep up with his reports while the New York Times still employs him.
If you want to know more about Burns, read this post (I don’t think the original article is still available) and see how he was the first reporter to unveil Moqtada al-Sadr as an inept clown. It provided welcome contrast to the MSM screeching that anointed Sadr as the brains behind the coming Shi’ite revolution in Iraq.
UPDATE: Actually, the original article is still live on the system.

The Tale Of Two Times

Two of the more aggressively anti-Bush newspapers had repeatedly question the timetable for the Iraqi elections in its editorials over the past few weeks. Now that the elections have been proven a spectacular success, I thought a visit to the editorial pages of New York’s and Los Angeles’ leading papers would be revealing.
The LAT appears more ready to concede that the elections were a resounding success and give credit for Bush’s tenacity for holding to the promised schedule for voting:

It takes courage to vote with the sound of mortars and gunfire still ringing and memories of terrorist beheadings still fresh. Whatever the final tally of the turnout Sunday in Iraq, the willingness of millions to defy suicide bombers and killers who threatened havoc at the polls provided some unequivocal good news. Not least, the world could honestly see American troops making it possible for a long-oppressed people to choose their destiny. …
Turnout appeared low, as expected, in Sunni areas, higher in Shiite and Kurdish strongholds. Insurgents managed to kill more than 40 people, despite traffic bans. President Bush said last week, “I urge people to defy these terrorists.” Many did so, leading Bush to proclaim Iraq committed to democracy. He was somewhat ahead of events, for commitment will require forming a government that continues to advance peace and stability. But the Bush administration was proved right in sticking to its election timetable.

All in all, the Los Angeles Times provided a reasoned, balanced, and fair look at the election and its meaning, although I think it missed the truly historic and strategic nature of the event. Acknowledging that Iraqi self-determination is good does not take much risk in an editorial, after all. However, they still manage to outdo their East Coast counterparts:

This page has not hesitated to criticize the Bush administration over its policies in Iraq, and we continue to have grave doubts about the overall direction of American strategy there. Yet today, along with other Americans, whether supporters or critics of the war, we rejoice in a heartening advance by the Iraqi people. For now at least, the multiple political failures that marked the run-up to the voting stand eclipsed by a remarkably successful election day.
But once the votes are fully counted and the new governing and constitution-writing bodies begin their work, those errors, particularly the needless estrangement of mainstream Sunni Arabs and their political leaders, must be urgently addressed. In the longer run, this election can only be counted as a success if it helps lead to a unified Iraq that avoids civil war and attracts a broad enough range of Iraqis to defend itself against its enemies without requiring long-term and substantial American military help.
That day has now become easier to envision. But it still appears very far off. It’s impossible to say, in the glow of election day, how many of the millions of Iraqis who voted did so in hopes that they were making the first step toward a Shiite theocracy. Many – though certainly not all – Shiite leaders have said repeatedly that that they want to work toward an inclusive secular state in which all groups have a stake. What happens next will depend to a considerable extent on the wisdom and restraint the largely Shiite victors show in reaching out to Sunnis who have felt unfairly marginalized.

The Gray Lady cannot bring herself to utter the three most obvious words taken from yesterday’s news: Bush was right. Not only that, but we get more defeatism in the midst of victory with the NYT fretting about whether voters wanted to use democracy to create a theocracy, and how the Sunni feel “unfairly” marginalized by a voluntary boycott.
I have to admit, though, that the New York Times at least managed to outdo the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Despite its overheated and incoherent rhetoric on all things Bush, utter silence has fallen over the Strib’s opinion page today. The editorial board of the state’s leading newspaper has absolutely nothing to say about the remarkable victory of democracy over fear in Iraq yesterday, or the liberation of millions of people from former tyranny and the present threat of Islamofascist oppression. Not one word. Cowards.

Dayton’s Numbers Sink Rapidly

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune notes that approval ratings for both Minnesota senators has dropped over the past year. Both Norm Coleman and Mark Dayton have dropped below the 50% mark in the latest Minnesota Poll. But while the former attracts about the same level of support as President Bush received in the last election, Brave Sir Dayton has seen his popularity crash 15 points, winding up far below John Kerry’s final numbers:

Dayton, a Democrat who’s up for reelection next year, took the heaviest blow: His approval rating declined by 15 points in a year, from 58 percent to 43 percent. The approval rating for Coleman, who just began his third year in office, fell by 7 points, from 54 to 47 percent.
Dayton’s job approval decreased among all categories of Minnesotans, grouped by age, education, income, party and ideology, with the largest drop among men — down 27 points — and 18-24 year olds — down 31 points.
Coleman’s biggest declines came among 25-34 year olds — down by 19 points — and those living in the seven-county metropolitan region — down by 13 points.

Coleman’s numbers come as no surprise to anyone. Norm Coleman served as Bush’s most public point man in Minnesota, campaigning hard to push Minnesota into the red column. When one campaigns like that in such a tight and polarized race, it will affect the numbers of even the most popular politician. Coleman has four years to recover, and now that the presidential race is over, I suspect it will take just a few months.
For Dayton, however, the precipitous decline comes after the senior Senator finally made his way into the national spotlight — and Minnesotans stopped seeing him as a cypher and started considering the embarrassment he caused. He may have thought that he demonstrated leadership with his ridiculous bug-out from DC, but even he sees that beating a very brave retreat has cost him, as well as his vituperative comments towards Condoleezza Rice during the confirmation debate:

“It’s been a very politically controversial year,” Dayton said. “I made controversial decisions in terms of closing my office to protect my staff and even challenging the confirmation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. … I would believe that they are part of the explanation, but I can’t know for sure.” …
In interviews after the poll was conducted, some of the respondents made reference to Dayton’s criticism of Rice.
“I don’t think that was right,” said Cornet, who normally votes Democratic.
Clarence Sutton, 84, a Republican from Gaylord, called Dayton “a disgrace to the state of Minnesota” and said that his attack on Rice was “rotten representation for the state of Minnesota.”

The key for Dayton is the erosion among Democrats. That’s a gap he can make up in the next election cycle, but it’s possible that if he continues to embarrass Minnesota DFLers, he may find himself in the middle of an expensive primary challenge by party members who want a more stable person representing their interests. Right now it’s uncertain whether Dayton can afford to run for re-election; if he has to fight the primary as well, he’ll almost certainly go under. And with an anemic 43% approval rating, the DFL money won’t exactly fly into his campaign coffers.
Another key for the numbers is the poll methodology. The Minnesota Poll contacted 832 adults — not likely voters, or even exclusively registered voters. This has always produced skewed results in the past, but they skew in favor of the Democrats. (Remember that the M-Poll had Kerry up by eight points in the last week of the campaign; he won by 2.5%.) That makes the news doubly worse for Dayton. He lost 15 points in a poll which should favor him, a chilling prospect for his political future.
Dayton has not yet confirmed that he’s running for re-election. If he continues to embarrass Minnesotans like he has over the past year, the DFL may take that decision out of his hands.

Note To Democrats: You Should Have Said This

In the aftermath of the historic Iraqi election, the Democrats had the opportunity to get aboard the democracy bandwagon, or at least have the sense not to get run over by it. However, their leadership felt that a far better strategy for today was to denigrate the accomplishment of the brave Iraqis who defied terrorists to cast their votes in their first free elections in fifty years and demand a withdrawal.
They would have been better off to follow the example of the European leaders whose approval they seem to crave so much. The BBC reports that those politicians have a much better sense of tone in handling the American victory:

World leaders have praised the conduct of Iraq’s first multi-party elections for more than 50 years. …
French President Jacques Chirac described them as a “great success for the international community”, while a spokesman for German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the high turnout showed Iraqis wanted to take their future into their own hands.
Mr Annan, meanwhile, said the Iraqis had shown courage.
“”The Iraqis who turned out today are courageous, they know that they are voting for the future of their country,” he said.
“We must encourage them and support them to take control of their destiny.”

How hard is that? Moderate Democrats must be puzzled and at least somewhat concerned that their leadership has allowed itself to become so infected with Bush hatred that they can no longer recognize opportunities to build trust with the American electorate on national security. The automatic gainsay of anything accomplished by the Bush administration has almost completely destroyed their credibility — and the measured and intelligent reactions of Chirac, Schroeder, and Annan shows how badly the Democrats screwed up today.

All Democrats Can Talk About Is Running Away

I had no idea how influential our Democratic Senator from Minnesota, Brave Sir Mark Dayton, had become on his party’s leadership. On a day when the force of American power and will allowed a long-oppressed people to defy Islamofascists and choose their own representative government, Democrats could only discuss bugging out. That continued with prepared remarks by Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who demanded a timetable for retreat on the occasion of our tremendous victory:

In a pre-State of the Union challenge to President Bush, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid intends to call Monday for the administration to outline an exit strategy for Iraq. …
“The president needs to spell out a real and understandable plan for the unfinished work ahead: defeat the growing insurgency, rebuild Iraq, increase political participation by all parties, especially moderates, and increase international involvement,” Reid will say, according to his prepared remarks.
“Most of all we need an exit strategy so we know what victory is and how we can get there; so that we know what we need to do and so that we know when the job is done.”

I don’t know why the Democrats have become so enamored of so-called “exit strategies”; they didn’t need one for the Balkans, where mismanagement has kept Kosovo stagnant for almost six years now. Exit strategies go by another name in military circles: retreat. The only exit strategy acceptable to a nation at war is victory, and after today’s win over the Islamofascists, the insistence on retreat from leading Democrats such as Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid reveals them as defeatists and petty ankle-biters.
Their timing could hardly be worse. It’s as if the entire party decided to follow Howard Dean’s example of claiming that Saddam’s capture was essentially meaningless in December 2003. Being cautious is one thing, but this coordinated theme from Democrats looks less like caution and much more like a lack of intestinal fortitude.
Perhaps I am a bit too credulous when it comes to estimating the intelligence of the Democratic leadership, but I can’t believe that they thought it smart to come out and play the dog in the manger on such a historic event. They should have just acknowledged the good fortune of the Iraqis and let the day go by without much more comment than that. Instead, they’ve once again proven that they cannot be trusted with national-security concerns or war leadership. In fact, they cannot even be trusted to operate in their own interest. The party leadership of Boxer, Kennedy, and Reid promises to transform the Democrats into the Whigs of the 21st century.

Reuters Playing Headline Games Again

In an attempt to underscore the notion that violence wrecked the Iraqi elections — which anyone watching the live coverage and aware of the high turnout knows is false — Reuters uses the following headline to characterize the historic developments:

Violence-Weary Iraqis Await Poll Results

How do they support the headline in the story? They show these examples of “violence-weary” first-time voters:

Up to 8 million Iraqis, some ululating with joy, others hiding their faces in fear, cast ballots across the country on Sunday as guerrilla attacks proved less ferocious than anticipated in the face of a massive security crackdown. …
Samir Hassan, 32, who lost his leg in a car bomb blast last year, said as he waited to vote in Baghdad: “I would have crawled here if I had to. I don’t want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me.” …
Voters created an almost festive atmosphere in Shi’ite areas and the northern regions where Kurds, who make up nearly a fifth of Iraqis, are looking to the vote to enshrine their autonomous rule. …
By the end of the day in Baghdad, voters were rushing to get to polling stations before they closed, including some old women helped along by young boys.

Not one single mention of violence weariness appears in the Reuters report. The reporters who contributed to the article played it straight. They wanted to report the story as it happened. However, the editors at Reuters apparently want to send a different message to its readers.
Small wonder that the British news service has acquired the nickname “al-Reuters”. It earns it every day.

Turnout Numbers Settle In At 60%

The London Telegraph reports in its morning edition that the estimated turnout in the Iraqi election has settled to 60% as more data has come in from the polling. The number is still spectacular, considering that it equals our best election turnout over the past 40 years while under the threat of murder and terror:

On foot, on crutches and in wheelchairs Iraqis defied the death threats of extremists and voted in their millions yesterday in their country’s first free election in half a century.
After decades of oppression under Saddam Hussein, three major wars and almost two years of occupation, chaos and insurgency, the people turned their election day into a festival of democracy.
Election officials estimated that about 60 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots despite a wave of suicide bombings, mortar and gun attacks.
The turnout was highest in Shia and Kurdish regions, but even towns in the “Sunni Triangle”, where insurgency has been at its most intense, reported enthusiastic voting.

For those of us who have followed the story closely all day, the Telegraph report contains little else we haven’t already heard. However, it is the first of the dailies to file their Monday reports on the election. It will be interesting to see how each newspaper decides to approach the historic elections …