Monday, July 20, 2009

The Latest Kerfuffle

The course of intelligence gathering never did run smooth. In the United States, this challenge is compounded by the imperfect dynamic between those tasked with protecting the country and liberal legislators who believe they are protecting the country from itself.

The latest kerfuffle has Congressional Democrats accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of having a “secret plan” to capture or kill al-Qaeda leadership. To this, any reasonable person might respond, “I should bloody well hope so!” Who doubts that eliminating Osama bin Laden would be a good thing? And as for the plan being secret, what is the CIA to do? Announce on its website that, “agents with baseball bats will be waiting for bin Laden when he comes out of 31 Flavours this evening”?

Of course, this whole issue has been constructed to protect Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most remarkable moonbats ever to appear in American public life. Back in May, while attempting to chew her way out of a leg-trap set by her left-wing base as to whether she was aware of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation by the CIA, Pelosi accused the agency of misleading Congress “all the time.”

Folks who feign fright that the supposedly vapid Sarah Palin could have become vice president of the United States should consider that, as a Constitutional and practical matter, the Speaker of the House of Representatives wields vastly more power than the vice president does. And compared to Pelosi, Palin is Golda flippin’ Meir.

But let us return to the gravity of what Speaker Pelosi said. For Canadians who are unfamiliar with American civics, lying to Congress is not equivalent to telling your MP he can count on your vote just so he’ll get off your front porch. It is a major offense. Here, Pelosi has accused America’s flagship intelligence agency of doing so not only once, or inadvertently, but “all the time.”

Pressed for specifics, Pelosi was desolate, culminating in a painful press conference wherein the Speaker made Jon Lovitz’s truth-challenged “that’s the ticket” SNL character seem like the voice of authority.

So, unable to answer questions about these unfounded allegations, what do Pelosi and the Democrats do? They viciously accuse the CIA of doing its job. If the CIA were NOT planning to put the kibosh on terrorists who killed thousands of Americans and aspire to do so again, an overtaxed populace would wonder just what they were paying these eggheads for.

The ostensible crux of the Democrats’ complaint is that Congress was not briefed on this particular plan, which in any case never got off the drawing board. Columnist Andrew C. McCarthy has sagely advocated more judicious communication between the CIA and federal legislators, noting, “Problems arise, though, when congressional leadership goes juvenile, as has happened in recent times.”

The CIA is not perfect and its failings are highly publicized, from the inability to find WMD in Iraq to sending exploding cigars, Wile E. Coyote-style, to Fidel Castro in Cuba. But as Congressional Democrats question the agency’s honesty and candour, its operatives are risking their lives in locations around the world. There are 90 stars on a wall in Langley, Virginia, representing agents who have paid the ultimate price in defence of freedom. With this in mind, a little respect would go a long way.

Theo Caldwell is the author of Finn the half-Great.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Palin Pulls the Chute

Last fall, a friend who works in television told me, “I supported John McCain until he put Sarah Palin on the ticket – that woman is a deal-breaker!” Now, this pal of mine didn’t know the first thing about Palin’s politics, but she had made up her mind, and she was mad about it, to boot. As American philosopher William James stated, “Many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

Now that Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, has announced her intention to step down as governor of Alaska with sixteen months remaining in her single term, she is once again in the spotlight (as if she ever left it). Some admirers tout Palin as a presidential candidate in her own right, but what is most striking about the Palin phenomenon is the viscerally negative reaction she engenders.

I was in the hall at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota when Palin delivered her famous “pit bull” speech, and the atmosphere was extraordinary. But almost as soon as that night was over, Palin’s performance on the campaign trail, and her poll numbers, slumped.

National media interviews exposed gaps in her knowledge and perhaps this was for the best. After all, if you can’t handle Katie Couric, how will you cope with Vladimir Putin? To that point, I wish Barack Obama had been subject to at least half the scrutiny Palin got. I don’t mean the personal attacks and cracks about her children, I mean the pointed questioning she received from Couric, Charlie Gibson and others. Left-wing media are a refining fire for conservative candidates. Liberals and Democrats have no such advantage. If more reporters had asked frankly of Candidate Obama, “Do you understand the basics?” he might have been better prepared when he attained America’s highest office.

But Palin-hatred did not begin when she booted Gibson’s nebulous question about the “Bush Doctrine.” Rather, as with my TV friend, some folks just detested her from the jump. Whether it’s because of her pro-life views and the threat she poses to modern feminism, as some have suggested, I do not know, but it is a peculiar and ugly thing. In response, comedian Dennis Miller summarized why he likes Palin: “Too many people I don’t respect hate her.”

The unhinged hatred of Palin and idol worship of Obama are inverse symptoms of the same mass psychosis. As I have written before, if a commentator makes even the slightest criticism of Obama, he or she will hear at once from angry, glazed-over nutcakes, issuing pronouncements like, “Obama is building a new world for us all!” To those people I say, softly and with concern, you very badly need to get a life.

And to those who’ve shown hatred toward Palin, I say you’re better than that. Do you really want to be part of a mob that goes after a woman’s teenage daughters and questions the parentage of her infant son in vicious terms? There are excellent reasons to oppose Sarah Palin becoming president of the United States, but many of her harshest detractors couldn’t tell you what they are.

Ideas, not personalities; facts, not caricatures, should prevail in our public discussion. That may seem unrealistic and simple-minded, but the same can be said of politics.

Theo Caldwell is the author of Finn the half-Great.