Monday, December 31, 2007

Thompson Makes His Move By Peter Robinson


Sunday, December 30, 2007

On the Internet as of sometime this afternoon, Fred Thompson’s closing argument to the people of Iowa.

Whereas Romney is saturating the airwaves with attack ads, Thompson pays the voters the courtesy of speaking calmly, and in detail—the video runs to just over 15 minutes. Why should the good Republicans of Iowa support Thompson? Because, the candidate argues, he can win.

I believe I am the only candidate in this race who can bring our party to victory in the fall. First, because of the firmness of my principles and the trust that that engenders. Secondly, because of the detailed program I’ve put before the people. Third, because I've been tried and tested — and I’m a known quantity in public life.

But, most of all, I think I know how to talk to the American people about the opposition and the danger their victory would pose to the principles we hold dear.

In the passage I found the most striking, Thompson does something no other Republican contender has attempted: appeal to Democrats.

You know, when I'm asked which of the current group of Democratic candidates I prefer to run against, I always say it really doesn't matter…These days all those candidates, all the Democratic leaders, are one and the same. They’re all Moore Democrats. They’ve allowed these radicals to take control of their party and dictate their course.

So this election is important not just to enact our conservative principles. This election is important to salvage a once-great political party from the grip of extremism and shake it back to its senses. It's time to give not just Republicans but independents, and, yes, good Democrats a chance to call a halt to the leftward lurch of the once-proud party of working people.

So in seeking the nomination of my own party, I want to say something a little unusual. I am asking my fellow Republicans to vote for me not only for what I have to say to them, but for what I have to say to the members of the other party—the millions of Democrats who haven't left the Democratic party so much as their party's national leadership has left them.

This is reminiscent of Reagan’s talk to the people of North Carolina in 1976. Simple, straightforward, modest production values—just the candidate in front of an American flag and an Iowa flag—but (to use the word again) compelling. Reagan’s 1976 talk enabled him to recover after a string of primary defeats, winning in North Carolina, then going on to come within a handful of delegates of wresting the nomination from Ford. Will Thompson’s talk move voters in Iowa? Does his campaign have the money to get it on the air? Throughout the state? Or even in a few of the most important markets? Beats me. But we have here a serious man, making a serious case—and doing so in the context of a campaign that has otherwise descended into mere caterwauling.

Even at this late hour, I wouldn’t count Fred out.

Fred Thompson 2 constants amid plenty of surprises By Margaret Talev

Former Sen. Fred Thompson at a campaign event at Webster County Republican headquarters in Fort Dodge, Iowa, this month.<br />


Former Sen. Fred Thompson at a campaign event at Webster County Republican headquarters in Fort Dodge, Iowa, this month.


WASHINGTON -- Fatherhood and ambition.

In Fred Thompson's life, they rise and fall together, a recurring couplet in the nostalgic story of a Tennessee fella who's guided more by life's surprises and others' expectations than he is by any master plan.


The small-town jock who, at 17, upon getting his high school girlfriend pregnant, married her, heeded her politically connected family and made something of himself.

The divorced U.S. senator, lawyer, lobbyist and actor who dropped out of politics when one of his three grown children died from a prescription drug overdose.

The unlikely 65-year-old comeback kid, now remarried with a 4-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy, who's running for the Republican nomination for president.

On the campaign trail, Thompson treats criticism that he doesn't have enough fire in the belly with a father-knows-best attitude.

"I've had the worst thing that can happen to a father and the best thing that can happen to a father," Thompson told retirees in the fall in South Carolina.

Big on parenting

Two of Thompson's most important experiences played out in the public eye: the Watergate hearings and his 1985 movie debut, Marie. But with voters, he talks about parenting as much as he does about politics and acting.

Seeing daughter Hayden's sonogram strengthened his anti-abortion views, he says. Wanting a stable world for his second family helped nudge him to run.

Thompson has children older than his wife, Jeri, 41, and younger than his grandchildren. His progeny span two generations.

Thompson was born in Alabama and graduated from Memphis State University and Vanderbilt University law school while working and raising children.

He worked on a congressional campaign, as a federal prosecutor and for the re-election of Tennessee Republican Sen. Howard Baker Jr. Baker became a powerful mentor. He gave Thompson job as chief Republican counsel on the committee investigating Watergate.

Thompson got national exposure, a book deal and an anti-corruption reputation that drew clients to his new law practice.

Acting career

There was a book about the case, then a movie with Sissy Spacek -- Marie -- in which Thompson played himself. That launched his career as an actor even as he kept a hand in on Capitol Hill.

Celebrity eased Thompson's election to an open Senate seat; he replaced Tennessee's Al Gore, who became Bill Clinton's vice president.

Serving from 1994 through 2002, Thompson got mixed reviews. He was a reliable Republican vote, but critics said he lacked the appetite for the long hours and tedium and didn't leave much of a legacy.

In the final year of Thompson's Senate career, his daughter Betsy, who had bipolar disorder, died from what was deemed an accidental overdose of painkillers.

Thompson went back to acting, and making money, as fictional District Attorney Arthur Branch on TV's Law & Order. He also gave up the single life, marrying Jeri, whom he'd met years earlier while grocery shopping.

About that time, Thompson was diagnosed with nonfatal lymphoma, which required chemotherapy.

Appetite for politics

But he had a new appetite for GOP politics. He helped manage Chief Justice John Roberts' confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2005, was chairman of the State Department's International Security Advisory Board and championed President Bush's commutation of White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison sentence in the CIA leak case -- all while taping the crime series and working for ABC Radio.

With the encouragement of Jeri, Baker and Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., Thompson decided to run.Thompson's image and message are selling points, and so is his personal experience of "raising a second family in a different generation than the first," Wamp said.

Fred Thompson


Early years

Born: 1942 in Sheffield, Ala.; raised in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

Education: Bachelor's degree, Memphis State University, 1964; law degree, Vanderbilt University, 1967


1969-72: Assistant U.S. attorney

1973-74: Minority counsel, Senate Watergate Committee

1975-93: Lobbyist, lawyer

1977: Took on a Tennessee Parole Board case that exposed a cash-for-clemency scheme that toppled the governor

1987-present: Actor; has appeared in 18 films, including The Hunt for Red October, and has played the district attorney on TV's Law & Order since 2002

Political career

1994-2002: U.S. senator from Tennessee

2007: Announced candidacy for president

Sources: Draft Fred Thompson President 2008, Internet Movie Database

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fred Thompson's Refreshing Old-Fashioned Passion


Thompson: Too much fire in the belly not good in dangerous world

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON, Iowa (AP) -- Fred Thompson said Saturday he's not consumed with winning the White House and that a president with too much fire in the belly is not necessarily a good thing in a dangerous world.

"I like to say that I'm only consumed by very, very few things and politics is not one of them," Thompson said at a town hall meeting in nearby Burlington. "The welfare of my country and my kids and grandkids are one of them. But if people really want in their president a super type-A personality, someone who has gotten up every morning and gone to bed every night thinking about for years how they could achieve the presidency of the United States, someone who could look you straight in the eye and say they enjoy every minute of campaigning - I ain't that guy."

Thompson said some candidates have become too absorbed by the process and have lost sight of the ultimate need to serve the country.

"Nowadays, it's all about fire in the belly," he said. "I'm not sure in the world we live in today it's a terribly good thing that a president has too much fire in his belly."

Burlington attorney Todd Chelf, whose question elicited Thompson's response, said he appreciated the reply. "It's almost refreshing to see that kind of response as opposed to what we get normally," he said. "I think there's a passion there. I think that it's an old-fashioned passion."

"I am not consumed by personal ambition," Thompson said. "I will not be devastated if I don't do it. I'm not particularly interested in running for president." He said others encouraged him to run and he decided it was the right thing to do.

"I approached it from a standpoint ... of kind of a marriage," he said. "You know if one side of the marriage has to be really talked into the marriage, you know it probably ain't going to be a good deal for either one of them. But if you mutually think that this is a good thing - in this case you think it's a good thing for the country - then you have an opportunity to do some wonderful things together. I'm offering myself up. I'm saying that I have the background and capability and the concern to do this."

However, he said people who question his commitment should realize that he dropped lucrative television and radio contracts to run and no longer accepts paid speaking tours to make the run.

"I and my family have made sacrifices for me to be sitting here today," he said. "I haven't had any income for a long time because I'm doing this. I guess a man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family, which is not a joyful thing at all, if he didn't want to do it."

Thompson said he just wants voters to know what to expect from him.

"I go out of my way to be myself cause I don't want anybody to think they're getting something they're not getting," he said. "I'm not consumed by this process. I'm not consumed with the notion of being president. I'm simply saying I'm willing to do what's necessary to achieve it if I'm in synch with the people and if the people want me or somebody like me."

At his stop in the community of Washington, Thompson joked about Democrat John Edwards, who had an event at the same time just a few blocks away.

"I understand my friend John Edwards is in town. He's over at the library. I hope he learns something while he's over there," Thompson said. "I like our bus better. Go out and check them out."

Thompson was accompanied on his Saturday campaign stops by Iowa Rep. Steve King.


December 30, 2007
Thompson insists he has the desire to win the White House

(CNN) – Republican Fred Thompson Sunday dismissed reports that he had told voters at a weekend campaign event he was “not particularly interested” in running for president, saying his remarks had been taken out of context.

The former Tennessee senator told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "some in the media take bits and pieces, not you, but some have taken one sentence out of the middle of that and make it sound like something that wasn't intended."

"And if you notice, I put the emphasis on running. I said I'm not particularly interested in running for president," Thompson said in an interview on CNN's Late Edition.

"But then I gave all the reasons why I thought I'd make a good president and what I was sacrificing to be president and my family was doing so and I was concerned about the future of our country and the future of our children and so forth. So when you put it in context, it makes sense."

Thompson has long faced criticism he lacks motivation to be President of the United States, and Saturday’s comments seemed to spark new speculation on that front.

"I'm not particularly interested in running for president," the former senator told voters at a campaign event in Burlington, Iowa when challenged by an audience member over his desire to be commander-in-chief.

"But I think I'd make a good president," Thompson continued. "I have the background, capability, and concern to do this and I'm doing it for the right reasons."

Thompson took heat for not officially jumping into the White House race until September — significantly later than every other candidate — and has since been criticized for his laid-back campaign style and often-times light schedule.

But the former actor has criticized his rivals for launching their presidential bids months ahead of his, and continually touts the fact he hasn't harbored presidential ambitions his whole career.

"I am not consumed by personal ambition," Thompson also said Saturday. "I'm offering myself up."

"I'm only consumed by a few things and politics is not one of them."

But Thompson added the sacrifices he has made to run for president proves he wants the top job.

"To be clean, I had to cut everything off," he said. "I was doing speaking engagements and I had a contract to do a TV show, I had a contract with ABC Radio, like I was talking about earlier, and so forth. I guess a man would have to be a total fool to do all those things and to be leaving his family which is not a joyful thing at all if he didn't want to do it."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Stem Cells and the President — An Inside Account By Jay P. Lefkowitz


January 2008

On August 9, 2001, President Bush announced a compromise decision on the contentious question of whether the federal government should provide financial support for research into the curative properties of human stem cells extracted from embryos.

Bush’s compromise allowed funding for research into embryonic stem cells that had already been harvested. At the same time, he disallowed funding for procedures that would collect stem cells from frozen (but still living) embryos, since doing so would require their destruction. In the case of those already collected, he said, “The life-or-death decision has already been made.” But that life-or-death decision would not be made anew with taxpayer dollars.

This decision pleased no one. The New York Times set the stage for what would become an enduring critique of Bush and the Republican party when it declared the next morning that the new policy would severely “hamper the government’s ability to spur this important new area of medical research.”

The President got a chilly reception from his supporters on the Right as well. Comparing certain kinds of stem-cell research to the practices of Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi doctor, Ken Connor of the socially conservative Family Research Council called the decision a “blot” on Bush’s record. Judie Brown, the president of the American Life League, told the Times that the President “can no longer describe himself as pro-life.”

The criticism did not subside over time. Democrats sought to use the stem-cell issue to their advantage, and succeeded. Over the next years, to spectacular fundraising effect, the party would tout its vehement opposition to Bush’s policy. In 2006, a close Senate race in Missouri tilted decisively toward the Democrats after the airing of an emotionally affecting television advertisement featuring the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and who attacked the Republican candidate for his retrograde position on the matter. That victory in Missouri was a key factor in the Democratic takeover of the Senate from the GOP in November. When Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi assumed control of the House of Representatives in early 2007, she declared that undoing the Bush policy was one of her top priorities.

For their part, Republicans have mostly remained in a defensive crouch on the issue, and have tried to avoid discussing it at all. But Bush himself has never wavered, and last year he even used the first two vetoes of his tenure to repel congressional attempts to override the policy.

And then, in November 2007, something remarkable happened. Two of the world’s leading scientific journals, Cell and Science, published findings from researchers in the United States and Japan demonstrating a technique that allows, without the destruction of human embryos, the creation of stem cells identical to those taken from human embryos. The significance of the innovation was undeniable. George Daly, a researcher at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, called it “just a spectacular, spectacular advance. It will change everyone’s thinking about the field.” Ian Wilmut, the Scottish researcher who became famous for his role in cloning Dolly the sheep a decade ago, told the Daily Telegraph he would no longer pursue cloning to produce stem cells, making use instead of this new and wholly uncontroversial method.



We do not know enough yet to say whether, or to what degree, Bush’s refusal to allow federal funding to create new embryonic stem-cell lines played a role in compelling scientists to find a different approach to the issue. We do know that, in the aftermath of last November’s announcement, several leading scientists have suddenly testified in public to having harbored the very same moral doubts that led Bush to his 2001 decision. James Thomson, the foremost stem-cell researcher in the United States, put it plainly: “If human embryonic stem-cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.”

This was not, to put it mildly, a view openly expressed by the scientific community in the years between Bush’s decision and the discovery of the new method. But remarks like Thomson’s, and the fact that a scientific advance unthinkable in 2001 has rendered one of the ugliest controversies of the decade all but moot, suggest that it is time to revisit Bush’s decision to see what lessons can be drawn from it.

In the United States, domestic policy is usually made when Congress sends the President a piece of legislation. He and his administration will often have been deeply involved in the crafting of that legislation, which he is then given to sign or to veto. In this case, in part by statute, and in part (as we shall see) because of a legal finding by the Clinton administration, Bush found himself with the sole authority to decide how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should apportion its research dollars on stem cells. The decision was his to render, and his alone.

Months before his final announcement, Bush personally set in motion a highly unusual process of deliberation inside the White House. The process combined philosophical and scientific research with investigations into both the morality and the practicality of various policy options. As the White House official primarily responsible for advising the President on this issue, I had a unique perspective on the controversy surrounding it and on the making of the policy announced in August 2001. Now that this policy appears to have been both vindicated and superseded, it seems to me legitimate to speak publicly about the mechanics of what happened inside the White House during those months.



There are all kinds of stem cells. Adults and children have them, animals have them, and they exist in the placenta of pregnant women and in the umbilical cord of infants as well. Stem cells are of special interest because they can “differentiate”—i.e., transform themselves into other cell types—and this ability has suggested that they may present a key to curing diseases and abnormalities at the most basic level of life. As for stem cells derived in particular from human embryos, many scientists believe that they have a unique quality—they are able to transform themselves into any type of cell in the human body. Theoretically, then, an embryonic stem cell could ultimately play a part (in a process using recombined DNA) in replacing any defective body tissue or diseased organ.

When Bush took office in January 2001, only a handful of scientists, led by James Thomson, were conducting research on embryonic stem-cell “lines”—i.e., generations of cells from a single source that had been grown and replicated in test tubes. (Thomson, working with the Israeli scientist Joseph Itzkowitz, had first isolated human embryonic stem cells in 1998.) While no federal law banned such research if funded privately, there had also been no federal support of it. This was owing to the Dickey Amendment, a piece of legislation passed in 1995 that precluded federal funding of “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed.”

In 1999, the situation changed somewhat when one of President Clinton’s lawyers advised that the wording of the Dickey Amendment might, after all, permit some public funding of human embryonic stem-cell research—if, to be precise, the embryos had been previously destroyed through the use of private funds. The technical rationale was that, under such circumstances, taxpayer dollars would not be going to research “in which” embryos were destroyed. The Clinton administration drew up guidelines to support federal funding based on this legal position, but did not implement them prior to Bush’s inauguration.



My own involvement in the issue began several weeks after Bush took office in January 2001, when I was serving in the White House as general counsel in the Office of Management and Budget. On February 21, 80 Nobel laureates signed a letter to the President urging federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells. Then, on March 6, Tommy Thompson, the newly installed Secretary of Health and Human Services, told a Senate panel that a law restricting such research would trouble him. The next day, a member of the White House press corps asked Ari Fleischer, Bush’s press secretary, if the President agreed with Thompson. Fleischer responded, “The President is very understanding and respectful of the promises of science, but he’s very concerned about any procedure that would involve taking stem cells from fetuses that are viable.”

The very next day, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, an organization devoted to protecting frozen embryos and facilitating their adoption by potential parents, filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent the government from implementing the Clinton guidelines. The suit claimed that the Dickey Amendment forbade such action.

The combination of Thompson’s comments and the new lawsuit put pressure on the President to articulate his position fully, and Joshua Bolten, who was then the deputy chief of staff, asked me to take the lead in investigating the issues involved and presenting Bush with options. Thus began a five-month odyssey that brought me—and, more important, the President—into direct and constant contact with scientists, doctors, ethicists, religious figures, advocates for research into countless diseases, and lawmakers.

In my first meeting with the President about stem cells, we discussed the basic issue in broad strokes. He was not being asked to assess the legality or even the wisdom of stem-cell research per se. No law in the country banned it, nor was anyone in either party pressing for such a ban. Rather, the question being put to him was whether he would authorize the use of federal funds—i.e., monies allocated by Congress for scientific investigation, to be conducted by the National Institutes of Health, in the area of embryonic stem cells alone.

I led a team of lawyers in our own evaluation of the Dickey Amendment. We decided that while spending federal dollars on such research might violate the spirit of the amendment, it would not violate the letter. Responsibility for adjudicating the divide between spirit and letter was necessarily the President’s as the nation’s chief executive officer.1

As a first step, Bush asked me to prepare a set of background reading materials on the scientific aspects of stem-cell research. He also asked for a summary of the relevant laws of other countries, and a description of what the world’s leading religions had to say on the issue. Once I began turning in my memos, a day rarely passed when he did not call with a follow-up request or a question about something he had read. It was clear that in addition to the material I submitted, he was also finding other things to read and was talking about stem cells with friends and intimates.

One morning at 6:30, my wife summoned me from the shower to answer a call from the White House; the President had been speaking about the issue the night before with a friend and had a barrage of questions he wanted me to answer or look into immediately. At a ceremony in the Rose Garden, Bush saw a physician he knew and invited him back to the Oval Office where they spent fifteen minutes discussing stem cells. During a birthday party for a member of the White House medical unit, the President asked each of the doctors present to set forth his own position. At a gathering with medical groups and doctors to discuss the pending Patients’ Bill of Rights, he queried each physician about the scientific potential of stem-cell research, the ethical quandaries involved, and what the best public policy would be.

Bush also discussed the issue on many occasions with individual members of Congress, and spoke about it to nearly all the members of his Cabinet. (After one Cabinet meeting, Secretary of State Colin Powell followed him into the Oval Office to make sure Bush was aware of his views.) Nor did he confine himself to the precincts of the White House or of Washington. In May, traveling to Notre Dame to give the commencement speech, he spoke with the university’s president, Father Edward Malloy, and a number of scientists on the faculty. The next day, at Yale, he sat down with Harold Varmus, who had served under Clinton as director of the NIH and was the president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

In the meantime, the White House was inundated with calls and letters, many from scientists and advocates of one position or another. In my assigned job of keeping the President current, I held meeting after meeting with stem-cell researchers, molecular biologists, doctors, members of Congress, and activists on all sides. I also received an unforgettable phone call from the actor Christopher Reeve, who had been paralyzed from the neck down after a riding accident. He spoke passionately and poignantly, and very personally, about the promise of stem-cell research for spinal-cord injuries. Reeve would tell reporters on the night of Bush’s August 9 speech that it represented “a step in the right direction,” but before his death in 2004 he would become a vocal critic.



In early June, after a meeting with Bush and the three other White House aides materially involved in the matter—chief of staff Andy Card, communications director Karen Hughes, and political deputy Karl Rove—I began to organize semi-formal private sessions for the President in the Oval Office. Card blocked off regular 30- minute sessions on the President’s schedule; remarkably, for a White House that prided itself on extreme punctuality, every one of these ran longer, sometimes considerably longer, because of Bush’s questions and challenges to the attendees.

On one day, he met separately with representatives from National Right to Life and then from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Although the recommendations made by each group were predictable, the discussions in both cases were substantive and at times very personal. “We’re here on behalf of our children,” one of the leaders of the diabetes foundation told the President. “I’m defending my family.” When a member of the National Right to Life delegation took out a public-opinion poll to bolster his claim that opposition to stem-cell research would be a winning issue politically, Bush swatted the paper away and replied with uncommon sharpness: “This is too important an issue to take polls about. I am going to decide this based on what I believe is right.”

Often, even visitors who strongly supported funding for embryonic research acknowledged the complexities. “They are not a person. They are not alive,” insisted Doug Melton, a leading stem-cell researcher at Harvard. “On the other hand, they are not to be treated cavalierly. Part of this is the mystery of biology.” As with so many others, Melton had a view that went beyond the professional: his son suffered from diabetes and, he said, “there is nothing I won’t do to try to help my son.” Bush responded that he well understood childhood diseases, having lost his younger sister, Robin, to leukemia when he was seven.

On the hard science of embryonic research, the meetings reflected a greater ambiguity than boosterish media reports indicated was the case. Several scientists told Bush plainly that the efficacy of embryonic stem cells remained to be proved. As a result, some felt that only a few lines were needed to determine whether the field had genuine potential or was just a pipe dream. Indeed, in an interview with the New York Times shortly before Bush’s August speech, Irving Weissman of Stanford stated that “a finite number [of stem-cell lines] would be sufficient. If we had 10-15 lines, no one would complain.”

As with Christopher Reeve, Weissman would later change his tune and become one of the President’s most persistent critics. Given the state of play at the time, however, Weissman’s comment made perfect sense. There had already been two decades of research using embryonic stem cells derived from mice, and 90 percent of that research had been conducted using only five distinct lines.

If our meetings with scientists and advocates were memorable, our discussions of the moral issues were disturbing and haunting. One session involved the bioethicist LeRoy Walters from Georgetown University; another was with John Mendelsohn, the head of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. During a meeting with several participants, the President laid out a series of moral challenges. For example, if an embryo was going to be destroyed anyway, was it not appropriate, perhaps even desirable, to use its stem cells to save other human lives? In response, one person asked whether, on the same grounds, it should not be considered equally acceptable to extract organs from a death-row inmate moments before his execution; after all, society had already decided that he had forfeited his right to live. Another suggested that federal funding might have the unintended consequence of creating financial incentives that would encourage the creation of frozen embryos in order to destroy them.

A few days later, I brought into the Oval Office my copy of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s 1932 anti-utopian novel, and as I read passages aloud imagining a future in which humans would be bred in hatcheries, a chill came over the room.

“We’re tinkering with the boundaries of life here,” Bush said when I finished. “We’re on the edge of a cliff. And if we take a step off the cliff, there’s no going back. Perhaps we should only take one step at a time.”



On July 9, the President held the discussion in which, I believe, he began to conceive the outlines of his new policy. Two bioethicists—Leon Kass of the University of Chicago and Daniel Callahan of the Hastings Center for Bioethics—came into the Oval Office together. Bush opened the discussion with these words:

I must confess I am wrestling with a difficult decision. It’s a difficult issue for me. On one hand, it offers so much hope; on the other, so much despair. I worry about a culture that devalues life. I think my job is to encourage respect for life. On the other hand, I believe technologies and science will help solve many medical problems, and I have great hope for cures.

One of the two guests responded: “You are not alone. There are a lot of people who, the more they know about this issue, the more complex they realize it is and the more ramifications it has.”

There then ensued a broad discussion of the ethics of stem-cell research—in particular, the implications of utilizing the fruits of already destroyed embryos to try to develop cures for people suffering from truly deadly diseases. Kass averred: “We at least owe them [the frozen embryos] the respect not to manipulate them for our own purposes.” After all, he continued, “We are dealing with the seeds of what could be the next generation.” But then Bush asked what Kass thought of conducting research on stem cells that had already been extracted from embryos. Kass, who would later become chairman of Bush’s Council on Bioethics, responded: “If you fund research on lines that have already been developed, you are not complicit in their destruction.”

In late July, Bush called Karen Hughes and me into his office and shared with us his tentative decision—his compromise. He asked us to begin drafting a set of remarks. A couple of days later he met with Ruth Kirschstein, the acting director of NIH, and three leading NIH researchers. The President pointedly asked how many embryonic stem-cell lines were already in existence. Soon afterward the report came back that more than 30 lines had already been created, and more might be found in laboratories elsewhere around the world. According to the final NIH tally, more than 60 embryonic stem-cell lines existed in varying stages of development.2

We spent the next week writing, editing, and revising with Bush. Then he asked us to join him at his ranch in Crawford where he would deliver the speech, his first major address to the nation since the State of the Union in late January. On the morning of the speech, the President invited me to go jogging with him under the already blistering Texas sun. Only a few hundred yards into our three-mile run, I knew that if I were to survive, much less keep up, I would have to concentrate on breathing and let him do all the talking. So I asked how he felt about his decision.

He said he was content with it, even though he knew he would be attacked from both the Left and the Right. He expected, correctly as it turned out, that the initial reaction would be harsher from his friends than from his opponents (because he would be crossing a bright line by funding any kind of embryo research). In fact, about fifteen minutes before he spoke, he asked Karl Rove to brief five leading Congressional opponents of stem-cell research on what he would say. All five expressed disappointment.

In his speech that night, Bush took his audience through the moral ambiguity of stem-cell research as well as its medical promise, treating the arguments on both sides with equal respect. Until the end, it was unclear where he would come out. “Even the most noble ends,” Bush observed, “do not justify any means, ” and while we must “devote enormous energy to conquering disease, it is equally important that we pay attention to the moral concerns raised by the new frontier of human embryo stem-cell research.” Nevertheless, he concluded, because of its enormous promise, which “we all hope will be fulfilled,” he would now authorize federal funding on, and only on, those embryonic lines that had already been created.



And there the matter stood. Research into embryonic stem cells continued, with and without federal funding. Democrats sought political advantage. Republicans fretted. In 2004, voters in California approved $3 billion in taxpayer dollars to fund embryonic stem-cell research in their own state. Last November, voters in New Jersey went in the opposite direction, rejecting a measure similar to California’s that would have cost them $450 million. And then, only days after the New Jersey vote, came the announcement that it would no longer be necessary to use embryos to do embryonic stem-cell research.

Now that the debate seems to be over, what can we say about Bush’s policy and the long months it took for him to devise it? I think it is fair to look upon it as a model of how to deal with the complicated scientific and ethical dilemmas that will continue to confront political leaders in the age of biotechnology. Bush refused to accept the notion that we must choose between medical research and the principle of the dignity of life at every stage. He sought both to advance biomedical science and at the same time to respect the sanctity of human life. In the end he came to a moderate, balanced decision that drew a prudent and principled line. The decision was both informed and reasoned, based on lengthy study and consultation with people of widely divergent viewpoints. It was consciously not guided by public-opinion polls.

As I write these last words, I am aware that they may sound like political spin. That is far from the case. There were many other contentious issues on which I advised the President—affirmative action, gay marriage, contraception, offshore oil and gas exploration, international trade, patent protection, even veterans’ benefits. In each of these, political considerations and calculations played at least some role in the development of policy, as they always have and always will. What made our deliberations on the stem-cell issue unique was, precisely, the absence of that element. Bush knew that whatever his decision, it was bound to alienate millions of Americans. Their ranks would include both political supporters and many who, if the decision went another way, might be drawn to reconsider their aversion to him. Our discussions were focused throughout on reaching a coherent and consistent position where the President could stand with honor for as long as the facts on the ground remained as they were. We did not dwell at all on how that position would play politically.

In the coming decades, scientific advances will compel Presidents and politicians to confront vexing choices on subjects that were once solely the province of dystopian science fiction: human cloning, fetal farming, human-animal hybrid embryos, and situations as yet unimagined and unimaginable. If we are to benefit from the great promise of the age of biotechnology while preventing grave ethical abuses, we can only hope that future Presidents will be guided by the same seriousness with which George W. Bush pursued the question of stem-cell research, as well as by his stout refusal to be seduced by the siren song of political expediency.


1 Bush had never taken an official position on this matter, though in the course of running for the presidency, and before the Clinton administration had formulated its legal analysis, his campaign responded to a question with the statement that “the Governor opposes federal funding for stem-cell research that involves destroying a living human embryo.”

2 There are currently 21 fully developed lines available for federally funded research, and NIH has sent out more than 700 shipments of such embryonic stem cells.

Jay Lefkowitz, a lawyer in New York City and Washington, D.C., has served on the White House staffs of President George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

2. Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice.

3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.

4. Put your garbage can on your desk and label it "In."

5. Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.

6. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for smuggling diamonds."

7. Finish all your sentences with "in accordance with the prophecy."

8. Don't use any punctuation

9. As often as possible, skip rather than walk.

10. Whenever you go out to eat and with a serious face
order diet water.

11. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."

12. Sing along at the opera.

13. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme.

14. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day.

15. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you're not in the mood.

16. Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name, Rock Bottom.

17. When the money comes out the ATM, scream "I won! I won!"

18. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot, yelling, "Run for your lives, they're loose!"

19. Tell your children over dinner. "Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go."

20. And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity.......

Send This To Someone To
Make Them Smile.

It's called..... Therapy

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Wishes, From Me to You

Good Evening Everyone,
While I have a moment from the holiday mayhem, I just wanted to wish
all of you a very Merry Christmas. For me personally, it is going to
be awkward because of my Dad's passing at the end of October. However,
the show must go on!

Thank you for stopping by and reading the Phillips Philes. We are looking forward to 2008, which could wind up being a pivotal year in history, only time holds the answer to that. Can somebody save me some figgy pudding? (LOL) Take care everybody,
and I will catch up to y'all soon!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Impending Thompson Surge By JB Williams


Dec 20, 07

Shake-Up Coming Soon
Seven major pollsters issued new national numbers for mid-December, after the last Republican debate in Iowa, which was hosted by the hostile Des Moines Register which is for the record, endorsing the Hillary Clinton campaign...

An overall average of these seven polls

Giuliani – 23%
Huckabee – 19.1%
Romney – 16%
McCain – 13.3%
Thompson – 11.3%
Undecided – 10.4%
Paul – 4.6%
Hunter – 1.3%
Tancredo - .6%
Keyes - .4%

Running 5th with only 11.3% support nationally, can Thompson really win the RNC nomination and if so, how?

The "front-runners"

Mayor Giuliani has been running the longest. He has peaked in the 20’s several times now, only to slide in the polls immediately after. He should be running strongest in the north, yet he is showing poorly in both Iowa and New Hampshire. His campaign is currently in a free-fall that he is unlikely to survive long term.

The message from Iowa voters is hard to mistake. Republican voters are looking for a social conservative, as well as a national security and fiscal conservative. This was always going to be a major problem for the Giuliani campaign and it’s showing up in early primaries already.

Mike Huckabee is enjoying a meteoric rise in popularity in Iowa and to some degree, nationally. But once again, some of his past liberal social policies haunt him and his current liberal social positions, in particular concerning illegal immigration, will soon cause his star to fade. He is likely to fall from grace faster than he rose from obscurity. The current “compassionate conservative” residing in the White House is unpopular with almost 70% of Republicans. Huckabee is even more compassionate towards leftist notions than Bush. That spells trouble ahead for the Huckabee campaign.

McCain is as far as he can go. His push for amnesty will not be forgotten or forgiven among conservative voters and his rhetoric demanding civil rights for terrorists might resonate with Code Pink types, but it will never buy a single conservative vote.

I'll get to Romney in a minute…

The bottom tier

Tancredo is about to drop out of the race today due to a lack of money and support. Hunter can't be far behind. Although both men represent strong conservative values and principles, you can’t run a national campaign on empty for very long. This is a financial reality that can’t be overcome.

Keyes recent entry is completely rhetorical. He wants to make a point and his point is well taken. But his campaign is nothing more and a non-factor in the big picture.

Ron Paul continues to raise money from across the political aisle on the basis of his anti-war rhetoric alone. But the money continues to not translate into votes. He remains at or below 5% support nationally, most of it coming from outside of the Republican Party. He will stay in the race so long as people are sending money. But his campaign remains dead in the water. By the convention, his “republican” supporters will have to choose between helping the Democrat nominee or the Republican nominee.

10.4% Undecided

Nobody knows for certain what these folks are looking for. But whatever it is, they have yet to see it in any of the Republican candidates. I suspect that many are simply waiting for the over-crowded field to narrow so that they can get a closer look at the real candidates. These folks can decide the ultimate nominee.

Coming endorsements that can make a huge difference

Tom Tancredo is expected to announce his withdrawal from the race today. Even though he has only .6% support nationally, who he decides to endorse can make a big difference. The same goes for Hunter and his 1.3%.

In looking at who these two conservatives are most likely to endorse, Thompson is the most logical answer.

Both of these men are running on very strong border security. This alone makes it all but impossible for either of them to ever endorse Giuliani, Huckabee or Romney due to their past records on illegal immigration issues. McCain’s position on amnesty for illegals and civil rights for terrorists, make it equally unlikely that either of these men could endorse him.

This leaves the only true conservative in the race, Fred Thompson. If both men endorse Thompson, look for their supporters and some of those undecided voters to shift behind the Thompson campaign in short order.

If and when McCain pulls the plug on his campaign, he is also most likely to endorse his long time friend Fred Thompson.

These three endorsements alone have the power to make Thompson the new front-runner nationally, even if Rudy and Romney hold their current positions, which is increasingly unlikely.

If these men decide to withhold their endorsements for a bit, they can keep the picture murky. But in the end, it is hard to imagine them endorsing anyone but Thompson, based upon their own policy positions and their alignment with Thompson.

Mitt Romney

Romney has raised and spent more money than any other Republican candidate and until very recently, he was stuck at or below 10% support nationally. Much of his new support is coming from people who once supported Giuliani. Yet some of his early supporters have already defected to Huckabee.

In short, Romney’s support is very volatile. In fact, main stream Republicans, even those who have polled for the top tier candidates for months, continue to shift around from perceived “front-runner” to the “front-runner” of the week. The top four are secure as only the top four. But who in the top four will ultimately emerge as the nominee remains totally fluid.

The question is this - will social conservatives continue to hold their ground? If they do, Thompson wins.

Thompson in Iowa

A third place finish in Iowa has always been seen as a major victory for Thompson, by both the Thompson campaign and political experts. But if his current campaign blitz across Iowa is even moderately successful over the next two weeks, he could actually surprise many of those experts with a stronger Iowa finish.

If this happens, those three key endorsements come even easier.

A Four Man Race

The Republican race has always a four man race and it very much remains so today. One of four men will be the RNC nominee, Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee or Thompson.

The press is at least 70% behind Democrats. When reporting on the Republican race, they lean heavily in favor of the moderates, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee. Even FOX News, which I refer to as the RINO Network, has repeatedly demonstrated hostility towards the candidate Rush Limbaugh calls “the only conservative in the race,” Fred Thompson. Thompson himself openly accused FOX of ignoring his campaign in favor of the moderates.

Based on all the facts at hand, it is inconceivable that Thompson won’t experience a major surge over the next six to eight weeks, as the campaign field begins to thin and voters begin to look closely at the four major contenders.

In the end, a Two Man Race

I predict that the Republican race will ultimately narrow to only a two man race between Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. Romney "looks" Presidential. But Thompson "is" Presidential. That’s not only my opinion, it’s a fact…

Romney calls himself a conservative, but Thompson is a conservative. This is also fact, not opinion.

So, if conservatives are working to nominate the most Presidential conservative in the Republican race, Thompson is the likely winner.

Can it happen? Thompson seems to be counting on it!
Watch Iowa closely…

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

None Of The Above: GOP Heading To A Brokered Convention By Tony Blankley


December 19, 2007

The Republican Party primary so far has been an exercise in none of the above. In their turns, Sen. McCain, former Mayor Giuliani, former Sen. Thompson and former Gov. Romney seemed to be or seemed about to be front-runners -- only to fall back as the party's likely voters got a sharper look at each of them. Even my old boss Newt Gingrich, without even announcing, had a handsome surge from 4-5 percent to 18-20 percent in February -- before falling back to single digits.

Now former Gov. Huckabee -- for the moment surging to the front -- is on the receiving end of withering intraparty fire applied with a rhetorical violence usually reserved by Republican polemicists for a Clinton or a Kennedy. Just as social conservatives earlier this fall threatened (for a couple of weeks) to run a third-party candidate if Giuliani got the nomination, so Washington GOP elites are willing to misrepresent parts of what Huckabee has said and written in a savage effort to destroy any chance he might have of being elected.

It is as if each faction of the Grand Old Party feels a stronger passion to defeat its intraparty rival factions than to defeat the Democrats in November. This maximum instinct to deny victory within the party may be a sign of a philosophical rebirth (as in the Goldwater nomination and campaign of 1964), but it is also a sign of a party likely to lose the next general election.

The alleged Huckabee shocker of the week (for the GOP D.C. regulars in journalism and blogland) is his description of President Bush's foreign policy as plagued by an "arrogant bunker mentality." This phrase, according to Romney and his journalistic coat holders, is disloyal to President Bush and is right out of the Democratic talking points.

There is just a touch of insincerity in that charge. During the past year or two, one couldn't have lunch at The Capital Grille (preferred dining spot for big-time D.C. Republican politicians and journalists) or other similar locations without hearing the constant complaint that the Bush White House was arrogant and wouldn't listen to their friends about Iraq or about domestic matters. Until Eddie Gillespie came in as counselor recently (and started reaching out), the word "bunker" was a plausible and often-used word to describe the White House -- even on Iraq policy before the surge this spring.

Perhaps the more honest charge against Huckabee on this point is that it is not politique to say such rude things in public about your own party's president. On the other hand, criticizing a president whose job approval rating is between 30 percent and 35 percent may not be the least useful thing his aspiring replacement could do with his time and syllables.

There has been some fair criticism of Huckabee's foreign policy statements. His use of homely schoolyard parables to explain foreign policy hit wide and short of the mark. In supporting the idea of diplomacy, he fails to point out its limitations and risks. And his sometimes-harsh assessment of American intentions is unfounded. In short, it sounds in places a little squishy and insufficiently "nuanced."

On the other hand, he is for a rapid major increase in the size of the military. He is in favor of military action, if necessary, to deny Iran a nuclear bomb. He demands that we stay and fight and win in Iraq. And his discussion of the risk from radical Islam is as tough and realistic as I have heard. In fact, as the author of a book that was judged alarmist by some on the topic of radical Islam ("The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?"), I could find little to complain about in his long discussion of the topic.

Of course, the track record for foreign policy campaign promises is not great. Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt promised to keep us out of World War I in 1916 and World War II in 1940, respectively. Kennedy would fix a missile gap that didn't exist. LBJ would not get us into a major war in Vietnam. Nixon had a secret plan to get us out of that war. Clinton promised not to parley with Communist Chinese dictators. And George W. Bush promised a humble foreign policy and no nation building.

In a dangerous world such as ours, I would like to hear more (and more careful) words from Huckabee. But basically he seems to be a hawk -- and thus not beyond the Republican pale (although his hawkish ways come with a perhaps-rhetorical bow to the current nervousness of needed independent and suburban Republican voters). I also would like to hear more (and more thoughtful words) than the mere GOP boilerplate we are getting from the other candidates, with the exception of McCain and sometimes of Giuliani.

I don't have a candidate yet. I either disagree with each on important points or have doubts about the electability of each. But most of all, I fear our intraparty fury will destroy all leaders and send us off to a brokered convention -- and from thence, probably to defeat. If the Democrats have their candidate by February and we are campaigning harshly until August, we surely would start in a deep hole.

Liberals and Conservatives By Dark Chapter


Joyce Comments: This post is inspired by Phillips Philes newest contributor, Dan. This article in general talks about liberals and conseratives. Not all liberals agree with everything stated here a liberal thinks, nor all conservatives (as lately is common hearing there various kinds of conservatives like "fiscal conservatives" - also known as RINOs, those who are sharp with keeping government budgets balanced, but are not in line with "social conservaties"; "social conservatives" are those who care most about life issues from conception to death; "hawkish conservatives" are those who are strong on national security by the United States having an intimidating size military and Department of Defense, formally called Department of War) Personally, I think there is only one kind of conservative and that is a conservative who follows all of the above, any person who is a combination or just one of the above is not a conservative, but just a Republican or a center-right person.

February 8, 2003
By Dark Chapter

Many, especially on the far right, the far left, and in the apathetic middle, have long and loudly proclaimed, "there is no difference between the mainstream right and the mainstream left, between Democrats and Republicans!" They use it as an excuse to opt out of the democratic system, or to deride and denigrate those who are brave enough to take a stand. The differences, though, are real and as stark as that between the darkness of a freezing winter night on the left, and the middle of a bright, spring day on the right. Here are a few of them:

1. Liberals think with their hearts. Conservatives think with their heads.

2. Conservatives go in with their eyes and minds open, but ready to roll up their sleeves and start shoveling. Liberals duck under the covers, close their eyes tightly and wish for bad things to go away.

3. Liberals are cynical, always look for the lead lining in every cloud, and expect the worst. Conservatives are optimistic, like happy endings, and know that tomorrow is another day.

4. Conservatives fear government and respect individuals. Liberals fear liberty and respect nothing.

5. Liberals believe mankind is irredeemably bad. Conservatives believe humanity is destined to do ever-greater things; and though some of us are truly terrible, most of us are ultimately good. Liberals believe animals are better than are humans. Conservatives wonder how one applies to the great dolphin universities, where the elephant hospitals are, where the chimp charities are headquartered.

6. Conservatives believe in hard work, sacrifice, and risk-taking. Liberals believe in equal distribution of labor, abhor the very idea of any sort of want, and cringe at the idea of anything that doesn’t offer absolute safety. Liberals bedeck themselves in loud, expensive Spandex and ride road bikes through town in big packs made up of vague acquaintances and co-workers tying up traffic for miles, offering anyone who honks at them the collective finger, before finally arriving at a Starbucks for $7 lattes and making fun of all those idiots who were pissed off at them blocking traffic. Conservatives ride off-road either alone or with one or two friends, pushing themselves, but bothering no one else; they muscle their way up high peaks where they sip ordinary tap water and look back with pride on what they’ve accomplished.

7. Liberals view "the poor" as noble victims who, because of their race or gender or ethnicity or "diseases" like drunkeness, have been "held down" by an inherently and inescapably racist and sexist "system," through which "the rich" (Conservatives) steal their wealth from "the poor." No Liberal can explain how this happens--it should just be taken as a matter of faith, dammit! Conservatives know that some of "the poor," are a lost cause; they have no intention of helping themselves. Liberals believe with all their hearts that all material "poverty" can be "solved" by simply throwing more of someone else’s money at it. Conservatives give generously and voluntarily to charities that responsibly help those temporarily down on their luck. Liberals want to force "the rich" to give through ever-more onerous taxation, to state-sponsored programs to "help" the needy. The rat holes of government programs like methadone clinics and midnight basketball don’t work, but at least no private charity is involved! Conservatives know from experience and history that you help the truly needy through encouragement of self-reliance--you teach them to stop whining, roll up their sleeves and work, sacrifice, and take risks.

8. Liberals believe any and all of humanity’s problems should be solved BEFORE any advancements are made. We should have "solved" poverty before going to the moon! Conservatives believe we will always have problems that need to be addressed and, through hard work, sacrifice, and risk, mitigated where possible. Conservatives know that certain things are simply a part of the human condition, and that stagnation is the result of the Liberal plan.

9. Conservatives believe that all possible barriers by social, governmental, and bureaucratic means to individual success should be removed from everybody’s path. Liberals loathe and despise the successful, and "celebrate" those "brave enough" to live under bridges while whining that others are not giving them enough. Conservatives laud and venerate those who make themselves into successes through hard work, sacrifice, and taking risks.

10. Liberals believe in equality of outcome. Conservatives believe in equality of opportunity. Liberals believe that government should erect unscaleable barricades around those who have or might prove themselves to be more ambitious and hard-working, more skilled and experienced, more able and smarter and willing to sacrifice, bust their humps and take their lumps, and rise even slightly above the lowest common denominator.

11. Conservatives are pragmatists; they want to know what’s do-able. Liberals compare everything to perfection; they’ll settle for nothing less than what’s conceivable. Conservatives are happy with an imperfect missile defense system that may let one or two through--better we should lose Salt Lake than the entire nation--and can be improved over time. Liberals believe that any plan that cannot guarantee perfection *now* should be scrapped because, after all, "one nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day."

12. Liberals wear blinders and think every problem has a solution if we just throw more money at it. Conservatives observe the past and present broadly, and learn from them, recognizing that if something has failed in the past, simply ignoring the failure will not make it better; they point to the public schools for their proof.

13. Conservatives believe in shutting the hell up and getting to work. Liberals prefer sloganeering and platitudes.

14. Liberals think the so-called "rights" those nitwits in their powdered wigs enumerated on those tired, dusty documents from 1776, are silly things that certainly don’t apply today, but that they nevertheless make handy-dandy carrots and sticks, with which they can gain more power and control over every aspect of the American citizen’s life, and things which can and should be altered or even deleted upon the political whim of the moment. Conservatives believe these liberties are just what the Founders said they are--unalienable. Liberals hold that these rights are nothing special; any kindergartner coulda come up with them. Conservatives recognize the brilliance of the Founders and their words, and know that these rights are what give our form of government practical, material, and even moral primacy over every other. Liberals pooh-pooh such overtly patriotic maunderings and roll their eyes in cynical dismissal of the American who venerates these ideals. Conservatives couldn’t give a rat’s ass. They still love their country and they honor the men who made it possible.

15. Conservatives believe that words and ideas have express and precise meanings. Liberals believe it all depends upon what your personal definition of “is,” is.

16. Liberals blanch at the sheer arrogance of people who love America and believe we should all hate and blame America first. Conservatives believe in the primacy (not perfection) of the American society including our government and economy. Liberals believe that since our system is not perfect, it should be dumped in favor of the perfection of, say, what they have in Sweden, or Denmark. Or Cuba. Conservatives know that our imperfect system is still far better for the individual than anything else in place today, or ever in history. Liberals look at the Kung of the Kalihari and wonder why we can’t model the social, cultural, government, and economy of a huge, technologically-advanced, resource-rich nation of nearly 300 million souls, on that of a stone age tribe that occupies a strip of empty desert, and hunts rodents and digs roots and grubs for a living. Conservatives realistically assess the ways in which large nations and large economies work and shake their heads in dismay at the sort of quixotic dreams Liberals want to turn into policy.

17. Conservatives admire and emulate the successful. Liberals loathe the successful. Conservatives know successful people get and stay there through work, sacrifice and risk, and that through their success, they are able to provide jobs and give back to the community. Liberals tell themselves that rich, powerful people are dull-witted thieves who were born rich, and maintain their wealth and power on the backs of “the poor.” Um, that is, unless they are rich, powerful Liberals, who are geniuses who got rich by a completely different route: through work, sacrifice and risk . . . or maybe like a Kennedy, by picking the right parents.

18. Liberals hold quavering, rickety opinions that blow away in the slightest breeze of serious contemplation, or worse, if someone raises questions on the basis of the always-shifting scale of political correctness. Conservatives hold strong, absolutist opinions, but are open to change when their ideas and ideals are proven wrong.

19. Conservatives honor those who are and have been brave enough to serve America in uniform, and especially those who died doing so. Liberals hate the military and believe those who died defending our rights are all baby-killers anyway, and that US soldiers who survive a war should be dragged to the Hague and tried as war criminals.

20. Liberals have always depended upon the kindness of strangers. Conservatives know the world is a dangerous place filled with those who envy or hate us and who would do anything in their power to destroy us. Liberals believe 9/11 was our fault for not being “sensitive” to the needs of our Muslim brothers and that now that we know how they feel, we should do everything in our power to change ourselves so that we don’t threaten them so much. Conservatives know this is utter horse**** -- cowardly appeasement that didn’t work in the 1930s and won’t work now, and that only a weak-kneed, empty-headed Liberal would believe it. Most Liberals DO believe it. There are other things that set Conservatives apart from Liberals. Many other things. Some of these, above, are the big ones; some are not. All, however, are important distinctions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Flashback: Report: No WMD stockpiles in Iraq

Dan's pre-comment: We can go back and forth on this issue. The bottom line is this: Saddam had weapons. I'll go so far as to even say that he had very dangerous and highly-destructive weapons. But the American people were led to believe his weapons posed a far greater threat than they really did.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and had not begun any program to produce them, a CIA report concludes.

In fact, the long-awaited report, authored by Charles Duelfer, who advises the director of central intelligence on Iraqi weapons, says Iraq's WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991 and Saddam ended Iraq's nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf War.

The Iraq Survey Group report, released Wednesday, is 1,200 to 1,500 pages long.

The massive report does say, however, that Iraq worked hard to cheat on United Nations-imposed sanctions and retain the capability to resume production of weapons of mass destruction at some time in the future.

"[Saddam] wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction when sanctions were lifted," a summary of the report says.

Duelfer, testifying at a Senate hearing on the report, said his account attempts to describe Iraq's weapons programs "not in isolation but in the context of the aims and objectives of the regime that created and used them."

"I also have insisted that the report include as much basic data as reasonable and that it be unclassified, since the tragedy that has been Iraq has exacted such a huge cost for so many for so long," Duelfer said.

The report was released nearly two years ago to the day that President Bush strode onto a stage in Cincinnati and told the audience that Saddam Hussein's Iraq "possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons" and "is seeking nuclear weapons."

"The danger is already significant and it only grows worse with time," Bush said in the speech delivered October 7, 2002. "If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"

Speaking on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, Bush maintained Wednesday that the war was the right thing to do and that Iraq stood out as a place where terrorists might get weapons of mass destruction.

"There was a risk, a real risk, that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or materials or information to terrorist networks, and in the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take," Bush said.

But Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, seized on the report as political ammunition against the Bush administration.

"Despite the efforts to focus on Saddam's desires and intentions, the bottom line is Iraq did not have either weapon stockpiles or active production capabilities at the time of the war," Rockefeller said in a press release.

"The report does further document Saddam's attempts to deceive the world and get out from under the sanctions, but the fact remains, the sanctions combined with inspections were working and Saddam was restrained."

But British Prime Minister Tony Blair had just the opposite take on the information in the report, saying it demonstrated the U.N. sanctions were not working and Saddam was "doing his best" to get around them.

He said the report made clear that there was "every intention" on Saddam's part to develop WMD and he "never had any intention of complying with U.N. resolutions."

At a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday, panel Chairman John Warner, R-Virginia, called the findings "significant."

"While the ISG has not found stockpiles of WMD, the ISG and other coalition elements have developed a body of fact that shows that Saddam Hussein had, first, the strategic intention to continue to pursue WMD capabilities; two, created ambiguity about his WMD capabilities that he used to extract concessions in the international world of disclosure and discussion and negotiation.

"He used it as a bargaining tactic and as a strategic deterrent against his neighbors and others."

"As we speak, over 1,700 individuals -- military and civilian -- are in Iraq and Qatar, continuing to search for facts about Iraq's WMD programs," Warner said.

But Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the committee, said 1,750 experts have visited 1,200 potential WMD sites and have come up empty-handed.

"It is important to emphasize that central fact because the administration's case for going to war against Iraq rested on the twin arguments that Saddam Hussein had existing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and that he might give weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda to attack us -- as al Qaeda had attacked us on 9/11," Levin said.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, asked Duelfer about the future likelihood of finding weapons of mass destruction, to which Duelfer replied, "The chance of finding a significant stockpile is less than 5 percent."

Based in part on interviews with Saddam, the report concludes that the deposed Iraqi president wanted to acquire weapons of mass destruction because he believed they kept the United States from going all the way to Baghdad during the first Gulf War and stopped an Iranian ground offensive during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, senior administration officials said.

U.S. officials said the Duelfer report is "comprehensive," but they are not calling it a "final report" because there are still some loose ends to tie up.

One outstanding issue, an official said, is whether Iraq shipped any stockpiles of weapons outside of the country. Another issue, he said, is mobile biological weapons labs, a matter on which he said "there is still useful work to do."

Duelfer said Wednesday his teams found no evidence of a mobile biological weapons capability.

The U.S. official said he believes Saddam decided to give up his weapons in 1991, but tried to conceal his nuclear and biological programs for as long as possible. Then in 1995, when his son-in-law Hussain Kamal defected with information about the programs, he gave those up, too.

Iraq's nuclear program, which in 1991 was well-advanced, "was decaying" by 2001, the official said, to the point where Iraq was -- if it even could restart the program -- "many years from a bomb."

FLASHBACK: Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction Found Already


Sarin, Mustard Gas Discovered Separately in Iraq

Monday, May 17, 2004


BAGHDAD, Iraq — 

A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent (search) recently exploded near a U.S. military convoy, the U.S. military said Monday.

Bush administration officials told Fox News that mustard gas (search) was also recently discovered.

Two people were treated for "minor exposure" after the sarin incident but no serious injuries were reported. Soldiers transporting the shell for inspection suffered symptoms consistent with low-level chemical exposure, which is what led to the discovery, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt (search), the chief military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy."

The round detonated before it would be rendered inoperable, Kimmitt said, which caused a "very small dispersal of agent."

However, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the results were from a field test, which can be imperfect, and said more analysis was needed. If confirmed, it would be the first finding of a banned weapon upon which the United States based its case for war.

Click to Read the Weapons of Mass Destruction Handbook

A senior Bush administration official told Fox News that the sarin gas shell is the second chemical weapon discovered recently.

Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group (search) — a U.S. organization searching for weapons of mass destruction — and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective."

They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 projectiles for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year. Iraq also failed to then account for 450 aerial bombs with mustard gas. That, combined with the shells, totaled about 80 tons of unaccounted for mustard gas.

It also appears some top Pentagon officials were surprised by the sarin news; they thought the matter was classified, administration officials told Fox News.

An official at the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) headquarters in New York said the commission is surprised to hear news of the mustard gas.

"If that's the case, why didn't they announce it earlier?" the official asked.

The UNMOVIC official said the group needs to know more from the Bush administration before it's possible to determine if this is "old or new stuff. It is known that Iraq used sarin during the Iraq-Iran war, however.

Kimmitt said the shell belonged to a class of ordnance that Saddam's government said was destroyed before the 1991 Gulf war (search). Experts believe both the sarin and mustard gas weapons date back to that time.

"It was a weapon that we believe was stocked from the ex-regime time and it had been thought to be an ordinary artillery shell set up to explode like an ordinary IED and basically from the detection of that and when it exploded, it indicated that it actually had some sarin in it," Kimmitt said.

The incident occurred "a couple of days ago," he added. The discovery reportedly occurred near Baghdad International Airport.

Washington officials say the significance of the find is that some chemical shells do still exist in Iraq, and it's thought that fighters there may be upping their attacks on U.S. forces by using such weapons.

The round was an old "binary-type" shell in which two chemicals held in separate sections are mixed after firing to produce sarin, Kimmitt said.

He said he believed that insurgents who rigged the artillery shell as a bomb didn't know it contained the nerve agent, and that the dispersal of the nerve agent from such a rigged device was very limited.

The shell had no markings. It appears the binary sarin agents didn't mix, which is why there weren't serious injuries from the initial explosion, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"Everybody knew Saddam had chemical weapons, the question was, where did they go. Unfortunately, everybody jumped on the offramp and said 'well, because we didn't find them, he didn't have them,'" said Fox News military analyst Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney.

"I doubt if it's the tip of the iceberg but it does confirm what we've known ... that he [Saddam] had weapons of mass destruction that he used on his own people," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Fox News. "This does show that the fear we had is very real. Now whether there is much more of this we don't know, Iraq is the size of the state of California."

But there were more reasons than weapons to get rid of Saddam, he added. "We considered Saddam Hussein a threat not just because of weapons of mass destruction," Grassley said.

Iraqi Scientist: You Will Find More

Gazi George, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist under Saddam's regime, told Fox News he believes many similar weapons stockpiled by the former regime were either buried underground or transported to Syria. He noted that the airport where the device was detonated is on the way to Baghdad from the Syrian border.

George said the finding likely will be the first in a series of discoveries of such weapons.

"Saddam is the type who will not store those materials in a military warehouse. He's gonna store them either underground, or, as I said, lots of them have gone west to Syria and are being brought back with the insurgencies," George told Fox News. "It is difficult to look in areas that are not obvious to the military's eyes.

"I'm sure they're going to find more once time passes," he continued, saying one year is not enough for the survey group or the military to find the weapons.

Saddam, when he was in power, had declared that he did in fact possess mustard-gas filled artilleries but none that included sarin.

"I think what we found today, the sarin in some ways, although it's a nerve gas, it's a lucky situation sarin detonated in the way it did ... it's not as dangerous as the cocktails Saddam used to make, mixing blister" agents with other gases and substances, George said.

Officials: Discovery Is 'Significant'

U.S. officials told Fox News that the shell discovery is a "significant" event.

Artillery shells of the 155-mm size are as big as it gets when it comes to the ordnance lobbed by infantry-based artillery units. The 155 howitzer can launch high capacity shells over several miles; current models used by the United States can fire shells as far as 14 miles. One official told Fox News that a conventional 155-mm shell could hold as much as "two to five" liters of sarin, which is capable of killing thousands of people under the right conditions in highly populated areas.

The Iraqis were very capable of producing such shells in the 1980s but it's not as clear that they continued after the first Gulf War.

In 1995, Japan's Aum Shinrikyo (search) cult unleashed sarin gas in Tokyo's subways, killing 12 people and sickening thousands. In February of this year, Japanese courts convicted the cult's former leader, Shoko Asahara, and sentence him to be executed.

Developed in the mid-1930s by Nazi scientists, a single drop of sarin can cause quick, agonizing choking death. There are no known instances of the Nazis actually using the gas.

Nerve gases work by inhibiting key enzymes in the nervous system, blocking their transmission. Small exposures can be treated with antidotes, if administered quickly.

Antidotes to nerve gases similar to sarin are so effective that top poison gas researchers predict they eventually will cease to be a war threat.

Fox News' Wendell Goler, Steve Harrigan, Ian McCaleb, Liza Porteus, James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq

Thursday, June 22, 2006



The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

Click here to read the declassified portion of the NGIC report.

He added that the report warns about the hazards that the chemical weapons could still pose to coalition troops in Iraq.

"The purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," Santorum read from the document.

"This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.

Hoekstra said the report, completed in April but only declassified now, shows that "there is still a lot about Iraq that we don't fully understand."

Asked why the Bush administration, if it had known about the information since April or earlier, didn't advertise it, Hoekstra conjectured that the president has been forward-looking and concentrating on the development of a secure government in Iraq.

Offering the official administration response to FOX News, a senior Defense Department official pointed out that the chemical weapons were not in useable conditions.

"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991," the official said, adding the munitions "are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."

The official said the findings did raise questions about the years of weapons inspections that had not resulted in locating the fairly sizeable stash of chemical weapons. And he noted that it may say something about Hussein's intent and desire. The report does suggest that some of the weapons were likely put on the black market and may have been used outside Iraq.

He also said that the Defense Department statement shortly after the March 2003 invasion saying that "we had all known weapons facilities secured," has proven itself to be untrue.

"It turned out the whole country was an ammo dump," he said, adding that on more than one occasion, a conventional weapons site has been uncovered and chemical weapons have been discovered mixed within them.

Hoekstra and Santorum lamented that Americans were given the impression after a 16-month search conducted by the Iraq Survey Group that the evidence of continuing research and development of weapons of mass destruction was insignificant. But the National Ground Intelligence Center took up where the ISG left off when it completed its report in November 2004, and in the process of collecting intelligence for the purpose of force protection for soldiers and sailors still on the ground in Iraq, has shown that the weapons inspections were incomplete, they and others have said.

"We know it was there, in place, it just wasn't operative when inspectors got there after the war, but we know what the inspectors found from talking with the scientists in Iraq that it could have been cranked up immediately, and that's what Saddam had planned to do if the sanctions against Iraq had halted and they were certainly headed in that direction," said Fred Barnes, editor of The Weekly Standard and a FOX News contributor.

"It is significant. Perhaps, the administration just, they think they weathered the debate over WMD being found there immediately and don't want to return to it again because things are otherwise going better for them, and then, I think, there's mindless resistance to releasing any classified documents from Iraq," Barnes said.

The release of the declassified materials comes as the Senate debates Democratic proposals to create a timetable for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. The debate has had the effect of creating disunity among Democrats, a majority of whom shrunk Wednesday from an amendment proposed by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to have troops to be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the middle of next year.

At the same time, congressional Republicans have stayed highly united, rallying around a White House that has seen successes in the last couple weeks, first with the death of terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then the completion of the formation of Iraq's Cabinet and then the announcement Tuesday that another key Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, "religious emir" Mansour Suleiman Mansour Khalifi al-Mashhadani, or Sheik Mansour, was also killed in a U.S. airstrike.

Santorum pointed out that during Wednesday's debate, several Senate Democrats said that no weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, a claim, he said, that the declassified document proves is untrue.

"This is an incredibly — in my mind — significant finding. The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction, is in fact false," he said.

As a result of this new information, under the aegis of his chairmanship, Hoekstra said he is going to ask for more reporting by the various intelligence agencies about weapons of mass destruction.

"We are working on the declassification of the report. We are going to do a thorough search of what additional reports exist in the intelligence community. And we are going to put additional pressure on the Department of Defense and the folks in Iraq to more fully pursue a complete investigation of what existed in Iraq before the war," Hoekstra said.

FOX News' Jim Angle and Sharon Kehnemui Liss contributed to this report.

Americans' view of the war