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When in the 2008 campaign Democrats spoke of a "culture of corruption" in Washington, few realized they were making a promise. The Obama administration is only a few weeks old, but already more senior officials in it have suffered from ethical taint than in any previous administration. You've heard of the ethics travails of Bill Richardson, Tim Geithner, Tom Daschle, Eric Holder, and Hilda Solis.  Now comes the most recent candidate in Obama's malleable ethics sweepstakes:  Ron Sims, chosen Monday (2/02) to be the deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  As King County (Seattle) executive, Mr. Sims was fined $124,000 for "blatant" violations of Washington state's state public records act for failure to release documents with regard to financing of the stadium where the Seattle Seahawks play.  Last month the state supreme court said the fine should be increased.



Denial is an often useful innate human trait. Few of us would be able to function in the present if we did not put out of mind many unpleasant realities - such as our inevitable death. The Woody Allen character in the movie "Annie Hall" stated the comic extreme version of not using the denial mechanism when, as a child he refused to do his homework because in 5 billion years the sun would explode, "So, what's the use?" But when a person, or a society, denies emerging or imminent dangers, the peace of mind it gains will be extremely short term, while the harm may be sustained or fatal.

Most of the world today not only is in denial concerning the truly appalling likely consequences of the rise of radical Islam, it often refuses to even accept unambiguous evidence of its existence.



A prediction we hear often regarding the War on Moslem Terrorism is that it is going to last a long, long time -- for so many years into the future that no one can see the end of it. Maybe it will. Maybe it will be a war our grandchildren will be fighting when they’re our age. But no analysis of the war shows that it must be this way. It’s just a prediction, one which could turn out to be dramatically wrong. It’s entirely possible that the War on Moslem Terrorism could be won quickly.



Much has been made of the challenges facing Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, who assumes office in what appears to be the early stages of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  More should be made of the great opportunities he possesses. We Americans are more than two trillion dollars poorer, and counting, as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis, and our confidence has been badly shaken.  But power is relative.  So here is a key fact to keep in mind: The United States is more powerful today relative to our adversaries than at any time since Aug. 29, 1949, when the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb.



BAGHDAD.  I'm trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it.

Maybe actually being on the ground in Iraq prevents me from seeing it. Perhaps the view's clearer from Manhattan. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills. And riding around with the U.S. Army, looking at things first-hand, is certainly a technique to which The New York Times wouldn't stoop in such an hour of crisis.

Let me tell you what I saw anyway. Rolling with the "instant Infantry" gunners of the 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery, I saw children and teenagers in a Shia slum jumping up and down and cheering our troops as they drove by. Cheering our troops.



Quiz time. What country has the most pro-America government in all of Europe? What country offers the best investment opportunities in the whole of the European continent? What country has the most spectacularly beautiful and untouched coastline along the entire Mediterranean?The answer to all three is: Croatia.



George W. Bush, private citizen, left Washington for Dallas today with the quiet dignity that was typical of his personal behavior during the eight tumultuous years of his presidency.  Mr. Bush leaves office as the most unpopular president in the history of polling. But it will be a decade or more before we have the perspective necessary to place the Bush presidency in history. Conservatives, for the most part, have been disappointed by Mr. Bush.  During his presidency Republicans lost all fiscal discipline.  Many of his appointments were alarmingly mediocre.  Even when he was doing the right thing, he did a poor job of communicating why. Still, we will miss his basic goodness, and his steadfastness. But I suspect that in six months or so, it will be the liberals who miss Mr. Bush most.



This Monday, March 6, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit Washington to discuss the Middle East. Today, March 3, a high-ranking delegation of Hamas will visit Moscow at President Vladimir Putin's invitation, to meet with Lavrov. A coincidence?  Hardly.   

Russia aggressively courts Iran and Hamas.  Last week, Russia negotiated in Tehran on establishing a uranium-enrichment joint venture, which will supply nuclear reactor fuel to the Islamic Republic.

A nuclear-armed Iran, allied with and armed by Russia and China will become a regional challenger hostile to the US, its interests, and its allies in the region.

This is why, during Mr. Lavrov's visit, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will inform her Russian counterpart that Moscow's actions in the Middle East are jeopardizing its presidency of the group of eight (G-8) leading industrial nations, its position in the Middle East Quartet, and its international role.



It was time once again to have a couple of Glen Moranjies on the rocks at the Cosmos Club with my friend Larry. It’s on Massachusetts Avenue in DC, across the river from where Larry works in this very large five-sided building. “You heard what the Vice-President said last night, right?” he asked. Since this was rhetorical, I let him continue. “Sure, his put downs of the Breck Boy were great, but this is the sentence to key in on:

The biggest threat we face today is the possibility of terrorists smuggling a nuclear weapon or a biological agent into one of our own cities and threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
“There is simply no doubt that Cheney is right. The question is what can we possibly do about it?” “What comes up for me,” I replied, “is Bush’s strategy of playing offense, not just defense. His main argument for the war in Iraq - which obviously I agree with - is taking the fight to the enemy, not hunkering down in Fortress America. As he says, ‘We’re fighting the terrorists there so we don’t have to fight them here’.” Larry gave me a funny look and invited me to go on. “So the question is,” I continued, “how can we go on the offensive against nukes smuggled into our cities? We can blow up Iran’s facilities - and we’d better do that fast. But that’s not the problem here, which is the acquisition of already-existing nukes - say, Russian small atomic demolitions or “suitcase” nukes. If one of these were detonated in downtown New York, it would make September 11 look like a stubbed toe. Maybe there’s a way to play the MAD game with the Moslems.” There was something very self-satisfied about Larry’s smile. “Great Scotch is always the best accompaniment to great conversation. How would we play such a game, Jack?” he asked.



I've been opposed to Barack Hussein Obama's plans for a $775 billion "stimulus" package for three main reasons: First, the stated purpose of the stimulus is to encourage consumer spending; that is to say, to do more of what got us into financial trouble in the first place.  We've been living large on money borrowed chiefly from the Chinese.  That gravy train has lurched to a halt.  We need to live within our means.  That means saving money and paying down debt -- the opposite of what the designers of the stimulus package want us to do.  Second, because about 60 percent of the stimulus package is a grab bag of spending on government construction projects, it cannot achieve the stated goal of boosting the economy in the short term, because it takes too long for the money to trickle in.  Economist Bruce Bartlett published in the New York Times in January of last year a chart which indicated that in all eight post World War II recessions prior to this one, the government stimulus didn't take effect until after the recession ended.  Third...