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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

How Bad Are Things, Really?

This is an important question and the American public is sorely misinformed about the answer. We have two differing perspectives from two of the best blogs on the internet. First, Gateway Pundit asks, "how bad are things in Iraq, really?" Unsurprisingly, they are not nearly as bad as the MSM would have you believe:

We all know that despite news reports of massacre and carnage, the civilian death toll in Iraq has gone down considerably since the war to remove Saddam Hussein began back in March 2003.

Here are more figures on how the Iraq War stacks up historically:

The recorded Iraqi civilian fatalities (including insurgents, military, morgue counts, police, etc.) were down 16% (16% maximum) in 2005... 38% (48% maximum) less than 2003 (via Leftist anti-war site Iraq Body Count). If you take out the numbers from that horrible day in August 2005 when nearly one thousand panicked Iraqis were trampled or drowned near a Muslim shrine, the year shows striking progress compared to 2003 and 2004 with fatalities one third less than in 2004...

This shows how Iraq War Casualties compares to other American Wars:

(2,471 Iraq War Fatalities as of 5/31/2006)

John Hinderaker at Powerline adds this:

A total of 2,471 servicemembers have died in Iraq from 2003 to the present, a period of a little over three years. That total is almost exactly one third of the number of military personnel who died on active duty from 1980 to 1982, a comparable time period when no wars were being fought. Until very recently, our armed forces lost servicemen at a greater rate than we have experienced in Iraq, due solely to accidental death.

Do you recall that during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s there was any suggestion, from anyone, that our military policies were somehow disastrous due to fatalities among our servicemen--fatalities that nearly always exceeded those we are now experiencing in Iraq? No, neither do I.

To further put things in perspective, Newsmax reported yesterday that...

Iraq Is Less Violent than Washington, D.C.

Despite media coverage purporting to show that escalating violence in Iraq has the country spiraling out of control, civilian death statistics complied by Rep. Steve King, R-IA, indicate that Iraq actually has a lower civilian violent death rate than Washington, D.C.

Appearing with Westwood One radio host Monica Crowley on Saturday, King said that the incessantly negative coverage of the Iraq war prompted him to research the actual death numbers.

"I began to ask myself the question, if you were a civilian in Iraq, how could you tolerate that level of violence," he said. "What really is the level of violence?"

Using Pentagon statistics cross-checked with independent research, King said he came up with an annualized Iraqi civilian death rate of 27.51 per 100,000.

While that number sounds high - astonishingly, the Iowa Republican discovered that it's significantly lower than a number of major American cities, including the nation's capital.

"It's 45 violent deaths per 100,000 in Washington, D.C.," King told Crowley.

Other American cities with higher violent civilian death rates than Iraq include:

Detroit - 41.8 per 100,000

Baltimore - 37.7 per 100,000

Something to think about when you read the next "Iraq the quagmire" headline!

Still, wars are not won or lost and nations are not built based on body counts. Free societies fight wars to defend, uphold, and improve. We must not forget that those who did die gave their lives in a noble cause. Only time will tell if it's a successful one.

Meanwhile, Belmont Club reminds us that Iraq is still a failing state--just one of many--and that failing states offer a unique challenge to the remaining legacy nations states around the globe:

Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, East Timor. Four states currently in the headlines the most worrying thing about which -- apart from that each has a Western presence which may continue for years -- is that they may be joined by other countries jolted into collapse by any unpredictable crisis. A huge natural disaster, epidemic or internal conflict could precipitate many of the countries referred to as "failed states" into complete collapse. For two successive years (2005, 2006) Foreign Policy has listed the 'most failed' states based on twelve indicators which attempt to measure the degree to which each has broken down...

Leo Tolstoy wrote that "all happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The Foreign Policy list of 'most failed' states for 2006 (hardly changed for 2005) suggests that Tolstoy's observation applies to countries as well. North America, Western Europe and Japan are functionally similar but each failing state fails in its own way. Some failing states, like Haiti, have no natural wealth, while Iraq and the Congo sit on a fortune in mineral riches. Many are technologically backward but two -- Pakistan and North Korea -- are nuclear or near-nuclear powers. Some, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Sudan are part of Islam's "bloody borders". Others, like North Korea and Cuba (number 62) are Cold War relics which somehow escaped the extinction of socialist states, but for how long no one knows.

If the failing states and their manifestations (conventional and WMD terrorism, prohibited drugs, massive illegal immigrations, gigantic humanitarian crises) are going to be a persistent, long-term problem then the natural response would be to create a capability to meet the challenge. In outline any mechanism capable of dealing with failing states would combine aspects of what is called "homeland security" (border control, immigration policy), a forward military presence, economic development and institution building in an effort to meet the problem. But above all it should be scalable because the list of failing states seems capable of lengthening indefinitely while the current means for dealing with them appear capable of only marginal growth. That all-around and scalable mechanism probably doesn't exist. But new needs usually inspire equally new organizational paradigms and perhaps one will emerge.

Read all of this excellent, reflective post. I have thought for some time now that the US (and the West in general) needed an organization tailored for nation-building, peacekeeping, and stability operations. I do not know whether the nation-state is sufficiently adaptive to meet the challenge. Belmont's Wretchard is optimisitic, however:

The West may not yet know how to utilize its own non-state actors to meet the challenge of gangs from the Third World, but the unused potential is there; from the millions of Western citizens who speak Third World languages fluently to private industry, where the real technical strength of the West lies. Non-state actors have often shown they understand what needs to be done before government does. The near-spontaneous appearance of the border "Minutemen" guards; blogospheric translators of captured Iraqi documents and the voluntary provision of help to Iraqis, Afghans, Sudanese, etc are token of an energy that can be harnessed in some way to meet the challenge. Eventually and only after existing institutions are stretched to the limited, a new model may emerge. "Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."


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What You Need To Know About the Immigration Bill

In this morning's WaPo, Robert Samuelson explains some things the Senate didn't tell you about its recently passed immigration bill:

The Senate passed legislation last week that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) hailed as "the most far-reaching immigration reform in our history." You might think that the first question anyone would ask is how much it would actually increase or decrease legal immigration. But no. After the Senate approved the bill by 62 to 36, you could not find the answer in the news columns of The Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. Yet the estimates do exist and are fairly startling. By rough projections, the Senate bill would double the legal immigration that would occur during the next two decades from about 20 million (under present law) to about 40 million.

One job of journalism is to inform the public about what our political leaders are doing. In this case, we failed. The Senate bill's sponsors didn't publicize its full impact on legal immigration, and we didn't fill the void. It's safe to say that few Americans know what the bill would do because no one has told them. Indeed, I suspect that many senators who voted for the legislation don't have a clue as to the potential overall increase in immigration

I am a moderate on this issue and do believe that the immigrants already here contribute more than they consume, but there is no way on earth that this country can assimilate 40 million people in 20 years. We need to gain control of the borders before we do anything else. The compromise bill should contain as little as possible of the Senate's concilliatory gestures toward legal and illegal aliens.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

France Defeated, Again

Instapundit reports the following excellent news:


At the tasting of 10 red and 10 white wines, evenly split between French and American in both classes, the panel awarded the top place in both categories to Californian wine. A Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973 topped the white wines, beating famous French names such as Puligny-Montrachet.

In the red category, a Stag's Leap Cabernet-Sauvignon 1973, now unobtainable, beat names such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1973 (now roughly £100 a bottle).

There was only one journalist there. The French media stayed away, assuming the result would be a bore.

It wasn't.

UPDATE: More on the new result here:

French and California winemakers marked the 30th anniversary of the storied Judgment of Paris tasting with another sip-and-spit showdown.

California won -- and by more than a nose.

The domestic wines took the top five of 10 spots, with a 1971 Ridge Monte Bello cabernet sauvignon from the Santa Cruz mountains coming out on top Wednesday.

"Today was a snapshot in time and all the stars were aligned properly. We had a lot of fun," said Peter Marks, director of wine at Copia, the Napa Valley wine and arts centre where the New World end of the tasting was held. A European panel of tasters met at a London wine merchant to give their rating.




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The Troops Have Moved On

Owen West offered an appropriate Memorial Day tribute and a cogent argument for stopping the incessant political squabbling over the war in yesterday's New York Times. He rightly highlights the problem as one of leadership (or lack thereof) on both sides of the political aisle. Here are some highlights:

"Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease."

So said Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address, describing a war that put 11 percent of our citizens in uniform and had by that point killed nearly one of out every seven soldiers. That his words are relevant again now is a troubling indicator of our national endurance.

We are at the outset of a long war, and not just in Iraq. Yet it is being led politically by the short-sighted, from both sides of the aisle. The deterioration of American support for the mission in Iraq is indicative not so much of our military conduct there, where real gains are coming slowly but steadily, but of chaotic leadership.

Somehow Operation Iraqi Freedom, not a large war by America's historical standards, has blossomed into a crisis of expectations that threatens our ability to react to future threats with a fist instead of five fingers. Instead of rallying we are squabbling, even as the slow fuse burns.

One party is overly sanguine, unwilling to acknowledge its errors. The other is overly maudlin, unable to forgive the same. The Bush administration seeks to insulate the public from the reality of war, placing its burden on the few. The press has tried to fill that gap by exposing the raw brutality of the insurgency; but it has often done so without context, leaving a clear implication that we can never win.

If we can put 2003's debates behind us, there is a swath of common ground on which to focus. Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot lose Iraq. The general insurgency in Iraq imperils our national interest and the hardcore insurgents are our mortal enemies. Talking of troop reductions is to lose sight of the goal.

Second, America's conscience is one of its greatest strengths. But self-flagellation, especially in the early stages of a war against an enemy whose worldview is uncompromising, is absolutely hazardous. Three years gone and Iraq's most famous soldiers are Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England, a victim and a criminal, respectively. Abu Ghraib remains the most famous battle of the war.

Soldiers are sick of apologizing for a sliver of malcontents who are not at all representative of the new breed. But they are also sick of being pitied. Our warriors are the hunters, not the hunted, and we should celebrate them as we did in the past, for while our tastes have changed, warfare — and the need to cultivate national guardians — has not. As Kipling wrote, "The strength of the pack is the wolf."

Read the whole thing.


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Monday, May 29, 2006

Into the Clouds

Over at Not So Modern Mom, KANH has a lovely Memorial Day tribute, written by our thirteen year old Daughter, Emily. She calls it, "Into the Clouds." A snippet:

There once was a town
in which an orphan girl lived
she had nothing for her own
she had nothing to give

No one liked her
she wasn't a part of the crowd
but it was her dream
to join the clouds

She wanted to grow up
nobody knew why
but when she turned eighteen
she wanted to fly

That's my girl! Check out the whole thing.


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Friday, May 26, 2006

The Third Way Too

Day By Day once again expresses my exasperation with both our terminally corrupt, lying, muddle-headed political parties. (The man in the last frame is a conservative Republican; the woman a liberal Democrat.)

There has to be an alternative. I have been defending the President and the Republicans in Congress for years now, but the latest cave in by the Senate granting amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens and the Congressional Republicans' totally wrong-headed defense of non-existant legal perogatives (the raid on William Jefferson's Congressional office was duly ordered by a judge, a member of the judicial branch) has made me wonder if I'll sit out this election and not even vote for Alabama incumbents. After, Richard Shelby is one of the Hill's "earmark" champions, with 21 in the last year.

In a similar vein, Glenn Reynolds says,

Could Al Qaeda have slipped mind-altering drugs into the DC water supply? What’s gotten into these people? Or has some sort of deal been cut? Whatever it is, I don’t think I like it.

I keep wondering what I'm missing here. It's too late for a big third-party push in '06, I think, but I'm pretty sure we'll see one in '08. At this rate, it may be the only party left . . . .

We can only hope so.

National Review offers a similarly appropriate scolding:

By nothing more than dumb luck, the Republican-controlled Congress—lambasted for the junkets, earmarks, and 'culture of corruption' that have aligned to produce the lowest approval ratings in memory—was handed a shot at some desperately needed redemption. All its leaders had to do was make the right choice between condemning the rankest corruption and displaying an outsized arrogance. Guess which one they chose?

Another plank in any third party platform should be doing away with all set-asides and earmark riders.

A further plank should make it clear that no Congressman is above the law and should endorse a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution's article 1 clause about arresting members of Congress: not on or going to or from the floor; anywhere else is kosher.


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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Katrina: What the Media Missed

From investigative reporter Lou Dolinar at Real Clear Politics comes the fascinating and surprising story of what really went on during the first days of the Katrina crisis last year. The National Guard and Coast Guard were on the scene from the first and had things as well in hand as was possible given the circumstances. The truth about immediate efforts in the wake of Katrina is much more positive than we have been led to believe:

Remember the dozens, maybe hundreds, of rapes, murders, stabbings and deaths resulting from official neglect at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina? The ones that never happened, as even the national media later admitted?

Sure, we all remember the original reporting, if not the back-pedaling.

Here's another one: Do you remember the dramatic TV footage of National Guard helicopters landing at the Superdome as soon as Katrina passed, dropping off tens of thousands saved from certain death? The corpsmen running with stretchers, in an echo of M*A*S*H, carrying the survivors to ambulances and the medical center? About how the operation, which also included the Coast Guard, regular military units, and local first responders, continued for more than a week?

Me neither. Except that it did happen, and got at best an occasional, parenthetical mention in the national media. The National Guard had its headquarters for Katrina, not just a few peacekeeping troops, in what the media portrayed as the pit of Hell. Hell was one of the safest places to be in New Orleans, smelly as it was. The situation was always under control, not surprisingly because the people in control were always there.

From the Dome, the Louisiana Guard's main command ran at least 2,500 troops who rode out the storm inside the city, a dozen emergency shelters, 200-plus boats, dozens of high-water vehicles, 150 helicopters, and a triage and medical center that handled up to 5,000 patients (and delivered 7 babies). The Guard command headquarters also coordinated efforts of the police, firefighters and scores of volunteers after the storm knocked out local radio, as well as other regular military and other state Guard units.

Jack Harrison, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia, cited "10,244 sorties flown, 88,181 passengers moved, 18,834 cargo tons hauled, 17,411 saves" by air. Unlike the politicians, they had a working chain of command that commandeered more relief aid from other Guard units outside the state. From day one.


"The Coast Guard, the National Guard, the military in general performed heroically," said Sen. Robert Barham, R-Oak Ridge, who monitored the Superdome operation from Baton Rouge as head of the Louisiana State Senate's Homeland Security Committee. His opposite number in the Louisiana House, Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said, "They (the Guard) did a yeoman's job." Both said they were getting very different pictures from TV than they got from the Guardsmen at the Dome, and the state fish and wildlife department, another key player in the rescue operation.

"TV of the Superdome was perplexing to most folks," Thompson said. "You had them playing the tapes of the same incidents over and over, it tends to bias your thinking some, you tend to think it's worse than it really is." Official estimates at this point suggest the Guard, working from the Dome, saved 17,000 by air and uncounted thousands more by boat.

Let's try that again: The cavalry wasn't late. It didn't arrive on Thursday smoking a cigar and cussing. It was there all along.


I initially heard about the Dome headquarters from Maj. John T. Dressler, who serves with the National Guard Bureau in Washington D.C, an organization that coordinates efforts of State Guard units which serve under their respective governors. Dressler was present in the command tent there and pulled together after-action reports for the Guard as a whole from its fifty-plus individual state commands. His account was so far at variance with the picture the media portrayed that I suspected a hoax, as did my RCP editor. As it turns out, various Guard documents, personal memories, and sworn testimony support his story, which in Louisiana is no great secret. It's just the rest of the country that's been kept in the dark.


In all this time, Dressler said, "We didn't see a single camera crew or reporter on the scene. Maybe someone was there with a cell phone or a digital camera but I didn't see anyone." This was in the headquarters area. Maj. Ed Bush, meanwhile, did start seeing reporters on Tuesday and Wednesday, but inside the Dome, most were interested in confirming the stacks of bodies in the freezers, interviews with rape victims, he said, and other mayhem that never happened. He pitched the rescue angle and no one was interested. A few reporters and film crews did hitch rides on helicopters, came back, and produced stories of people stuck on rooftops, not stories about rescues, he said.


Neither Maj. Bush nor Dressler saw TV until the end of the week. They were aghast. Apart from sporadic mentions, the most significant note taken of this gigantic operation was widespread reporting of the rumor that a sniper had fired on a helicopter. What were termed evacuations in some cases, rescue operations in others, were said to have been halted as a result. "I never knew how badly we were being killed in the media," Maj. Ed Bush says. In reality, the only shots fired at the Guard were purely metaphorical and originated with the media. Rescues continued 24/7 at a furious pace.

In the end, the media timeline was exactly backwards. The bulk of all rescues took place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and began tapering off on Thursday, officials say. Their account is buttressed by a Washington Post poll of survivors, which indicates that 75 percent of the survivors who had been trapped and rescued were picked by Thursday, and virtually all were picked up by the end of the week.

In other words, by the time the clichéd "long-awaited help" arrived, in the form of a visually-stimulating cigar being chomped by a cussing Lt. General Russel L. Honore, the worst was over. The majority of trapped survivors were out of the direst straits and awaiting evacuation.


They were, in other words, on the scene, and they knew exactly the grotesqueries in the Dome and in the rest of the city. The priorities were search, rescue and lifesaving, not the comfort level of survivors they rescued who they knew would survive somehow if they sorted out the sick from the healthy. It looked brutal on TV, but it was effective, giving a whole new meaning to that venerable military cliché "quick and dirty."

Someone should have told them that's not how real Americans are supposed to act when they could be on national television. But they weren't watching TV, so they didn't even have a political or PR motive to appear to be doing something. They were too busy.


--Why wasn't the Superdome evacuated sooner? National Guard officials on the scene saw no need for it until Thursday, and they were right. First, all resources at their disposal were, quite correctly, focused on search and rescue and lifesaving, rather than on re-supply and the comfort level of those saved. Had they deployed helicopters for marginal tasks, people still stuck on rooftops or languishing in powerless hospitals would have died. When rescues began to taper off on Thursday, they began to shift resources to evacuation. In other words, they had a plan: rescue, triage, hydrate, evacuate. Not exactly rocket science, but if you leave out the rescue and triage part, as the national media did, the rest makes no sense. The Guard spent the week after Katrina in an exquisite balancing act between the needs of healthy survivors in the Dome, the care of the sick and injured in the Arena, and hauling in the tens of thousands who faced death on rooftops and in attics. Then they could worry about getting the hell out of town.

Read the whole thing.

Much of the scandal that arose around the federal response was mendaciously fanned by a mainstream media establishment that is implaccably hostile to the current Administration and would do anything -- even malign and ignore the heroic efforts of the state and federal personnel who were working around the clock in the immediate aftermath of the storm -- to discredit it.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Truth About the Bribery Scandal

Scott Ott has uncovered the real story behind the Louisiana Congressman caught on video tape accepting a $100,000 bribe:

Rep. Jefferson Hid Cash to Protect Colleagues
by Scott Ott

(2006-05-22) — As the FBI continued to build a bribery case against Rep. William Jefferson, D-LA, sources close to the lawmaker say that the $90,000 of bribe money that agents found in his freezer was there for “safekeeping.”

“He wanted to make sure that that cash didn’t fall into the hands of corrupt politicians who might be tempted to sell their influence,” said one unnamed associate. “When that kind of dough is waved in the face of some of his colleagues, it could overwhelm their natural integrity. So he was taking that money out of circulation to protect the entire Congress from the risk of corruption.”

According to an affidavit, the cash was part of a $100,000 payment made to Rep. Jefferson by an informant wearing a wire as the FBI listened in.

The anonymous source said the Congressman is now concerned that even the FBI may be tainted.

“What’s become of federal law enforcement,” he said, “when our own Justice Department is caught up in trying to bribe honest legislators? The big question now is ‘What did the Attorney General know, and when did he know it?’”

An unnamed FBI spokesman said the cash was found wrapped in aluminum foil inside a number of freezer containers.

Another Jefferson associate explained that, “the Congressman simply sealed up the money to protect it from the culture of corruption. It can grow anywhere, you know.”

Anything to fight the "culture of corruption."


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Friday, May 19, 2006

I Guess This Means They Will Be Wearing Brown Shirts

More Hitlerian measures from our friends in Iran. From (via Michelle Malkin):

Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."

Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.

Bernie Farber, the chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was "stunned" by the measure. "We thought this had gone the way of the dodo bird, but clearly in Iran everything old and bad is new again," he said. "It's state-sponsored religious discrimination."


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Will the Men Wear Brown Shirts?

further proof, if any was needed, that islamism is a form of fascism:

Iran weighing 'national uniform' for all

'Islamic clothing that reflects Iran's national and Islamic identity' set to replace 'Western' clothes by law

The Iranian parliament authorized most of the clauses of the "national uniform law" –one of the government projects suggested by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before parliament.

According to a report in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, the law is supposed to replace what is termed "Western" dress from the streets of Iranian cities, and advance "Islamic" dress.

Iranian men are today allowed to wear "Western" clothes, except a tie – which is forbidden according to the law. Women must follow far stricter laws, including a mandatory head covering, and a ban on clothes that expose the body.


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Friday, May 12, 2006

If We'd Had Today's Press Back Then...

Victor Davis Hanson imagines what today's WaPo or NYT would have said around 1 May 1945:

As we see thousands of Americans dying and our enemies still in power after four years of war, it is also legitimate to question the stewardship of Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall. The Sherman tank tragedy, the daylight bombing fiasco, the absence of even minimally suitable anti-tank weapons and torpedoes—all these lapses came on his watch, and the man at the top must take full responsibility for mistakes that have now cost thousands of American lives. Indeed, it is not just that America has worse tanks and guns than our German enemies, but they are inferior even to the rockets and armor of our Soviet allies. The recent publication of “The Sherman Tank Scandal” follows other revelations published in “Asleep at the Philippines,” “The Flight of Gen. MacArthur,” “Gen. Patton and the Atrocities on Sicily,” “Do Americans Execute POWs?” “Torture on Guadalcanal,” “Incinerating Women and Children?” and “Civilian Massacres in Germany”—publications in their totality that suggest a military out of control as often as it is incompetent.

Such problems start at the top. It is not out of “Roosevelt hating,” but out of the need for truth that requires this paper to remind the American people that Mr. Roosevelt, in whose hands our collective fate lies, has been untruthful to his wife about his liaisons, untruthful to the American people about the extent of his crippling illness, and thus, not surprisingly, untruthful to the United States Congress about the extent of our prewar involvement with the British Empire in its European war and the secret nature of our present commitments.

Recently we have learned that President Roosevelt, the former law school dropout, once again has violated basic freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. Supposed German suspects were subject to military tribunals, tried in secret, and then executed. Tens of thousands of Italians, Germans, and Japanese war captives are detained in hundreds of American prison compounds, without charges and often in secret. How many were truly captured in uniform, and under what conditions, is never disclosed.

Remember as well that these clandestine transgressions of this administration follow a long record of constitutional disrespect—whether trying to pack the Supreme Court with compliant justices, unilaterally turning over our destroyers to the United Kingdom, or, well before Pearl Harbor, ordering, by fiat, attacks on the high seas against German submarines. Such abuses of presidential authority, characterized by intrigue with British agents and unauthorized spying on foreign nationals, go a long way in explaining the German decision to declare war against us on December 8, 1941, presenting the United States with the present catastrophe of a two-front conflict.

A Secretary Rumsfeld said the other day, this war won't be won on battlefields, it will be won or lost in Washington.


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A Real Clear View of NSA "Spying"

Real Clear Politics has the propoer perspective on the recent revelations of National Security Agency "domestic spying:"

Many of the people decrying these violations of civil liberties are the same ones who ripped the government for its inability to "connect-the-dots" prior to 9/11.

But the paranoia on the left, and in particular, the hatred for the Bush administration has become so intense there is an automatic assumption that the NSA has to be engaging in nefarious activity, spying on you and your neighbor. The idea that the agency is thinking creatively and proactively about how they can legally monitor the bad guys instead of just going about business as usual is, apparently, out of the question for some. The sad truth is it is probably going to take another devastating attack to convince many in this country that we are actually at war against Islamic jihadists.

That is something true civil libertarians should think long and hard about. The more vigilant we are today in preventing attacks, the more it will pay off in spades in terms of protecting our civil liberties in the future. Because if this country gets hit with a small nuke and 30,000 or 100, 000 Americans die, all of the debating will be over. The ensuing crackdown will be massive, and the loss of REAL civil liberties will become very, very possible.

I have been making this last point for years. Unless we take reasonable steps now, and accept their consequences, we will face incidents of horrific proportions to come and our civil liberties really will be at risk in the terrible backlash. This is what I fear most about a Democrratic takeover in Congress and the White House.


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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Only Place We Can Lose [the War] Is If We Lose Our Nerve

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave an excellent interview yesterday on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Col Austin Bay, of Austin Bay Blog fame, gave an equally insightful followup interview. Transcripts of both are available on Radioblogger here. These form something of an antidote to the conspriatorial ravings of Iran's "Magilla" Ahmadinejad in my last post:

HH: Mr. Secretary, do you think that American can lose this war?

DR: Oh, sure. There's no way we can lose it on the battlefield. The only place we can lose it is if we lose our nerve, and if we decide that it's just too tough, and we're going to toss in the towel, that the dire consequences for the world, for the region, for the Iraqi people, for the Afghan people, and for the American people, are so serious, that the thought of it is just unacceptable.

HH: What does that defeat look like?

DR: Well, the first thing that we'd have, you'd have Iraq as a country with oil and water, and a large population as a haven for terrorists, reestablished as a caliphate, a home, a sanctuary for extremists to attempt to reestablish a caliphate throughout that region, and to destabilize the Muslim regimes in that region that aren't extreme, and to then spread that to Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. It would enable them to have weapons programs, and gain access to powerful, lethal weapons that could put at risk many multiples of the people that were lost on September 11th. It would be a tragedy.

Austin Bay was just as incisive:

AB: Well look, they don't. And Rumsfeld, to some degree, heck, I'm going to say it. Bless his heart, he comes out and tells us that he's working 13 hours a day, and 12 hours and three quarters, twelve hours and forty-five minutes a day, he's just doing things, and he's not thinking about the message. I would come back in, if I was working for him, I'd reach over and grab him by the tie, and say hey, big Don, this is the strategic issue you need to be sitting on every minute of the day, and that is fighting this strategic information battle. You need to be thinking about that, and you need to get over there with a megaphone at the White House, because that's where the media megaphone is for the administration, and telling them stay on top of this, stay in front of it, and when Cindy Sheehan shows up down in Texas out in front of the ranch, you don't sit there and let the media turn her into some sort of instant darling. You've got your local supporters there in Waco, there in Crawford, going up to her and in her face right there. Now it's going to give the media a story, local farmer from Crawford comes up and says you know, you're nothing but a loudmouth, and you're on your way to destroying our country, and wrecking our effort. That should have been done. It wasn't. They sat there and let her grow. And that has been a repeated flaw. That is the 20th Century, and Hugh, this is the way I would put it. I think they're still more worried about what Bill Keller thinks, about what Richard Cohen is going to write, than they are about what's going on, on the web, or how fast that image is flying around the planet, either on the internet, or on TV satellite news

Amen to all. Words to heed. I hope the SecDef was listening to Bay's words.


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And Yet the Ape...

...though well behaved, at best was just a monkey shaved. So it seems with Iran's "President," Mahmoud "Magilla" Ahmadinejad. I don't mean this as a racist jibe (if I were, I'd be making fun of my own race, since Ahmadinejad is almost literally "Caucasian"). No -- despite his obvious resemblance to a partially-shorn macaque -- I refer to the attempt he's making to appear a "peacemaker" with his "private" letter to President Bush. Given the contents of the letter and the man's past pronouncements, perhaps it would be more apt to say that taking the lunatic out of the asylum doesn’t mean he's sane.

The WSJ has made the full text of the letter available online. It proves that we fight against an ideology that is really more akin to a form of insanity than to any rational philosophy of life. Ahmadinejad, one of the most visible spokesmen for radicalized islam, is a flaming nutball and his rambling, nearly-incoherent letter proves it. It is so sick, it reads as if it might have been written by Nancy Pelosi. A few snippets:

Mr. President:

You might know that I am a teacher. My students ask me how can these actions [the invasion of Iraq] be reconciled with the values outlined in the beginning of this letter and duty to the tradition of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the messenger of peace and forgiveness?

There’s nothing like having the name of Christ invoked by one who would behead or enslave every Christian on Earth. The student – teacher meme continues throughout the letter. What does it have to do with anything? He’s writing as one head of state to another. Is he trying to subtly remind us that when he was a university student himself, he was one of the principle instigators of the US Embassy hostage-taking?

He goes on for four pages about the damjooz and their “occupation” of “Palestine.” You can guess his opinions on the Holocaust as a justification for the creation of Israel:

Young people, university students, and ordinary people have many questions about the phenomenon of Israel. I am sure you are familiar with some of them…. I tell them to study the history of WWI and II. One of my students told me that during WWII, which more than tens of millions of people perished in, news about the war, was quickly disseminated by the warring parties. Each touted their victories and the most recent battlefront defeat of the other party. After the war they claimed that six million Jews had been killed. Six million people that were surely related to at least two million families….

Wha’ the…?

…Again let us assume that these events are true. Does that logically translate into the establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East or support for such a state? How can this phenomenon be rationalized or explained?

Love that “let’s assume it’s true.” “All us university types know the goldangedjuuze made the whole thing up to rationalize their land grab. But even “assuming” it’s true, there’s still no justification for the state of Israel” (to answer his rhetorical question). The jooooze must go. Tel Aviv delenda est.

Interestingly, he invokes the name of Moses (“PBUH”) as one whose “liberal values” incline him to question support for the state of Israel. Mahmoud, I think we can guess that ol’ Moses would have favored Israel. I’m not sure on a lot of the history, not being a university teacher like yourself, but I think that one’s a pretty safe bet.

He then abruptly sails off on another tack:

Don’t Latin Americans have the right to ask why their elected governments are being opposed and coup leaders supported? Or, Why must they constantly be threatened and live in fear?

Where did that one come from? Ohhhh, he means Venezuela…

The people of Africa are hardworking, creative and talented. They can play an important and valuable role in providing for the needs of humanity and contribute to its material and spiritual progress. Poverty and hardship in large parts of Africa are preventing this from happening. Don’t they have the right to ask why their enormous wealth – including minerals – is being looted, despite the fact that they need it more than others?

So… Africa’s “poverty and hardship” is America’s fault – we’re “looting” Africa’s “enormous wealth” and refuse to share our own. Doubtless the jeauxz are behind it somehow. Now he’s off in Marcus Garveyland. He should be writing for Daily Kos.

If you’re so concerned about Africans, Mr. “President,” why don’t you spread some of Iran’s “enormous wealth” to alleviate the suffering? What? You don’t have enormous wealth because the mullahs have been looting your country for decades? Sounds like a personal problem to me.

September eleven was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services – or their extensive infiltration? Of course, this is just an educated guess.

A ha! Americans planned 9-11 themselves. The CIA and the damnjews cooked it up!

Why have various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilties?

Okay, we can talk about Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright if you really want to, Mr “President.”

And, why aren’t those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?

You ever heard of Gitmo, Mahmoud? Oh, yes, you have – you mention it prominently in the letter. That’s where the perps go. Maybe they’ll get a trial someday. Maybe not. Thoughout history, saboteurs have usually just been shot outright, so they’ve already gotten more consideration than they’re due.

Mr. President,

History tells us that repressive and cruel governments do not survive.

Then consider your days numbered, Mahmoud.

God has entrusted the fate of man to them. The Almighty has not left the universe and humanity to their own devices. Many things have happened that are contrary to the wishes and plans of governments. These tell us that there is a higher power at work and all events are determined by him.

Then how can you explain the existence of the evil you condemn being in the world? Your god must not be very powerful or be duplicitous if he dictates the conditions of the world and yet allows evil loose within it. My God informs us that He has left mankind to its own devices because of sin. Hence, people like you, Mahmoud, are allowed to run loose.

Liberalism and western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems.

Now we get down to it. This is not a peace overture, it’s a declaration of war.

In fact, there is a certain internal logic to the viewpoint expressed in the letter. Reading it was like watching “a beautiful mind” – one can almost buy into madness, but ultimately the conspiracies just turn out to be figments of someone’s imagination.

I predict this letter will be taken up by Michael Moore and other Hollywood types, along with Mother Sheehan and her anti-America crowd, as a manifesto of sorts. It would be beneath our President’s dignity to respond to it with anything other than bombs and missiles.


James Lileks has a slightly differing translation of the Ahmadinejab letter. I prefer his.

Update 12 May 06: The New York Sun points out that the letter's closing salutation proves it is a declaration of war:

President Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush, widely interpreted as a peaceful overture, is in fact a declaration of war. The key sentence in the letter is the closing salutation. In an eight-page text of the letter being circulated by the Council on Foreign Relations, it is left untranslated and rendered as "Vasalam Ala Man Ataba'al hoda." What this means is "Peace only unto those who follow the true path."

It is a phrase with historical significance in Islam, for, according to Islamic tradition, in year six of the Hejira - the late 620s - the prophet Mohammad sent letters to the Byzantine emperor and the Sassanid emperor telling them to convert to the true faith of Islam or be conquered. The letters included the same phrase that President Ahmadinejad used to conclude his letter to Mr. Bush. For Mohammad, the letters were a prelude to a Muslim offensive, a war launched for the purpose of imposing Islamic rule over infidels.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Third Way

Chris Muir at Day By Day seems to agree with me about the need for a third party:

Couldn't have put it better myself.


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Monday, May 08, 2006

What Victory for Islam Means, Part 6

In their rush to dhimmitude, its seems the Europeans are turning their (otherwise mostly unused) churches over to muslims. Straight from the capital of the EU, Brussels Journal has the following:

Allah Takes Over Church

From the desk of Paul Belien on Sun, 2006-05-07 11:40

The Belgian Bishops have opened their churches to illegal immigrants in order to pressurize the Belgian authorities to allow the immigrants to stay in the country.

Most of the immigrant squatters in the churches are Muslims. They display banners in the church showing the name of Allah (picture taken in the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Brussels).

The Muslim squatters hold Islamic prayer services in the church. The altar has been moved and the statue of Our Lady covered by a cloth to hide her from the eyes of the Muslim believers.

I'm ambivalent about covering "Our Lady" with a cloth, but not about muslims holding prayer services in Christian churches, regardlesss of denomination. One understands the impulse of the local Bishops -- they feel that they're sheltering the homeless and simply being hospitable with regard to their beliefs, since Europe is just as squishy as the Bush administration is on the issue of illegal aliens. But what they don't see, because they are blinded by political correctness, is that the fundamental values that built the church and its underlying civilization are being subverted by the interlopers. For the sake of seeming "open" to the "downtrodden" (a laudible objective in most circumstances), they have literally given the enemies of their religion and civilization squatters rights in their holy places.

Get used to this. It may look like charity now. In years to come, it may look more like the hostile occupation that it is.


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Sunday, May 07, 2006

What Victory for Islam Means, Part 5, Freedom of the Press

This is what the Salafi form of sharia law does to those, especially women, who broadcast or write about issues embarrsassing to their interpretation of islam (bow to the Mudville Gazette):

Shortly after the bombing of the Samarra shrine, an Iraqi journalist covering the aftermath was kidnapped and murdered. Her story was mentioned briefly in the western media, but was covered extensively in the Middle East.

Now a video of the brutal murder has surfaced, apparently made with a mobile phone with video capability.

Two men drove up in a pick-up truck, asking for her. She appealed to a small crowd that had gathered around her crew but nobody was willing to help her. It was reported at the time that she had been shot dead with her cameraman and sound man.

We now know that it was not that swift for Bahjat. First she was stripped to the waist, a humiliation for any woman but particularly so for a pious Muslim who concealed her hair, arms and legs from men other than her father and brother.

Then her arms were bound behind her back. A golden locket in the shape of Iraq that became her glittering trademark in front of the television cameras must have been removed at some point — it is nowhere to be seen in the grainy film, which was made by someone who pointed a mobile phone at her as she lay on a patch of earth in mortal terror.

By the time filming begins, the condemned woman has been blindfolded with a white bandage.

It is stained with blood that trickles from a wound on the left side of her head. She is moaning, although whether from the pain of what has already been done to her or from the fear of what is about to be inflicted is unclear.

Just as Bahjat bore witness to countless atrocities that she covered for her television station, Al-Arabiya, during Iraq’s descent into sectarian conflict, so the recording of her execution embodies the depths of the country’s depravity after three years of war.

A large man dressed in military fatigues, boots and cap approaches from behind and covers her mouth with his left hand. In his right hand, he clutches a large knife with a black handle and an 8in blade. He proceeds to cut her throat from the middle, slicing from side to side.

Her cries — “Ah, ah, ah” — can be heard above the “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) intoned by the holder of the mobile phone.

Even then, there is no quick release for Bahjat. Her executioner suddenly stands up, his job only half done. A second man in a dark T-shirt and camouflage trousers places his right khaki boot on her abdomen and pushes down hard eight times, forcing a rush of blood from her wounds as she moves her head from right to left.

Only now does the executioner return to finish the task. He hacks off her head and drops it to the ground, then picks it up again and perches it on her bare chest so that it faces the film-maker in a grotesque parody of one of her pieces to camera.

The voice of one of the Arab world’s most highly regarded and outspoken journalists has been silenced. She was 30.

Other gruesome details from a family friend: She had nine drill holes in her right arm and 10 in her left, he said. The drill had also been applied to her legs, her navel and her right eye.

This is the form of life and death that our enemy offers, first to the Iraqis, then to the whole of the Middle East not already under its sway, then to all of islam, and finally to all the world.

This is why we must fight and not summarily pull out like the fat, narcissistic, decadent American-Idol obsessed weaklings the Democrats would have us be and the muslims already think we are.

Yesterday it was Atwar Bahjat. Soon it may be your own daughter, sister, or wife.
Thus ends my Sunday meditation.


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Thursday, May 04, 2006

I Didn't Say It...

...They did. Max Boot and Glen Reynolds:

Of the top 14 oil exporters, only one is a well-established liberal democracy — Norway. Two others have recently made a transition to democracy — Mexico and Nigeria. Iraq is trying to follow in their footsteps. That's it. Every other major oil exporter is a dictatorship — and the run-up in oil prices has been a tremendous boon to them.

My associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ian Cornwall, calculates that if oil averages $71 a barrel this year, 10 autocracies stand to make about $500 billion more than in 2003, when oil was at $27. This windfall helps to squelch liberal forces and entrench noxious dictators in such oil producers as Russia (which stands to make $115 billion more this year than in 2003) and Venezuela ($36 billion). Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez can buy off their publics with generous subsidies and ignore Western pressure while sabotaging democratic developments from Central America to Central Asia.

The "dictatorship dividend" also subsidizes Sudan's ethnic cleansing (it stands to earn $4.7 billion more this year than in 2003), Iran's development of nuclear weapons ($45 billion) and Saudi Arabia's proselytization for Wahhabi fundamentalism ($149 billion). Even in such close American allies as Kuwait ($35 billion) and the United Arab Emirates ($36 billion), odds are that some of the extra lucre will find its way into the pockets of terrorists.

Of course, if we seized the Saudi and Iranian oil fields and ran the pumps full speed, oil prices would plummet, dictators would be broke, and poor nations would benefit from cheap energy. But we'd be called imperialist oppressors, then.

...But I wish I had. What would the government's popularity ratings be if oil was $36 a barrel and gas $1.50? I'd take it in the name of "imperialism." I thought the left says we were fighting this war for oil. If so, let's get on with it!


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Welcome to a world where anal rape is a way of life, not just a hobby, Mr. Moussaoui.

I am glad of his life sentence. It will give him the chance to get to know his fellow prisoners in a new and special way. Trust me, Mr. Moussauoui, you didn't win, as the guy behind you, with the oozing sores on his testes, knows while he unzips his pants; as do the two or three others who hold you down while you get your initiation into "bitchdom."

Welcome to Hell, demon. It's only a foretaste.


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It Was Only a Matter of Time, Part ???

From laws endorsing homosexual marriage to the "real" lives of Orange County housewives, it was only a matter of time before polygamy reared its head as the next wave of "alternative lifestyles." KLo at the Corner passes on the scoop:

"In these households, as surely as in those of hard-charging careerist mommies, gone is the patient, attentive, supportive emotional rock of the family—the kind of woman whose principle job was to make sure that her kids, her husband, and her home were all running smoothly ... It is into this breach that an extra wife could step. Better still, since the kind of multi-spouse arrangement I'm envisioning isn't about maximizing the number of offspring, one could just as easily have a household with two husbands. Indeed, the key to this brand of polygamy would be to make clear up front that the second-spouse slot was for a woman or man specifically not interested in procreating. Where would be the labor savings in having two full families' worth of kids without two full families' worth of parents?"

On an opposite tack, I have watched "Jonathan" on BlowOut, wondering all the while if guys getting ready to go on convoy in Baghdad or Khandahar were able to see how much "stress" was involved in a QVC appearance (not that there's any polygamy there--just metrosexualism). I bet they nearly had "heart attacks" too, worrying about how tough it would be blow dry someone's hair on national television.

Hope this post doesn't offend my Mormon friends. The family I know best, however, couldn't handle more woman than it already has. Right, onesouthernbelle?

How long before the next reality series: Real Men and the Sheep that Are Afraid of Them? Filmed in Ireland and Scotland, of course.

Is it any wonder that conservative muslims hate us? We provide them the rope they'll hang us with.


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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Radical, Part 3

Itinerant workers in Herndon VA show their opinion of local voters

It seems that voters in Herndon, VA, are as unhappy about their voices not being heard by the Establishment parties as KANH is. Yesterday, they voted out their mayor and most of their town council for supporting a day-labor center for immigrant workers. Herndon's overwhelmingly liberal town council set up the center last year in a residential neighborhood to help employers find itinerant day laborers for sub-minimum wage work. Many of the laborers the center shelters are illegal aliens. Needless to say, the crime rate in the surrounding neighborhood soared when the laborers began to hang out there, first in a 7-11 parking lot, then in the publicly-subsidized shelter. The WaPo continues the story (by way of Michelle Malkin):

Herndon voters yesterday unseated the mayor and Town Council members who supported a bitterly debated day-labor center for immigrant workers in a contest that emerged as a mini-referendum on the turbulent national issue of illegal immigration.

Residents replaced the incumbents with a group of challengers who immediately called for significant changes at the center. Some want to bar public funds from being spent on the facility or restrict it to workers residing in the country legally. Others want it moved to an industrial site away from the residential neighborhood where it is located.

The day-labor center thrust the western Fairfax County town into the national spotlight as the issue of illegal immigration became emotional. Even though fewer than 3,000 people voted yesterday, advocates on both sides of the issue looked at the election as a test case of public sentiment. Outside groups such as the Minutemen Project, which favors sharp curbs on illegal immigration, intervened in the town debate. Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, is suing the town over establishment of the center.

[New Mayor] DeBenedittis, the son of a popular former high school art teacher in Herndon, said his victory was the product of intense door-to-door campaigning and deep discontent over how the labor center issue was handled by the mayor and council in the town of 23,000 residents.

"They didn't like the way the debate went down, and there was the feeling that they were not heard," he said.

Indeed. There are lots of people in this country who don't like not being heard. Immigration is one issue on which the government is turning a deaf ear. This may be the bellwether for a backlash against illegal immigration in the wake of the socialist- and MeCha-inspired demonstrations in April and on May Day. This issue may become one that a third party could turn to its advantage, by promising to secure the border and only then discuss the status of illegals and citizenship. In the meantime, hooray for the citizens of Herndon!


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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Radical, Part 2

KANH comments at length concerning my post on forming a third political party:

This whole budget thing, coming from a man that entrusts his money to a very silly girl that loves shoes just a little too much, is very interesting.

Actually, I think much of the American public feels they have no real say...oh we can debate and discuss till we are blue in the face, but none of us have anything to do with or say about what goes on in the street in front of our homes let alone Washington. Really, as a person who has tried to make a difference in my community (church, schools, etc.), I have very little effect on anything. The best I can hope for is to raise well rounded and balanced children who may have some impact. Third party or no, it's still government, The more we pick apart our politicians, the less likely we are to get actual moral, clear thinking for the greater good kind of candidate.

Modern campaigns might as well be for student council. Promising things (longer recess, all-candy lunch, shorter school year) they can never deliver or have no business doing in the first place. They dangle the care for everyone, tax rebates, free higher education for all, longer lives, pursuit of all dreams at any cost, better and safer sex, undefined families(whatever you think is a family is). Basically the only way to get elected is to promise things that sound great to the most people, but are unrealistic.

The government has certain duties and citizens have certain duties and some where along the way we've blurred the lines. We want the feds to be some kind of Vegas...Send in my tax forms and hope all my deductions add up to a big fat rebate check (wait a minute that was my money to begin with). Like the 10-40 is some kind of arm on a slot machine...If I'm lucky I'll fit in a group that gets special treatment. I think we want the government to do it all, so we don't have to. The sad thing is fiscally speaking, government is the most inefficient way to accomplish most of our social aims. Maybe because we all have different social aims. What is it we want from the government...national security, basic protection (upholding the laws), regulation of the money supply, fair fundamental education, trade regulation, or do we want the government to tell us what to eat, what to worship, how to think, who to love, who to hate, when to sleep, who to sleep with, how to raise children. Too many of us want it done for us, so we are willing to hand over our God-given rights and responsibilities and sadly this will lead to sameness instead of diversity. Anyone that has taken high school biology knows it is in diversity that we find strength. I think this is true in sociology as well. So, maybe we all need to take a look at what we expect from the government and what we should expect from the government. Because basically it all boils down to you can please some of the people some of the time (where's Lincoln when you need him?!)

OK, I've got to go tuck some kids in, hope this made some sense!


It makes a great deal of sense. Your point that people feel disenfranchised even at the lowest levels helps to point out why we need some political path that offers a clear alternative to our two current parties. I'll comment at greater length later. Good words!


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Christian Carnival CXIX

I am very dreadfully late in posting this, but here is last week's Christian Carnival, brought to you by JCHFleetGuy at Brain Cramps for God.

And speaking of brain cramps, there is a post by Silas Jones that attempts to reconcile Ayn Rand's idea that selfishness is a virtue with Christianity.

Ayn Rand's writings are in every way right on track. The virtue of selfishness is that our standard, our guiding post for morality, that we must follow if we want to live life and be satisfied by and within it, is that we must hold the pursuit of our life's best above all else. I think Ayn Rand hit the nail on the head when it comes to how we ought to view our system of morals, which determine the way we believe we ought to act. But at the same time, doesn't it sound kind of counter-intuitive to Christianity?

Ummm, yeah. 'Cause it is.

There is a paradigm shift that has occured sometime between the time following the writings of ancient Jews such as David (the king of Israel) and the church of the last 200 years. David understood that following God meant following him because it was in his (David's) best interest. But this understanding has been perverted by much of the church to the point that most people look at ethics as a top 10 list of things to do to avoid condemnation. It is from this assumption, that we must follow God to avoid hell, that I think people have received their problems with guilt. Christianity does not cause problems with guilt. Christianity, at its core, focuses on our own pleasure and enjoyment - it is self-centered and hedonistic in every way (however, with this hedonism of sorts, the standard of pleasure is what is ultimately best for us, not whatever happens to be our whim or seems best at the moment.) It is the removal of our focus from our own pleasure that has ultimately resulted in the problems with guilt and fear that causes many people to abandon religion. I obviously do not think that ignoring religion is the solution to these people's problems. The solution is to truly (for the first time, maybe) seek their own ultimate pleasure, that which is the pursuit of the ultimate value that Ayn Rand talks of. This is not, nor can it be, done by a non-religious or condemnnation-avoidant approach to morality.

Nice try, but no cheroot. "In our best interest" and "hedonistic" are two very different things. Hence the problem of pain and of bad things happening to good people. Interesting nonetheless.


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Monday, May 01, 2006

Radical, Part 1

This blog, despite its being breathtakingly beautiful to behold and sparkling in its online brilliance, has failed to develop much of an audience beyond a few highly disturbed souls in Prattvegas, Auburn, Spanish Fort, and and the greater Washington DC metroplex. It's time to break free and cast loose the chains.

I therefore propose something radical: That this country would be better served by presidents and representatives from a third political party who presented a clear alternative to both Democans and Republicrats. Both are parties of Big Government and the Washington Establishment. They may quarrel with our corrupt press and our equally base corporate leadership, but the real relationships are loving and tender. And this has led to a political climate in which the voices and concerns of average citizens are ignored or laughed at. We, as ordinary Americans, should feel like the colonists did on the verge of the Revolution: preyed upon and unrepresented. A third party -- a Bull Moose or progressive party -- might alleviate some of this problem. Ultimately, there is no political solution -- only a spiritual one -- but one can hope to offer better choices than either party does today, or at least pick the best policies from both parties and form them into a platform that offers them all in one place.

So consider this a manifesto of sorts. I don't know what to call such a party, but I do have a proposal for the first of platform plank:

1. Be it resolved: The President should should give Congress an ultimatum: either give the executive line item veto authority or veto every bill that contains a "special funding request." Last year there were 12,852 such requests, totalling $67 billion. Bring government to a halt until it can get spending under control. The President should make a firm commitment to live within a stated, reasonable budget or face impeachment. Any representatives from this third party should be elected contingent upon his or her willingness to move for impeachment if the President fails to live within the budget Congress approves.

Discuss. Talk amongst yourselves.


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Thoughts on the War in Iraq

Izmud submits the following for your consideration concerning the war in Iraq. I assume it follows his own thinking closely. This has been making email rounds for some time now. I post it here without comment, but hope it will provide a springboard for discussion on our strategy for the "War on Terror" (or whatever we're calling it this week). I will have comments and/or a fisking (as appropriate) sometime soon. (Am swamped at work and have not had time to digest this fully yet).


Here is a post from Raymond S. Kraft, a California lawyer, that seems to present the "Big Picture"" in the right manner.. This is something all Americans should read!

A California Lawyer's Perspective on Iraq War.

Sixty-three years ago, Nazi Germany had overrun almost all of Europe and hammered England to the verge of bankruptcy and defeat, and had sunk more than four hundred British ships in their convoys between England and America for food and war materials.

Bushido Japan had overrun most of Asia, beginning in 1928, killing millions of civilians throughout China, and impressing millions more as slave labor.

The US was in an isolationist, pacifist, mood, and most Americans and Congress wanted nothing to do with the European war, or the Asian war.

Then along came Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and in outrage Congress unanimously declared war on Japan, and the following day on Germany, which had not attacked us. It was a dicey thing. We had few allies.

France was not an ally, the Vichy government of France aligned with its German occupiers. Germany was not an ally, it was an enemy, and Hitler intended to set up a Thousand Year Reich in Europe. Japan was not an ally, it was intent on owning and controlling all of Asia. Japan and Germany had long-term ideas of invading Canada and Mexico, and then the United States over the north and south borders, after they had settled control of Asia and Europe.

America's allies then were England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Russia, and that was about it. There were no other countries of any size or military significance with the will and ability to contribute much or anything to the effort to defeat Hitler's Germany and Japan, and prevent the global dominance of Nazism. And we had to send millions of tons of arms, munitions, and war supplies to Russia, England, and the Canadians, Aussies, Irish, and Scots, because none of them could produce all they needed for themselves.

All of Europe, from Norway to Italy, except Russia in the east, was already under the Nazi heel.

America was not prepared for war. America had stood down most of its military after WWI and throughout the depression, at the outbreak of WWII there were army units training with broomsticks over their shoulders because they didn't have guns, and cars with "tank" painted on the doors because they didn't have tanks. And a big chunk of our navy had just been sunk and damaged at Pearl Harbor.

Britain had already gone bankrupt, saved only by the donation of $600 million in gold bullion in the Bank of England that was the property of Belgium and was given by Belgium to England to carry on the war when Belgium was overrun by Hitler - actually, Belgium surrendered one day, because it was unable to oppose the German invasion, and the Germans bombed Brussels into rubble the next day anyway just to prove they could. Britain had been holding out for two years already in the face of staggering shipping loses and the near-decimation of its air force in the Battle of Britain, and was saved from being overrun by Germany only because Hitler made the mistake of thinking the Brits were a relatively minor threat that could be dealt with later and turning his attention to Russia, at a time when England was on the verge of collapse in the late summer of 1940.

Russia may have saved America's butt by putting up a desperate fight for two years until the US got geared up to begin hammering away at Germany.

Russia lost something like 24 million people in the sieges of Stalingrad and Moscow, 90% of them from cold and starvation, mostly civilians, but also more than a million soldiers. More than a million.

Had Russia surrendered, then, Hitler would have been able to focus his entire campaign against the Brits, then America, and the Nazis would have won that war.

Had Hitler not made that mistake and invaded England in 1940 or 1941, instead, there would have been no England for the US and the Brits to use as a staging ground to prepare an assault on Nazi Europe, England would not have been able to run its North African campaign to help take a little pressure off Russia while America geared up for battle, and today Europe would very probably be run by the Nazis, the Third Reich, and, isolated and without any allies (not even the Brits), the US would very probably have had to cede Asia to the Japanese, who were basically Nazis by another name then, and the world we live in today would be very different and much worse. I say this to illustrate that turning points in history are often dicey things. And we are at another one.

There is a very dangerous minority in Islam that either has, or wants and may soon have, the ability to deliver small nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, almost anywhere in the world, unless they are prevented from doing so.

France, Germany, and Russia, have been selling them weapons technology at least as recently as 2002, as have North Korea, Syria, and Pakistan, paid for with billions of dollars Saddam Hussein skimmed from the "Oil For Food"
program administered by the UN with the complicity of Kofi Annan and his son.

The Jihadis, the militant Muslims, are basically Nazis in Kaffiyahs - they believe that Islam, a radically conservative (definitely not liberal!) form of Wahhabi Islam, should own and control the Middle East first, then Europe, then the world, and that all who do not bow to Allah should be killed, enslaved, or subjugated. They want to finish the Holocaust, destroy Israel, purge the world of Jews. This is what they say.

There is also a civil war raging in the Middle East - for the most part not a hot war, but a war of ideas. Islam is having its Inquisition and its Reformation today, but it is not yet known which will win - the Inquisition, or the Reformation.

If the Inquisition wins, then the Wahhabis, the Jihadis, will control the Middle East, and the OPEC oil, and the US, European, and Asian economies, the techno-industrial economies, will be at the mercy of OPEC - not an OPEC dominated by the well-educated and rational Saudis of today, but an OPEC dominated by the Jihadis.

You want gas in your car? You want heating oil next winter? You want jobs?
You want the dollar to be worth anything? You better hope the Jihad, the Muslim Inquisition, loses, and the Islamic Reformation wins.

If the Reformation movement wins, that is, the moderate Muslims who believe that Islam can respect and tolerate other religions, and live in peace with the rest of the world, and move out of the 10th century into the 21st, then the troubles in the Middle East will eventually fade away, and a moderate and prosperous Middle East will emerge.

We have to help the Reformation win, and to do that we have to fight the Inquisition, i.e., the Wahhabi movement, the Jihad, Al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist movements. We have to do it somewhere. We cannot do it nowhere.
And we cannot do it everywhere at once. We have created a focal point for the battle now at the time and place of our choosing, in Iraq.

Not in New York, not in London, or Paris, or Berlin, but in Iraq, where we did and are doing two very important things.

(1) We deposed Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11 or not, it is undisputed that Saddam has been actively supporting the terrorist movement for decades. Saddam is a terrorist.

Saddam is, or was, a weapon of mass destruction, who is responsible for the deaths of probably more than a million Iraqis and two million Iranians.

(2) We created a battle, a confrontation, a flash point, with Islamic terrorism in Iraq. We have focused the battle. We are killing bad guys there and the ones we get there we won't have to get here, or anywhere else.
We also have a good shot at creating a democratic, peaceful Iraq, which will be a catalyst for democratic change in the rest of the Middle East, and an outpost for a stabilizing American military presence in the Middle East for as long as it is needed.

The Euros could have done this, but they didn't, and they won't. We now know that rather than opposing the rise of the Jihad, the French, Germans, and Russians were selling them arms - we have found more than a million tons of weapons and munitions in Iraq. If Iraq was not a threat to anyone, why did Saddam need a million tons of weapons?

And Iraq was paying for French, German, and Russian arms with money skimmed from the UN Oil For Food Program (supervised by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his son) that was supposed to pay for food, medicine, and education, for Iraqi children.

World War II, the war with the German and Japanese Nazis, really began with a "whimper" in 1928. It did not begin with Pearl Harbor. It began with the Japanese invasion of China. It was a war for fourteen years before America joined it. It officially ended in 1945 - a 17 year war - and was followed by another decade of US occupation in Germany and Japan to get those countries reconstructed and running on their own again ... a 27 year war.

World War II cost the United States an amount equal to approximately a full year's GDP - adjusted for inflation, equal to about $12 trillion dollars, WWII cost America more than 400,000 killed in action, and nearly 100,000 still missing in action.

[The Iraq war has, so far, cost the US about $160 billion, which is roughly what 9/11 cost New York. It has also cost about 2,200 American lives, which is roughly 1/2 of the 3,000 lives that the Jihad snuffed on 9/11.] But the cost of not fighting and winning WWII would have been unimaginably greater - a world now dominated by German and Japanese Nazism.

Americans have a short attention span, now, conditioned I suppose by 60 minute TV shows and 2-hour movies in which everything comes out okay.

The real world is not like that. It is messy, uncertain, and sometimes bloody and ugly. Always has been, and probably always will be.

If we do this thing in Iraq successfully, it is probable that the Reformation will ultimately prevail. Many Muslims in the Middle East hope it will. We will be there to support it. It has begun in some countries, Libya, for instance. And Dubai. And Saudi Arabia. If we fail, the Inquisition will probably prevail, and terrorism from Islam will be with us for all the foreseeable future, because the Inquisition, or Jihad, believes they are called by Allah to kill all the Infidels, and that death in Jihad is glorious.

The bottom line here is that we will have to deal with Islamic terrorism until we defeat it, whenever that is. It will not go away on its own. It will not go away if we ignore it.

If the US can create a reasonably democratic and stable Iraq, then we have an "England" in the Middle East, a platform, from which we can work to help modernize and moderate the Middle East. The history of the world is the clash between the forces of relative civility and civilization, and the barbarians clamoring at the gates. The Iraq war is merely another battle in this ancient and never-ending war. And now, for the first time ever, the barbarians are about to get nuclear weapons. Unless we prevent them. Or somebody does.

The Iraq war is expensive, and uncertain, yes. But the consequences of not fighting it and winning it will be horrifically greater. We have four options -

1. We can defeat the Jihad now, before it gets nuclear weapons.

2. We can fight the Jihad later, after it gets nuclear weapons (which may be as early as next year, if Iran's progress on nuclear weapons is what Iran claims it is).

3. We can surrender to the Jihad and accept its dominance in the Middle East, now, in Europe in the next few years or decades, and ultimately in America.

4. Or we can stand down now, and pick up the fight later when the Jihad is more widespread and better armed, perhaps after the Jihad has dominated France and Germany and maybe most of the rest of Europe. It will be more dangerous, more expensive, and much bloodier then.

Yes, the Jihadis say that they look forward to an Islamic America. If you oppose this war, I hope you like the idea that your children, or grandchildren, may live in an Islamic America under the Mullahs and the Sharia, an America that resembles Iran today.

We can be defeatist peace-activists as anti-war types seem to be, and concede, surrender, to the Jihad, or we can do whatever it takes to win this war against them.

The history of the world is the history of civilization clashes, cultural clashes. All wars are about ideas, ideas about what society and civilization should be like, and the most determined always win.

Those who are willing to be the most ruthless always win. The pacifists always lose, because the anti-pacifists kill them.

In the 20th century, it was Western democracy vs. communism, and before that Western democracy vs. Nazism, and before that Western democracy vs.
German Imperialism. Western democracy won, three times, but it wasn't cheap, fun, nice, easy, or quick. Indeed, the wars against German Imperialism (WWI), Nazi Imperialism (WWII), and communist imperialism (the 40-year Cold War that included the Vietnam Battle, commonly called the Vietnam War, but itself a major battle in a larger war) covered almost the entire century.

The first major war of the 21st Century is the war between Western Judeo/Christian Civilization and Wahhabi Islam. It may last a few more years, or most of this century. It will last until the Wahhabi branch of Islam fades away, or gives up its ambitions for regional and global dominance and Jihad, or until Western Civilization gives in to the Jihad.

Senator John Kerry, in the debates and almost daily, makes 3 scary claims:

1. We went to Iraq without enough troops.

We went with the troops the US military wanted. We went with the troop levels General Tommy Franks asked for. We deposed Saddam in 30 days with light casualties, much lighter than we expected.

The real problem in Iraq is that we are trying to be nice - we are trying to fight minority of the population that is Jihadis, and trying to avoid killing the large majority that is not. We could flatten Fallujah in minutes with a flight of B-52s, or seconds with one nuclear cruise missile - but we don't. We're trying to do brain surgery, not amputate the patient's head. The Jihadis amputate heads.

2. We went to Iraq with too little planning.

This is a specious argument. It supposes that if we had just had "the right plan" the war would have been easy, cheap, quick, and clean.

That is not an option. It is a guerrilla war against a determined enemy, and no such war ever has been or ever will be easy, cheap, quick, and clean.
This is not TV.

3. We proved ourselves incapable of governing and providing security.

This too is a specious argument. It was never our intention to govern and provide security. It was our intention from the beginning to do just enough to enable the Iraqis to develop a representative government and their own military and police forces to provide their own security, and that is happening. The US and the Brits and other countries there have trained over 100,000 Iraqi police and military, now, and will have trained more than 200,000 by the end of next year. We are in the process of transitioning operational control for security back to Iraq.

It will take time. It will not go with no hitches. This is not TV.

Remember, perspective is everything, and America's schools teach too little history for perspective to be clear, especially in the young American mind.

The Cold war lasted from about 1947 at least until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Forty-two years. Europe spent the first half of the 19th century fighting Napoleon, and from 1870 to 1945 fighting Germany.

World War II began in 1928, lasted 17 years, plus a ten year occupation, and the US still has troops in Germany and Japan. World War II resulted in the death of more than 50 million people, maybe more than 100 million people, depending on which estimates you accept.

The US has taken a little more than 2,000 KIA in Iraq. The US took more than 4,000 Killed in action on the morning of June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion to rid Europe of Nazi Imperialism. In WWII the US averaged 2,000 KIA a week for four years. Most of the individual battles of WWII lost more Americans than the entire Iraq war has done so far.

But the stakes are at least as high . . . a world dominated by representative governments with civil rights, human rights, and personal freedoms ... or a world dominated by a radical Islamic Wahhabi movement, by the Jihad, under the Mullahs and the Sharia (Islamic law).

I do not understand why the American Left does not grasp this. They favor human rights, civil rights, liberty and freedom, but evidently not for Iraqis. In America, absolutely, but nowhere else.

300,000 Iraqi bodies in mass graves in Iraq are not our problem. The US population is about twelve times that of Iraq, so let's multiply 300,000 by twelve. What would you think if there were 3,600,000 American bodies in mass graves in America because of George Bush? Would you hope for another country to help liberate America?

"Peace Activists" always seem to demonstrate where it's safe, in America.

Why don't we see Peace Activist demonstrating in Iran, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, North Korea, in the places in the world that really need peace activism the most?

The liberal mentality is supposed to favor human rights, civil rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc., but if the Jihad wins, wherever the Jihad wins, it is the end of civil rights, human rights, democracy, multiculturalism, diversity, etc. Americans who oppose the liberation of Iraq are coming down on the side of their own worst enemy.

If the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. Everywhere the Jihad wins, it is the death of Liberalism. And American Liberals just don't get it.

History about America very likely is completely unknown by them (and their instructors, too). By being denied the facts and truth of our history, they are at a decided disadvantage when it comes to reasoning and thinking through the issues of today. They are prime targets for misinformation campaigns beamed at enlisting them in causes and beliefs that are special interest agenda driven.

Raymond S. Kraft is a writer and lawyer living in Northern California.

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