Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Marine's Last Words

A moving, beautiful tribute to Cpl. Jeffrey Starr. From his last letter home:

"Dearest Emmylyn, I'm writing this for one reason only. On April 13th 2004 I thought I was going to die. My only regret is that I hadn't spent enough time with you. That I hadn't told you everything I wanted to. Being in Iraq for a 3rd time, I don't want to feel that way again because it was the worst feeling ever. So this letter is in case I won't ever get the chance to tell you. Obviously, if you are reading this, then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this -- that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom."

Hanky discretion is advised.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Belgian Suicide Bomber???


Cindy "America's Not Worth Fighting For" Sheehan Paid $11,000 for Campus Speech

Anyone who's spent any time on a college campus in the last 20 years is well aware of the boatloads of student fee money thrown at leftwing moonbats every year while conservatives get peanuts if they're even ALLOWED to speak on-campus. Even if the authorities graciously allow a conservative speaker a venue, they generally do nothing to counter well-organized left-wing protesters. At the same time, the campus cops will drag a right-wing protester out of a lefty speech so fast it'll make your head spin. When I was involved in student activities committees as a student, I was able to see this process from the inside. These committees are generally packed with "red diaper baby" types who question whether folks like Cornel West and Noam Chomsky are really "on board" for "the cause."

This is just another example of the rampant left-wing bias of campus administrators. While an anti-American nutjob with little, if anything, insightful to offer gets $11,000 in coerced student fees along with scads of promotional money, a soldier back from the front lines gets $600 and peanuts for promotion.


Monday, November 28, 2005

John Leo on the Media and the War

John asks:

Can it be that many national reporters are so afflicted by Bush hatred that they can't let go long enough to report stories straight? Could be. Consider the entire backward-looking thrust of so much reportage, focusing sharply on what happened in 2002 and 2003, less on the stake we have in prevailing in Iraq. If we lose in Iraq, it will be the first great victory for global jihad, with tremendous consequences for the United States. Can the media get over their obsession with Bush and focus on that?


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ben Stein on The War

The money shot:

Insurgencies by highly motivated people are extremely hard to stamp out. This is especially true in Arab countries, where bravery is fanatically motivated by religion and personal unhappiness. But suppressing rebellions has been done in Egypt, Algeria, and Israel. It takes a lot of ugliness to do it. This is war, especially guerrilla war. It is horrible that we are in this kind of war, but we are in it, and it will never be won except by the most severe means. Whatever we do, however, it will be nothing compared with the firebombing of Tokyo, the carpet bombing of every German city, the atom bomb on Hiroshima. That is the awful truth: wars are won by horrific measures. It is deeply tragic, but it's true. If we are not willing to adopt strict measures, we will not and cannot win.


Poll: 70% Believe Democratic Senators Hurting War Effort

Even more troublesome for the Democritics:
Their poll also indicates many Americans are skeptical of Democratic complaints about the war. Just three of 10 adults accept that Democrats are leveling criticism because they believe this will help U.S. efforts in Iraq. A majority believes the motive is really to "gain a partisan political advantage."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Well-dressed Youths Attack Liquor Store

What the...
OAKLAND -- Clad in dark suits and bow ties, a gang of vandals strolled into two Oakland corner liquor stores late Wednesday night and then unleashed a violent attack, terrorizing the clerks, smashing displays and coolers with iron pipes.

The brazen attacks were captured on videotape and thieves seemed not to care that their pictures were being recorded as they looked right into the cameras.

Oakland police have begun a search for the gang of 8-12 young men. But for one clerk, those terrifying moments will not soon be forgotten.
African-americans in dark suits and bow ties?? Do they think they're Louis Farrakhan or something??

Somebody Finally Stands up to Ward Churchill

I love this guy:
For someone who postures and preens on a stage where you can dictate the conversation and no one else is allowed to speak, it's a shame you’re too apprehensive to meet with me man-to-man, much less debate me on free speech (or for that matter, any university scholar opposed to you). Your excuse is that you consider me a “facist cartoonist on par with Joseph Goebbels” and Nazi Propagandist Julius Streicher. Not only is this completely over the top (considering that I actually had relatives who were murdered in the Jewish Holocaust), and not only an unhealthy fetish you’ve had a long time with Nazis, but its also a complete change from back in February when you bragged to a cheering crowd that you would debate anyone on free speech, even if they had “nazi proclivities.” You would now rather take the safe, protected route -- sell your books and CDs and do solo speaking engagements, while denying that you ever made a promise to do a debate.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Right-wing media vs. left-wing media: two sides of the same coin?

The right-wing media in the U.S., and particularly the right-wing blogging media, have certainly gotten a lot of traction from recent missteps and misdoings by the mainstream media, including but certainly not limited to Rathergate. Other recent examples include the Zombie Condi affair and CNN's X debacle.

I've wondered whether the right-wingers would be as critical of one of their own if the shoe was on the other foot. In other words, if a right-wing media outlet fabricated evidence, would the right-wingers jump on him or her as quickly as they jumped on Dan Rather and Mary Mapes?

I think I have my answer. The Political Teen recently posted a video which appeared to be a straight feed from CNN showing an "X" over Cheney's face. There is evidence, however, that the video presented by The Political Teen was a fabrication rather than being actual video from CNN. There is no dispute as to whether an "X" did, in fact, appear over Cheney's face on CNN. Nevertheless, right-wing bloggers have hammered home the principle that "fake, but accurate" isn't a defense to fabrication of evidence. Accordingly, I'm encouraged to see that the right-wing bloggers are willing to turn on their own over principle.

I hope that the right-wing's tradition of "political fratricide" continues. I believe that the American left is weakened by its unwillingness to criticize its own (Howard Dean and Jesse Jackson being notable examples of left-wing albatrosses). I believe the American right is strengthened by its readiness to jettison its own members when they become political liabilities (Gingrich, Livingston and Lott being notable examples of potential GOP albatrosses).

While the left routinely elevates its wackos to positions of leadership, the right is generally ready and willing to throw its "boat anchors" to the sharks. As a counter-example, the GOP's been unwilling to cut Tom DeLay loose, and I think they've paid a political price for it. In reality, the facts underlying a political attack are only important to the extent that they're used to defend against the attack in the court of public opinion. Once the public has handed down its verdict, the facts no longer matter. It's a harsh reality, but true.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Presidential Approval at 23 Percent?

“I wonder how well you have been sleeping these last nights? Mothers and fathers all over our beloved land are spending sleepless nights worrying again over their boys being sent to fight wars on foreign soil—wars that are no concern of ours.”

—Letter to the President from the parent of a U.S. soldier

Talk about discouraging. All year long the negative numbers about the war rolled in like the tide. The President’s approval rating in the Gallup poll bottomed out at 23 percent. Another poll showed that 43 percent of Americans thought it was a mistake to have entered the war. The enthusiasm from early victories quickly evaporated.

Opposition party members spared no effort in blasting the President and his Administration. One senator called the Secretary of Defense a “living lie,” and another called for the Secretary’s resignation. The most bombastic senator went so far as to call the Secretary a traitor. Another senator began using the President’s name when referring to the war, and his intention wasn’t to honor the Commander in Chief.

Newspapers and magazines also joined the frenzy. A New York Times editorial characterized the Administration’s war misjudgments “a colossal military blunder.” A front-page editorial in the Chicago Tribune called for immediate impeachment proceedings against the President. Time said he was “responsible for one of the worst military disasters in history.”

Mr. Bush goes to Japan

A good speech by the President on America's relationship with Japan and the need for political reform in China.

Veterans Day Tribute

In case you haven't seen this one, I suggest you go on ahead & break out a hanky now.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bruce Willis: "really good things happening in Iraq, are not being reported on."

Bruce sez:
... it's not just for this country. It's for the world. It is time for terrorism to stop. And the United States is the country that can stop it. And that's what they're doing over there. And there is -- I have no idea why this country is not getting the information that Michael Yon has, you know, access to, is, you know, showing people. It's just not getting out, and it's baffling.
Amen, brother.

Chris Wallace Eviscerates Sen. Rockefeller

WALLACE: Senator Rockefeller, the President says that Democratic critics, like you, looked at pre-war intelligence and came to the same conclusion that he did. In fact, looking back at the speech that you gave in October of 2002 in which you authorized the use of force, you went further than the President ever did. Let's watch.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER (October 10, 2002): "I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11th, that question is increasingly outdated."

WALLACE: Now, the President never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The – I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq – that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11. Now, the intelligence that they had and the intelligence that we had were probably different. We didn't get the Presidential Daily Briefs. We got only a finished product, a finished product, a consensual view of the intelligence community, which does not allow for agencies like in the case of the aluminum tubes, the Department of Energy said these aren't thick enough to handle nuclear power. They left that out and went ahead with they have aluminum tubes and they're going to develop nuclear power.

WALLACE: Senator, you're quite right. You didn't get the Presidential Daily Brief or the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief. You got the National Intelligence Estimate. But the Silberman Commission, a Presidential commission that looked into this, did get copies of those briefs, and they say that they were, if anything, even more alarmist, even less nuanced than the intelligence you saw, and yet you, not the President, said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: The Silberman Commission was absolutely prohibited by the President in his charge to them – he appointed them – from ever looking at the use of intelligence, whether it was misused, whether it was massaged to influence the American people to go along with a decision which he had long ago already decided to make.

WALLACE: But didn't they come to that conclusion which I just stated, that the Presidential Daily Brief was in fact more alarmist and less nuanced than the intelligence you saw?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I don't know, because I never get to see, nor does Pat, the Presidential Daily Brief. All I know is that we don't get the intelligence that they do. We are called the Senate Intelligence Committee. We get a lot more than the rest of the Senate, but it was incomplete as to what the President gets, and it was obviously entirely wrong, which raises the question, why was it wrong?


WALLACE: Senator Rockefeller, I want to play another clip from your 2002 speech authorizing the use of force, this time specifically on the question of Saddam's nuclear program. Here it is.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER (October 10, 2002): "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years and he could have it earlier."

WALLACE: Now, by that point, Senator, you had read the National Intelligence Estimate, correct?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: In fact, there were only six people in the Senate who did, and I was one of them. I'm sure Pat was another.

WALLACE: Okay, but you had read that, and now we've read a declassified…

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: But Chris, let's a...

WALLACE: Can I just ask my question sir, and then you can answer as you choose. That report indicated there was an agreement – a disagreement among analysts about the nuclear program. The State Department had a lot more doubts than the CIA did about whether he was pursuing a nuclear program. You never mentioned those doubts. You came to the same conclusion the President did.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Because that – first of all, that National Intelligence Estimate was not called for by the Administration. It was called for by former Senator Bob Graham, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dick Durbin. We didn't receive it until just a couple of days before we voted. Then we had to go read it and compare it to everything else that we thought we'd learned about intelligence, and I did make that statement. And I did make that vote. But, Chris, the important thing is that when I started looking at the weapons of mass destruction intelligence along with Pat Roberts, I went down to the floor, and I said I made a mistake. I would have never voted yes if I knew what I know today.

WALLACE: But a lot of people – that's not the point of the investigation, Senator.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Chris, there's always the same conversation. You know it was not the Congress that sent 135,000 or 150,000 troops.

WALLACE: But you voted, sir, and aren't you responsible for your vote?


WALLACE: You're not?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. I'm responsible for my vote, but I'd appreciate it if you'd get serious about this subject, with all due respect. We authorized him to continue working with the United Nations, and then if that failed, authorized him to use force to enforce the sanctions. We did not send 150,000 troops or 135,000 troops. It was his decision made probably two days after 9/11 that he was going to invade Iraq. That we did not have a part of, and, yes, we had bad intelligence, and when we learned about it, I went down to the floor and said I would never have voted for this thing.

WALLACE: My only point sir, and I am trying to be serious about it, is as I understand Phase Two, the question is based on the intelligence you had, what were the statements you made? You had the National Intelligence Estimate which expressed doubts about Saddam's nuclear program, and yet you said he had a nuclear program. The President did the same thing.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Will the West Survive?

I look around today, and I wonder whether capitalist liberal democracy is sustainable. On the surface, it seems an odd question. Capitalism has brought the world more wealth--at all levels--than the world has ever known. At the same time, liberal democracy has brought the world more freedom. What Jefferson called the "natural aristocracy of talent" has largely supplanted the old aristocracies of title and property. People can worship as they please, dress as they please, eat what they please and generally live as they please. This is highly uncommon in human history, and yet it is what we have created. The idea of the "noble savage" is mostly a myth. Left to their own devices, humans are simply very intelligent animals. The overwhelming majority of humans who have ever existed lived lives which were nasty, brutish and short. Our lives are not any of the above, and yet we are unquestionably the same animals as our ancestors.

It would seem, then, that some of us have finally figured out how to live together, and to do so at least mostly in harmony. It's axiomatic that white-skinned people aren't inherently more civilized than brown-skinned people. The mild-mannered, turtleneck-wearing, Ikea-shopping scandinavians of today are the direct descendants of the bloodthirsty vikings who terrorized Europe just a few centuries ago. At the same time, Baghdad, the site of so much brutality today, was the cradle of our own civilization a few millenia ago. Ultimately, it is all about culture, and capitalist liberal democracy is demonstrably superior to other systems of human organization on a number of fronts, including at least wealth generation and human freedom. Our system is not perfect, but it is better than all the others at least as to these metrics.

America is not perfect, but it is unquestionably the best example of a noble nation the world has ever known. We have made mistakes. Americans have done many evil things. Millions have died at the hands of Americans. Millions more have died at the hands of our allies. We should not deny this or minimize it. We should accept it for the reality that it is. Where we have made mistakes, we should learn from them. At the same time, the evil our country has done must be kept in perspective. Only if our nation's evil deeds outweigh its good deeds should any American feel ashamed.

In truth, no reasonable person can make the case that the weight of America's evil comes close to the weight of its good. In the 20th century, America helped to save the world from German and Japanese fascism as well as Soviet communism. Once the fascists were defeated, America undertook the monumental task of building western capitalist democracies in Japan and Europe from the ground up. America saved South Korea from the North Korean communists. America liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban. These are all massive weights on the "good" side of the balance. I would argue that liberation of Iraq from Saddam and creation of an Iraqi democracy also belong in this category.

America has anything but an uncheckered past. Early in this country's history, Americans of European descent drove the Native Americans from their own land, even those who wished to assimilate with the Europeans and join their communities. America's people allowed slavery to exist for the first 80 years of American history, and segregation to exist for a century after that. Even during the course of its good deeds, America aligned itself with some very unsavory characters, including Joseph Stalin, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Although America ultimately did the right thing in the 1940s, America stood by and watched continental Europe and the Pacific fall to the fascists until the fascists were right at the doorsteps of Britain and Hawaii. More recently, America failed to stop massive genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Sudan. Today, America is strongly aligned with repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and China, in order to guarantee the free flow of cheap oil and cheap shiny noisy crap.

Even with all the bad, America's track record, and that of western democratic capitalism in general, compares very favorably to any other system to which it might be compared. Given this, it puzzles me how little pride Americans seem to have in their own country and their own culture. It think part of it is inherent to our system. Constant analysis and self-criticism is necessary for continuous improvement. We constantly make ourselves aware of the shortcomings of our system. This is reasonable and prudent if we want to improve our system. At the same time, we should constantly make ourselves aware of the benefits and strengths of our system as it exists today. At the extreme, a constant focus on the negative can make the status quo seem so completely unacceptable that any change is a change for the better. Of course, the status quo that we all live within is anything but "completely unacceptable" by any historical standards of human existence. We can reasonably and understandably lament that many of the poor don't have health insurance. We should not, however, ignore the reality that the uninsured of today in many cases receive better health care than the wealthiest Americans could have possibly received 50 years ago.

My point here is that I am concerned that, if we aren't careful, the self-criticism and drive for constant improvement inherent in western democratic capitalism may sow the seeds of its own demise.

Prager: Five Questions Non-Muslims Want Answered

Dennis Prager's about ten times smarter than I am and at least twenty times more knowledgeable.

He asks five very good questions.

I expect a fatwa will be issued any day now...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pat Robertson is a Nut


Thursday, November 10, 2005


Linda sez:
On this day in 1938, Nazis looted and burned synagogues as well as Jewish-owned stores and houses in Germany and Austria in what became known as "Kristallnacht."

The term "Kristallnacht" ('Night of Broken Glass") refers to the organized anti-Jewish riots in Germany and Austria, November 9-10, 1938. These riots marked a major transition in Nazi policy, and were, in many ways, a harbinger of the "Final Solution."
As we watch the rioting going on today in the heart of Western Europe, we should remember well what happens when rioting street thugs are given a seat at the table of power. Many of the French Muslim rioters of today are philosophical heirs of the anti-semitic Germans of the 1930s. When it came to to pick a side in WWII, their Muslim brethren threw in with the German Nazis. These modern fascists share the same anti-semitic worldview as the German fascists. They even read Mein Kampf. These riots will blow over, and likely soon, but the underlying causes of the riots will not go away, and no amount of social spending in the neighborhoods make those causes go away. These people will continue to be propagandized and radicalized. I predict that this, like Kristallnacht so many years ago, is only the beginning of turmoil for Europe.

French media censors riot covereage

Riot coverage 'excessive', says French TV boss:

One of France's leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians. Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service TCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been "excessive" and could even be fanning the flames of the violence.

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

"Politics in France is heading to the right and I don't want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed burning cars on television," Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today.

"Having satellites trained on towns across France 24 hours a day showing the violence would have been wrong and totally disproportionate ... Journalism is not simply a matter of switching on the cameras and letting them roll. You have to think about what you're broadcasting," he said.
In other words, "you have to make sure the news you're broadcasting manipulates the public in the correct way." Ballsy of them to so openly admit it...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Burning the infidels...

A lovely, touching story about a disabled woman, a group of boys, gasoline and fire.

I read something like this, and I want to tell myself "this is not happening." But I know it is happening, and I know this is only the beginning. Westernized France has an opportunity right now to save itself, but doing so would be difficult, bloody and painful for all involved. Knowing the French, we can fully expect that they will negotiate a truce with the Muslim imams in order to avoid short-term pain and suffering. Despite their experience with the German Nazis, the French remain incapable of understanding that there really are worse things than conflict. They don't seem to understand that the long-term price of short-term peace can sometimes be just too high. The truce between the imams and the French authorities will officially provide for near total local autonomy within the Muslim neighborhoods. Within those neighborhoods, the Muslim imams will then set up strict Sharia law, even though it conflicts with French national law. Any westerners living in the Sharia neighborhoods will, of course, find it intolerable to stay. As the Muslim community expands outside of its current neighborhoods, new neighborhoods will be ceded by French authorities to local control. Over time, ever smaller portions of Paris--and France generally--will be tolerable for westerners.

All of the above will come to pass if the French authorities negotiate a truce to this conflict giving the imams the autonomy they seek.

Why Paris is Burning

Many of you may not be aware that Paris is on fire. Literally. It has been on fire for eight days now.

Many of you who do know of the riots may not understand them.

I certainly don't know for certain, but in the linked article, Amir Taheri provides at least one explanation--a war for Muslim independence:
Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the "millet" system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.

In parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place. In these areas, all women are obliged to wear the standardized Islamist "hijab" while most men grow their beards to the length prescribed by the sheiks.

The radicals have managed to chase away French shopkeepers selling alcohol and pork products, forced "places of sin," such as dancing halls, cinemas and theaters, to close down, and seized control of much of the local administration.

A reporter who spent last weekend in Clichy and its neighboring towns of Bondy, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Bobigny heard a single overarching message: The French authorities should keep out.

"All we demand is to be left alone," said Mouloud Dahmani, one of the local "emirs" engaged in negotiations to persuade the French to withdraw the police and allow a committee of sheiks, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.