Saturday, December 17, 2005

Blog rhythms

Tom Maquire
News flash - we are still a representative democracy, despite the evident unwillingness of our opposition party to bestir itself. If this secret program was so outrageous, the Senate and House Democrats who had been briefed on it should have spoken up. Instead, we get profiles in courage as, per the Times, Reid, Rockefeller, and others are unavailable for comment.
Ezra Klein:
[T]he issue here isn't the espionage, it's the secrecy. Of course law enforcement agencies will need to gather intelligence on domestic elements. They do it to drug dealers, mob bosses, militia men, and gang lords. It's neither new nor controversial. And of course these activities will be turned on potential terrorist groups, and even ratcheted up post-9/11. And of course timeliness is an issue and the President will need to authorize wiretaps before a judge can be summoned to rule on the case.. . .

Everything Bush is doing is legal, but nothing in the way he's doing it is.. . .

The law strikes a balance between broad executive powers and substantive oversight -- the president has full authority to assault the evildoers, but cannot deploy the law on behalf of his own political interests.
Huh? Does that sound like "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is," to you? Like, "Why does Bush need secrecy?
doesn't he trust the system not to leak this stuff?" Klein's other post follows the current trend among lefties toward using more obscenities to prove their postmodern bona fides. Find the link yourself.

Captain Ed is focusing on why the Times held off on publishing this story for a year: to bump the sales of a new book by the main author of the story. Nope. No lack of patriotism here! Move on.

You don't believe in the Holocaust? How about living it!

An attempted assassination of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has taken place. At least one of his bodyguards was killed in the attack which occurred "in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan."
[T]he lead car in the presidential motorcade confronted armed bandits and trouble-makers on the Zabol-Saravan highway.. . .

Ahmadinejad traveled to the restive province, where ethnic Baluchis have been fighting for years for autonomy, on Wednesday and returned to Tehran on Friday afternoon. Tehran often refers to anti-government activists and political opponents of the Islamist regime as “bandits” and “trouble-makers”.. . .

The Sunni Baluchis have faced years of religious and racial discrimination under Iran’s Shiite clergy-dominated government.
Of course the U.S. and Israel both have some interest is getting this dude out of power. I think that we'd want to take out the nuclear program first. The story sheds some doubt on whether Ahmadinejad was even involved, but Michael Ledeen writes:
I’ve just received a call from a usually reliable person saying that there was an assassination attempt in Iran against President Ahmadi Nezhad, who was in a car. His driver and guards were killed, and he is in the hospital, apparently likely to survive. I couldn’t get any details about the intensity of the blue energy waves flowing from his cranium...but if this story is true it suggests that there are powerful folks in Iran who have decided the president is more trouble than he’s worth...and they’d rather go back to the old deception of having someone who can lull the West into a false sense of security.
(Via Jeff Goldstein)

Focusing on their noses

The Democratsare being led down the path by the MSM. I heard Harry Reid complaining about the veiled insult to his patriotism today in a debate on the Senate floor. Of course, nobody said anything about anybody's patriotism. I would have told him, "Okay you're patriotic. You just don't care whether more of our citizens here get killed by terrorists."

All this makes me wonder what they think they'll get if they manage to force Bush to pull our troops out of Iraq prematurely. Suppose they do and they succeed in getting control of the one or both houses of Congress. Do you think they'll believe then that one-party government is e-e-e-vil? What do they intend to say if democracy falters in Iraq and a civil war ensued? (Bush's fault, for overthrowing Saddam!)

They are so angry that Bush is president and they've lost their power, they don't stop to think what they should be doing. Any intelligent Democrat would have to follow through in Iraq, but their record of knowing how to use the military is not encouraging. That will be the question next year: OK, you don't like the job Bush is doing. Are you really ready for Harry, Kerry and Schumer to run the government? Do you remember Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton? Can you imagine what they'd do abou high energy prices? Or terrorism?

The Democrats don't have a credible national security team. They've hacked away at Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld, but who have they got? (Sleep well, Harry Reid is protecting you.) When are we going to wake up and realize that nothing the media has been telling us makes any sense?

The Democrats are like dogs chasing cars. They put on a show of being loud and tough, but if they ever caught the car, what would they do with in?
If you like

More on "torture"

When I was a defense attorney some of my clients charged with sexual abuse of a child were required to be evaluated by a psychologist who administered a test with a Penile Plethysmograph, a device that purports to read you mind by measuring the -er- tumescence of the male sex organ while looking at various types of pornography. I always thought that was a particularly degrading procedure and wondered what basis there is for the idea that the size of one's erection had a direct relation to his sexual interest or his propensity to act out his fantasies. The abuses at Abu Ghraib seemed pretty tame compared to this kind of "testing."

I wonder if Senator McCain would approve giving suspected terrorists a plethysmograph test while showing them women in burkhas, belly dancers and the Twin Towers erupting in
flames. Would that be too degrading?

If it were me, I'd rather be waterboarded.

The NYTreason

If there were a legal way of putting the New York Times out of business, I'd do it. And, apparently, so would a number of others. It has no sense of restraint, law or loyalty.

If you had to rely on the FBI or the Free Press to protect your life, who would you pick? If you said the Free Press, you're too stupid to be reading this. Go read the DailyKos.

There needs to be another grand jury in New York and a DA who will subpoena everybody in the chain of responsibility for publishing this story and let them rot in the clink, until they purge themselves of contempt. In fact, the mere possession of this intormation is a federal crime.

Your government at odds

I was watching BookTV this morning when it was interrupted for special business of the Senate. Listening to senators is like working with ammonia. There's only so much you can stand. You could cut the hypocrisy with a knife, especially when Harry Reid was speaking. I can't quite figure out what's going on. They've talked about allowing a vote on the Patriot Act extension, then about the Defense authorization bill, then about the McCain Amendment. I don't know what they were meeting for, but it seemed kind of pointless.

They're now waiting to get enough Senators there to vote. I'm starting to wish for the good old days of Logan's Run when Washington was abandoned and overgrown with vines. Mars Attacks wasn't a bad time, either since it seems that only Washington D.C. and Las Vegas were affected.

Spying on Americans

The latest nonsense from the left is the claim that Bush signed an order authorizing the NSA to spy on US citizens without a warrant and that it was illegal. Actually they were spying on terrorist suspects' communications with people inside the U.S. It was also not illegal, as is claimed. He received a legal opininon that these orders were legal. The whole matter is a release of classified information and should be investigated to find out who leaked it to the press.

These attacks on Bush have gotten out of hand. The hatred is so fevered, so irrational that people can't see what they're doing anymore. The MSM loves this polarization. There's increasing talk about impeaching the president.

I have always said that my privacy is not more important than the need to protect this country from terrorists. The ideas of civil rights have been twisted, even flipped to a point where religious freedom is curtailed in the name of the First Amendment, and free speech is not just about debate anymore.

As history goes, if our efforts in Iraq fail, it will no more than a blip compared to World War II, Korea and Vietnam. But if they succeed, it will be seen in the future as a turning point in world history. People in the future will look back with wonder at how Bush is hated today, as we do at the vicious attacks on Abraham Lincoln in his day. Those who refuse to grant him even the fact that he is sincerely trying to do what he feels is best for the nation. They prefer to see him and his associates are monsters, without the slightest humanity or other redeeming characteristic. The suffering of the Vietnamese under the Communist regime and the horrible crimes of Saddam Hussein which we stopped don't seem to matter. How does politics become so visceral and overpowering of reason? I can only hope this will not continue after Bush is no longer president, but I'm not sanguine.

Great writing

A letter to the editor of the Deseret Morning News:
Beady-eye terrorists lurking

I live in the independent sovereign nation of SunCrest. Despite the many advantages of SunCrest, there lurks a dark, evil side. It is a mouse-like rodent of stocky build, small eyes and short tail commonly known as a vole. These small terrorists organize a seasonal winter attack on the yards of SunCrest citizens, leaving destruction and mayhem in their paths.

Despite evasive measures, these fanatical insurgents cross yard borders at will with no agenda other than mass annihilation of Kentucky bluegrass. My cat fights a relentless battle during the summer months to eradicate these insurgents.

While my cat does deposit several carcasses a day on the porch, they are dead — making interrogation impossible. I implore outside forces to assist in this crusade. Utah State University, with its resources, should be able to produce a weapon or two of mass destruction. My inquiries to the United Nations have been met with a lot of rhetoric but no action.

Brent Anderson

© 2005 Deseret News Publishing Company
I don't know Mr. Anderson but this letter is a gem.

John McCain

John McCain's says of the passage of his anti-torture amendment:
I think that this will help us enormously in winning the war for the hearts and minds of people throughout the world in the war on terror.
The hearts and minds? Where have I heard that before?

McCain has two qualities that I find repellent. One is that he takes things too personally. When he was caught up in the Keating scandal, he seemed to feel that he could not cleanse himself of the taint until he had gotten legislation through to take money out of politics. Most people recognize that to be a pointless exercise. Like trying to drain the oceans. Now he has taken the charges of torture lodged against the U.S. as some kind of personal slur.

The other quality is that he has a naive faith in the power of legislation to change human nature and solve every problem. That is a trait I associate with liberals and Democrats, not conservatives and Republicans. George Bush is accused of being simple and unsophisticated, but I think McCain is more that way than Bush. Bush knows that much of what the media and academia tell us constantly is illusion, that we can have peace just by wishing for it and refusing to stand up to those who hate us for no good reason; that if we just showed them our good faith they would abandon all their attempts to destroy us, that we can eliminate poverty by giving everybody what they want.

His amendment muddies the water by promising to treat detainees in a way that we can never fulfill. By including "degrading" treatment with "cruel and inhuman," he has given the left more grounds for denouncing our military and intelligence services, because these detainees have been trained to be uncivil, resistant, insulting, and to be so in a manner that is self-degrading. They will not cease to accuse their guards of all sorts of atrocities, or to provoke them with threats, throwing feces and urine at them, etc. How can they be treated that would not somehow be considered torture under this definition. If they were just kept in cages and never interviewed at all, that would be considered inhumane in that they are denied human company. The very condition of confinement is inhumane, but some people leave the rest of us no choice.
We do ourselves and the world no good by passing laws that can never be complied with because everybody who reads them can interpret them differently. What, for example, does "shocks the conscience" mean? Whose conscience? Senator McCain's or Saddam Hussein's?

James Taranto describes McCain's statement as "fatuous." Indeed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The cure for Presbyterianism

I read this letter of resignation from the Hollywood Presbyterian Church (via Hugh Hewitt) and was reminded of these statements:
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
The Catholics have a point when they claim that their authority came by a direct line from Peter. Authority is passed by the laying on of hands according to scriptures, and it has to come from one who already holds it. And it has to be under the direction of prophecy, i.e. a righteous leader who is given the "keys" or directing power over the Church. These keys are given to the president or prophet of the Church, i.e. Peter, but they are also given to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. When the prophet dies or is removed, the Apostles meet and select the next prophet, according to revelation and acting unanimously. In the modern church, the prophet is always the most senior Apostle, i.e. he who has been an apostle longer than all the others. He picks two counselors who are also apostles. Any vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve are filled by prophecy through the prophet who calls and ordains and sets apart new Apostles. All apostles are witnesses to the world of Jesus Christ who guides and directs his church through the Holy Ghost to the Prophet and the Quorum.

Now, if and when the church hierarchy becomes corrupt, as it did following the death of the Apostles and the contests among various bishops for preeminence. The Pope, who was the bishop of Rome, but not an Apostle, eventually acquired more worldly authority and asserted his own authority through his military and political power over the rest of the church. After a time, only the two major branches, the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox survived in any numbers.

When Martin Luther visited Rome and saw the way things were being run in the Church, he recognized that this couldn't be the way God would operate, for filthy lucre. He decided that the Papacy had become corrupt and decide to reject the authority of the Church.

Luther's problem was that if the Church was no longer divine, what authority did he have to reform it? He concluded that since the authority had been cut off from above, it would come up from the bottom through councils of elders or presbyters selected by the members of the congregation.

That is a better way to govern the churches given the atrocious behavior of the Catholic Church, but it is not the way Christ set it up, with Apostles guided by revelation, which by Luther's time the church no longer claimed to have. Paul wrote those lines " And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." How was Aaron called? By God, through Moses, who laid hands upon his head and ordained him the High Priest.

Revelation is the indispensable part of the true church of Jesus Christ. If your church doesn't teach it you need to pray for guidance.

Are we really wimps?

John Podhoretz:
All the talk about Iraq inside the United States in the year 2005 has been meaningless.. . .

But here's what really happened in 2005: The Iraqis voted and voted and voted again. And no matter what was said to him or about him or of him, George W. Bush didn't blink and didn't falter. He stuck to his policy with a steely determination. Oh, he could have done a better job earlier in the year explaining it all to the American people.

And above all, the heroic American military has learned things about fighting insurgencies that will give our soldiers a new understanding of how to win wars — an understanding so deep that, when this war is won, insurgents elsewhere will be terrified to engage with us.

The story of 2005 is a story of determination in the face of adversity and peril — both physical and political. The people of Iraq, the men and women of the U.S. military and George W. Bush end this year with pride and the knowledge that they have done good for the world.
This takes me back to the days just after 9/11 when Bernard Lewis was a guest on the Charlie Rose Show and stated what has since been born out, that Arabs respect resoluteness. When we waver and appear divided and indecisive, we send them two messages: that we are are weak and that we cannot be relied upon. We had given them ample evidence of both over the years, particularly since the withdrawal of the Marines from Lebandon after they were attacked with a truck bomb in October 1983. Attack after attack resulted in withdrawal or was treated as a criminal matter instead of an act of war. The first Gulf War was seen as further proof that we would not respond to hostile acts in the way they deserve.

George W. Bush has consistently maintained his resolve, but our media and the American Eurocrats in the Democrat Party have been blaring the opposite message. Even an old war horse like John Murtha has turned out to have no more resolve than John Kerry. He has the voice and manner of the tough Marine, but his words make one wonder what he's been sniffing. Probably a lot of newspaper ink.

We are at war, and we have a loud minority in Congress demanding that we give the enemy a timetable of our plans with a date certain for our withdrawal. Could anything be more obviously stupid?

For those who yammer about the "lessons of Vietnam," it should be remembered that it was the indecisive policy of unwillingness to defeat the enemy that made LBJ's conduct of that war such a debacle. Once we started to take the war to the North Vietnamese, they were willing to talk. If we had not abandoned our allies in the South after we pulled our troops out, they might have been able to maintain their freedom.

What evidence is there that the Democrats have learned anything from Vietnam except that America cannot project its military power? There are more ways to lose a war than there are ways to win it. And the Democrats seem to have become experts in how to lose.

To win, however, requires determination and resolve, there may be mistakes, failures and screw ups--there's a reason the word "snafu" was developed in the military--but if we have clearly defined goals and learn from experience we will win. Some goals like "convincing the North Vietnamese to stay in the North" are just not achievable, but "destroy the ability of the North Vietnamese to make war on the South" certainly is. And "help the Iraqi people to create a democratic government and train their troops until they become capable of defeating the terrorists and defending their own freedoms," is a very clear benchmark to me. Just get over this fixation on bringing our troops home. We still have troops in Korea, Japan, Germany and Kosovo. They serve us all by serving the cause of peace through strength.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It must be a different universe inside the Beltway.

So many people there keep saying the war in Iraq is a failure, a mess, a disaster, etc. Out here in the country, it looks like it's going pretty well. We haven't been there anywhere as long as we've had troops in Korea and Germany. The reactionaries are losing steadily as the people catch on to what the U.S. is trying to make happen. They are participating in democratic processes.

The only explanation is that the D.C. area is in some sort of time-space rupture where things look like our world but aren't really.

E. J. Dionne writes:
After this week's elections in Iraq, will our national debate be about what the United States should do to salvage the best outcome it can from a war policy that has been riddled with errors and miscalculations? Or will we mostly discuss how politicians should position themselves on the war?

Here's a bet on the triumph of spin. Politicians, especially Democrats, will be discouraged from saying what they really believe about Iraq for fear of offending ``swing voters.'' Slogans about ``victory'' and ``defeatism'' will be thrown around promiscuously.
See what I mean?

In the Bizarro Washington, we're losing the war in Iraq and are trying to find a way to "salvage the best outcome" we can. No war has ever existed that wasn't "riddle with errors and miscalculations," but in this warped reality, errors and miscalculations are enough to conclude that the war is lost.
The only reason America is still intact is because the USSR, Hitler and all our other enemies found that they had made errors and miscalculations and accepted defeat. Of course, the U.S. doesn't extend beyond the Mississippi, because when Custer's army was massacred, we gave up. Texas still belongs to Mexico. The issue of slavery is still debated, because after the first couple of years of the Civil War, Lincoln was convinced by all the setbacks and miscalculations that the war was lost and resigned from office. His vice-president, Andrew Johnson, saved the Union through negotiations with Jefferson Davis, both of whom are memorialized in that big monument at the other end of the Mall in Washington from the Capitol Building.

In the alternate Washington, the Japanese are fighting with the Mexicans for control of the West Coast of the continent, but the U.S. is neutral.

Why is it . . .

that ethics rules seem so often to be worse than none at all. It always seemed to me that if you needed a legal opinion to tell you what is ethical, you'll never have any.

And I thought LGF had a lot of comments!

Dan Froomkin's reply to his critics, as of this time: 548 comments.

Comments do seem to get away from the original post and go off on tangents or threads. I can't believe that there is that much to say abour Froomkin's column.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The dfference between right and wrong

Doing what's right doesn't haunt you afterwards. It creates good memories, even when it was tough at the time.

More news from Leaksville

How was Rove supposed to know that Plame's identity was classified when so many members of the media knew it and were talking about it? You can't investigate or bring charges on things like this without subpoenaing every reporter who ever spoke to a White House. Fitzgerald should just drop all charges and announce that the media have muddied the water so badly that no credible case can be made.

Bring back Tookie's victims, then we'll talk.

From Ruminations on America:
An execution is not simply death. It is just as different from the privation of life as a concentration camp is from prison. It adds to death a rule, a public premeditation known to the future victim, an organization which is itself a source of moral sufferings more terrible than death. Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life."

--Albert Camus

Hogwash. This is a lot of the nonsense that passes for postmodernist truth. What it really does is to turn the question of guilt on society rather than on criminals. Camus sounds like one of those guys who convinced the Emperor in the story that they were making him a new suit of clothes. The more counter-intuitive something is, the more it appeals to people like him and Noam Chomsky. It gives them a nice sense of intellectual superiority, but all it really does is demonstrate that too much learning can make one mad.

No New Years for Tookie.

There's a scripture that covers this:
By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.
Nothing there about writing childrens' books or Nobel nominations.

The voting in Iraq

It has begun, but
Five Islamic militant groups, including al-Qaida in Iraq, denounced Thursday's elections as a "satanic project," vowing to continue their war to establish an Islamic regime
Well, they obviously know a lot more about Satan than they do about anything else.

In my religion, we believe that before mortality, we participated in a great council in which God presented his plan for us to come here and be allowed to know the difference between good and evil, and be tempted, after which we would be judged by whether we chose the good and rejected the evil. The reason it had to be that way is that you can't have a fair judgment without having more than one choice. You can't have a valid election without more than one choice.

Muslims believe that there will be a final judgment, yet many claim that we have no real freedom and that everything that happens is God's will. It's a logical impossibility to have a fair judgment and punishment if those being judged have no ability to choose their actions.

The Instadaughter's mom has got it going on.

Dr. Helen, that is. Giving kids a reason to play outdoors makes a lot of sense to me. Running TV ads telling them to get more exercise doesn't. Maybe if they made video games powered by foot pedals or attached to treadmills.

Apple's Monopoly

It owns 84% of the legal download market. Now if they could make it so that you could only download iTunes on an Apple computer, why, they'd be like Microsoft.

Typo at Instapundit and Slate

I'm almost positive it's Scary Tennis.

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, . . .

No matter how many times you say you're a patriot and support the troops, you're still a copperhead. Undermining the President's foreign policy is a Constitutional right, but it's not patriotic either. Refusing to acknowledge the good we're doing in Iraq, saying the war can't be won, and accusing our troops of committing terrorist acts, advocate that we cut and run from Iraq--none of those is patriotic. They're bad foreign policy as well.

If we followed the demands from Murtha, Pelosi, Dean and Kerry and abandoned Iraq at this point I don't know what would happen, but all the possibilities are bad, especially for Iraqi Sunnis, not to mention the insult it would be to those who have given their lives and/or limbs to this cause. The Democrats don' t have any ideas for winning--they've been captured by a bunch of religious radicals, whose political religion is based on the idea that all wars are evil, that the U.S. is the problem and has made the world a worse place.

The U.N. needs money

For new maps. They're using maps of Israel that haven't been updated since 1948.

Boy, I'm glad I didn't publish my post about this!

I did write some stuff about why conservative blogs are more influential than liberal ones, but I saved it as a draft and didn't post it. From this report my post would have been longer than the piece that was published in the NYTimes. Given what the story says, I can see why the Times might want to give it short schrift.

With the latest revelations from the Fitzgerald investigation that Time reporter Vivica Novak knew about the Plame identity but didn't tell her editors, either, it probably wouldn't be good for morale to publish a long article about how conservative blogs are getting more respect.

I've been saying that the big hole in the charge against Libby was that we have no way to know how many reporters knew about Plame before anybody quoted it in print. How can there be a leak when so many reporters already knew about it? Suppose Judy Miller had used Plame herself as a source about WMD. She didn't have to mention it to Fitzgerald because her testimony was limited to what she had discussed with Libby and/or Rove.

I certainly have more faith now in bloggers who said from the outset that this looked like a flaky story than I do in the NYTimes and Washington Post, who are treating it like a serious scandal.

This is a joke, right?

Memeorandum links to this story:
Democrats Test Themes for `06 and `08

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - To hear Democrats tell it, an anxious and isolated public craves a sense of national community and would galvanize behind a leader who asks people to sacrifice for the greater good. John Edwards says he's that leader.
If they don't know why this is funny, they're in worse trouble than I thought.