Saturday, September 16, 2006

McCain will have to join Lieberman

His positions on treatment of terrorist detainees and campaign finance will make him poison in the primaries. He'll have to run as an Independent.

The Washington Pyramid

The Washington Post acknowledges that we have an entitlement problem, and faults Congress for failing to do anything about it.

Defined benefit programs, even when legal, tend to become Ponzi schemes, because companies, and countries, who adopt them become uncompetitive and,like GM and a number of steel companies. A number of companies have had to declare bankruptcy because they couldn't generate enough to meet their obligations to their retirees. Nobody receiving money from social security realizes that it's being paid for by their children. They think of it as an investment, but it only gives a return to some people, those who live a long time. If you don't live that long (my father died at 63) there's no fund for your family.

Maybe it's time that we all admit that we've been swindled and either kill these programs or switch them to defined contribution programs without allowing Congress to "borrow" from the trust fund.

Islam violent?

Glenn Reynolds:
Frankly, I'm pretty tired of "Muslim rage." If they're that insecure about their religion, maybe the problem isn't with the critics.

The Pope criticizes violence in the name of religion; Muslims, no doubt urged on by radical imams, take to the streets, throw rocks, throw Molotov Cocktails. Why would anybody think Muslims are violent?

Clarity in scare quotes

Memeorandum's headline is "Bush wants 'clarity' on interrogations," as if they thing he's using the term incorrectly. The NYTimes says the government lawyers are in the middle of this lawyers in the middle of the dispute. ty the poor lawyers. Actually the ones caught in the middle are the interrogation officers of the CIA and military. The CIA head has essentially advised Bush that they wouldn't continue interrogations without Congressional specifications. That's why he's mad and I don't blame him. What kind of a legal standard is this:
Art. 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: . . .
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.. . .
What does "outrage upon personal dignity" or "humiliating or degrading" mean? Those are all subjective terms and pretty elastic. Are we to ask each terrorist whether he feels "outraged," or "degraded or humiliated" living there at Gitmo? No wonder no interrogator would want to continue doing the job with restrictions like that! It could refer to harsh language.

Bush's bill would define what violations are so that our interoggators know what boundaries there are. I doubt that most Americans believe that people like those detained at Gitmo should be protected from loud music, sleep deprivation or other treatment which doesn't inflict physical pain or injury, but merely wear down resistance to answering questions. There are some who think we should be asking their forgiveness, but not even the Democrats dare set foot on those eggshells. McCain, Graham, et al., though, are afraid that in some future conflict, we would be considered to have withdrawn from the Convention, and so are willing to risk our lives right now in order to protect our soldiers from being tried by the International Criminal Court, which asserts world wide jurisdiction, if they could be detained by that court. I think that we need to establish our own rules, and ignore the Europeans and their silly interpretations.

It may be time for the President to echo President Jackson, and let Congress and the Courts enforce their stupid attempts to tie his hands.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Remember the scene in Independence Day where the President sees the captured alien through glass and asks what they want us to do, and the alien answers through Brent Spiner, whom he has taken control of, "Die."

I remember that every time I see a photo of Mohammed Atta, with that cold, dead look in his eyes. The kind of people we're holding at Gitmo or whatever CIA interrogation facilities, have been brainwashed thoroughly. Just to bring them back to being normal human beings would take so deprogramming, but Colin Powell, Lindsay Graham and John McCain and others would probably say that was degrading and humiliating and would make the rest of the world doubt the morality of our war. Considering that the people we're opposing would happily saw the head off any American soldier they captured, unless they were holding him for ransom, which is also war crime, I have a hard time seeing how anybody in his right mind would say that our troops would be endangered in future conflicts. How did the Geneva Conventions save John McCain from torture at the Hanoi Hilton?

I don't want anybody tortured, but that, apparently, is such a vague, subjective term that nobody is really sure what it means. And that goes quadruple for treatment that's personally degrading or huniliating. Most of these former humanoids consider it degradins to be in the custody of Dhimmis or minions of the Great Satan. They no longer have morals in the sense that we understand that term. They have committed themselves to the service of a ghoulish, vengeful god who is in the biblical phrase, a respecter of persons, who loves to see people blow to ribbons by a teenager wanting to be a martyr and spend eternity being serviced by 72 dark-eyed houri. What they deserve is to be roasted on a spit until they beg for death. What they get instead is some scary treatment like "waterboarding," for a few minutes, loud bad rock and being yelled at, or otherwise treated like a Marine in boot camp.

Now, I personally have great doubts about the moral clarity and purpose of those Europeans who wake up hating America and consider us vulgar cowboys and self-righteous upstarts. I also doubt that their standards for using torture are anywhere carefully scrutinized as ours. If someone had destroyed the Eiffel Tower, I doubt the French would be worrying about whether we approved of their response.

Guess what! Dishonest poll workers can falsify election returns!

It's really easy provided you have the keys to the machine, can write a virus to and can write to the Diebold memory cards. But, you've go to admit, there won't be any hanging, pregnant or otherwise misleading chads.

All in all, I still think this is superior to the cockamamie punchout ballots they were using in Florida.

Basically all this hype about stolen votes comes down to a bald accusation by the losers without any evidence other than their own feelings and exit polls to support it.

The truth is that any system can be gamed, if you put enough time and effort into it. Paper ballots aren't foolproof. Neither are voting machines. The new computerized voting terminals are no different. While the "demonstration" says a virus can be spread via these memory cards, I presume that anti-virus software can be distributed, perhaps even written by these experts at Princeton. If we ever discover that an election has been rigged on these machines, I predict that it will have been done by disgruntled Democrats who feel justified in doing so because they're convinced that they should have won the last one.

It would be a good idea to know your poll workers and object to party insiders being appointed to any job that requires trust. Good luck with that. In the meantime, we'll have to trust the people we hire to give us honest vote tallies. As long as we have two parties watching each other with suspicion, I think we're about as safe as we'll ever get. One thing I would not allow is these goofy recounts where one party, knowing how many votes they need to tip the scales can dig up homeless people and voters without histories, as the Democrats did in the Washington State governor's election in 2004. In the end it was really decided by -- surprise! -- the courts.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Powell's halo is made of plastic

Colin Powell has come out against Bush's terrorist detainee treatment bill:
“The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,” said Powell, who served under Bush and is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.”
When did we decide that our policies must be set in consultation with the vagueries of world opinion. It's all based on allegations of torture which are denied.

And what is he talking about with "the moral basis of our fight against terrorism?" What does that mean? I'll put the 9/11 attacks up against Guantanamo any day. I'd put them up against Devil's Island or the Black Hole of Calcutta. These people don't deserve to be treated like humans, but we do. They saw off the heads of random civilians they kidnap on camera and post it on the internet. Nope, no moral basis for punishment there. They've announced a policy of inciting civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. No matter. We're hamstrung by World Opinion.

If I were Powell, just having been exposed as leaving the White House to be hammered for a leak that his own deputy had let slip, I wouldn't be talking about the moral basis for anything. What was the moral basis for covering for Armitage?

The Clear Distinctions

The Pope notes the differences between the Christian believe that God is not served by violence and the resurgent belief of the terrorists that God seeks to impose his will by blood and horror. As he points out, the difference is as old as Byzantium.

I differ slightly, since the Bible tells us that God commanded Moses and his successors to do what we today consider atrocities among the Canaanites. I would say that God is able to tell his followers when to be peaceful, when to submit and when to fight. His concern was that the Israelites not be led astray by mixing with the inhabitants of Canaan, who were very wicked, practicing human sacrifice, ritual fornication and idolatry.

I can't say why God would order the complete destruction of these cities including men, women and children, but if Mohammed was the last prophet, it seems highly presumptuous for modern Muslims to judge matters which only God can clarify. Is the rule that there is no compulsion in religion or that Muslims are obligated to kill all infidels, even using suicide bombs? There are Imams on both sides. It seems to me that anyone who knows God's will now, must be a prophet, and that would be blasphemous to Muslims. The terrorists speak of visions and dreams, but if Mohammed was the final prophet, where are these coming from?

Furthermore, Jihad is supposed to only be invoked in defense of Islam. The U.S. wasn't antagonistic to Islam. In fact, we considered it to be entitled to tolerance and respect, but bin Laden proclaimed that they were defending it against the Israelis and the Great Satan. It excited the pride to think of oneself as doing the work of Saladin, as serving God with the sword and driving the Infidels out of the Holy Lands. They fail to remember the centuries of war with the West which left Islamic lands without the wealth and culture they had enjoyed at the height of the Ottoman empire. Defeat after defeat drove them to give up the dream of world-wide empire and conversion through force.

In any event, it's a mistake to believe that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. I suspect that the true God is different from both of their conceptions. The divide between us and the terrorists cannot be resolved so long as they seek to impose their totalitarian rule over everyone. It is Lucifer's dream, once again, to deprive mankind of its freedom of choice, God's gift, in spite of the illogic of a judgement of the lives of people who were forced to be good at the point of a gun.

Christ's message is love, repentance and forgiveness. We like the love and forgiveness, but repentance is hard, and becoming godly like Jesus is harder. The concept of repentance has no meaning without a law, justice and punishment for sin. Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it. Yet, if we fail to follow his teachings wholeheartedly, we will be among those who will be unable to abide the day of his coming. When he appears as he is, his glory will cause the mountains to melt and flow. Only those who are transfigured through righteouness will be able to live through it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Much to ponder

An NRO Symposium on whether 9/11 changed us.

My take: It did, but it's worn off on many of us. Like passing a car wreck on the highway, we drove differently for awhile, but then as the memory faded, we resumed speeding, fiddling with the radio, rubbernecking. And a lot of us are DUI. The terrorists have been set back, but they are still driving directly at us, head on, and they're not distracted.

An Old Terrorist Returns Home

Mohammed Ali Hamadei killed an American serviceman back in 1985 in a Hezbollah hijacking of an airliner. He was arrested in Germany and sentenced to life in prison, but released on parole last December. Germany refused requests to extradite him here. Now word comes that he has rejoined Hezbollah and been greeted with open arms and rejoicing. Sickening.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Democratic Theater

The Dems have launched a coordinated political offensive accusing the President of using his speech on 9/11 as part of a coordinated political offensive.

It's a clever trick, turning a war into a political issue and then claiming that its off limits for your opponent in a national speech. They are so good at feigning outrage. It's real theatre, with quite a bit of farce and childishness.

John Boehner told reporters, "I listen to my Democratic friends, and I wonder if they are more interested in protecting terrorists than the American people." Harry Reid didn't have a scripted answer, so he went for the high ground, "Haven't we moved beyond that? Haven't we moved beyond 'Republicans are more religious than Democrats?' Haven't we moved beyond the fact that Republicans are trying to save us from the terrorists and Democrats aren't? I think we've moved beyond that." He didn't actually deny Boehner's charge, though. Can't we all just get along?

You can't take anybody back there seriously during campaign season. The Democrats are holding up the security bill with amendments. Why the bill comes up just now seeme pretty obvious. Schumer has filed a bill which would require all cargos entering the country to be scanned for radioactivity, but not all the ports can accommodate the equipment to do so. No wonder the approval rating of Congress is so low. It's all games and obstacles in the form of amendments and counter bills and adding new rules like saying Bush couldn't defend the Iraq war in his speech.

No will, no way.

Are things really as hopeless as some of us think? Yes and no.

There's no question that the terrorists don't have the power to carry out their professed goals, but whether we have the will to take them on is in doubt. If one of our cities were nuked, what good would our nuclear arsenal do us? We've pretty much ruled out the use of our own nukes for anything other than deterrence and we wouldn't know anyplace to target. Even if Iran were to develop nuclear weapons and attack us, it's doubtful that we'd bomb Teheran in response, for the same reasons the press and the liberals opposed overthrowing Saddam. We've known that for some time, which is why we have kept up our conventional forces, but now it's doubtful whether we can even use them, even with an all volunteer military. Our technology has become so expensive that even with historically low casualty rates, popular support can't be maintained for more than a year.

I have little doubt that we can defeat terrorism, but I'm afraid that we're going to have to suffer a lot more before we really begin to take this seriously. We've been infiltrated by Muslim radicals financed by Saudis and various terrorist organizations, but we're shackled by our own laws against racial profiling and other extensions of civil liberties imposed by courts who never imagined people willing to blow themselves to bits to kill us.

I'd like to believe that we're smarter than this, but there seems to be a lot of Ostrich in the American Eagle these days. As I type this, I'm watching a courtroom scene where the defense is portraying the defendant as a victim of the obesity epidemic, who was targeted by a person who attacked him because he was fat. This is what passes for a serious issue. This and Wal-Mart. Are we really committed to that war?

Richard Cohen declares defeat in the War on Terrorism, blaming Bush's "incompetence," and Sean Penn calls Bush "a Beelzebub -- and a dumb one." Well said, Screwtape.

Here's Cohen's opening:
I hear bin Laden laughing. I heard him all day on Sunday and Monday as the mass murder of Sept. 11, 2001, was memorialized at the Pentagon and in that field in Pennsylvania and, especially, here where the most people died and where countless cameras recorded it all for posterity and an abiding, everlasting, anger. He laughs, the madman does, whenever George Bush says, as he has over and over, that America is "winning this war on terror.'' Osama bin Laden knows better. He has already won.
And where is bin Laden? In hiding in a cave somewhere. Some victory. I'm sure Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi are pretty jolly, too.


Enough of the U.N.

Learning from History

Robert Tracinski:
What we learned from September 11 was that we do not have the luxury of leaving America's enemies undefeated. If Iraq was America's most urgent piece of unfinished business, what we learned from September 11 is that we had better finish the job.

In Iraq, however, the prospect of toppling a dictatorial regime and replacing it with something better turned out to be a much larger and more complex task than in Afghanistan. This is an experiment from which we gained the most new information in the years following September 11.
Well, it's what we should have learned. I can't help thinking about how much more could have been accomplished if the media were behind the President, instead of allowing themselves to be manipulated by the terrorists. We need leaders who will stand for doing right, even when it's hard or scary. The press used to be leaders. Today, the Fourth Estate has become a Fifth Column.

A Crew of Ahabs.

The left introduces assassination into the political debate. Funny how statements that would drive the left into frenzies, if made by the right, are given respect on the left. Michele Malkin rounds up the lefties daydreaming or advocating the murder of President Bush. He tasks them.

Garrison Keillor must be modeling himself on Mark Twain, but Twain had some reasons for his bitterness in his dotage. What Keillor's absolute hatred for Republicans is based on is not clear, but he is moving closer to the same kind of invective. Twain villified God and religion, Keillor is sour on religion, despite the way he hypes it on his show, but he's rabidly vicious on non-liberal politics.

A responsible person doesn't talk about murdering the president, no matter how heated the political debate becomes. Words have consequences, and the rhetoric from the Democrats has become so radical it's dangerous. Yet none of their leaders has cautioned or rebuked these people. Does no one have any courage over there?

Dems mad that Bush mentioned Iraq in speech

Following up their threats against ABC, Senate Democrats are denouncing Bush for bringing up the war in Iraq in his speech last night about 9/11. I just saw Dick Durbin on Neil Cavutos program with the same old line about the war being a distratcion from Afghanistan. When Cavuto asked him where all the terrorists who are in Iraq fighting use would be if we weren't fighting them in Iraq, he said "We'd be fighting them in Afghanistan." Say what? That makes the case for Iraq even better, since Iraq is an easier landscape to operate in and central to the Middle East. It's one of the major seats of Islam. It has no mountainous areas like Afghanistan's.

Earlier Juan Williams appeared with Shepherd Smith saying that he thought the President's speech was terrific, but noted that Bush did bring politics in by mentioning Iraq. He didn't seem to feel defiinite about whether he shouldn't have do it, however.

Where is it written that the President can't talk about his foreign policy to the American people, just because the Democrats don't like it? This was an occasion where all three networks carried his speech, which hasn't always been the case, given the media hostility to Bush. He'd be a fool not to try to explain his position on an issue that his opponents have been pounding on since our troops went in. They seem to have gotten used to putting words in his mouth and then attacking him, not for what he really thinks, but for what they claim he thinks. He shouldn't allow this to go unanswered, but too often he has because he doesn't want to foster contention and personal attacks.

I heard Paul Harvey quote Mark Steyn on his news and comment today. It's about time Mark got more famous and influential. I imagine he could get on Fox or CNN, but doesn't care to sit around in a remote studio waiting to be asked a question and be shouted down by some uncivil liberal without getting a whole thought out before the next Breaking News Alert or hard break. Now when we can hear him on Hugh Hewitt every Thursday as long as he cares to chat.

I'm with Jonah and Michael Ledeen

They think bin Laden is dead, or he might be so sick that he can't make videos. It wouldn't promote adulation to show him in bed with tubes in his nose, or with a complexion like Lurch from the Addams Family. We ought to start demanding that Al Jazeera come up with some recent non-photoshopped photos or video, or we declare him legally dead.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Verdict on The Path to 9/11

The film is more powerful than anything I can say about it. I felt as if I were watching a Greek tragedy, except that there was no catharsis. The hubris wasn't the main character's, but everybody he tried to get to act. Oedipus at least did something to deserve his end, even unwittingly. But I could see nothing that O'Neill did to bring his failure and death upon himself. All that's left is sorrow and indignation.

Tonight there were a lot of Americans who felt the same things plus frustration that we still seem to be hamstrung by the very people we hire to protect us.

The technique of the film was fascinating. It reminded me of The Bourne Identity in its extreme closeups and handheld camera shots. It had a real feeling of urgency, suspense and vulnerability engendered from the camera angles that made you feel that you were watching from behind cover, or being jostled. It had a message, and I don't think any edits changed it. Of course, the people who needed to hear it most, had their hands over their ears and were yelling so as to drown it out.
I only hope there are more who got it than who refused to hear it.

Bravo, James Woods!

He was on the Tonight show this evening. He saw the terrorists making a test run prior to 9/11 and reported it to the authorities who did nothing because just investigating it would be racial profiling. He also had some stirring and common sense things to say about the need to rid the world of terrorism.

Are we at war?

That is the question on which the President tells us the next election will turn. He's right. The Democrats, especially those in the liberal media, would like it to be anything else, the economy, the "diversion" of Iraq or the allegedly unconstitutional and "tyrannical" acts of the President in the name of national defense. They're in denial about the nature of this war because they put their own access to power above democracy, national security and safety.

Civil Libertarians can argue about whether our civil liberties were damages by measures taken after the attacks. I think we need a national ID and profiling that includes young middle eastern men as well as behavioral indications. I also think that if we don't get more serious about fighing these people, we'll be hit again and I think my right to be anonymous is not worth my life. Most of the things the ACLU fusses about are luxuries we enjoy because we are safe. Most of history hasn't been like that. Our idyll is at an end. We had better pay attention to our duties and responsibiliites and not just our privileges before we find ourselves facing a real theocracy, and I don't mean Jerry Falwell. He'd be a sweetheart next to Khatami or Khomeini. Yet the hatred toward him, religious people ingeneral and the President Bush, who has never said anything that suggests he wants a theocracy, would make one think it is impossible to live without aanonymity, drugs, pornography and obscenity. Political correctness will be suicide if we don't get real about our priorities pretty soon.

Governments are supposed to deliver civil order, public safety and protect a limited number of personal rights against the majority. But the rights do not swallow up the basic principle of majority rule. Otherwise, why live in a society where your family is constantly under assault by influences you hate? We have an ancient common law concerning public and private nuisances, which is being gutted in the name of civil liberties. It's illegal for government to even note the contributions religion has made to our society and culture. The basic argument is that any recommendation or support constitutes compulsion. None of us has the world we would like, but that doesn't mean that we can't have some of it if we have the votes. It's called community and it deserves to be defended too. This obsession with letting everybody challenge the common will for everything is making us vulnerable and defenseless.

We need to remember that preventing 9/11 would have been infinitely preferable to suffering through it so that the liberties of the terrorists weren't infringed on. At some point we all have to accept that we don't get everything we want. It's a balance. We give up total freedom in exchange for the benefits of living in society. The balance is off, thanks to those who want to make everything a new civil liberty.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Counting on our ignorance.

The Democrats really are shameless on the war in Iraq. It's the Big Lie, "We supported the war because we were hoodwinked." I suppose one explanation for Senator Rockefeller's opinion of Iraq before we overthrew Saddam, and his current charge is that he was brainwashed by the President. But how bright could he and his colleagues be if they could be gulled by an imbecile? Or, maybe, Bush is really the Dr. Moriarty of the 21st Century.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Clinton finger wags again

The stupidity of demanding cancellation of a movie because it shows you in a bad light is so obvious and unamerican that I have a hard time believing that the minions who sent the demand letter did so without shame. I don't think I could have sent it over my signature. Why Democrats think this reaction will do anything but hype this film is a mystery. The specific criticisms or claims of inaccuracy are the kind of thing that all docudramas indulge in, where some events and characters are combined to simplify the story.

It reminds me of a W. C. Fields scene. He's a bartender with little skinny co-worker, Squawk Mulligan:
Fields: "I'm tending bar one time down in the lower east side in New York. A tough paloma comes in there by the name of Chicago Molly. I cautioned her, 'None of your peccadilloes in here.'

There was some hot lunch on the bar, comprising of succotash, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and asparagus with mayonnaise. She dips her mitt down into this melange. I'm yawning at the time, and she hits me right in the mug with it. I jumps over and I knocks her down."

Squawk: "You knocked her down? I was the one that knocked her down!"

Fields: "Oh yes, that's right. He knocked her down...but I was the one who started kicking her.

I starts kicking her in the midriff. Did you ever kick a woman in the midriff that had a pair of corsets on?"

Customer: "No, I just can't recall any such incident right now."

Fields: "Well, I almost broke my great toe; I never had such a painful experience."

Customer: "Did she ever come back again?"

Squawk: "I'll say she came back. She came back a week later and beat the both of us up."

Fields: "Yeah, but she had another woman with her--an elderly woman with gray hair."

Why is it . . .

that governments that call themselves "the Revolution" are always ruthless in suppressing dissent?