If bin Laden is dead, or deathly ill, what changes? Probably nothing.
Strutting and fretting in an insane world.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Jack Cafferty, CNN's rabid Bush-hater and loudmouth, is getting some attention for his bizarre conspiracy theories.
Ding, Dong, bin Laden's dead!
well, maybe, but there's better news. Al Ansar Sunnah is a Salaafist terror group which beheads its victims on video. Its leader has been captured.
Recruiting in Prison
Debra Saunders writes about the number of converts to radical Islam comin out of our prisons. A violent sect attracts violent people.
Friday, September 22, 2006
The Republicans are campaigning.
The Democrats are jonesing. They can't tell us how they would do things differently, because most of their base, and even more of their donors, are unwilling to hear anything constructive.
How do you promise national security when you're being pressured to become isolationist?
The only torture I see here,
is that being done to the language. "Torture" comes from the same root as "tortion" meaning "twisting."
The liberals and the media seem to want to make anything that gets someone to talk be considered torture. Shortly after the torture claims were first made, the History Channel showed a documentary about how interrogators get people to talk. They worked, and none of them caused physical pain or injury. Mostly, they just wore down the subject's (they used volunteers) determination not to talk, using various stress techniques such as yelling, isolation, lack of sleep, discomfort not amounting to pain or suffering.
Besides this insistence that the administration wants to torture people, a lie, the thing that seems dishonest, is the assumption that we would be doing this to innocent people. The subtext of every complaint is that this somehow violates our rights, as if the government were listening to anybody's calls, picking up ordinary citizens, etc. It all assumes that the President doesn't respect the law or want to comply with it. I don't see any basic for that, except pure bias and conditioning from our media, who are pretty regularly torturing the truth.
Something of Hugo Chavez' mockery at the U.N. reminded me of Bill Clinton. I think it was that faux chumminess and nod and wink at saying something shocking. Some people get a lot of mileage out of that Bugs Bunny chutzpah, especially when speaking to a friendly audience.
Ezra Klein cautions Democrats against counting their chickens.
Also, they're going to hold hearings in Congress and around the country like those the Repubs did with immigration. The difference is most likely to be that they're using this not to listen, but to lecture and criticize Bush.
“At no time is congressional oversight more important than when the men and women of our armed forces are engaged in combat to defend our freedom,” Dorgan and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wrote in a letter to Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) in which the Democrats invited Senate Republicans to attend their hearings.Congressional oversight? This sounds like an effort to intrude into the powers of the President. We all know pretty well how they'd run the war. They'd prevent the CIA interrogations of detainees, set a date for withdrawal, cut funding for the Missile Defense and take more counsel from the United Nations.
The Navy has retired the F-14 Tomcat.
The Washington Post editorializes that the deal with the Senate on treatment of terrorist detainees will allow "the abuse" to continue. The Post, apparently, would prefer that we do without the intelligence these people have. The willful ignorance of these people is stunning.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
As if we needed help in spotting spin
The Gray Lady will distinguish "straight news" from opinion by justifying the news text and using "ragged right" for subjective text. We are all compositors now.
Relic of Postwar Optimism
There's nothing worse for the rule of law than passing laws which can't or won't be enforced. Whoever drafted Common Article III in the Geneva Convention did us all a disservice by using vague aspirations that would hardly be teally put into effect by belligerent nations. The "degrading or humiliating standard" would be violated merely by the fact of being a prisoner or detainee. Ask Ahmadinejad to explain what "outrage against human dignity" means. Surely a refugee camp like Jenin in the West Bank or anywhere else is a violation, as well. Some people have forfeited all human dignity by their viciousness and hatred of personal choice, individual rights and respect and murderous deeds.
The fact that the article makes no distinction between illegal combatants and real civilians is a serious flaw. We'd be doing the rest of the world a service to call attention to silly language like this and demand that it be amended to something more realistic.
For people who would gladly wound or kill their guards by any means available to be protected against outrages against human dignity seems like a bad joke. Their own concept of human dignity is that, if we don't convert to Islam, we deserve to be killed.
I remember reading all kinds of stories as a child about silly people who taught lessons through their buffoonery, like the man and his son traveling with their donkey, the man riding. As they travel they hear criticisms, the man should let the boy ride, they shouldn't burden the donkey, etc. In the end they end up carrying the donkey who struggles and is lost over a bridge. They had nothing on modern diplomacy.
Nelson Ascher on the paranoia in the media:
Nobody trusts the government. The politicians are corrupt. The government is always lying to the people. It works against the people’s true interests and only promotes the selfish interests of its own members and their friends. Those in power invent scary threats to distract the public’s attention from their own wrongdoings.It has seemed to me for a long time that the news media are composing the message first and then looking for concrete examples that fit it.
No, I’m not talking about the US. Well, not exclusively at least. Everything I’ve just said has been repeated day in day out, for years and decades, by the papers and the electronic media wherever there’s anything resembling a free press. That’s the MSM’s real message in all democratic nations. Whatever else they talk about is secondary.
Diebold and the Princeton Report
The testing of Diebold's voting machine and its vulnerabilities has made the rounds of the internet, feeding the paranoia of those on the left who believe that our last two national elections were stolen. Diebold's response makes the Princeton "experts" look like partisan hacks. They tested a system with out-of-date software and introduced a virus that mimicked correct operation while storing false results.
It has never made much sense to me that a company whose business is security and accuracy and whose clients are nearly all banks would be as shoddy in this case as many of the Angry Left insist.
I'm wondering now about the claim that a mini-bar key was able to unlock the cover to the memory card. Presumably mere access to the memory card is not sufficient
When will we get serious?
This piece by Andrew McCarthy is more more interesting for the comments than his arguments. He's correct that it would be idiotic to abandon the CIA interrogations of these detainees, but the commenters display that reflexive refusal to engage the real point that we've all come to know. They immediately assume that Bush's proposal is to use torture. No matter how often he repeats that he's not describing torture, they refuse to even consider otherwise.
Another commenter sounds like a classic conservative:
[E]everyone has been able to agree on what the Geneva conventions mean for the past 57 years, but now a newspeaking administration wants to define torture out of existence.Actually this has never been an issue. Ask John McCain how much the Geneva Conventions did him in Hanoi, until the North Vietnamese decided it might help them in P.R. terms. The plain fact is that people like the ones we fight couldn't care less about the Geneva Accords. If they were civilized, we wouldn't be at war with them.
The opponents seem to think that we're required by international law to reward people who want to destroy civilization and modernity with kid glove hospitality. That's why we can't afford to let them get back into positions of power. I believe this is beginning to sink in as the election nears.
McCain, Graham, Warner and Collins are out of touch with the real problems we face, as is most of the Press. To paraphrase Justice Jackson, the Geneva Conventions are not a suicide pact. Al Qaeda has used weapons of mass destruction already--what else can you call a jet liner being flown into a skyscraper? They have been planning attacks like 9/11 for the past 20 years and we are still treating this like a law enforcement problem. Our courts and our media have eaten away at common sense for far too long. We are have become a nation of lotus eaters.
I'm so tired of these Constitution hanging by a thread pieces. We should all admit that what really prevents our becoming like Thailand is that the people will not stand for a coup and neither would the military. We can have bitter disputes, but nobody is going to lose their precious liberties because the president is taking measures to defend us from treacherous enemies in our midst. All the leaks we've seen, about the NSA or the SWIFT program have been for political purposes, not out of real fear that the President is trying to create a Gestapo. The NSA, FBI, CIA and Pentagon are so overlawyered that everybody knows that taking actions that can't be defended by reason is the surest way to bring down a publicity storm on your head. Karl Rove and Scooter Libby didn't do anything but pass on scuttlebutt that they'd heard, and they've been put through a wringer.
The real threat comes from having a friendly press. Like the one that graced the JFK and FDR presidency. Nixon never really had a chance to succeed at the kind of things that JFK got away with. George Bush has been a model of propriety and he's still pilloried as a would-be dictator by editorials and columists every day.
If you want to protect the Constitution, keep electing people the press can't stand. That way you'll always know that there will be plenty of leaks and close scrutiny. It's when the president gets softball press conferences like I remember Jack Kennedy having where serious screwups got laughed off because he was so charming, that people should be worried about the FBI being used for political purposes. George Bush wouldn't even think of the kind of stuff that the Clinton's used the FBI for, because he knows if he tried, thr reaction would be about like the Monica Lewinsky scandal, except that he'd be convicted and removed. Republicans wouldn't defend that kind of thing.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
The Ego Technique
How long has it been considered bold and free thinking to publish blunt refusals to be civil? Bill Press claims that many readers have asked where his apology to Karl Rove is, and he spends a column saying why there won't be one. Apparently, Mr. Press lives in a world where the universe revolves around him.
Freedom of Islam
The first item in today's Best of the Web is well worth reading, even if you've already read Sam Harris's piece in the LATimes. Taranto notes the bizarre insouciance to the gunpoint conversion of Steve Centanni and his cameraman to Islam while hostages to some Palestinian crazies, when a kid offering a prayer at a football game in the U.S. or a valedictorian statement of her faith in Christ at a graduation is an outrage.
It's actually not true, or not always true, that liberals don't take religion seriously. When the issue is, say, a student-led prayer at a high school football game, they take it very seriously. They're even willing to make a federal case out of it. Here is Justice John Paul Stevens in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000):For many [students] . . . the choice between whether to attend these games or to risk facing a personally offensive religious ritual is in no practical sense an easy one. The Constitution, moreover, demands that the school may not force this difficult choice upon these students for "[i]t is a tenet of the First Amendment that the State cannot require one of its citizens to forfeit his or her rights and benefits as the price of resisting conformance to state-sponsored religious practice."Presumably the justices--even Scalia and Thomas, who dissented in Santa Fe--would also look askance at gunpoint conversions to Christianity, at least if conducted under color of state action. So far as we know, however, the issue has never come before the high court, for the simple reason that that isn't something American Christians do.
Even if we regard every high school student's decision to attend a home football game as purely voluntary, we are nevertheless persuaded that the delivery of a pregame prayer has the improper effect of coercing those present to participate in an act of religious worship. For "the government may no more use social pressure to enforce orthodoxy than it may use more direct means."
When I was the only Mormon kid in my grade schools and high school in Iowa and Illinois, it never occurred to me to object to a prayer at a public event like this. It always seemed a good thing that all of us Judeo-Christians and others who probably really didn't take religion all that seriously were willing to show good will through a prayer. If they'd had an atheist come up to denounce everybody's religions, he'd have had to have a police guard, I suppose, but that would have been because of his disagreeable and insulting attitude. The same would be true of a Christian or Jew who made a show of denouncing all but his own faith. The point was tolerance and respect. The point of cases like Santa Fe is the right of every crank to harass everybody else over his pet peeves.
Is it a coincidence that we didn't have notorious school shooting indicents back then that we've had since Columbine? We have the victimhood epidemic back then either.
Whose 'Useful Idiots?'
Norm Geras notes a pathetic bit of omphaloskepsis in the London Review of Books. Geras is obviously an intellectual, but he's far too intelligent to be impressed by stuff like this:
A commitment to the abstract universalism of 'rights' - and uncompromising ethical stands taken against malign regimes in their name - can lead all too readily to the habit of casting every political choice in binary moral terms.Remind you of any former Secretary of State's concerns about what the world might think of the "moral basis for our war on terror"?
The quote is from "Bush's Useful Idiots" by Tony Judt who proceeds from the assumption that Bush's foreign policy is self-evidently wrong and that any intellectual who agrees with it is a traitor to his class. Cover stories like this are why I dropped my subscription to the Atlantic Monthly. I just didn't see the point of paying for the privilege of being insulted. In fact, I've noticed this kind of thinking all over the place from liberals. They never argue from basic principles. They always start with the premise that Bush is stupid and evil, that he lied to get us into war in Iraq, and on and on.
Those who actually look at the record honestly, like Christopher Hitchens, come up with different conclusions, in spite of their leftward leanings.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Klaatu Verada Islam.
Dean Barnett has an FAQ post on his views about Islam. Mine are much the same. I'm starting to view Muslims as a large number of peaceful people being held hostage by a small group of outlaws.
CAIR in the meantime has announced a new brand identity and logo, but their home page still gives you the feeling that there's a pack of wolves watching you from the dark just outside the firelight.
And, as if to emphasize how alien their thinking is to ours, "Al Qaida in Iraq warned Pope Benedict XVI on Monday that its war against Christianity and the West will go on until Islam takes over the world, and Iran's supreme leader called for more protests over the pontiff's remarks on Islam." Westerners all seem to note the irony of the violent response to the Pope's observations about the unreason of using violence to convert people to your faith, but in a world where reality is defined by a superstitious idolatry of the Koran and the Prophet.
I think there's an alien kind of thinking on the left these days, as well. They occupy a world where true evil is Republican while terrorists are merely boogiemen conjured by the right to frighten voters. The statements of various Democrat leaders are becoming more and more at odds with what people can see with their own eyes, like the claim that we are no safer now that we're actively pursuing the terrorists and have the whole nation on alert for new attacks than we were before 9/11. When I look at Iraq, I see things pretty much happening the way the president predicted. Yes, there's sectarian violence, but that's hardly the disaster or failure that Bush's opponents want us to believe. The war has been second-guessed by every pundit in sight, as well as a bunch of disgruntled leakers within the government, but the plan is going forward more like it was laid out from the beginnin than the way the left has tried ot spin it.
Is it safe to be a moderate Muslim
I've now heard or seen it repeated a number of times that the reason we don't hear any condemnation of the terrorists from moderate or mainstream Muslims is that they're afraid of the thugs. I think that the only way we will be able to coexist with Islam is to destroy or tame those who who preach and practice violent jihad. The riots over every imagine insult, the threats, the beheadings and torture seem to be something that most of them are used to seeing in their own lands. As with the Nazis and the Japanese, defeating those who attack us and liberating the people in their homelands are one and the same thing. We cannot ignore this or we'll pay a heavier price in the future.
I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition
And, according to
the Guardian the CIA isn't coming close. Despite the British Attorney General's remarks, if the Geneva Convention means that the interrogation techniques used by CIA (yelling, sleep deprivation, chilly temperatures, loud music and some slapping that causes stinging but no lasting injury), I doubt that anybody except us has been complying with it. It sounds like the prisoners are supposed to get better treatment than our own troops in training, better than conditions in most areas of the Middle East.
I'm not sure Western Civilization really wants to survive. The techniques described sound like the Boot Camp Marines used to undergo, and less than the endurance exercises and survival training they undergo now. If Bush's proposed standards are withdrawing from the Geneva Conventions, I think it's high time we withdrew. Our Supreme Court has made a big mistake and seriously compromised the President's power to do his job. Common Article III's prohibition of treatment that is "degrading or humiliating" seems to mean the same thing as not being given a comfy chair. The terrorists will tie us with our own silly rules.
Victoria Toensing, one of the most credible critics of the Plame witch hunt had a piece on Opinionjournal.com on Friday gives Armitage, Powell and Fitzgerald reason to need colostomy bags. When I recall the criticism of Ken Starr, the hypocrisy of the media on this story is enough to gag on.
Get a Clue
To those Muslims with their heads wrapped in towels outside Westminster Cathedral. Living a a free society means you can protest peacefully without hiding your face. You still don't get, do you?
A postmortem on Clinton's efforts to get "The Path to 9/11" cancelled. All his P.R. blitz did was remind people of how his scandal over Monica left the country without an engaged leader at a time when Al Qaeda's war against us was ramping up to 9/11. His willingness to ignore his liberal "principles," freedom of speech and the press, to serve his own ego should have been let alone, but apparently, Berger and Albright share his sensitivity about his legacy.
If the exit pollsters are carrying cameras and want you to lift your blouse, be suspicious.
Seriously though, the phenomenon of the angry voter is probably due more to the hysterically negative news coverage of the president and the war. Somehow, I think I'd prefer some intelligent, informed debate, but what we have is frustration and a spirit of polarization.
The Battle for Guantanamo tells the story of an MP, Colonel Bumgarner, in charge of the detention facility at Gitmo. He appears to be somewhat naive and ignorant of the purpose of the facility and the kind of people who were detained there. In the end, they took advantage of his good intentions and a number of suicides succeeded, subjecting him to investigations:
“We tried to improve their lives to the extent that we can — to the point that we may have gone overboard, not recognizing the real nature of who we’re dealing with,” he said. “I thought they had proven themselves. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I did not think that they would kill themselves.”Pathetic, yet not really his fault, given his instructions from above.
I'm not sure what to make of the story, except that it is a vivid account of the frustrations of being expected to comply with vague rules, keep order among people committed to resist and make as much trouble as possible. It's clear, to me at any rate, that the questions about how to treat terrorists in detention for interrorgation have been a moving goalpost for the people on the front line. The courts, especially the Supreme Court, as well as military officers who speak to senators in opposition to the duly constituted authorities and senators who think that it's their job to run the war and second-guess the President only succeed in confusing, meddling and frustrating our effort to defeat this enemy. The excuse that the treatment of our soldiers in some speculative future before the International Criminal Court is a distraction and a weak excuse for withholding the tools our agents need to acquire intelligence which can prevent more terrorist attacks. Terrorists are not POWs and there are very good reasons for limiting their rights when captured, especially for purposes of obtaining intelligence.
I'd rather take the pretensions of the ICC head on and give notice that we would treat detention and charging of any of our troops there as an act of war.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Insulted by the Pope? Go murder a nun running a children's hospital Strike a blow for the honor of Islam! It's wonderful, is it not, how much civilizing influence their religion has had on these people?
Defense or State?
This is a striking violation of one of the most basic principles of war: unity of command. Apparently neither the State nor Defense departments wants to yield bureaucratic turf, and President Bush doesn't feel inclined to force them.I know which one I'd be throwing overboard. (Hint: "Plamegate")
Times that try Iraqi souls
Barham Salih demonstrates that the government of Iraq understands the problems it faces and has plans to address them. At this point, if we draw down troops, the Democrats will label it a political ploy. A better choice is to stay on track.
The problem reminds me of teaching a kid to ride a bicycle without training wheels. The kid has to understand the theory, but he/she has to get the feel of balance and learn to trust him/herself. You run alongside holding the bike steady, but if you let go too soon the child may fall and be afraid to try again. If you hold on too long, you're no better than training wheels.
Reading The Shia Revival, I think that we may have to let a lot of pent up pressure bleed off, and I do mean "bleed," but Iraqis have shown the ability to live together, and I don't believe they want to become the next Lebanon, dominated by Hezbollah and Syria or Iran. I think that there's an underreported hope and pride among the Iraqi people at being the model for the rest of the Muslim world. We saw it in those purple fingers held up to cameras. That's why it would be such a shame and yet another betrayal for America to abandon them.
I wish the Republicans would put together some ads focused on showing how far we and they have come in the past three and a half years. This is a time for statesmanship and appealing to our national values, not giving in to our lesser impulses.
Changing teams in Midstream
Stuart Stevens, a Republican political consultant agrees with me:
This view of Bush transformed from Leader of the Free World into Election Jeremiah is so wrong that it should be laughable. Except that a lot of Republicans seem to believe it's true. They're certainly behaving that way on the campaign trail, acting as though they're sure that a spy camera photo of a candidate caught with the president will be a death sentence in November. And that's a problem -- not for the president but for the candidates and the GOP.They've come this far with him, and I think it's cowardly and ultimately disastrous to dissociate themselves now.
Candidates need to worry less about Bush and more about their own agendas. The truth is that there is ample reason to believe that the president is well-liked among voters who might consider voting Republican. But the nation is fighting a tough and nasty war and there's little joy in the day-to-day slog of winning that war. Which makes it just like every other war the nation has waged.We're in a situation that calls for leadership, which means standing on principle. When have we ever had a war that was easy? And if people don't think terrorists are a serious problem, they haven't been paying attention. Candidates need to be told the hard truth, not pandered to. The case is there to be made, but you can't rely on press releases and pork. The former won't be published as written, and the latter is starting to become transparent as the little tricks for hiding who's adding all those earmarks and whom they're benefitting. You have to go to the people, and you have to do it effectively.
My advice to Republican candidates is that they first must come to grips with the rationale for their own election: Why me? Why now? If in their hearts they disagree with the Iraq war, they should call it like they see it, but without trying to nuance a response seven ways from Sunday in hopes of pleasing all sides. That's French for ending up like John Kerry. Elections are littered with losers who have a need to be loved by everyone.
We need more Democrats . . .
like Ed Koch. It's a good think that he's not running for anything this year or he'd be booted out like Liberman.
Evan Bayh says that Democrats can't be a bunch of wimps on terror, but on CNN this morning he was following the McCain and Graham line. McCain cited unnamed generals and admirals who are worried that Bush's proposal would be treated as a withdrawal from the Geneva Conventions. Cornyn cleaned his clock. It seems to me that the Geneva Accords did really contemplate a war like this, where the enemy isn't a national government. The Supreme Court compounded this by ruling that Article 3 applies to captured terrorists, who wouldn't consider for a moment abiding by these rules.
I think it would be well to be more explicit about illegal combatants and terrorism and explicitly waive the convention as to such people. They certainly don't deserve treatment according to the norms of civilized society. The resistance to a common sense change undermines respect for the Geneva Conventions and would turn them into just one more reason to involve lawyers in warfare.
Bill Kristol thinks this will hurt the Dems and McCain, Warner, Graham and Collins. His reasoning is fine, but I'm not sure logic applies, the way things have been going lately. The media has been so deliberately one-sided and anti-war that it's getting difficult to trust that the voters are really informed. People seem to see the war as an annoyance and boring. Will enough of them really weigh the consequences this Fall? A lot of conservatives feel that the Republicans are taking them for granted and may sit this one out or even vote against them. On the other hand, what have the Democrats got to offer but anger, revenge and repeating Vietnam?
On CNN's Late Edition today, Wolf Blitzer interviewed the Democrat's new sugardaddy. He's basically a male Arianna Huffenpuff, although he did admit that comparing the Bush Administration to the Nazis and Communist regimes was "over the top," but the rest sounded like it was written by MoveOn.org.
Editing for Spin
The AP gets caught in the act. Or maybe it's Yahoo!.
Congress and Courts Adopt Unilateral Disarmament.
Professor John Yoo points out that checks and balances apply to the Judicial and Legislative branches too:
A reinvigorated presidency enrages President Bush’s critics, who seem to believe that the Constitution created a system of judicial or congressional supremacy. Perhaps this is to be expected of the generation of legislators that views the presidency through the lens of Vietnam and Watergate. But the founders intended that wrongheaded or obsolete legislation and judicial decisions would be checked by presidential action, just as executive overreaching is to be checked by the courts and Congress.This will be roundly denounced by the left. In fact, the denunciation is already underway.
The New York Times, meanwhile, is busy clouding the issue by implying that the Administration is misstating its commitment against torture.
Plans to nuke the U.S.
When will we start taking these people seriously? If the authors are right, the following are true:
Final preparations have been made for the American Hiroshima, a major attack on the U. S.We'll see. This may be nonsense.
Muslims living in the United States should leave the country without further warning.
The attack will be commandeered by Adnan el Shukrijumah (“Jaffer Tayyer” or “Jafer the Pilot”), a naturalized American citizen, who was raised in Brooklyn and educated in southern Florida.
The al Qaeda operatives who will launch this attack are awaiting final orders. They remain in place in cities throughout the country. Many are masquerading as Christians and have adopted Christian names.
Al Qaeda and the Taliban will also launch a major strike (known as the “Badar offensive” against the coalition forces in Afghanistan during the holy month of Ramadan.
The American people will be treated to a final audio message from Osama bin Laden which will be aired within the next two weeks.
While Congress and the Courts are busy tying the President's hands, they seem worried about something other than protecting us from terrorism. I will never vote for John McCain or Lindsey Graham who seem more worried by speculative threats than by the real ones.
It's Medieval Retro!
The Pope reminds us of Islam's bloody past, and he's the one who must apologize. The Muslim street erupts in violence and rage, and even threaten war!
I'm about ready to adopt Charles Krauthammer's support for increased taxes on gas. I'd prefer tariff's on imported oil, to set a floor under domestically produced oil from oil shale and coal. I don't like it, but I like enriching people who fund terrorism even less.