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Monday, January 31, 2005

"Realists" Have It Wrong

The incomparable Mark Steyn comments on the Middle East:

If the Western world decides in 2005 it can "contain" President Sy Kottik of Wackistan indefinitely, that doesn't mean the relationship between the two parties is set in aspic.

Wackistan has a higher birthrate than the West, so after 40 years of "stability," there are a lot more Wackistanis and a lot fewer Frenchmen. And Wackistan has immense oil reserves, and President Kottik has used that oil wealth to fund radical schools and mosques in hitherto moderate parts of the Muslim world.

Cheap air travel and the Internet and ATM machines that take every bank card on the planet and the freelancing of nuclear technology mean Wackistan's problems are no longer confined to Wackistan: For a few hundred bucks, they can be outside the Empire State Building within seven hours.

Nothing stands still. "Stability" is a fancy term to dignify laziness and complacency as sophistication.

Read the whole thing HERE.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Iraqi People Have Spoken

The Iraqi people must be congratulated on their election. It takes courage and a dedication to something larger than oneself to decide to vote when voting could cost you your life.

Someone has suggested that Americans who support the Iraqis place ink on their forefinger, as the Iraqis did after voting. It’s a good idea; give the finger to terrorists. And it helps that in the US, terrorists are not likely to kill you for voting, although it may get you some hostile looks in the Blue States.

John Kerry was on Meet the Press this morning challenging the legitimacy of the election. If you are still in the dark about why he lost the election, read the transcript.

The election does not mark the end of the insurgency, it just underscores its illegitimacy, and the desire of the Iraqis to choose their own leaders and for the political freedom they have been denied all their lives.

For the naysayers who claim that the acts of terrorists make the election illegitimate, they have no grasp of history, for there is a precedent. About 150 years ago, the US had its very own Civil War. The nation was wracked by violence and literally hundreds of thousands died. There were elections; they were not postponed for the duration of the military emergency. And, of course, large parts of the country did not participate. You may be interested in the results: click HERE. Was this election illegitimate? Hmmmm?

Of course the New York Times does its best to throw cold water on the first free elections in an Arab country. “Much of the problem is that the elections are being held under the dominion of the United States.” Really? In what manner do we exert “dominion” over the Iraqi election? We (well, those who wish the Iraqis success) are certainly encouraging them to vote, but “dominion?” That implies that we are somehow controlling the election, and no one outside of the moonbats at the DemocraticUnderground (who believe it’s all a Karl Rove plot) thinks that.

More from the Times: “Many Iraqis, interviews in recent months have shown, do not accept that fundamental choices about the shape of their future political system should be made by a foreign power, particularly one they regard as a harbinger of secular, materialistic values far removed from the Muslim world's. “

Funny, I could have sworn that at other times it was claimed that Iraqis are the most secular Arabs in the world. That Osama hated Saddam because he was not a true believer. And now the Times is telling us that Iraqis are deeply religious, non-materialistic and have values far removed from ours. And what are those deeply Muslim, non-material values? The Times gives us no clue. Decide for yourself, read the rest of the article.

Kennedy's Expert.

In his speech just before the Iraqi elections, Ted Kennedy quotes an Army Reservist:“The guerillas are filling their losses faster than we can create them…. For every guerilla we kill with a smart bomb, we kill many more innocent civilians and create rage and anger in the Iraqi community. This rage and anger translates into more recruits for the terrorists and less support for us.”

Just who is Kennedy's expert on the Iraqis? The Answer may surpise you.

Click HERE.

Senator Kennedy Says It's Time to Exit - the Oldsmobile

On Iowahawk, the Senator from the kleptocracy that is Massachusetts, decides it's time to get out.

Like all Americans, I had high hopes for the future of the Oldsmobile and its passengers, as we struggle against the onrushing water and its poorly-designed shoulder belts. But as claustrophobia sets in we must begin to sober up and face the truth: hope is no longer an option.

It is time for us to recognize that our continued presence in this volatile region is a hinderance to the Oldsmobile and its people. Rather than helping the situation we are further weighing down the Oldsmobile, causing it to sink faster and faster into the quagmire of Chappaquidick Bay, creating a dangerous situation for both ourselves as well as its passengers who are desperately seeking an air pocket in which to start a better life.

That is why I believe we have reached the point where we must take a deep breath and immediately depart the Oldsmobile. We must seek through the watery darkness and release the belt latch of madness that has kept us here, and reach out for a sane and honorable window crank.

Read the rest HERE.

Iraqi Voting Disrupts News Reports of Bombings

Scappleface creates the definitive story of the MSM vs. the Iraqi people.

Hopes for a return to the stability of tyranny waned as rank upon rank of Iraqi men and women filed out of precinct stations, each armed with the distinctive mark of the new freedom guerrillas -- an ink-stained index finger, which one former Ba'athist called "the evidence of their betrayal of 50 years of Iraqi tradition."


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Liberals Go for Holocaust III

Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard:

ON THE EVE of the election in Iraq, Democratic senator Edward Kennedy called President Bush's Iraq policy "a catastrophic failure." He demanded that American troops immediately begin to withdraw. "We have no choice," he declared, "but to make the best we can of the disaster we have created in Iraq." Kennedy said the retreat of American forces should be completed "as early as possible in 2006," and suggested that, in Iraq, American troops are a bigger problem than terrorists.

Kennedy invoked the ghost of Viet Nam and referred to Iraq as a quagmire. The first person to use the term “quagmire” to describe Viet Nam was Walter Cronkite, after turning against the war. The Peace Movement, John Kerry, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden and the rest of the Left captured the old media – the one-way media - as the press turned against the US in Viet Nam and the rest is history.

Turn with me now to an article “Not Bombing Auschwitz a mistake”
co-authored by former Representative Steve Solarz, quoting former Senator and Presidential candidate George McGovern extensively.

Allied bomber pilots had Auschwitz in their gun sights yet were never given the order to attack.

George McGovern was one of those pilots. …

… Jewish organizations repeatedly asked the Roosevelt administration to order the bombing of Auschwitz and the railroad lines leading to the camp.

The U.S. War Department rejected the proposals as "impracticable," asserting that such raids would require "considerable diversion" …

The U.S. administration's "diversion" argument was just "a rationalization," McGovern said in the interview. How much of a "diversion" would it have been, when he and other U.S. bomber pilots were already flying over the area?...

"Franklin Roosevelt was a great man, and he was my political hero," said McGovern, "but I think he made two great mistakes in World War II: One was the internment of Japanese-Americans; (the other was) not to go after Auschwitz. ...

As George McGovern emphasized, the Auschwitz experience should produce "a determination that never again will we fail to exercise the full capacity of our strength in that direction ... we should have gone all out against Auschwitz, and we must never again permit genocide."

It need not be said that we won that war and the camps were finally liberated. But of course there have been other holocausts. The slogan "never again" has, until now, applied to the Jews, but no to other peoples.

What do Iraq, Viet Nam and the failure to bomb Auschwitz have in common? I’ll tell you , gentle reader:

The Left wants us to accept blood guilt for our failure to bomb Auschwitz.

The Left is proud of driving the US out of Viet Nam. The genocide that followed: the killing fields, the “re-education” camps, the boat people that followed are flushed down the memory hole. The success of the Left in Viet Nam and the millions that died as a result MUST NOT BE CONNECTED.

Let me say this as plainly as I can: the Kerrys, Kennedys, Fondas and Haydens; the Cronkites and their ilk in the MSM have blood on their hands. They knew what they were doing. They knew the holocaust that would follow, but they just did not care. And even after they saw what they had done, the still did not care. And because they held the keys to the printing presses and dominated the college campuses, the truth has never been told. The accusation has never been made, and they have never had to defend themselves.

They have built a legend of moral superiority around themselves, aided and abetted by their hangers on. Anti-war? Who in his right mind is for war? Bombing? Who in his right mind is for dropping bombs? But there are worse things than war. Genocide, when the guardians of the weak slink away is worse than war. And bombing death camps may be better than not bombing at all.

But since the Left has stolen the mantle of virtue, consigned the dead of Southeast Asia to oblivion, the Left wants to repeat the Viet Nam experience in Iraq.

And one of the leaders of this pack, Edward Kennedy, committed vehicular homicide by drowning his girlfriend in a moment of drunken driving. But an all seeing God may have intervened in the affairs of this world. Without that, this moral pustule may have become President. The world owes Mary Jo Kopechne a debt of gratitude.

I am grateful that a man with the moral sense of George Bush is president.

I pray for peace, but prepare for war because this time, the holocaust could happen, not just in the Middle East, but here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Communication Revolution - Redux.

Hugh Hewitt has another good article in the Weekly Standard on the revolution that is occurring in the dissemination of information and opinion, thanks to the internet and bloggers.

Same flight, but now the Atlantic. Jonathan Rauch:
"On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero's welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around."

The comparison of "the religious right" to Michael Moore is jarring enough, but the idea that the "religious right," however broadly or narrowly Rauch defines it is a lost platform fight away from becoming killers is quite simply astounding. And it might have gone unnoticed by that "religious right," except that I posted it at my blog, and reference it in this column, and now the new information network takes over.
Will some portion of that new network absorb the contempt and ignorance Rauch managed to get by his editors at one of the most respected journals in America? And will that change their political behavior? I think so.

On Tuesday I had Rauch on my program. He pleads hasty writing and objects that the focus I put on these sentences is unfair to the intent of his piece. I offered to post the entire article and any response he wants to make. He agreed that I was at least allowing him the chance to reply. I did not note to him that this is a courtesy the Atlantic did not extend to a religious conservative in its package of essays on the divide in America.
Five years ago--or even two--if a religious conservative had read the piece, and if he had written a letter, and if the Atlantic's editors had read it, perhaps they might have printed it three months later. In the new information age, Rauch is defending himself on a national show as scores of bloggers munch on his words.

THAT is the difference the internet has made possible.

It was less than five year ago that media communication was a one way street: from the MSM to the captive reader. O yes, there was the “letters” page, but letters were printed – and edited – at the whim and the fancy of the same people.

Today, when a Rauch equates Christians and bombers, the complaints are not limited to letters to his editor that fail to see the light of day. It is likely that more people will read his scurrilous slur and comment on his bigotry than will have read his original article in the Atlantic. That’s a remarkable change in the power equation.

Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution!

Evan Coyne Maloney gets the candid views of the protestors at the Bush inauguration.

Fascinating: click HERE

Sunnis and Shias, Who Can Keep Them Straight?

From TechCentralStation:

But Western media and governments are also handicapped in dealing with Iraq by a peculiar double standard regarding the very status of the Iraqi Arab Sunnis as a formerly-ruling, and oppressive, minority. Twenty years ago, nobody would have listened to the argument that dismantling of the apartheid regime in South Africa and the holding of elections there should be blocked out of fairness to the white minority in that country. Few today listen to those who declare that fair elections and the forging of a new political system in Northern Ireland should be delayed out of concern for the feelings of the Protestant minority.

The Iraqi Arab Sunnis are no different from the white South Africans. (I pointed out this parallel in an interview with Netherlands Radio on January 14 [see
here]). The Arab Sunnis have exploited and degraded the Shia majority in Iraq for a long, long time, reserving the wealth of the country for themselves. But why is the rule applied to the white South Africans not equally appropriate in Iraq?

The only explanation seems to be that the causes of Black South Africa and of the Northern Irish Catholics were considered leftist, and were therefore identified with opposition to U.S. and other government policies, while the cause of the Iraqi Shias is "contaminated" by association with the Bush administration.

The BBC, Then and Now

Before the invasion, the BBC was convinced that Saddam had WMDs, and accused the American sof ignoring the threat. After the invasion, the BBC knew that Saddam never had WMDs, accusing the Americans of lying about them.

Read this from Highway99.

While I was trying to find out whether BBC reporter and presenter Jeremy Paxman had explicitly endorsed the idea that HIV is a manufactured virus (see previous post) -- apparently he did not -- I came across a new 2002 edition of his book, A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret Story of Chemical & Biological Warfare, with a newly written final chapter; and the final chapter said something which, in the context of the way the BBC has covered the Iraq war, is almost as startling.Most of that final chapter is a strong argument trying to convince the reader that Saddam Hussein kept his arsenal of chemical and biological weapons after the first Gulf War, and that, at the time of the writing and publication of the new edition in 2001 and 2002, Saddam had an active program of producing chemical and biological weapons. Indeed, the new chapter is one of the most powerfully persuasive pieces of writing in favor of the idea of taking action against Saddam Hussein that I've ever seen. If I didn't know better, I might have guessed that Tony Blair or Christopher Hitchens had written it.Doesn't exactly sound like the BBC's point of view these days, does it?So why the difference in Paxman/BBC attitude between 2002 and 2003? I'll offer a hypothesis on that puzzle in a minute. But first the relevant excerpt. It's a long one, so if your time is limited, you might want to skim through and read the sections I've put in bold, which I consider the most immediately relevant. Remember, this edition of the book came out in August of 2002:

Monday, January 24, 2005

Red Staters Not Stupid!

Mark Steyn in the Sun Times makes a great point about Red Staters failing to fall for the Left's (and the media's) spin:

The other day David von Drehle of the Washington Post did a monster tour of what he called "The Red Sea" -- Bush country -- and went to almost painful lengths to eschew the condescension the coastal media elite usually apply to their rare anthropological ventures into the hinterland. But in the middle of his dispatch was this quote from Joyce Smith of Coalgate, Okla.: "When Kerry said he was for abortion and one-sex marriages, I just couldn't see our country being led by someone like that."

Von Drehle added: ''Later, I double-checked what Kerry had said on those subjects. During his campaign, he opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter.''

If the point is that Red Staters are ignorant, double- or even triple-checking John Kerry isn't the best way to demonstrate it. Insofar as I understand it, Kerry's view on abortion was that, while he passionately believes life begins at conception, he would never let his deeply held personal beliefs interfere with his legislative program. On gay marriage, likewise. That's why gay groups backed Kerry and why von Drehle's media buddies weren't running editorials warning that a Kerry presidency would end "a woman's right to choose": They understood his deeply passionately personally deep personal passionate beliefs were just an artful but meaningless formulation designed to get him through election season. Message: If Kerry's elected, abortions will continue and gay marriage will happen and he'll be cool with both. Joyce Smith understood that. Von Drehle seems vaguely resentful that she wasn't dumb enough to fall for the spin cooked up by Kerry's hairsplitters and enthusiastically promoted by his media cheerleaders.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A Conservative Answer to Michael Moore

Thanks to the NY Sun, we get a preview of Evan Coyne Maloney, who is making a documentary from a conservative slant. The Right's Micheal Moore? Could be, but only if he lies.

No Relief in Sight for the Lincoln

An officer on the USS Abraham Lincoln gives us shocking account of the "aid" workers that have descended on the Tsunami victims.

A must read. Click HERE

This just emplifies the point made by The Diplomad

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Iraq, the Internet and the NY Times.

The Internet is buzzing with the story of the NY Times writer, Sarah Boxer, and her article Pro-American Iraqi Blog Provokes Intrigue and Vitriol.

It’s an article about an Iraqi blogger who has said some very nice things about the American removal of Saddam from power in Iraq. He, and his two brothers operated a blog site called Iraq the Model.

The problem is, Sarah Boxer goes to agonizing lengths to imply that the Iraqi, who she identifies by his real name, is a CIA agent. In Iraq today, that instantly makes his a target of assassination. As you can appreciate, the Blogosphere did not take kindly to Ms. Boxer’s effort to have her subject killed.. Several bloggers wrote about this HERE, HERE and HERE.

NZ Bear then proceeded to create an hilarious parody of Boxer’s article that is a must-read, especially if you disdain the NY Times.

Is the GOP Really the Governing Party?

Paul Gigot asks, in the Wall Street Journal:

I don't mean "governing" in the sense of merely making the Beltway trains run on time and surviving as a majority. The Republican test going forward, and one voters should hold them to, is whether the party can now put its permanent stamp on Washington in a way that is consistent with its professed conservative philosophy. More than just a challenge for Mr. Bush, the next two years will tell us if this GOP majority is made to last or will be as evanescent as the Whigs.

Read the whole thing HERE.

Do You Vote Against the Party That Thinks You're Stupid?

Via Power Line we get a thoughtful essay on the reason the Left lost the last election.

David Lebedoff is a Minneapolis attorney and long-time friend. David is also the author of my two favorite books on Minnesota politics, The Twenty-First Ballot: A Political Party Struggle in Minnesota and Ward Number 6. Most recently, he is the author of the widely reviewed and admired The Uncivil War: How a New Elite is Destroying Our Democracy, published this fall just before the election. David has now forwarded to us "IT'S CALLING PEOPLE STUPID, STUPID," in which he applies the thesis of The Uncivil War to the outcome of the election:

This is so simple. It's astonishing that they still don't get it. "They" is the people who write and fund the ads and run the campaigns and control the nominations of the Democratic party.

It's a relatiavely small group of people. Most Democrats are not allowed to participate in the workings of their party. Most Republicans, who in truth are remarkably like most Democrats, face the same exclusion--but that's another article. This one is about why Democrats keep on losing elections.

Voters may not be fully consulted on who the presidential contestants are, but they are absolutely free to choose between them. And they keep voting against the Democrat.

Read that again. They aren't voting for anyone as much as they are voting against the Democrat. They are voting against the Democrat in election after election, because they think that the Democrat thinks that they're stupid.

Read the whole thing, click HERE.

Pictorial Report from Iraq

Lance Frizzell is a 2nd Lieutenant and Medical Platoon Leader with the Tennessee National Guard 278th Regimental Combat Team, currently serving in Northern Iraq. He makes two important points about reports coming out of Iraq. :

A quick way to tell if someone is an honest broker in the debate over Iraq is use of the claim that we damaged the infrastructure of this nation, now or in the past. Throughout much of Iraq, Saddam never got around to building much of an infrastructure.

A second red flag should fly upon use of the words "occupation" and "imperialism." While thoughtful arguments have been made with those loaded terms, most usage falls into the category of what used to be called the radical left but now, sadly, falls squarely into the mainstream of the Democrat Party.

Thanks to the internet, the news is not entirely filtered by the MSM. Click HERE to see the pictures.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Pilot, Warner and Marrs

The “ladies” who run the Virginian Pilot go weak in the knees over Governor Mark Warner. Well, that’s not quite right. You see they go weak in the knees about just about everyone in the governor’s fraternity .. er party. So I attribute today’s editorial page gush to hormones run amuck, like the girls in Tom Wolfe’s new book “I Am Charlotte Simmons.” Nothing else can explain why the editors today came out for less accountability in government; for the public’s right to not know.

Like freshmen girls discussing a good looking guy: “Oh my God, he’s so hot!” the editorial begins:

“Gov. Mark Warner should be commended for his prodigious, if not always popular, effort to restore the citizenship rights of men and women who have broken the law and paid the price.

Warner has restored to nearly 2,000 ex-felons the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury or act as a notary public. Not every person who does time goes to the trouble to get his rights back. But for those who do, the restoration signifies their willingness to play by the rules and to stay on the straight and narrow. “

But, there’s an “evil” member of the dorks club who doesn’t like our White Knight.

“Recently, Del. Brad P. Marrs, a Chesterfield Republican, filed a duplicitous [sic] court petition seeking to force Warner, a Democrat, to release thousands of pages of documents pertaining to the restorations.


On the surface, the delegate’s argument had some merit: Why shouldn’t the public be allowed to know the reasons for reinstatement? Even with allowances for keeping some purely personal details private, the public would be served by knowing the basis for the governor’s decisions.

But is the public’s right to know, transparency in government and officeholders’ accountability not a good thing? Well, no, not if your motives are political, and if you are a Republican (or a dork … same thing).

“But Marrs’ true motivation for this battle seems to have come in comments to Virginian-Pilot staff writer John Hopkins. Saying the controversy could be an issue in the upcoming governor’s race between presumptive party nominees Jerry Kilgore and Timothy Kaine, Marrs notes: “If it helps to get Jerry Kilgore elected, then I would be pleased with that result.”

In other words, Marrs’ intent was to make political mischief, not to strengthen public access to government records. That’s the kind of cynicism that’s passed off these days in Richmond as governing and lawmaking.


On this issue, Marrs’ partisanship is embarrassingly naked.“

Shocking; politicians having political thoughts. Surely not in Virginia!
Coming so close after the embarrassing spectacle of Dan Rather’s attempted “hit” on President Bush’s re-election campaign, you would think that news organizations would be more careful about blatant partisanship. But you would be wrong.

Hormones trump reason, and if you’re not careful, you get to walk that “walk of shame.” Of course that would not be new for the ladies of the Virginian Pilot. They know the way well.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Constitution Is What Zimbabweans Say It Is.

John Hindraker at takes issue with Justice Breyer in Does Zimbabwean Law Overrule the Constitution?

Several Liberal Supreme Court Justices including both Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg have defended citing foreign legal decisions in making their judicial decisions.

Of course if you believe that the Constitution is an “evolving” document that may be changed by judges based on their perception of evolving community standards, what is to prevent you from applying not just evolving American community standards, but international community standards. And what standards are to be used? Well, in one case, the standards of the Zimbabwean court.

Iraq: We’re winning.

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan - a Task Force (Battalion +) Commander in Iraq - who has some words about the Fourth Estate. From Blackfive.

What if domestic news outlets continually fed American readers headlines like: "Bloody Week on U.S. Highways: Some 700 Killed," or "More Than 900 Americans Die Weekly from Obesity-Related Diseases"? Both of these headlines might be true statistically, but do they really represent accurate pictures of the situations? What if you combined all of the negatives to be found in the state of Texas and used them as an indicator of the quality of life for all Texans? Imagine the headlines: "Anti-law Enforcement Elements Spread Robbery, Rape and Murder through Texas Cities." For all intents and purposes, this statement is true for any day of any year in any state. True -- yes, accurate -- yes, but in context with the greater good taking place -- no! After a year or two of headlines like these, more than a few folks back in Texas and the rest of the U.S. probably would be ready to jump off of a building and end it all. So, imagine being an American in Iraq right now.

As a recent example, the operation in Fallujah delivered an absolutely devastating blow to the insurgency. Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has already exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.


What about the media's portrayal of the enemy? Why do these ruthless murderers, kidnappers and thieves get a pass when it comes to their actions? What did the media not show or tell us about Margaret Hassoon, the director of C.A.R.E. in Iraq and an Iraqi citizen, who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and left disemboweled in streets of Fallujah? Did anyone in the press show these images over and over to emphasize the moral failings of the enemy as they did with the soldiers at Abu Ghuraib? Did anyone show the world how this enemy had huge stockpiles of weapons in schools and mosques, or how he used these protected places as sanctuaries for planning and fighting in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq? Are people of the world getting the complete story? The answer again is no!

Election Fraud Redux

The 2004 presidential election was very close in Wisconsin. Bush lost Wisconsin by about 12,000 votes. It now turns out that 84,000 people registered at the polls in Milwaukee on November 2, election day. This is legal by Wisconsin law. 10,000 people, despite filling out illegible registration cards, were given ballots. The other 74,000 registrations have yet to be verified through mailing a confirmation to the address listed.

So far, there is the scent of voter fraud, but no smoking gun.

But....there are now more registered voters in Milwaukee than there are adults in Milwaukee.

The next time William Raspberry whines about voter fraud in Ohio, let's shove this up... uh, let him contemplate these statistics.

By the way, Bill, do you still have that illegal revolver? You know, the one you shot that kid with.

The Sub that Hit the Undersea Hill SSN 711

On January 7, 2005, the USS San Francisco, while on its way to making a routine port visit to Brisbane, Australia, ran aground and hit the ocean floor, approximately 350 nautical miles(560 kilometers) south of Guam, in the middle of the East Marianas Basin.

Here is an e-mail that was forwarded to me describing the indicident from a sailor on the boat.

To All,

I thought that I would put out a note since a lot of you have been calling and writing to find out how things are and if I'm OK and what happened. If you hadn't heard, my boat hit a uncharted submerged sea mount at the highest speed we can go at about 500ft below the surface. There were about 30 of us that were seriously hurt and unfortunately one of my shipmates didn't make it.

First off I am OK. I am pretty beat up with my entire left side and butt as one big bruise. My shoulder is separated and may require surgery. They will evaluate later this week. I am very fortunate that I hit the wall and didn't go down a ladderwell that was right next to where I hit. If I had gone down that, I would have got really messed up. I took a tremendous shot to my left thigh from something. If it had been slightly lower in the knee area it would have been really ugly. But all in all I am in good shape.

We hit it at about noon right after field day (where all of us clean the boat for several hours). Thank God we didn't hit while we were doing this or it would have been much worse. We would have had flying deck plates through the air and such. Not good. As it was, it happened while chow was going on and most people were either sitting and eating or on watch.

I don't remember much of the collision. People describe it as like in the movie the Matrix where everything slowed down and levitated and then went flying forward faster that the brain can process. My mind has blanked it out exactly what happened. Adrenaline kicked in and I have no real memory of how I got down to middle level or what I did immediately following. I helped carry several shipmates to the crew mess deck (adrenaline is a wonderful thing - my shoulder was wrecked and I had no idea until about 4 hours later). I sat with several of my junior guys that had bad head wounds and talked with them to keep them conscious until doc could see them. It seemed like an eternity but I'm sure wasn't that long.

For those Navy folks that ever wondered why Chief's stomp around and preach "Stow for Sea" This was a perfect example. It definitely saved lives. I am extremely proud of the crew to do damage control, help the wounded and get the boat safely to the surface (for the boat guys we blew the tanks dry on the emergency blow but unbeknownst to us we were missing some ballast tanks/some didn't have integrity). The ship's control party did every thing exactly right even though they were hurt as well.

The Diving Officer of the Watch had just unbuckled his belt to update a status board and hit the Ship's Control Panel hard enough to break some of the gauges. To add insult to injury his chair came up right behind him. Several people were injured in the Engine Room Lower Level area. Lots of metal and sharp edges in the area as well as that's were the boat's smoking area is at. Several crew members are reevaluating that habit now.

Once again we got lucky in the fact that we had an extra corpsman onboard. One of our officer's was a prior enlisted corpsman that was a Fleet Marine Force medic so he was a Godsend for us. Our Corpsman did an outstanding job getting everyone stabilized and did the best he could for our fallen shipmate. I am surprised that he got him to hold on as long as he did. Our corpsman is definitely a hero in my book. He didn't sleep for 2 or 3 days. We finally put him down when the SEAL docs helicoptered in to help.

Like I said, I am extremely proud of my crew and how they handled themselves. My Chief of the Boat was an inspiration of what a leader should be and my Captain was as well. My XO took out an EAB manifold with his back but still managed to help coordinate things. No matter what happens later, these men did a superior job under difficult circumstances. I am humbled by the entire crew's performance from the CO down to the Seaman that I was checking in two days before.

For those of you wondering, I am sure there will be an investigation into what happened and no I was not part of the navigation preps for this voyage. I work on the inertial/electronic navigation and interior communications part of my rate and didn't have anything to do with the conventional navigation part of it. I will be lending support to my comrades who were to help them prepare for the pending investigation. I thank you all for you concern and appreciate your prayers not only for myself, but for my shipmates. We are doing well, we band of brothers and will pull through just fine.

Brian Frie
Chief Electronics Technician Submarines USS San Francisco SSN 711

War in Fun House Mirrors

Armchair Generals never lose wars. From the safety of the sidelines they describe the mistakes those in the arena are making and confidently assert the outcome of any conflict. Victor David Hanson reveals fools for who they are:

Yesterday's genius, today's fool, tomorrow's what?
by Victor Davis HansonNational Review Online

Reading the pages of foreign-policy journals, between the long tracts on Bush's "failures" and neoconservative "arrogance," one encounters mostly predictions of defeat and calls for phased withdrawal — always with resounding criticism of the American "botched" occupation.

Platitudes follow: "We can't just leave now," followed by no real advice on how a fascist society can be jumpstarted into a modern liberal republic. After all, there is no government handbook entitled, "Operation 1A: How to remove a Middle East fascist regime in three weeks, reconstruct the countryside, and hold the first elections in the nation's history — all within two years." Almost all who supported the war now are bailing on the pretext that their version of the reconstruction was not followed: While a three-week war was their idea, a 20-month messy reconstruction was surely someone else's. Yesterday genius is today's fool — and who knows next month if the elections work? Witness Afghanistan where all those who recently said the victory was "lost" to warlords are now suddenly quiet.

Hanson points out that our “glorious” victory in WW2 was filled with disasters and screw-ups:

But our forefathers experienced disaster after disaster in a tale of heartbreak, …they did things to win we perhaps claim we would now not: Shoot German prisoners in the Bulge, firebomb Axis cities, drop the bomb — almost anything to stop fascists from slaughtering even more millions of innocents.

Our armored vehicles were deathtraps and only improved days before the surrender. American torpedoes were often duds. Unescorted daylight bombing proved a disaster, but continued. Amphibious assaults like Anzio and Tarawa were bloodbaths and emblematic of terrible planning and command. The recapture of Manila was clumsy and far too costly. Okinawa was the worst of all operations, and yet was begun just over fourth months before the surrender — without any planning for Kamikazes who were shortly to kill 5,000 American sailors. Patton, the one general that could have ended the western war in 1944, was relieved and then subordinated to an auxiliary position with near fatal results for the drive from Normandy; mediocrities like Mark Clark flourished and were promoted. Admiral King resisted the life-saving convoy system and unnecessarily sacrificed merchant ships; while Bull Halsey almost lost his unprepared fleet to a storm.

The war's aftermath seemed worse…collateral damage had ruined entire cities. Europe nearly starved in winter 1945-6. Millions were on the road in mass exoduses. After spending billions to destroy Nazi Germany we had to spend billions more to rebuild it — and repair the devastation it had wrought on its neighbors. Our so-called partisan friends in Yugoslavia and Greece turned out to be hard-core Communist killers. Soon enough we learned that the guerrillas in the mountains of Europe whom we had idolized, in fact, fought as much for Communism as against fascism — but never for democracy.

Was WW2 a total strategic success?

Oh? The war started to keep Eastern Europe free of Nazis and ended up ensuring that it was enslaved by Stalinists. Poland was neither free in 1940 nor in 1946. By early 1946 we were already considering putting former Luftwaffe pilots in American jets — improved with ample borrowing from Nazi technology — to protect Europe from the Red Army carried westward on GM trucks. We put Nazis on trials for war crimes even as we invited their scientists to our shores to match their counterparts in the Soviet Union who were building even more lethal weapons to destroy us. Our utopian idea of a global U.N. immediately deteriorated into a mess — decades of vetoes in the Security Council by Stalinists and Maoists, even as former colonial states turned thugocracies in the General Assembly ganged up on Israel and the survivors of the Holocaust.

Read the whole thing.

When Was Must Be the Answer

Policy Review Online has an excellent article on by James V. Schall “When War Must Be the Answer.”

It has been the fault of both pacifism and liberalism in the past that they have ignored the immense burden of inherited evil under which society and civilization labour and have planned an imaginary world for an impossible humanity. We must recognize that we are living in an imperfect world in which human and superhuman forces of evil are at work and so long as those forces affect the political behaviour of mankind there can be no hope of abiding peace.

Howard Fineman Plays “TAPS” for the Media Party.

On MSNBC Howard Fineman opines on the end of what he refers to as the Media Party.

He begins:

WASHINGTON - A political party is dying before our eyes — and I don't mean the Democrats. I'm talking about the "mainstream media," which is being destroyed by the opposition (or worse, the casual disdain) of George Bush's Republican Party; by competition from other news outlets (led by the internet and Fox's canny Roger Ailes); and by its own fraying journalistic standards. At the height of its power, the AMMP (the American Mainstream Media Party) helped validate the civil rights movement, end a war and oust a power-mad president. But all that is ancient history.

Now, I hate to quibble with a member of the MSM as he is helping expose the whitened sepulcher that is the AMMP, but the article makes reference to several myths that has become accepted wisdom thanks to the power of the MSM.

Did the MSM “validate” the civil rights movement? Admirers of Martin Luther King will probably not accept the unseemly super-ordination of the press over the participants.

Was Nixon “power-crazed?” That depends if you buy into the media-created myth that Nixon was shredding the Constitution in the basement of the White House. Between the description of Watergate as a “third rate burglary” and an attempt at a “self-coup,” objective observers (that excludes everyone in the MSM) will conclude that the reality is closer to the former than the latter.

Fineman goes on to mention another crusade: opposition to the war in Viet Nam. The MSM were successful. Yet once the last helicopter leaves the American Embassy in Saigon, there is a curious silence … blankness about the consequences of that crusade.

No mention of the killing fields of Cambodia, Viet Nam’s re-education camps or the boat people. In other words, the horrific cost in lives, in torture, in terror and rape; with victims numbering in the millions. The MSM are still, after more than 30 years, congratulating themselves on “getting the US out of its immoral involvement in an immoral war” without a word of acknowledgement of the consequences of their crusade. Does “Uncle Walter” Cronkite ever wake up at night, acknowledge his responsibility for mass murder? That much self-awareness the MSM lacks.

On January 12th Glenn Reynolds comments further on the myth of the non-partisan press:

The reality of a neutral, non-partisan mainstream press would be worth holding onto -- if it had ever existed. But it didn't. What Fineman identifies as a golden age of neutrality was really a sham, and an artifact of two short-lived phenomena: First, Democratic/liberal political dominance so widespread at the time, at least among politicians and the press, that there weren't a lot of things to fight about; and, second, the inability of people who noticed bias and dishonesty to get the word out.

Neither situation obtains today. And rather than talk about the demise of neutrality and objectivity in news reporting, it might be better to note that CBS's problems, and the problems with Big Media in general, stem from an obvious and heavy-handed lack of neutrality and objectivity, coupled with a dishonest -- and increasingly lame and obvious -- effort to pretend otherwise.

RatherGate doesn't mean the end of neutral and objective reporting. It means that even the shammers can see that the sham isn't working any more. Will Big Media take that lesson to heart? I doubt it.

Kristof, Infant Mortality and Reality Collide and it's Not a Pretty Sight.

The New York Times’ Nick Kristof has written a column on infant mortality that compares the US unfavorably with China and Cuba. There is something predictable about articles like this - and articles on “the homeless” which seem to hibernate in years when Democrats are in power only to re-emerge when Republicans take over.

Unfortunately for poor old Kristof, the blogosphere no longer allows media bigfeet to get away with statistical sleight of hand. Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters takes Kristof’s article apart in an essay entitled “Kristof Gets Obscene.” The analysis leaves the Kristof’s facts, thesis and reputation in tatters.


Captain Ed: Rarely does my jaw hit the table with such force as it did today when I read Nicholas Kristof's latest column in the New York Times on infant mortality. Kristof compares a rise in infant mortality rates in the US for 2002 and uses it to compare us to Cuba and, shockingly, China:

Kristof: In every year since 1958, America's infant mortality rate improved, or at least held steady. But in 2002, it got worse: 7 babies died for each thousand live births, while that rate was 6.8 deaths the year before.
Those numbers, buried in a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, didn't get much attention. But they are part of a pattern of recent statistics dribbling out of the federal government suggesting that for those on the bottom in America, life in our new Gilded Age is getting crueler.

Captain Ed: Apparently, it got better before it got crueler, because in 1998, the CDC reported an infant-mortality rate of 7.2, putting just behind Cuba for 28th place. (Hong Kong and Sweden were the best two places to be born in 1998.) In 1999 and 2000, the number improved to 7.1 and 7.0, exactly where we are now. So that makes the very next statement Kristof uses somewhat suspect:

Kristof: "America's children are at greater risk than they've been in for at least a decade," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and president of the Children's Health Fund.

Captain Ed: Neither Kristof nor Redlener are apparently capable of performing any research on the subject before commenting. In just a few quick keystrokes, I located the applicable table at the CDC and found out that perinatal death rates in the US have declined quickly over the past decade, going from 7.6 in 1995 to 7.0 in 2002 -- which, as Kristof reports, represented an increase from 6.9 (not 6.8) the previous year. In fact, the perinatal death rate was 9.1 in 1990, and 10.7 in 1985, showing tremendous progress over the past generation.

But the false impression given by Kristof on infant mortality in the...

But I'm not going to spoil it for your; read the whole article HERE.

Equally instructive are some of the comments:

Granted, China has a morally questionable approach to population control, it's not really relevant to the argument Kristoff is making, i.e. one of competence. what is highly relevant is that both Cuba and China are Communist totalitarian states. The only sensible approach to data they provide is to assume they are lying until you get independent confirmation.


I work with mortality tables all the time (though at the other age extreme) and here are a few things I know:
- Many infant deaths are due to murder/abuse/neglect and not medical problems. - Different countries use different standards of "born alive". Some wait 24 hours before counting a child, I think. Some others may count stillbirths as infant deaths. If one has breakdown of mortality for something less crude than first year (say mortality in first 24 hours, then first month, then first 6 months, etc.) - you might see where the problem lies.- Then there are demographic aspects. In the U.S., we've got a lot of older moms. Some other developed countries have age cut-offs for fertility treatments (like at age 35), while we've got some much older women getting pregnant (whether by nature or technology).


The primary reason Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States is that the United States is a world leader in an odd category -- the percentage of infants who die on their birthday. In any given year in the United States anywhere from 30-40 percent of infants die before they are even a day old.
Why? Because the United States also easily has the most intensive system of emergency intervention to keep low birth weight and premature infants alive in the world. The United States is, for example, one of only a handful countries that keeps detailed statistics on early fetal mortality -- the survival rate of infants who are born as early as the 20th week of gestation


Ed, I would say nice job if I were not utterly floored that someone of Kristof's prominence can get away with such a blatantly incompetent spin job.

John Lehman on 9/11

Dr. Lehman was a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission). He gave this talk at the Foreign Policy Research Insitute in November 2004. It is very much worth reading:

Tonight I shall address the good news and the bad news coming out of our 9/11 Commission investigations….

The things that shocked me the most may not be the things you might expect. After being out of the government since 1987, the greatest shock was the tremendous growth of legalism and lawyers at every level of the policy process. This was a new thing. There were plenty of lawyers back in the Reagan administration, but the dominance of the legalistic approach to every policy issue was totally new and, frankly, debilitating to the policy process.

The second most shocking thing to me was the utter failure of the government, our media, and our academicians to grasp the nature of our enemy. Everyone was throwing off terms and talking about terrorism and the threat of terrorism and so forth, but they utterly missed what was going on. They utterly failed to understand the nature of this Islamist terrorist movement. This is not a war against terror, that would be like FDR saying this is a war against kamikazes. Terrorism is a weapon, it’s a method that the Islamist extremists have learned works against free democracies. We’ve utterly failed to grasp the breadth, spread, and depth of the enemy that we allowed to develop around the globe over some 30 years. And it wasn’t because there weren’t warnings. Any traveler, many of you, going out to Southeast Asia or traveling through Egypt or in Pakistan could see, and perceptive people wrote about, twenty or twenty-five years ago, the phenomenon of the puritanical, missionary zeal that was taking over the Salafist religious establishment in much of the Islamic world and preaching an aberrant and extremist-form interpretation of Islam that was built on hatred, that was calling on all Muslims to rise up and to join the war against the infidels, led by the United States. And for 30 years we ignored it….

Read the while thing at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Raspberry's Tinfoil Hat is Tilted

I have commented previously about columnist William Raspberry's column in which he implies that George Bush stole the 2004 election via vote fraud in ... Ohio. He makes this astonishing admission:

"I'd been waiting for Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to tell me what to think about the voting irregularities that marred the November elections in Ohio."

Keep in mind that the margin in Ohio was well over 100,000 votes. And keep in mind that there are NO reputable people who believe that that lead can be overcome. Yet, to the Raspberry's of this world, EVIL REPUBLICANS are out stealing elections.

Even John Conyers, Raspberry's brain on matters of election fraud, is careful to avoid saying that there was actual fraud:

"Please understand, this is not an attempt to change the outcome. Many of the complaints were from people who couldn't be sure what they saw, or who were able to vote anyway, despite the difficulty. And there's no way we could count the number of people who left those cold, rainy lines after the second or third hour of waiting."

So we have the evidence of people who are not sure of what they saw, and were able to vote, with a dark hint that others were not as lucky. Based on that reasoning, I am persuaded that William Raspberry is actually one of the evil stepsisters who gave Cinderella such a bad time. After all have you seen Raspberry and the evil stepsister in the same room at the same time? Proof!!

Let us consign "Landslide Johnson" and Chicago's Daley machine to the memory hole. Let's not remember that certain inner city districts in Philadelphia regular produce more votes than voters.

Let us turn our attention to the race for Governor of Washington State. There the margin has been 50 votes until they "found" a few thousand new votes in overwhelmingly Democratic King County, swinging the vote count to the Democrats - on the third recount. Here's a good summary of the action from the Wall Street Journal's John Fund. Wanna bet there's a Raspberry column in the works? Not.

Editoral Cartoons ... Same old ... Same old...

I read the editorial page of the Virginian Pilot most mornings to get my dose of Liberal Spin – it’s a habit I have, like taking a vitamin pill in the morning – not sure it does any good but its part of my routine. This morning we have proof that William Raspberry has finally donned a tinfoil hat so that space aliens won’t be able to take over his brain. Of course, it’s too late. Space aliens have conspired with George Bush to steal the election in Ohio.

But enough of tinfoil hatters. Have you noticed that editorial cartoons are getting poor and tired? They are, of course, Leftist. But, like the political Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” and the non-political Cathy Guisewite’s “Cathy” they are utterly, boringly, stupidly predictable.

James Lileks has an excellent summary of the state of cartooning.

Our Sunday paper runs a selection of syndicated luminaries, and this week they just made me feel . . . tired. The entire genre disappoints. There are practitioners past and present who rose above the medium, but in general, over the years, editorial cartoons are obvious, tendentious, simplistic, wrong, unfunny, self-righteous and annoyingly small-minded. Ask them to do a cartoon on the completion of Michelangelo’s Pieta, and they’ll draw something on the world’s depleted marble reservoir.

From this Sunday’s page:What did you think of when you considered the horrid human toll of the tsunami? Well, if you’re like WaPo cartoonist Tom Toles, you immediately thought of a man standing on a battered beach reading a newspaper story forecasting increases in CO2 emissions. “Does it say what the West will be sending?” says the Innocent Urchin. “A six-foot increase in sea level,” says his father, who is too poor to afford an article. (China’s contributions to global warming are apparently irrelevant.) The dingbat in the lower right-hand corner has the standard passive-aggressive towel-snap: “The U.S. is pledging the biggest share.”

Mark Steyn on Tsunami Relief

The incomparable Mark Steyn reflects on who is doing what in Tsunami relief.

"Colin Powell was foolish to suggest that, in its response to this crisis, the Muslim world would come to appreciate the true nature of the US. Fat chance. "It's OK that aid from the US is here," said Hilmy Bakar Almascaty, spokesman for the Islamic Defender Front. "But if they open bars, sell alcohol or open prostitution centres, then we will fight them."

Almascaty also warned the Australian charity Youth Off the Streets that its plan to open homes for 35,000 Indonesian orphans was all very well, but on no account was it to try converting Muslim children. Jeez, man, would it kill you once in a while just to send a box of chocolates and a card saying "Thank you, you infidel sons of whores and pigs", and leave it at that?

But one day the smarter lads in the Osama T-shirts will begin to wonder what they're getting in return for their glorification of a multimillionaire whose followers these days spend most of their time killing Muslims – in Iraq, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia, even in Indonesia. With friends like that, who needs tsunamis?

It shouldn't be necessary to point out the good deeds of Australia and its allies these past two weeks. But it is, because of the grand panjandrums of Western self-loathing. Peter Jennings, the smug Canadian who anchors America's ABC News (which is broadcast on Sky News Australia at 10.30am AEST), reported the other day that "in the oil-rich countries of the Persian Gulf, citizens are being urged to do more . . . Ironically, the controls on Muslim charities after 9/11 may be keeping contributions down."

Ah, yes. If it weren't for the US cracking down on Saudi money-laundering to terrorists, Sumatrans would be able to wallpaper their new homes with Arab cheques. Maybe it's time for the western self-loathers – Jennings, The Guardian, Melbourne Age cartoonist Bruce Petty – to ask themselves: Why do we hate us?

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Torture - American Style

Abu Ghraib has entered into the public consciousness as an amorphous blob. Reference to the prison is a synonym for torture, abuse and evil. That is why it may be useful to find out what really happened there. The Mudville Gazette has a 10 point test about Abu Ghraib that every congresscritter who invokes the name should take.

Think you know how the US interrogates prisoners and regularly uses torture? Here’s a revealing article by Heather McDonald in City Journal.

Americans Grow Up

Victor Davis Hanson writes about “The Disenchanted American” in Friday's issue of NR Online.

“There is a new strange mood of acceptance among Americans about the world beyond our shores …there is a new sort of resignation rising in the country, as the United States sheds its naiveté that grew up in the aftermath of the Cold War. Clintonism may have assumed that terrorism was but a police matter, that the military could be slashed and used for domestic social reform by fiat, that our de facto neutrals were truly our friends, and that the end of the old smash-mouth history was at hand. The chaotic events following the demise of the Soviet Union, the mass murder on September 11, and the new strain of deductive anti-Americanism abroad cured most of all that.”


“All this hypocrisy has desensitized Americans, left and right, liberal and conservative. We will finish the job in Iraq, nursemaid democratic Afghanistan through its birthpangs, and continue to ensure that bandits and criminal states stay off the world's streets. But what is new is that the disenchanted American is becoming savvy and developing a long memory — and so we all fear the day is coming when he casts aside the badge, rides the buckboard out of town, and leaves such sanctimonious folk to themselves.”

Real War Game, Anyone?

Do you realize that it has been a little over 3 years since three thousand people were killed by Islamic fascists who rammed civilian airlines full of innocent passengers into the world trade center and the Pentagon? That thousands of people died by being burned to death, by falling or jumping from hundreds of feet, or by being crushed by collapsing masonry? That we saw this as it happened? That tens of thousands of people still grieve the death of their husbands and wives, sons and daughters?

Over one thousand of our troops have died and tens of thousands have been wounded. Yet today a significant part of our government is dedicated to making their jobs more difficult. Decrying the death of our soldiers while insuring that more die than need to.

Go to this site. It funny, but after a while it will leave your angry because it’s true.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Is "Smacky Face" Torture?

I have a huge amount of respect for Jonah Goldberg. His views are insightful, well articulated and often iconoclastic. He is not afraid of taking unpopular positions. But on the subject of torture and its definitions, he punts.

In today's NR Online he writes:

"THE SIPOWICZ RULE [Jonah Goldberg]
In the abstract I guess I've been more sympathetic to torture under very specific circumstances. Indeed, I still don't think anyone can deny that there are obvious hypotheticals where no sane person would oppose using torture. But I guess, at the end of the day, I'm in Derb's camp. If those hypotheticals are ever translated into reality -- God forbid -- nobody's going to care about the Geneva Convention. If we know there's a nuclear bomb en route to an American city and we have someone in custody we know has information on how to intercept that bomb, my guess is we'll get that information no matter what the missives and memos from the White House say. And anyone who thinks that's a bad thing is a fool in my book."

Except I am not at all sure that under these circumstances someone would be willing to sacrifice themselves and break the rules and save thousands. In fact, we have stark evidence of the opposite. Remember the FBI field agents who wanted to examine the computer of one of the 9/11 terrorists before 9/11? The rules said no. Headquarters said no. The computer was not examined. The Twin Towers fell on 9/11 and 3000 died.

We're not actors in a video, finding out that a nuke is on the way, we have 12 hours to find it. and one of the bad guys in custody. How handy! Our military and police are real people, not incarnations of Dirty Harry. This is real life and the victims are not going to get up after the director yells: "cut."

Here's a Rule about Rules: if you have a rule, assume it's going to be followed. If you don't want it followed, don't make a rule.

That said, short of those incandescently clear cases I think torture should be ruled out. But as I've written several times and as Andy McCarthy perfectly summarized yesterday, I think applying the Geneva Convention to al Qaeda detainees is batty.

Moreover, I have no problem with playing a little smacky-face with prisoners. Think about it. The standard being put forward by Sullivan and others on all this would rule the tactics of Detective Andy Sipowicz on NYPD Blue unacceptable. For years, Sipowicz has been smacking suspects around in order to force them to confess. He threatens to "beat their balls off" every other show.

It is beyond me why this should be considered beyond the pale for terrorists

But that's the issue being debated. What is torture? The International Red Cross apparently claims that verbal threats are virtual torture. If yelling is torture, Smacky-face will definitely be defined as torture by the anti-Bush anti-Iraq contingent. So is sleep deprivation, unusual positions, and playing music. So despite being against torture, Jonah comes out for torture, at least as the Left defines it ... today. Tomorrow, if we are attacked and it turns out that "smacky face" could have prevented it, torture will be approved ... retroactively.

There is an excellent analysis HERE and see the link to Steven Den Beste.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Mr. Ten Percent

The Diplomad recounts the experience of an employee of the UN Industrial Development Organization, run by “Mr. Ten Percent.”

…UNIDO's office was run by a former Minister of Industry from another West African country. This man was known in his home country as "Mr. Ten Percent," which was roughly the amount of his personal kickback from any contract he awarded. On Mr. Ten Percent's UNIDO staff was a young, idealistic European career UN worker, thinking she would help the poor in a needy country during this particular assignment. But Mr. Ten Percent had other ideas. The UN system had taught him that for someone from his continent, international affirmative action had no limits. He insisted that she have sex with him as part of the regular work routine. She refused. He proceeded to wreck her UN career, and then as a reward, was promoted to a very senior position at UNIDO headquarters in Vienna. It's possible that he's still there, earning big bucks.

The Diplomad is required reading.

On Torture and the War on Terror

We will soon be joined in debate on the issue of what constitutes torture. Den Beste in his blog USS Clueless discusses this issue in a thoughtful and provocative way.

Those who oppose all elements of coercion during enemy interrogation find themselves on the same side Secretary of State Henry Stimson who closed down the government code breakers in 1929, observing that "gentlemen do not read each other's mail." This stupidity was reversed in time.

Thanks to our code breakers, the US defeated the Japanese in the Pacific, specifically at the battle of Midway, proving that American morality is malleable. For a more recent example: abortion was overwhelmingly perceived as wrong, and practitioners were prosecuted up until the Roe vs. Wade in 1973. In the intervening 32 years, it has become so accepted that children are aborted as they are delivered to the approval of a significant number of Americans and the acquiescence of the rest. It is apparent that morality is “evolving,” in secular as well as religious society.

So it is worth discussing what a country and a people should do when they are faced with an enemy that does not fight using old established rules of armed conflict. Enemies whose primary victims are civilians, who wear no uniforms, kill families to intimidate, whose key weapons are loaded civilian airliners, the suicide bomber and the roadside explosive device, and who stage throat cutting exhibitions of random civilians to terrorize their enemies. This enemy has stated they love death as we love life and has declared their interest in killing us by the millions. Are we to deal with this enemy using the rules of 60 years ago when conventional armies faced each other? What is “right” and “good?”

Den Beste points out that: “…an act can be absolutely good while being wrong if there was an alternative which was substantially more good which was not chosen. Equally, an act can be terribly evil and still be right because all the other choices available were even more evil. It's more or less the same as pointing out that something can be "worst" while being "good", and something can be "best" while being "bad". The right act is the best one; the wrong act is any which is substantially worse than the best one. But if it happens to be the case that the best act is good and all the wrong acts are evil then that's more luck than anything. Life is rarely that straightforward.”

He says some provocative things, but the examples he cites are compelling. Regarding threats against our enemies:

Would I rule out torture, rape, mutilation, mass murder? I won't rule out anything.
Part of the reason why is that any case where I publicly rule out anything, no matter what it is, weakens me in negotiations. The reason that chemical weapons were not used against us in Europe in WWII wasn't that we were moral or because there was a treaty, but because we were ready to respond in kind.

What about the issue of genocide? He points out that the nuclear strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction was – at its root – a genocidal threat. It’s ironic (and telling) that it was Ronald Reagan who saw MAD as an immoral position, and Liberals who are even today clinging to shreds of that strategy, as they ridiculed Reagan from working to remove the threat.

Sometimes you have to accept that you may need to prepare to do some things as deterrents that you'd never consider doing preemptively. You may need to even consider genocide as a deterrent, which is what we did during the Cold War as part of the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) in order to deter a nuclear attack against us. That amounted to "mass murder" (leaving aside the question of whether killing in war is "murder").

It is arguable that we are fighting the War on Terror today because of weakness in the past, just as World War 2 may have been prevented by a strong military response to Hitler’s provocations of 1938 in Austria and the Sudetenland.

On one level, our current war is the legacy of such a failure. Four times in the 1990's we were attacked by al Qaeda, and each time our response was small, tentative, relatively unimportant, and brief and – most critically – did not involve men on the ground or direct combat. And this convinced al Qaeda and many others that we didn't have the stomach for war, that our intention was weak and that we were gutless. That emboldened them.

Read the whole thing. It will be a useful preparation for the bluster, posturing and overheated rhetoric we will be hearing in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Incomparable Mark Steyn

In all the political hair pulling around the relief efforts in East Asia, Mark Steyn makes a telling point in The Telegraph.

Read the whole thing, but this is too good not to quote:

If America were to emulate Ireland and Norway, there'd be a lot more dead Indonesians and Sri Lankans. Mr Eddison may not have noticed, but the actual relief effort going on right now is being done by the Yanks: it's the USAF and a couple of diverted naval groups shuttling in food and medicine, with solid help from the Aussies, Singapore and a couple of others. The Irish can't fly in relief supplies, because they don't have any C-130s. All they can do is wait for the UN to swing by and pick up their cheque.
The Diplomad is a “must visit” site for a view of how the UN is actually operating in the disaster area.

More on "The UNcredibles": WFP (World Food Program) has "arrived" in the capital with an "assessment and coordination team." The following is no joke; no Diplomad attempt to be funny or clever: The team has spent the day and will likely spend a few more setting up their "coordination and opcenter" at a local five-star hotel. And their number one concern, even before phones, fax and copy machines? Arranging for the hotel to provide 24hr catering service. USAID folks already are cracking jokes about "The UN Sheraton." Meanwhile, our military and civilians, working with the super Aussies, continue to keep the C-130 air bridge of supplies flowing and the choppers flying, and keep on saving lives -- and without 24hr catering services from any five-star hotel . . . . The contrast grows more stark every minute.

The 40 Most Obnoxious Quotes of 2004

"It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I'd rather not know." -- Singer Linda Ronstadt

From John Hawkins at Right Wing News we get an opportunity to relive the obnoxiousness that was the Left in 2004.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Who are the Toyota Taliban?

From Winds of Change we get a chance to view the reason why the UN has been so ineffective in solving humanitarian crises.

"My experience with the UN over the past 18 years is in Afghanistan. Here's what I've seen since 9/11...sorry for the garrilous length.

....An enormous and highly profitable international aid apparatus has assembled in Kabul and has largely ignored the input of the Afghan people or their largely American liberators; the latter stand by in disbelief as taxpayers contributions to Afghanistan disappear into outfitting the extravagant needs of European aid community. The UN pays $400 a day (more than a year’s pay for an average Afghan ) plus a generous per diem. This enormous aid infestation has fostered rightful resentment.

The UN and associated NGOs ran through years of aid funding in a matter of months. Now when money cannot be found for reconstruction, the UN issues reports criticizing the parsimonious Americans.

Meanwhile, the UN and NGOs live like pashas. Hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for Afghans have been transformed into fleets of top-of the-line Toyota Landcruisers, villas and estates to house their workers complete with swimming pools, an endless supply of underpaid servants, luxurious furnishings (accented with looted antiquities,) the latest laptops, video equipment, cases of Johnny Walker Blue and the bling bling ...perks that might even seem excessive to Ken Lay are justifiable expenses charged off to the US. No accountability, no oversight.

They don’t bother cooking the books, they don’t even keep the books!
Afghan citizens fear that vocal objections to this patronizing treatment will result in economic reprisals by the UN...."

This goes part way in explaining the tug-of-war between the UN and the US and its allies in providing aid to the victims of the tsunami.

Read the whole thing, and then hit the links.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Politicizing Tradgedy

A human catastrophe occurred along the shores of the Indian Ocean, destroying the lives of over 100,000 people and affecting millions. Everyone with concern for his fellow man should focus on the efforts to relieve the suffering and grief of the survivors. Yet … yet, the worst natural disaster of the last 50 years has turned into a nasty squabble about who is more generous, who is “stingy” and the bizarre demand that George Bush give a speech.

Juan Cole writes begins his comment on his web site “Informed Comment” thus:

Tsunami Toll Nearly 70,000 and Rising Where's Bush?

..If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia…

There is a particular idiocy in professors, and in Leftists, but I repeat myself. The people suffering today are looking to find out what happened to their families. They want supplies of clean water so that they won’t die of dysentery; clothing and shelter for those who lost their homes and possessions. They will soon be looking for some way of making a living amidst the rubble left by the tsunami.

Local and national leaders will show their concern by touring ravaged areas. But the last thing that the people on the shores of the Indian Ocean need or want is for the “Great White Father” from Washington to swoop down on Air Force One and give a speech. But that is the reaction of the chattering classes for whom “assistance” always arrives in the form of a speech or lecture, giving them a chance to preen and strut their superiority, while lesser creatures provide food and drink, shelter and clothing.

"Professor" Juan Cole misleads students at the University of Michigan. Having grown up in Michigan, I am ashamed of the association.