Wednesday, July 25, 2007
If you see something, hire a lawyer. Then, perhaps, you can say something.
That would be the new mantra for passenger vigilance — replacing the ubiquitous “If you see something, say something” — if Democrats get their way in Congress. They oppose an amendment to the homeland-security bill sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), that would protect anyone from civil lawsuits who, in good faith, offers a tip about suspicious activity on mass transit.
The case of the “flying imams” prompted King’s amendment. On Nov. 20, 2006, six Islamic clerics were removed from a US Airways flight in Minneapolis after passengers complained about behavior they considered suspicious. The imams prayed before boarding the plane, didn’t sit in their assigned seats — arranging themselves in a pattern associated with the 9/11 hijackings — and asked for seatbelt extenders. Authorities questioned and eventually cleared them.
Twenty-first century America wouldn’t be a boon to grievance-mongers of all varieties if such an incident didn’t occasion a lawsuit.
Read the rest.
Senator Clinton keeps implying that she has the most experience and that she's "ready to lead." Why does everyone unquestioningly accept this? What, serving as First Lady for 8 years prepares you to be president? Please; they're not the same jobs. Otherwise, she's served a little more than one term as a senator.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
To properly fight an insurgency:
Neither side needs the love or loyalty of the population nearly as much as its cooperation. The insurgent must have nondenunciation so that he may carry on his war against the authority from the midst of the people. The counterinsurgent needs information, so that he may determine the nature, power and membership of the insurgency. Because a credible threat of sanction (death or torture, for example) frequently outweighs love or loyalty, the side that imposes stiff penalties for noncompliance will often win the cooperation of the people away from the side that inspires merely moral support for the merits of its cause. ...
More concisely, a noncombatant will cooperate with the side that punishes noncooperation with the greatest specificity. If one side punishes capriciously, most rational noncombatants will decide that they are better off cooperating with the other side. Why? Because the more capricious side -- lacking good intelligence about who is and is not cooperating -- may punish noncombatants whether or not they cooperate with the other side. The side that punishes accurately, on the other hand, will only punish genuine noncooperation. Therefore, the smart noncombatant cooperates with the side that neither punishes too many actual cooperators or fails to punish too many actual non-cooperators, because he reduces his risk of punishment by the side that punishes efficiently without altering his risk at the hand of the side that punishes capriciously. ...
Because perceptions are so important in counterinsurgency, capricious acts and the publicity of those acts can actually hurt the war effort. When supporters of the Coalition and the government of Iraq object to the widespread and one-sided publicity of purported American war crimes, it is not that we think, a priori, that these events should be covered up or that we care about the political fortunes of the Bush administration. Rather, it is because we know that anything that increases the perception of the counterinsurgency as capricious will actually hurt the war effort insofar as it motivates noncombatants to cooperate with the other side. Similarly, relatively muted publicity of enemy atrocities artificially dims the perception that al Qaeda kills capriciously and brutally. Both problems would diminish if the press, which has an enormous capacity to magnify perceptions, applied the same moral standard to both sides.
Tigerhawk's post is so full of insight it is hard to know where to begin. But here's a starting point. Counter-terrorist warfare is never won by merely by rising to a supreme height of moral magnificence. Sadly, war requires coercion in one form or another. But as Tigerhawk cogently argues, coercion cannot be applied indiscriminately. It is most effective when combined with a kind of justice because the smart noncombatant, can avoid arbitrary punishment by adhering to the rules of the just, or at least predictable party. The party governed by decency and law. But the real order of things can be misrepresented by lies. The consequence of habitually making wild accusations against the Coalition, such as were brought against the Haditha Marines; sensationalizing relatively events as torture, running the relatively few cases of actual torture for weeks on the front pages; sponsoring contests to concoct stories like tank drivers running over pet dogs and claiming that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed by aerial bombardment as "excess deaths" was to imprint the image of a mindless, brutal coalition on the Iraqi side. Thus the Leftist enablers of terror successfully portrayed the more just -- albeit imperfect side -- as being unpredictably coercive.
Only after the Iraqis discovered, by sad and bitter experience, what a crock of s..t this narrative was, by repeated atrocity at the brutal hands of al-Qaeda, did they understand they had it all wrong. It was the al-Qaeda which cut your face off with cheese wire; al-Qaeda which shot you for mixing tomatoes and cucumbers in the market bag; al-Qaeda which blew up any and every public assembly; al-Qaeda which routinely tortured innocents in slaughterhouses and had a manual to do it with; al-Qaeda which beheaded innocent children. Only after all the fake memes were repelled and was some semblance of the truth established; and only then did the tipping point start to come.
The bottom line is that in fighting bad hombres it pays to have a six gun, a white hat and to shoot straight. The problem is getting some of the papers to tell it that way.
TIME shows its military expertise
Fact checking goes by the wayside when, for example, Richard Quinn of the Virginian Pilot describes Newt Gingrich in unflattering terms including having him seated in a “faux-leather” chair. A little knowledge of office chairs or a quick check with the hotel staff would have saved our Dick the embarrassment of making a small but telling error.
But to have a major-league publication not able to tell the difference between an American and a Russian helicopter in a cover story is stupidity carried to new heights. But really, in re-consideration, it’s not. This is the sort of ignorance of things other than English composition that plagues all the MSM. What can you expect of people whose college major is journalism or creative writing?
From the American Thinker:
Accompanying TIME/CNN's current online article by Michael Duffy entitled, "How to leave Iraq," and reportedly on the cover of the TIME print edition, is an illustration graphically demonstrating how limited these so-called news organizations' knowledge of the American military happens to be. The "last helicopter out" a vision harking back to Vietnam and beloved of the Mainstream Media, in this case just happens to be Russian, an MI-24 Hind gunship, according to the folks over at Blackfive, a leading milblog where contributors tend to know what they are talking about when it comes to things military, unlike the mainstream Media weenies.
From the Belmont Club (The Devil and the Details}
The blooper is no big deal in itself. But I suspect it comes from the same circles where all tracked vehicles are known as "tanks", all automatic rifles are described as "machineguns", all aerial ordnance is described as "cluster bombs" and the general idea of warfare is one in which stupid, yelling men advance shooting from the hip at everything that moves. Amazingly enough none of these shortcomings in knowledge are regarded as disqualifying anyone from discoursing on grand strategic concepts -- which is what the Time article is about.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
...a 25-year-old rising star at The New Republic, wrote dozens of high-profile articles for a number of national publications in which he made things up.
As 60 Minutes first reported in May, he made up people, places and events. He made up organizations and quotations. Sometimes, he made up entire articles.
And to back it all up, he created fake notes, fake voicemails, fake faxes, even a fake Web site - whatever it took to deceive his editors, not to mention hundreds of thousands of readers.
How do these things get into prestigious publications which boast of having fact checkers and editors, and accuse the Internet of lacking credibility because they don't have them? Simple, some stories are too good to check.
Exhibit "A" is the "Duke Rape" case in which the entire press corps could not wait to convict white athletes of raping a black "student" despite evidence to the contrary. They believe in the narrative, so the hell with the facts.
Which brings us to pseudonymous blogger and "front line soldier" Scott Thomas who describes tales of cruelty and horror in the actions of our soldiers in Iraq.
Power Line does a brief roundup while Franklin Foer of The New Republic assures us - like Dan Rather did - that all he has found out so far makes the story true.
Howard Kurtz chimes in Bloggers Raise Red Flags Over New Republic's 'Baghdad Diarist'
Well, according to people who have been there, people who are there and people who have the necessary expertise, the stories that "Scott Thomas" tells are either not true or impossible.
The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb references the "fake facts" that Scott Thomas relates.
But one comment stands out in my mind because it explains why The New Republic is willing to run these stories.
Here's what New Republic editor Franklin Foer had to say about the questions raised by the WWS and so many others:"A lot of the questions raised by the conservative blogosphere boil down to, would American soldiers be capable of doing things like the things described in the diarist. The practical jokes are exceptionally mild compared to things that have been documented by the U.S. military. Conservative bloggers make a bit of a living denying any bad news that emanates from Iraq."
Are the events described by "Thomas" mere "practical jokes"? I'd say they are a little more serious than that. Foer accuses conservatives of routinely denying "any bad news" out of Iraq, but the point here is that the "Scott Thomas" piece isn't news...it's a slander of U.S. troops. Here's what Dean Barnett had to say in response:This little quote shows just how much we differ. Foer apparently thinks the cruel mocking of an IED victim, the defiling of an Iraqi corpse, and the misuse of a Bradley fighting vehicle to run over dogs all qualify as “practical jokes.” I don’t.
But that’s not all Foer says. He even insists that the “practical jokes” are mild. Scratch that. He says they’re “exceptionally mild compared to things that have been documented.” This wonderful “defense” proves my point that the heart of Foer’s agenda has always been slandering the entire United States military and the 160,000 men and women who are serving in Iraq.
The important thing to remember here is that this isn't a story about shoddy fact-checking or a regrettable lapse of journalistic ethics over at TNR, rather this is indicative of how the left views the American warfighter. To them, he's capable of such savagery that the far-fetched stories related by "Scott Thomas" are not only credible on their face, but "exceptionally mild."
Obviously American troops are every bit as capable of criminal behavior as their civilian peers, and perhaps more so owing to the stress and violence of daily life in Iraq, but misconduct by U.S. servicemen in Iraq has been the exception, not the rule. If the New Republic and its political kin weren't predisposed to view American soldiers as barbaric, than the "Scott Thomas" story would have struck them, as it did everyone else who has since commented on it, as implausible at best. (I think it's worth noting that while the Internet will present two sides to almost any issue, no matter how absurd the opposing view may be--i.e., the charge that it was Bush that brought down the Twin Towers--best I can tell, not a single person has stood up to defend this piece other than Foer, not a singly lefty blog, not a single reader.)
The fake solders who report atrocities have a long history. Who will forget, after the last Presidential election on how John Kerry claimed that our army in Viet Nam resembled the hordes of Genghis Khan. And of course we have "Jessie MacBeth" who was hailed by the Left for recounting atrocity stories that never happened.
Michelle Malkin has a good roundup and has the right attitude.
Let me make one thing clear at the outset: To question the veracity of a soldier’s accounts of war atrocities in Iraq is not to question that such atrocities ever happen. They do. But when such accusations are made pseudonymously, punctuated with red flags and adorned with incredible embellishment, the only responsible thing to do is to raise questions about his identity and agenda without fear or apology–and demand answers.
And Ray Robinson at the American Thinker says that is sounds very much like Clifton Hicks.
It turns out that there is a plausible candidate for who "Scott Thomas" might be: Clifton Hicks. The evidence is not conclusive, but it is fairly suggestive. Others are welcome to examine it with a fair mind. Hicks must be accorded the benefit of the doubt, of course.
Clifton Hicks is a former army soldier who did serve in Iraq. Hicks has become that most cherished item for the anti-war crowd, a soldier who fulfills their need for first-hand accounts of war atrocities. Hicks was granted conscientious objector status and a release from the Army after receiving administrative punishment for unprofessional conduct. Since then, and especially recently, he has tapped into the anti-war establishment for self-promotion.
The evidence that links these two identities is strong but not conclusive. Clifton Hicks was quoted in a Newsweek article, Probing a Bloodbath, which focused primarily on the "Haditha massacre". Of great interest is the name of the Newsweek reporters: Evan Thomas and Scott Johnson. Keep in mind that our TNR writer took the pseudonym "Scott Thomas". Is this a coincidence?
While the evidence is not conclusive, the similarities are striking; similar themes, events, writing styles and the apparent play on the reporter's names which could be viewed as a clue from someone who thinks he is just too clever for others to catch his little inside joke - taking the names of the journalists who wrote about him as his "journalist" name.
Anyone familiar with "Scott Thomas" should come forward. Until then, it appears likely that The New Republic has either been had or is scamming the American public with bogus war stories from a discredited soldier.
And Villanous Company comments on the return of "Winter Soldier." That was the Kerry organized cabal of fake Viet War vets who claimed our troops:
...had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South VietnamThat was John Forbes Kerry who now claims that not many people died after we abandoned Viet Nam. Click on the link for the deatils; it turns your stomach. Kerry must believe that the younger generation will believe his bold faced lies. I don't know how the man lives with himself. And he wants to do it again!
Michael B. Nifong--the district attorney who pursued Seligmann, Finnerty and teammate David Evans even as evidence of their innocence mounted and his case imploded--was held accountable for his actions. Hours after Seligmann testified, Nifong announced his intention to resign; the next day, he was disbarred.
The media incurred no such penalties. No loss of license, no disciplinary panels, no prolonged public humiliation for the reporters, columnists, cable TV pundits, editorial writers and editors who trumpeted the "Duke lacrosse rape case" and even the "gang-rape case" in front-page headlines, on the nightly news and on strident cable shoutfests.
Of course, Nifong had information and power the media did not. His failing in the case cannot be overstated, nor can it be equated to that of a throng of journalists and pundits, however odious some of their reporting and commentary. But the media deserve a public reckoning, too, a remonstrance for coverage that--albeit with admirable exceptions--all too eagerly embraced the inflammatory statements of a prosecutor in the midst of a tough election campaign. Fueled by Nifong, the media quickly latched onto a narrative too seductive to check: rich, wild, white jocks had brutalized a working class, black mother of two.
"It was too delicious a story," says Daniel Okrent, a former New York Times public editor, who is critical of the Times' coverage and that of many other news organizations. "It conformed too well to too many preconceived notions of too many in the press: white over black, rich over poor, athletes over non-athletes, men over women, educated over non-educated. Wow. That's a package of sins that really fit the preconceptions of a lot of us."
Read the original article here.
The Democrats Poster
Labels: Political correctness
Four years ago, a Montreal photo-journalist, Zahra Kazemi, was arrested by police in Tehran, taken to Evin prison, and wound up getting questioned to death. Upon her capture, the Canadian government had done as the State Department is apparently doing – kept things discreet, low-key, cards close to the chest, quiet word in the right ears. By the time Zahra Kazemi's son, frustrated by his government's ineffable equanimity, got the story out, it was too late for his mother.
Still, upon hearing of her death, then-Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham expressed his "sadness" and "regret," which are pretty strong words. But then, as Reuters put it, this sad regrettable incident had "marred previously harmonious relations between Iran and Canada." In his public pronouncements, Graham tended to give the impression that what he chiefly regretted and was sad about was that one of his compatriots had had the poor taste to get tortured and murdered onto the front pages of the newspapers.
With an apparently straight face, Graham passed on to reporters the official Iranian line that her death in jail was merely an "accident." The following year, Shahram Azam, a physician who'd examined Kazemi's body, fled Iran and said that she had broken fingers, a broken nose, a crushed toe, a skull fracture, severe abdominal bruising, and internal damage consistent with various forms of rape. Quite an accident.
The week before, Iran captured 14 spies near the Iraqi border who it claimed were agents of American and British intelligence equipped with surveillance devices. The "spies" in question were squirrels – as in small furry animals very protective of their nuts (much like the Democratic Party regarding Mr. Soros). I'm prepared to believe that a crack team of rodents from NUTS (the Ninja Undercover Team of Squirrels) abseiled into key installations in Iran and garroted the Revolutionary Guards, but not that the U.S. and British governments had anything to do with it. If they have any CIA or MI6 training at all, they must be rogue squirrels from the Cold War days who've been laid off and gone feral.
Read the whole thing.
Americans like exercising plenty of other rights more than their right to vote. The right to speak your mind, own property, associate with whomever you like, be compensated for the fruits of your labor: these and other rights are plainly more dear to Americans than the right to pull a lever every two or four years. Obviously, Americans would care if anyone proposed taking away their right to vote. But as a matter of common sense, voting is less important to us than those rights and liberties that make our God-given right to pursue happiness possible. Ultimately, voting is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Lest we forget, democracy shorn of these other rights is no less tyrannical than dictatorial rule. “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in “Notes on the State of Virginia.” He recognized that parliaments and congresses do not a free country make: “173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it turn their eyes on the republic of Venice.”
Pork, Pine and Peanuts at Chipokes
The Cipokes Plantation Pork, Pine and Peanut Festival was held this weekend in Surrey County, Virginia at Chipokes Plantation, one of the oldest working farms in the country.
The music was country.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Except when they’re not.
I have reported on a reporter, Richard Quinn, who works for the Virginian Pilot and blogs there as well. We both attended a meeting with Newt Gingrich and I dissected a particularly obnoxious comment he made:
Oh yeah, the millionaire who was once the nation’s Republican overlord plopped down in a faux-leather chair in a Norfolk hotel to talk to J.R. Hoeft.
To see my “fisking” of this bit of misreporting and attempted character assassination click here. But one item I did not address at the time was the “faux-leather” chair comments because I had to do a little fact checking of my own. It turns out that the chairs on the conference room we used were not “faux-leather” at all; they were real leather as testified to by the Manager of the Hilton who returned my call.
This is one of those little, but telling things that makes you realize that people who get degrees in writing or journalism really can’t be bothered to get the facts right when “faux-facts” work so much better.
Which gets me to this story about a “Staunch Republican” who’s really a Democrat heavy hitter. Via Power Line:
We wrote here about a story in the Chicago Sun-Times by columnist Jennifer Hunter, reporting on a plaintiffs' lawyers convention in Chicago. The five principal Democratic presidential candidates addressed the convention, and Hunter's story was on the lawyers' reaction. Her article was headlined "GOP Lawyer Sold on Dems;" it featured Jim Ronca, a well-known plaintiffs' lawyer from Pennsylvania, who told Hunter that he was a Republican. Hunter breathlessly reported that this "staunch Republican" was so impressed by the Democratic candidates that this year, he would not only vote for a Democrat, but would actually contribute to the Democrat's campaign.
Trouble was, it turned out that Ronca is in fact a long-time Democrat who has contributed mostly, although not quite exclusively, to Democratic candidates for a long time.
So Ronca, a smart lawyer, made a fool of Hunter, a not-so-smart reporter. One might think that this would be grounds for a correction; but not, apparently, at the Sun-Times. Instead, Jennifer Hunter wrote a defiant follow-up column attacking Republicans. No, not Ronca, the fake Republican who lied to her; real Republicans. Hunter writes:Ever been harassed by a group of irate Republicans?
For the past few days, since a news story of mine was published on Monday, I have been bombarded with dozens of daily e-mails from Republicans calling me a liar, demanding I be fired, and insisting on a retraction.
Read more about how defensive reporters get when their blunders get exposed.
Senate has killed a legislative provision granting immunity from lawsuits against members of the public for reporting suspicious behavior that may lead to a terrorist attack — the “John Doe” amendment.
It’s not an obvious policy one way or the other. The possibility for abuse is clear. [I don't agree that the possibility for abuse is clear.]
But for some reason, according to the reports linked to above the people behind this legislative shift have chosen to obscure their identities. Why?
Message to the American people.
In 1967, Newark erupted in gunfire, looting, and arson, killing 23 people and injuring 700. But 40 years later, the New York Times still is not certain that this event should properly be called a "riot." In a news article marking the anniversary, the Times reminds us that "frightened white residents" of the 1960s opted for the word "riot," while "black activists" of the period called it a "rebellion."
In a bracing slap at readers who unthinkingly might refer to several days of riotous behavior as a "riot," the Times quotes the president of the New Jersey Historical Society, Linda Epps, who says: "there is not one truth, and your view depends on your race, your age and where you lived." So what would fair-minded neutral people call it today? No need to wonder. The Times tells us: "Those seeking neutrality have come to embrace the word ‘disturbance.'" I can sympathize. Unaware that they may be giving offense, many Americans and Europeans still blithely talk about "World War II," with its aggressive and wounding reference to armed conflict. On the other hand, many German activists of the period preferred the term "unjustified trampling of the Third Reich's perfectly legitimate lebensraum and population control policies." Surely it is time for a non-provocative name for this troublesome six-year disturbance. How about "the multiple disagreements and tragic misunderstandings of 1939-1945?" Or perhaps "World Woe II," so we can retain the established initials.
In 1990, I first noticed the Newspaper of Record stopping an article in its tracks to propose a gentle term for a riot-like event. Protesters from ACT-UP had just invaded St. Patrick's Cathedral, racing through the building and screaming to disrupt mass.
A Times news article began this way: "To many parishioners, the recent invasion of St. Patrick's Cathedral by dozens of angry AIDS protesters was an act of desecration. But to Christopher Hennelly … it was a prayer for self-preservation. ‘The strongest prayer I've ever made in my life was on the floor of St. Patrick's,'" he said.
This may have been the first time that any major newspaper described a church invasion and the stomping of a consecrated communion host as a form of prayer.
Click on the link for the rest of the article, some pithy comments and pictures.
The dust appears to be settling after Inside the Beltway published a rather threatening letter sent by Michael T. Eckhart, president of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).
"Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar," Mr. Eckhart had written in response to an article Mr. Lewis wrote for American Spectator about the potential economic consequences of "global warming" bills introduced in the Congress.
"If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community, of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on."
Now, the ACORE president has sent Inside the Beltway an extremely lengthy response, and apology to everybody offended by his words to Mr. Lewis, which he intended as a "private communication," and merely "in the context of personal combat and jousting."
"I apologize to all in the public who were offended ... because it was not intended for public display," Mr. Eckhart writes. "In my opinion, CEI, and especially Dr. Lewis, has been presenting a false prosecution - a knowingly false prosecution - of the global-warming issue, to the detriment of society and the billions of people who will be affected by climate change."
As for reader reaction, G. Merkle writes: "An amusing but chilling note. I'm not surprised - global warming is a religion, a belief system. Rather than adebate on fact, heretics must be destroyed."
Another reader, Douglas Schulek-Miller, wrote directly to Mr. Eckhart, sending us a copy:
"Sir, having read the content of your letter to Marlo Lewis, I must thank you for your energetic reminder of why I chose Canada when I moved my family back to North America after 14 years in Europe ...
"I recall vaguely from my youth how the spirit of [nuclear physicist] Enrico Fermi was besmirched over the results of his work during World War II. Hopefully when all this has wrung all the possible monies out of it, the public will not have the same view of the poor environmentalists who stood at the forefront of this pop-fascism that parades itself as science."Sincerely and with best wishes, Douglas Schulek-Miller (A.A., B.A., M.B.A., Ph.D., but who's counting?)"
Thursday, July 19, 2007
There is something wrong with a culture that turns its eyes away and refuses to recognize that this is a problem. Liberalism averts it's eyes and will not admit that this is a crime associated with Muslim society. It's the reason why grannies are searched in airport check-in lines. It's political correctness with a suicide wish.
Horrific details have been revealed of the last hours of the young Kurdish woman murdered by her family for falling in love with the wrong man.
Banaz Mahmod, 20, was brutally raped and stamped on during a two-hour ordeal before being garotted.
One of her killers, the Old Bailey was told, was 30-year-old Mohamad Hama, who had been recruited by Banaz's father Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and his brother Ari, 51.
Both were found guilty of murder last month.
The shocking details of the killing came to light when Hama was secretly recorded talking to a friend in prison.
He admitted "slapping" and "f***ing" Banaz, who was subjected to degrading sex acts.
Hama and his friend were heard laughing as he described how she was killed in her family home in Mitcham, South London, with Ari Mahmod "supervising".
The murderers - two other suspects have fled to Iraq - had been told Banaz would be on her own.
Hama is recorded as saying: "Ari (the uncle) said there is no one there. There was someone there, Biza (her sister). The bastard lied to us."
He said of the murder: "I swear to God it took him more than two hours. Her soul and her life would not leave."
The Muslim men and family members who did this:
The trial of the two brothers heard that Banaz was killed because she had walked out of an unhappy arranged marriage - which she was forced into at just 17 - and fallen in love with Iranian Kurd Rahmat Suleimani, 28.
From the New Media Journal:
Recently, Channel Four Television hosted a ninety-minute special reviewing the findings of the Iraq Commission. Not to be confused with the 2006 Iraq Report chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton in the United States, this was a 2007 review of the conflict by a committee in the United Kingdom that has now submitted its findings and recommendations to Her Majesty’s Government.
What was jaw-dropping about the program was one thread that persisted throughout the proceedings, chaired by journalist Jon Snow. The idea that the Iraq War has inspired radical Jihadists in Britain was repeated too often for comfort. Asif Sidiqui, who runs a forum in London for young Muslim professionals, was drawn into this discussion and appeared to acknowledge that this was the case. It beggars belief that after the events of the past fortnight in Britain, and the anger expressed by Muslim leaders about the knighthood for Salman Rushdie, that Iraq can be wheeled out as en excuse for violence on the British mainland.
I often wonder what a place the world would have been had every Jew across the globe, from Rio to Toronto to Philadelphia to Paris and London, had waged a decades-long campaign of terror to avenge the genocide of six million of their co-religionists in the ovens, torture chambers and gas chambers of Auschwitz, Belsen, Treblinka, et al? If every time a synagogue is attacked or a rabbi coming out of a service in North London is attacked young Jews decide to blow up a bus?
Then came the true moment of the night for me: in a discussion about the displacement of Iraqi refugees Margaret Jay actually said it would benefit Britain if more trained professionals from Iraq could be allowed into Britain. Well, right now, Baroness Jay, methinks not a lot of ordinary Sun and News of the World-reading Brits are jumping up and down waiting for the next shipment of Middle Eastern doctors and aeronautical engineers, who seem to have a penchant for driving bomb-laden cars into British airports and discos.
In the discussion about two million Iraqi refugees pouring into Jordan and Syria, one Mavis Sherlock said this was the worst refugee crisis since 1948. Her ‘fact’ was never queried; if she is doing what every Briton does to me at dinner parties and other social occasions, she means ‘those nasty Zionists drove out two million Palestinians to steal those lands from them in a violent, genocidal war of Independence.‘
One has to chuckle at the possibility of her actually having meant that two million Jews were displaced in 1948 when the Arab league expelled them from lands in which they had lived for centuries because of the collective fury about the ’Zionist entity’ being established after the Nazi Holocaust. Needless to say this is not what I think Miss Sherlock meant. God forbid the Arab countries might have welcomed the Jewish State in 1948, shown warmth and succor to those arriving from the death camps, and collaborated with the thousands of Jews already in the Holy Land for generations on issues of agriculture, irrigation, sanitation, medicine and science. But no, they declared war on Israel. They wanted to annihilate the Jews, but the only memory modern Britain seems to have is the displacement of Palestinians.
In November 2006, six Islamic leaders were removed from a U.S. Airways flight in Minneapolis after they were observed acting suspiciously-including not sitting in their assigned seats, asking for seatbelt extenders although not needing them, and making anti-American statements. The men were questioned by authorities and then cleared. However, in March 2007, with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the imams filed suit — not only against the airline but against the heroic "John Doe" passengers who reported their suspicious behavior.
Congressman Pete King (R., NY), the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, sprang quickly into action, concluding that the lawsuits were cheap attempts to intimidate everyday Americans from taking action to help protect our country. Congressman King introduced an amendment to protect passengers and commuters against frivolous lawsuits such as those filed by the imams. The language was overwhelmingly adopted by the House in March, 304-121, as an amendment to H.R. 1401, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007.
I am reliably informed that House Democrats are attempting, under the radar screen, to strip the King Amendment from the legislation based on an alleged technical violation of Byzantine House rules.
Wednesday evening, Atlanta — It all started about 24 hours ago, when I found a plain cardboard box on my doorstep. I was surprised to see my name on the label, as I wasn’t expecting anything this week. My surprise increased exponentially when I opened the package to find a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows within.
Read the rest.
For six years, the Bush administration has kept America safe from another terrorist attack, allowing the Democrats to claim that the war on terrorism is a fraud, a "bumper sticker," a sneaky ploy by a power-mad president to create an apocryphal enemy so he could spy on innocent librarians in Wisconsin. And that's the view of the moderate Democrats. The rest of them think Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks.
But now with the U.S. government — as well as the British and German governments — warning of major terrorist attacks this summer, the Treason Lobby is facing the possibility that the "bumper sticker" could blow up in their faces.
The Democrats' entire national security calculus is based on the premise that "we have no important enemies," as stated by former senator Mike Gravel. He's one of the Democratic presidential candidates who doesn't know he's supposed to lie when speaking to the American people.
Ironically, the Democrats' ability to sneer at President Bush hinges on Bush's successful prosecution of the war on terrorism, despite the Democrats. It's going to be harder to persuade Americans that the "war on terrorism" is George Bush's imaginary enemy — the Reichstag fire, to quote our first openly Muslim congressman Keith Ellison — if there is another terrorist attack.
So naturally, they are blaming any future terrorist attacks on the war in Iraq.
The Democrats blame everything on Iraq, but their insane argument that we are merely annoying the enemy by fighting back has been neurotically repeated since the failed terrorist bombing in London a few weeks ago. The venue of the terrorists' latest attempt, a hot London nightclub, might even shake up the young progressive crowd. Apparently their soirees are not off-limits, notwithstanding their dutiful anti-imperialism.
In anticipation of their surrender strategy becoming substantially less popular in the wake of another terrorist attack, the Democrats are all claiming that the threat of terrorism was nonexistent — notwithstanding 9/11, the Cole bombing, the bombing of our embassies, the bombing of the World Trade Center, the Achille Lauro, etc. etc. — until George Bush invaded Iraq.
In the past week, B. Hussein Obama said the war in Iraq has made us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Americans are "more at risk," he said, "and less safe than we should have been at this point." We would be safer with "better polices" — such as, presumably, Bill Clinton's policy of pretending Islamic terrorists don't exist and leaving the problem for the next president.
Hillary Clinton said we need to start "reversing our priorities. Let's stop sending troops to Iraq and let's start insuring every single child." Yes, that should put a good healthy scare into the insurgents. "Run for your life, Ahmed! All American children are getting regular checkups!"
Sen. Chris Dodd miraculously straddled both arguments — that the threat of terrorism is a fraud and that the Iraq war had increased its danger. He said "al-Qaida is insurgent again" because we've "turned Iraq into an incubator" for jihadists. But simultaneously with warning of a terrorist attack, Dodd also said he was "more skeptical than I'd like to be" of the Bush administration's warning of a terrorist attack. Damn that Bush! He's inflamed an imaginary enemy!
As with the Democrats' claim that the greatest military in the world is "losing" a war with camel-riding nomads, the claim that the war in Iraq is what created our terrorist problem — a terrorist problem that began about 30 years ago — has entered the media and is now stated as fact by the entire Treason Lobby.
CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux matter-of-factly reported this week: "President Bush says the central front in the war on terror is Iraq. But when the U.S. first invaded the country almost five years ago, al-Qaida had very little presence. But the intelligence report says that has changed. Al-Qaida not only has become a dangerous threat, the intelligence community expects the terrorist group will use its contacts and capabilities there to mount an attack on U.S. soil."
Say, wasn't the attack of 9/11 an "attack on U.S. soil"? How could that have happened since we hadn't invaded Iraq yet? What a weird aberration. How about the attacks on our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania? How about the 1993 World Trade Center bombing? The taking of our embassy in Tehran?
Another CNN correspondent, Ed Henry, followed up Malveaux's report with the somber news that "the president was warned before the war in Iraq that if you go in and invade Iraq, you're going to give al-Qaida more opportunities to expand its influence."
Similarly, Hitler and Goebbels never had much to say about the United States — not, that is, until we started fighting them!
But as soon as we entered the war — taking the bait of Hitler's declaration of war against us, which Democrats are urging us to avoid falling for in the case of al-Qaida — Hitler began portraying FDR as a pawn of the Jews. Soon posters started appearing in Germany showing the United States as a country run by Jews and Negroes. Fake dollar bills with the Star of David were air-dropped over Paris.
According to the Democrats' logic, FDR's policies made the United States less safe. Had Germany attacked us at Pearl Harbor? No. Was Hitler able to use America entering the war as a recruiting tool? Yes. Fighting the enemy always seems to make them mad. It's as plain as the nose on your face.
Democrats think they have concocted a brilliant argument by saying that jihadists have been able to recruit based on the war in Iraq. Yes, I assume so. Everything the United States has done since 9/11 has galvanized the evil people of the world to fight the U.S. In World War II, some Frenchmen joined the Waffen SS, too. And the good people of the world have been galvanized to fight on the side of the U.S. The question is: Which side are the Democrats on?
83 percent, say the Democratic-controlled Congress is doing
only a fair or poor job -- the worst mark for Congress in a Zogby poll.
In other words, only 17% of Americans approve of Congress. Tying them with the MSM in popularity.
In my view, the most noteworthy event that took place in Washington yesterday was Vets For Freedom's appearance at the Capitol to argue for victory in Iraq. Others apparently didn't share that opinion, however. The Washington Post made no mention of VFF in today's paper. One might have thought that the Minneapolis Star Tribune would be interested, since Lt. Pete Hegseth, the group's executive director, is a Minnesotan. No article there, either. And the Associated Press didn't do a story.
We got a transcript of the press conference in which Lt. Hegseth participated. Here are his remarks:HEGSETH: Well, first of all, I want to express what an honor it is to be standing with such an esteemed group of senators as well as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans here.
On behalf of this entire group and thousands of veterans, and I want to thank the senators here today for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with us. It's not just the folks standing here, but a lot of senators on the Hill.
The men you see standing behind me today, veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, represent just a tiny fraction of the combat veterans who have fought and bled for America's freedom since 2001.
Some bear the scars of battle, a permanent reminder of their duty and sacrifice.
Many here today wear the medals of combat or wear medals of combat. In fact, we have multiple recipients of the Silver Star and Purple Heart in our midst.
And all understand the stakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, having stared the enemy eye to eye and seen the destructive nature of the radical world view they seek to impose on Iraq and the Middle East.
Make no mistake, the group you see here, which was assembled in just four days and paid for on their own dime, is not alone. We've got a lot of our guys out there still meeting with senators as we speak. And you should know these guys represent thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are deeply troubled at the defeatist sentiment emanating from Capitol Hill.
We think we can win in Iraq. We know we can win in Iraq. We've seen it; we've been there; we understand the stakes. And setting a deadline for defeat is just not an option.
We're on Capitol Hill today, and we'll be back again in September, to tell our representatives and senators to give our nation's warriors, led by General Petraeus and his new counterinsurgency strategy, the time and resources necessary to defeat America's enemies.
His strategy is working. Security is improving. Al Qaida and company are on the run.
But make no mistake about it. We are in a fight in Iraq. We're facing a radical enemy there who's capitalized on three-plus years of failed policy and knows that while they cannot defeat American troops on the battlefield, they can seek to undermine America's political will, through suicide bombers, roadside bombs and snipers.
And that's why we're here today -- to tell Congress and the American people that we cannot allow politicians in Washington, motivated by election cycles, to make decisions about this war. Too much is at stake.
General Petraeus just received the troops he needed in Baghdad. The strategy he has is showing progress.
And while Iraqi political progress is certainly not where it should be, the security improvements American soldiers are purchasing in blood and sweat are a necessary precondition for political progress and a stable Iraq that denies haven to Al Qaida and company.
So we say to Congress, let General Petraeus and the troops do their job. They want to win.
This week I received news that Mayor Mahmoud (ph), the mayor of Samarra, who we worked with on a daily basis when I was there, was executed in Samarra. He left behind a baby boy named Abdul Kattar. His crime in that city, trying to rebuild the golden mosque that Al Qaida had destroyed when I was there in February 2006.
The perpetrators of both that bombing and that killing: Al Qaida. And the people and the senators who think we can just come home and declare a responsible end to the war still don't get it. Our enemies, radical Islamists led by Al Qaida, will stop at nothing to kill Americans and those who help them. Our hasty exit from Iraq would embolden them, not to mention other radical groups looming in the region.
So what we do in Iraq and in the Senate chamber tonight and in the weeks to come will reverberate for generations. But you're not going to have to stay up all night to figure out what leaving before the job is done does. It weakens American interests, it emboldens America's enemies and it would leave behind one heck of a bloodbath for Abdul Kattar and millions of Iraqis.
So the vets standing here behind me, I'm proud to say, understand this firsthand. We lived it. We breathed it. Our buddies died for it. And we ask Congress to stand with us, just as these senators are standing with us today, and stand with the troops in Iraq.
Pete's eloquent talk drew exactly one question from the assembled reporters. Only a handful of questions were asked in total, nearly all of them hostile. One reporter asked, "Senator McConnell, what do you think should happen after September, if progress has not been made?" McConnell declined to speculate, and John McCain interjected:You know, I always enjoy hearing what we're going to do if General Petraeus's strategy doesn't succeed. What are we going to do if the withdrawal results in chaos and genocide?
We don't hear that question. I'd like to hear that asked a little more often.
We're delighted to pass all of this on. It's too bad you aren't likely to read about it anywhere else.
A Muslim who tried to smuggle blueprints for home-made rockets into Britain smiled as he was jailed for three and a half years yesterday.
Yassin Nassari was stopped by police with his wife and five-month-old son at Luton airport after an easyJet flight from Amsterdam.
The 28-year-old from Ealing had a laptop containing bomb recipes while his wife Bouchra El-Hor had a letter offering their baby as a “martyr”.
(Just in case you wanted to see the face of the enemy ... who wanted to blow up their own children if they could kill us at the same time)
Mr. President, we have nearly finished this little exhibition, which was staged, I assume, for the benefit of a briefly amused press corps and in deference to political activists opposed to the war who have come to expect from Congress such gestures, empty though they may be, as proof that the majority in the Senate has heard their demands for action to end the war in Iraq. The outcome of this debate, the vote we are about to take, has never been in doubt to a single member of this body. And to state the obvious, nothing we have done for the last twenty-four hours will have changed any facts on the ground in Iraq or made the outcome of the war any more or less important to the security of our country. The stakes in this war remain as high today as they were yesterday; the consequences of an American defeat are just as grave; the costs of success just as dear. No battle will have been won or lost, no enemy will have been captured or killed, no ground will have been taken or surrendered, no soldier will have survived or been wounded, died or come home because we spent an entire night delivering our poll-tested message points, spinning our soundbites, arguing with each other, and substituting our amateur theatrics for statesmanship. All we have achieved are remarkably similar newspaper accounts of our inflated sense of the drama of this display and our own temporary physical fatigue. Tomorrow the press will move on to other things and we will be better rested. But nothing else will have changed.
In Iraq, American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen are still fighting bravely and tenaciously in battles that are as dangerous, difficult and consequential as the great battles of our armed forces’ storied past. Our enemies will still be intent on defeating us, and using our defeat to encourage their followers in the jihad they wage against us, a war which will become a greater threat to us should we quit the central battlefield in defeat. The Middle East will still be a tinderbox, which our defeat could ignite in a regional war that will imperil our vital interests at risk there and draw us into a longer and far more costly war. The prospect of genocide in Iraq, in which we will be morally complicit, is still as real a consequence of our withdrawal today as it was yesterday.
During our extended debate over the last few days, I have heard senators repeat certain arguments over and over again. My friends on the other side of this argument accuse those of us who oppose this amendment with advocating “staying the course,” which is intended to suggest that we are intent on continuing the mistakes that have put the outcome of the war in doubt. Yet we all know that with the arrival of General Petraeus we have changed course. We are now fighting a counterinsurgency strategy, which some of us have argued we should have been following from the beginning, and which makes the most effective use of our strength and does not strengthen the tactics of our enemy. This new battle plan is succeeding where our previous tactics have failed, although the outcome remains far from certain. The tactics proposed in the amendment offered by my friends, Senators Levin and Reed – a smaller force, confined to bases distant from the battlefield, from where they will launch occasional search and destroy missions and train the Iraqi military – are precisely the tactics employed for most of this war and which have, by anyone’s account, failed miserably. Now, that, Mr. President, is staying the course, and it is a course that inevitably leads to our defeat and the catastrophic consequences for Iraq, the region and the security of the United States our defeat would entail.
Read the rest.
With little fanfare, the newly appointed Maryland State Police superintendent, Col. Terrence Sheridan, last month sent a letter to state gun dealers requiring that anyone who applies to purchase a handgun after July 31 sign a release allowing police access to the applicant's mental health records.
According to a published report, by signing, the prospective buyer will be agreeing to let health agencies in Maryland and other states disclose any information about whether he or she has ever suffered from mental illness, has a history of violent behavior or has been confined in a mental health facility for more than 30 consecutive days.
Anyone who refuses to sign the release will be prevented from purchasing a handgun in Maryland.
Glenn Reynolds has a good idea:
As a matter of parity, then, let's open up the records of Col. Sheridan and his officers to public inspection, since they all carry guns themselves . . .
U.S. Special Operations Forces scored a major victory against al Qaeda in Iraq’s senior leadership and gained valuable insight on the al Qaeda creation known as the Islamic State of Iraq. On July 4, Coalition forces captured Khalid Abdul Fatah Da’ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, a senior al Qaeda in Iraq and Islamic State of Iraq leader and close associate of Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda’s commander. Mashadani, also known as Abu Shahed, was captured in Mosul and is thought by the U.S. military to be the most senior Iraqi-born leader of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). During Mashadani’s interrogation, the U.S. confirmed the Islamic State of Iraq is an al Qaeda front and that its leader does not really exist.
Read the rest. More progress in Iraq.
How much do you want to bet that this pig was captured because the Iraqis gave him up?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
But many acknowledged that Iraq could first plunge into vicious sectarian fighting much like the kind of ethnic cleansing that consumed Bosnia a decade ago and is now afflicting Sudan's Darfur region. Yet they flatly rejected the use of U.S. troops to stop the killing.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it's horrendous," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat who has helped lead the drive against the war. "The only hope for the Iraqis is their own damned government, and there's slim hope for that."
As I have written before, Democrats really don't care if their actions result in a few million deaths. But the callousness of people like David Obey takes your breath away.
Read the whole article.
CODE PINK and "United for Peace and Justice" Giving Money and Supplies to Terrorists in Iraq. Waxman Helping.
A New York Times best-selling author says members of the supposed "peace movement" delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and supplies to terrorists engaged in a bloody street battle against United States Marines in Iraq.Read the rest.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Following our reparture from Viet Nam here's how the NY Times predicted the future of that region:
Sydney Schanberg described a ranking Khmer Rouge leader as a "French-educated intellectual" who wanted nothing more than "to fight against feudal privileges and social inequities."
A bloodbath was unlikely, Schanberg reported: "since all are Cambodians, an accommodation will be found." As the last Americans were withdrawn, another upbeat article by Schanberg appeared under the headline, "Indochina Without Americans: For Most, a Better Life." In short order, the Khmer Rouge proceeded to march nearly two million of their fellow Cambodians to their deaths in the killing fields. Also in short order, Schanberg went on to greater glory and a Pulitzer prize.*
Labels: Islamofascism; Saudi
The Supreme Court has long held that being a taxpayer doesn’t give you standing to sue the government just because you don’t like how they’re spending your money; that’s not a “concrete” injury. You can’t sue to stop policies you oppose just because the government is using your tax money.
That is, unless it’s about religion. In 1968, the liberal Warren Court carved out a narrow rule that if the government spends any money on something that involves faith, a person can be so offended that this creates a mental “injury” for which they can sue. This rule, from Flast v. Cohen, has been used to wound faith-based organizations in federal court ever since its inception. It’s a weapon of choice of the Left to purge the public square of all reference to God.
Read the whole thing.
When you have nothing, what is the threat of a fine? When you are already in prison what is the threat of imprisonment?
One of the curious side effects of the Liberal’s success in demonizing Bush and Cheney is that the threat can’t get any worse. “May as well be hung for a sheep as for a goat” the old saying goes.
When you have nothing to lose, you are free to act.
What a comparison: stuff my brother sent me.
I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans, I'm talking about our troops!
Isn't it outrageous, that our government has lavished all kinds of social benefits on illegals, but don't support our troops and are now threatening to cut funding for them?
Please pass this on, this is worth the short time it takes to read it.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
It was a colorful dissent and Volokh opined that it did not meet his standards of judicial conduct. I thought it was funny and spot-on. But then, I'm not a lawyer.
But here is a survey that should worry lawyers, judges, and law professors. While judges are still ahead of Congress and the President in the opinion of the average person, they are no longer revered. In fact, roughly half of the people polled believed that judges were not impartial, but instead allowed their personal opinions influence their decisions.
When asked whether the partisan backgrounds of judges influences their decisions,
42 % say a lot, 44 % say some, and only 10 % say not much at all. When asked if “in many cases judges are really basing their decisions on their own personal beliefs” 56 % agree and only 36 % disagree.
When asked if the courts are out of step with the American public, 47 % agree and 44 % disagree.
Judges always say that their decisions are based on the law and the Constitution, but in many cases judges are really basing their decisions on their own personal beliefs.
No opinion 7.8%
If you look at the other questions on the survey, people want in independent judiciary, but they don't believe that judges base their decisions on the law, but on their personal preferences. In other words, they see the courts as legislators in dresses.
MOSCOW, July 14 — President Vladimir V. Putin, angered by American plans to deploy a missile shield in Eastern Europe, formally notified NATO governments on Saturday that Russia will suspend its obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a key cold war-era arms limitation agreement.
I am soooo puzzled. I have been assured by the NY Times that the missile defense program, dubbed “Star Wars” by the incredibly wise and witty Senator Kennedy, was a sham. It only existed in the fevered imagination of Ronald Reagan …. and we know what a dunce he was. It would not work. It was a huge waste of money. It would not be effective … against the Soviet arsenal … it could not hit its targets … it was both unworkable and destabilizing.
Stop! You are making my head hurt by holding too many contradictory ideas at the same time.
You would think that Russia would want to see the United States military waste its money in weapons that don’t work. We have been assured by our intelligentsia, our editorial writers and our scientist that anti-missile systems don’t work. Hasn’t any one of these people told Yeltsin to read the NY Times? Why is he concerned at all about US weapons systems that can’t do their job?
I’m convinced that the geniuses that write editorials and article for the MSM are right and the Yeltsin and whoever he’s getting his military information system is wrong. So the way to get Yeltsin to not abrogate this Cold War treaty is for … negotiation. Of course the Bush/Cheney Whitehouse can’t be trusted to do this because the fools believe that the system will work. So, let’s send the editorial staff of the NY Times to Moscow and explain, in words of one syllable, so that silly old Yeltsin will understand, that his military advisors are wrong, the US is wasting its money and he should ENCOURAGE the US to install the missile system.
I mean, it’s like our situation in Iraq. By fighting al Qaida in Iraq we are encouraging that group and actually increasing their power. So al Qaida is really on Bush’s side and hates the Democrats and the MSM and the “peace activists.” Am I right or am I right?
Pour me another bartender.
The Reaper can carry a great weapons payload and will be able to stay aloft for 14 hours. The typical fighter/bomber can only "loiter" for a few hours at most. Plus, it can go boldly into enemy fire with no risk of a dead or captured pilot.
Click on the link for the animated version.
Liberals should be careful what they wish for.
Let me review for you who are too young to remember what followed the withdrawal from Viet Nam. The troops came home to a country that either ignored them of spit on them.
In Cambodia we had the killing fields in which anywhere from 1.7 to 2.3 million people were killed out of a population of 7 million. Call it genocide.
In Viet Nam hundreds of thousands were imprisoned in “re-education camps” in which tens of thousands died and roughly two million people fled the country, primarily in boats, and roughly half of them died or were killed.
The American people were distracted by the resignation of Richard Nixon. The “peace” movement in the US and elsewhere were not interested in accepting responsibility for the aftermath of their actions. So the “collateral damage of ‘peace’” was consigned to the back pages. Where it had to be noticed because the stench of rotting bodies was too strong, all blame was assigned to Nixon, Kissinger and the “baby killers” who returned from Viet Nam.
There are all sorts of ways that today’s “peace activists” want to end our fight. This morning I watched Senator Webb expound on his recommendation for ending our involvement in Iraq: negotiation. He was never pressed by Tim Russert who his negotiating partner was, what he had to negotiate with and what we should be doing while negotiating. I suspect that he would answer that we negotiate with Iran and Syria. But we are not currently at war with either of these countries and it’s not totally clear to me that they are in control of the people we are fighting. Now perhaps we should invade both counties, or threaten to because they are helping the people who we are fighting. But I’m totally sure that Senator Webb would be horrified at the suggestion.
But that’s another essay for another day.
The opponents of the present war should be careful because the troops coming back from Iraq are not the young draftees who want to hide their uniforms and blend into the crowd like the Viet Nam era troops did. These are all volunteers. They are older. Many are reservists who have careers. They are articulate and well spoken. They are gung-ho for the mission. Many have volunteered for multiple tours. And if you try to spit on them, they will bust your chops.
From milbloggers we know that the media portrayal of life in Iraq and reality are two different things. Our soldiers know the face of the enemy. And they know that they have more than one enemy. And I know enough about these people that when they come back, they won’t be coming quietly if they have been forced to retreat in defeat because of modern-day Copperheads.
And this time there will not be a monolithic media who can write the script for the end of the war like they did after Viet Nam. This time our fighting men and women will not be silent. This time the “new media” like talk radio and the blogosphere will give them a voice. This time, my lads, they may very well come for you.
I have written before about how the U.S. surgeon general has become the national nanny, nagging us to stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more and never leave home without a condom. James W. Holsinger, a surgeon and cardiologist from Kentucky, is President Bush’s latest nominee for the post. His nomination has been in trouble because of some retrograde comments and writings on homosexuality. But it is also worth noting that Dr. Holsinger testified yesterday he also supports:
- Universal health insurance;
- Banning pharmaceutical advertising;
- Banning the advertising of sugary cereals and other “junk food” on television;
- Federal regulation of vending machines in schools; and
- Increasing tobacco taxes as part of a campaign to “make America a tobacco-free nation.”
Saturday, July 14, 2007
There may be some kind of a secret ceremony involving water, but that's just a rumor.
Well, that route also applies to becoming KEY REPUBLICAN SENATOR.
Congratulations, Republican: You've won a statewide election, come to Washington, and been sworn in. Welcome to the U.S. Senate! But you want to be more than just any old legislator; you want to be important -- a powerbroker, a mover and shaker, a bigwig. In short, you want to be a Key Republican Senator.
To achieve your goal, you must first observe other Key Republican Senators. They're easy to spot, because our esteemed press corps conveniently labels them.
Read the whole thing.
Labels: biased reporting
The Virginian Pilot Ventures Into Blogging
The first thing I want to acknowledge is that MSM people are usually good writers. They cannot be faulted on sheer "professional writer" skills. But quite often, that's just what they are. And, being human, they have a political orientation that makes what they write about and how they write about it drearily predictable.
The danger is that their viewpoints and attitudes, their narrative of life, will shape and form the viewpoint of their readers who will be unable to perceive reality. It's as if you went to an eye doctor who fitted you with glasses that made everything you saw look like the reflections in a fun house mirror.
Ronald Reagan told a story about how his vision as a youth was so bad that virtually everything he saw was a blur. It was a revelation to him when he got glasses and saw things as they are. One of the benefits of the Internet revolution is that the role of the "gatekeepers of truth" is being eliminated. There will still be distortion, there will still be the funhouse mirror view, but through the multiplicity of views people whill be able to see things as they are. Prava and the Virginian Pilot will no longer define reality.
"Power To The People"
Which gets me back to the new MSM bloggers.
Richard Quinn wrote a blog article on the meeting Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, had with bloggers prior to his speech to a Republican fund raiser.
A video tape of the meeting is available HERE.
It was part snark, part fact and part a slam at bloggers. I have previously discussed Dick’s snark. Let’s now get to what he apparently considers to be the role of reporters and how we as bloggers failed. Keep in mind that Dick is a trained writer. Not an analyst, not an engineer, but a 1999 graduate of Rowan State University with a degree in “professional writing.” In other words, his alternative career choice could have been to write the manuals that you get with your VCR.
What are our failures as reporters? Let me count the ways: We are:
“regular guys with opinions and an Internet connection.”True. We don’t have a degree in “professional writing.” The difference between us and Dick is that we come from a variety of backgrounds. We’re older and more experienced and we don’t get paid to give our opinions. One has the impression that unless there’s money in it, we should shut up and sit down.
I’m not sure what to make of
“The rigidity of mainstream media wasn’t in the room.”But I have to agree that we were not rigid. Some of us even slumped. It was a pretty relaxed meeting with a very important person.
I do know what to make of this:
“There was no animosity or sense of confrontation. It wasn’t a candidateMy response is twofold: professional writers who get paid for writing about public figures are sometimes confrontational, and sometimes resemble Monica Lewinski under Bill Clinton's desk.
preaching to journalists. It was a preacher talking to his flock.”
If you want an example of this blatant sucking-up click on my link to “More Obama Ogling in Newsweek.”
There is animosity and confrontation when the writer disagrees with the politician. Go to any White House news conference and listen to that old crone Helen Thomas, or virtually any other reporter from the alphabet networks or the NewyorkTimesLATimesChicagotribuneNewsweekTimeblablabla. That's animosity.
Apparently the big questions that professional reporters would ask are about someone’s personal life:
“questions were frank, but rarely too probing. His personal foibles of the past were never broached, and since there was no political squirming, his striped yellow tie never moved off his blue shirt.”Well, maybe that’s why I’m not a professional reporter. I have never asked anyone who has been divorced whether he cheated on his wife, how many times, and “how was it?” The Speaker had scheduled 30 minutes with the bloggers. I had prepared some questions beforehand. Not one of them involved marital infidelity. Why should it? We were not participants in the Jerry Springer show. There are momentous issues facing the country and Newt Gingrich’s past history with women is not one of them. To suggest that they are or ought to be discussed for the purposes of watching him squirm is juvenile.
I despise Bill Clinton, but if I had the opportunity to interview him I would not go into his affair with Monica, his rape of Juanita Broderick or any of his other sexual escapades although these are issues that certainly affected his Presidency and no doubt deflected his attention from issues that were more vital to the country. Questions like that, of course, sell newspapers. They provide heat without light. But keep in mind that professional writers get paid to sell newspapers. We “amateurs” don’t need to do that so we can ask questions that don’t bring adolescent sniggers.
Then again we have the assumption that verbal aggression is key to the role of getting the facts:
"The Speaker could say all that because no one here would push too hard. “Actually we did not have to push hard to get the Speaker to tell us what he thought of the current administration. He let the Bush Administration have it with both barrels, and did it from an historical perspective
But no one pressed the issue on Gingrich’s views on the ever-controversial justification for the war and whether the country should withdraw its troops.Why should people who agree with Gingrich on the war press him on this issue? We question people on issues when they disagree with us on issues. Why should I express an opinion that is not mine? Should I repeat the bumper sticker slogans “Bush lied, people died” when I don’t believe that?
Gingrich believes the war is justified. In fact, he believes the war has been fought with much too political correctness. He believes that when people state they intend to kill you, they should be taken seriously and handled in such a way that they are no longer capable of carrying out that threat. He says he would be "Bush plus 40%."
That may not be Quinn’s position. In fact, some on the Left believe that there is an “acceptable” level of death from terror attacks that society should learn to live with. That terror attacks are acceptable at some "nuisance" level. I would like to know Quinn’s position on that. I have no question about Newt’s position on that.
Regarding border security and a fence:
"No one pushed the Speaker on how much that would cost or how many border agents would have to be hired.“Because that question would have been irrelevant, and would have been a big fat layup for the Speaker. We amateur bloggers and the American public by overwhelming majorities see border security as one of the critical roles of a national government. Not one of the other bloggers there believed that porous borders that allow millions to stream in from neighboring countries should be allowed. The bizarre assumption that the United States Federal budget, currently $3 TRILLION DOLLARS, does not have room for border enforcement is fall-down laughable and a question about that would have revealed more about the questioner than about the Speaker.
"No one even asked whether he will run for president. It would be unseemly, they said.“Well, "they“ did not say it. That was Jim Hoeft. But asking him a question that he has refused to answer hundreds, if not thousands, of times before in the limited time we had with him would have been a waste. It would have exposed us as silly and not serious. It would have exposed us as "reporters." There is something in "reporters" mental wiring that causes each one, in turn, to ask the same question even if they know the answer. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Finally, reporters, especially blogging reporters, should know that misquoting someone, taking a quote out of context or otherwise distorting what someone said - while standard operating procedure in the print media - is futile in the Internet age. When there is an electronic record of the actual quotation it can make you look dishonest. So when Quinn says
He answered a query about whether he thinks this country can lose to terrorists by saying "We have defeated the Kaiser.”...you only have to go the the video tape to know how dishonest that quote was. For those who don't have the capability, what Newt said was:
If somebody gets up and says they are going to come and kill us I have a very straightforward answer. We have defeated the Kaiser, we defeated Adolf Hitler and Imperial Japan, we defeated the Soviet Union. And if you want to threaten our survival we’re going to make sure when this is over we’re still here and you’re not.
Lesson number one to "professional" bloggers: don't screw around with the facts when there is a recorder on.
Are TV Comics Sources for Virginian Pilot Reporters? Fair and Balanced at the Virginian Pilot.
The article takes as its starting point the issue of Monica Goodling, a Regent Law graduate and uses that as a springboard into what Vegh believes are the deficiencies of the young Regent Law.
Among the critics quoted by Vegh are people like:
“Comedian Jon Stewart joked that the school was no more rigorous than a "Jiffy Law" drive-through.”
And “"It's not a hard school to get into," sneered comic Bill Maher. "You have to renounce Satan and draw a pirate on a matchbook.
[and Maher on Regent students]"Jesus freaks" graduating from "a televangelist's diploma mill,"
"It's not just some weird religious school."
Another quote [from Barry Lynn]:
He also said Regent's law students are not incompetent.
Again – who suggested that Regent’s students were incompetent?
If I were to assert that Steven Vegh was not a child molester, no matter what anyone said, I would be committing the same sort of journalistic malpractice that Vegh is practicing here. Reporters for the MSM are guilty of doing this every day.
The rest of the article provides statistics proving that Regent Law is not as highly regarded as Harvard Law. Really? Who knew? But what it is designed to do is to smear Regent.
There is even an eye-popping paragraph that makes absolutely no sense since it does not support Vegh's contention that students attend Regent because it's cheap:
Price could be a factor. Regent's law tuition for 2007-08 is $26,660. By comparison, tuition at George Mason University - a public institution with a law school ranked 34th in the nation - is $16,716 for Virginia residents and $28,532 for out-of-state students.
What brings this article to mind was a conversation I had with Richard Quinn, a reporter and blogger for the Pilot. We were waiting for Newt Gingrich to arrive and the bloggers in the room got into a discussion of the new vs. the old media. I brought up the Regent Law article as an example of the kind of bias the media beings to issues.
In my conversation with Quinn, he asserted that he believed the article was fair and balanced. You can judge for yourself.
And I don’t believe for a moment that Quinn has ever molested anyone and I will deny that Quinn is either weird nor incompetent.
Labels: Virginian Pilot
This utilitarian calculus is not only understandable but rational and deeply seductive. Death penalty opponents understand this, which is why they insist that deterrence has no effect. I think this is poppycock, the studies saying otherwise be damned. It defies common sense to think that Chinese officials won't be deterred at all by Zheng's demise. At minimum, this will raise the price of bribes in China - which, as any economist will tell you, means that at the margins there will be fewer bribes. That the statistical evidence in the U.S. allegedly doesn't support the deterrence argument is more of a commentary on the inefficiencies of our criminal justice system.I agree that execution is primarily a moral issue and is done in large part to do “justice.” But to dismiss the utilitarian argument (that executing killers deters others from committing similar crimes) is unwise and counter-intuitive. Of course we don’t execute shoplifters because we believe that the punishment must fit the crime. Neither do we condemn them to life imprisonment or to having their hands chopped off.
But the point is that it shouldn't matter whether capital punishment is a deterrent. The death penalty cannot be justified by the deterrence argument alone. As the late sociologist Ernest van den Haag wrote, "Deterring the crimes, not yet committed, of others does not morally justify execution of any convict (except to utilitarians, who think usefulness is a moral justification)." It is child's play to make the utilitarian case for executing shoplifters, but as all but the most morally stunted should see, hanging one shoplifter cannot be justified by the argument that it will deter another.
Like van den Haag, I support the death penalty because I believe that in some cases the death penalty is just. But, save perhaps in the realm of military justice or some truly grave crisis, executing to set an example for others is an indefensible rationalization of mob rule. That is what they have in China and, too often, that is what some advocates of the death penalty argue for here.
It should be noted that not too many hundreds of years ago “we” did execute people who stole or poached game from the master’s domains.
Friday, July 13, 2007
LAST month Australians endured our coldest June since 1950. Imagine that; all those trillions of tonnes of evil carbon we've horked up into the atmosphere over six decades of rampant industrialisation, and we're still getting the same icy weather we got during the Cold War.
Not that June should be presented as evidence that global warming isn't happening, or that we're causing it. Relying on such a tiny sample would be unscientific and wrong, even if it involves an entire freakin' continent's weather patterns throughout the course of a whole month, for Christ's sake.
No such foolishness will be indulged in here.
Sadly, those who believe in global warming - and who would compel us also to believe - aren't similarly constrained. A few hot days are all they ever need to get the global warming bandwagon rolling; evidently it's solar powered. Here, for example, is an Australian Associated Press report on May's weather, which in places was a little warmer than usual:
"Climate change gave much of Australia's drought-stricken east coast its warmest May on record, weather experts say.
"Global warming and an absence of significant cold changes had driven temperatures well above the monthly average, said meteorologist Matt Pearce.
According to Mr Pearce, May's temperatures were "yet another sign of the widespread climate change that we are seeing unfold across the globe."
If that's the case, shouldn't June's cold weather - coldest since 1950, remember - be a sign that widespread climate change isn't unfolding across the globe? We're using the same data here; one month's weather. And, in fact, the June sample is Australia-wide while May only highlights the east coast. Fear the dawn of a great "coldening"!
I went to Michigan last winter to experience a real Michigan winter, and I was rewarded with a week-long blizzard. I'm on board for "global coldening."
Labels: global warming
In the eyes of the public, Congress is doing even worse than the president.
Public satisfaction with the job lawmakers are doing has fallen 11 points since May, to 24 percent, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. That's lower than for President Bush, who hasn't fared well lately, either.
To reach President Bush's approval rating waould be a major improvement for Congress.
Some Bloggers Meet With Newt Gingrich
I had been thinking of going, but this was a golden opportunity. My attendance would be comped and I would get a unique opportunity to meet and talk with Newt prior to the dinner.
We seldom get an opportunity to observe the “reporting process“up close and personal. There was a reporter in attendance: Richard Quinn working for the Virginian Pilot. The Pilot, like the rest of the old media is losing readers and trying to cope with the emergence of alternative sources of news and information. Let's face it, if you are a news oriented blogger, the stuff that appears in the "dead tree" media is old and dated. Quinn is part of the Pilot's effort to enter the "blogosphere." I was interested in the reporting process. Prior to Newt’s appearance the bloggers and Quinn discussed the role of what some are calling the “new media” in the political process.
In times past, public figures who wanted to reach out to the public were filtered by members of the media: the reporters and editors who picked and chose the message that was delivered to their readers. If they decided not to report on an event, for those who were not there, it did not happen - the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one to hear. If the media did not like the politico, he would be portrayed negatively; conversely, the candidate who they like would be portrayed positively.
But back to our meeting with Newt.
First let me state that Newt is largely responsible – along with Ronald Reagan – for the Conservative revolution that re-shaped American politics in the 1980s. To use an analogy from the French Revolution, we are now in the counter-revolutionary stage. We have restored the Bourbons in the form of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. And just like the Bourbons, they have forgotten nothing and have learned nothing.
Jim Hoeft threw a bouquet to Quinn with this:
Richard Quinn of the Virginian-Pilot is an outstanding reporter. So is Sonja
Barisic of the AP. These journalists — trained media professionals — have nothing to fear from joe-average bloggers. We need them. They paint a scene, describe a character, analyze an event so much better than us hobbyists. What we bring to the table is not the same. Bloggers do not go to events to
report, but to share observations and experiences.
Sorry, Jim, I can’t agree. Mike Cherney of the Virginian Pilot and Barisic (of the AP) wrote pieces that were workmanlike. Quinn – not so much. Perhaps because it was on his blog site, Quinn felt he could drop his cloak of objectivity. And frankly, I’m glad he did because it’s useful to see the man behind the curtain.
We bloggers wear our opinions openly. MSM reporters do also, but pretend they don’t. They have become skilled at appearing to present all sides but they put a thumb on the scales. It may be unfair, but let’s take just one sentence from "trained media professional" Quinn’s post on our meeting:
Oh yeah, the millionaire who was once the nation’s Republican overlord plopped down in a faux-leather chair in a Norfolk hotel to talk to J.R. Hoeft.
Interesting that the first adjective describing Newt should be his net worth. If “millionaire” was a unique descriptor, this may have value. But one could set off a bomb in congress and the chances of killing someone worth less than a million are close to zero. But of course we are to take away from this description that Newt is somehow wealthy and therefore one of the “evil rich.”
Then "Overlord," which sounds so much more colorful than "former Speaker of the House." At the risk of getting snarky, I’m going to have to get my organization chart of the Republican party and find out who currently holds the title of “Overlord.” The use of terms like “millionaire” and “overlord” in an article like this are more understandable when you realize that Quinn is a 1999 graduate of Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing.
"Plopped down in a faux leather chair." Actually Dick ... can I call you Dick? ... he did not “plop down.” He entered the room, shook everyone’s hand and asked politely where he should sit. Jim Hoeft directed him to the chair that had been chosen for him ... because of the lighting in the room. You remember that, don’t you Dick? All the trouble to get enough light in the room to make a video of the meeting? With that Best Buy camera?
And Dick, he didn’t come to the room to “talk to J.R. Hoeft” – the “Who?” in your little rant – he came to talk to all of us bloggers. The rest of us were not potted plants.
Jim, you may want to take Dick’s insults ("He took no offense that the only video camera in the room could be bought with no-money down at Best Buy." and "The Speaker could say all that because no one here would push too hard.”). I, on the other hand, like to ask the tough questions ... of the members of the MSM.
But I am glad that we can see what the man behind the curtain looks like. You can decide if you like what you see.
And Jim, thanks for the invitation and the opportunity to get together and meet the Speaker. I would like to do it again some time.