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Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces (Read 381180 times)
Re: Political Rants
Reply #250 on:
September 02, 2006, 11:37:58 AM »
September 1, 2006
The Waiting Game
Do we really need further convincing of the threat we face?
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
Hezbollah?s black-clad legions goose-step and stiff-arm salute in parade, apparently eager to convey both the zeal and militarism of their religious fascism. Meanwhile, consider Hezbollah?s ?spiritual? head, Hassan Nasrallah ? the current celebrity of an unhinged Western media that tried to reinvent the man?s own self-confessed defeat as a victory. Long before he hid in the Iranian embassy Nasrallah was on record boasting: ?The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win because they love life and we love death.?
Iran?s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trumps that Hitlerian nihilism by reassuring the poor, maltreated Germans that there was no real Holocaust. Perhaps he is concerned that greater credit might still go to Hitler for Round One than to the mullahs for their hoped-for Round Two, in which the promise is to ?wipe? Israel off the map.
The only surprise about the edition of Hitler?s Mein Kampf that has become a best seller in Middle Eastern bookstores is its emboldened title translated as ?Jihadi? ? as in ?My Jihad? ? confirming in ironic fashion the ?moderate? Islamic claim that ?jihad? just means ?struggle,? as in an ?inner struggle? ? as in a Kampf perhaps.
Meanwhile, we in the West who worry about all this are told to fret instead about being ?Islamophobes.? Indeed, a debate rages over the very use of ?Islamic fascism? to describe the creed of terrorist killers ? as if those authoritarians who call for a return of the ancient caliphate, who wish to impose of 7th-century sharia law, promise death to the Western ?crusader? and ?Jew,? and long to retreat into a mythical alternate universe of religious purity and harsh discipline, untainted by a ?decadent? liberal West, are not fascists. It is almost as if Alfred Rosenberg has returned in a kaffiyeh to explain why Jews really are apes and pigs, and why we must recapture the spirit of our primitive ancestors.
Next, in the manner that Hitler was to be understood as victimized by the Versailles Treaty, so too we hear the litany of perceived grievances against the Islamic fascists ? George Bush, the West Bank, Gaza, or now Lebanon. But does anyone remember that bin Laden quip, four years before 9/11, when Mr. Bush was still governor of Texas: ?Mentioning the name of Clinton or the American government provokes disgust and revulsion.?
Even as we split hairs over whether terrorists flocked to, or were created by, Iraq, the jihadists make no such distinctions between their theaters of operation. Listen to al Qaeda?s Aymin al-Zawahiri: ?The Jihad movement is growing and rising. It reached its peak with the two blessed raids on New York and Washington. And now it is waging a great heroic battle in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and even within the Crusaders? own homes.?
?Even within the Crusaders? own homes? would include, I think, the planned attacks against opponents of the Iraq war, such as Canada and Germany. Their often shrill, and sometimes blatantly anti-American, antagonism to the 2003 war still earned them no exemption from efforts to chop off the head of the Canadian prime minister or to blow up hundreds of Germans on passenger trains.
Here at home we witness ?al-Qaedism? ? fanatics shooting Jews in Seattle, murder at the Los Angeles airport, an SUV running over innocent pedestrians in San Francisco or driving over students in North Carolina, sniping in Maryland. And we shrug them all off. Surely such incidents can be explained, are not connected, occur at random ? anything other than the truth that the constant harangues of the Islamic fascists really do filter down, even if randomly and spontaneously, to a number of angry and alienated young Muslim males in the West.
Some cling to the notion that Islamic rage is not the manifestation of an elemental hatred, but is merely about land. That?s about what bin Laden said in 1998 when he urged all Muslims to murder all the Americans: ?to kill the Americans and their allies ? civilians and military ? is an obligation incumbent upon every Muslim who can do it and in any country ? this until the Asqa Mosque (Jerusalem) and the Holy Mosque (Mecca) are liberated from their grip.?
But the long overdue withdrawal of soldiers from Saudi Arabia (who were out in a godforsaken desert and nowhere near the ?Holy Mosque?) had no more effect on al Qaeda than did the Israeli departure from Gaza and Lebanon on Hamas and Hezbollah. As in the case of Hitler?s serial demands for return of the ?stolen? German Sudetenland and then Czechoslovakia, land was never the real issue. Perceived loss of pride and status, hatred of the Jews, and unbridled contempt for a liberal West were.
The truth is that we are in a pause, a lull in a great storm that broke upon us five years ago on September 11. We are waiting to see when and where and how ? not really if ? the Iranians test their envisioned bomb. ?Another 9/11? is now part of the lexicon, suggesting that most Americans accept that an amorphous enemy that tries to knock down the Sears Tower, to blow up the Holland tunnel, to explode airliners over the Atlantic, and to slaughter commuters from London to Madrid to the Rhine may finally get lucky once ? and that once could be a death warrant for thousands of Westerners.
After 9/11 we were at war with a fascist creed that had trumped any damage to the homeland wrought by all earlier enemies, whether Germans, Italians, Japanese, or Russians. But now, five years later, we are in a holding pattern, waiting in a classic bellum interruptum ? whether in exhaustion from this long war in Afghanistan and Iraq, or complacent due to our very success hitherto in preventing jihadists from enacting mass murder in the United States.
So we are in limbo ? a sort of war, a sort of peace. Lulls of this nature are not such rare things in history. The Athenians and the Spartans between 421-415, or the Western Europeans between October 1939 and May 1940, likewise thought the squall had passed ? the respite a sign that the enemy was satiated, or was occupied elsewhere, or had had a change of heart, or that times of transient calm might mean permanent peace
We all wish it were so, but in private also fear that the worst ? whether from al Qaeda, Iran, or their epigones ? is to come.
Our pundits and experts scoff at all this concern over Islamic fascism ? as crude propaganda, neo-conservative war mongering, a veiled agenda to do Israel?s bidding, conspiracies to finish turning America from a republic into an empire, or just old-fashioned paranoia.
Their argument for thinking the danger is slight is that either we have already won, or we don?t really have a credible enemy to defeat other than a few thugs better left to the FBI and federal attorneys: the jihadists may sound like Nazis; but they lack a nation-state and thus the means to harm the West to any great degree. Intent is irrelevant, if the means are absent. Sure, there is a Mein Kampf, but no Wehrmacht in the Middle East.
There are three rejoinders to this notion that the Islamic fascists are hardly serious enemies, and cannot be compared to the old-time fascists who once started a war that led to 50 million deaths.
First, Islamic fascism is already the creed of the government of an oil-rich and soon to be nuclear Iran. Secular authoritarians like Pakistan?s Pervez Musharraf could easily fall, and the nation?s nuclear arsenal with him, into the hands of the madrassa Islamists. It is not inconceivable to envision several nuclear bombs among one or more theocratic governments in the years to come.
Second, in an age of weapons of mass destruction, global terrorism, and culpable deniability, authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes can, without being traced, subsidize and sanction killers, who in turn, with the right weapons, can kill and maim tens of thousands.
Third, in an interconnected and often fragile world, the mere attempt to blow up trains, jets, and iconic buildings results anyway in millions of dollars in damage to the West: ever more expensive airline security, cancelled flights, and money-losing delays and interruptions in a general climate of fear.
Each time Mr. Ahmadinejad opens his mouth, or Mr. Nasrallah shoots off a primitive rocket, the global stock market can dip, and the price of petroleum spikes. A good dissertation is needed to ascertain how many billions of dollars Ahmadinejad has conned for his theocracy by means of his creepy rhetoric alone, through price hikes on the daily export of his oil. Since this war has progressed, oil has gone up from $25 a barrel to over $70, now adding an additional $500 billion per annum to the coffers of Middle East dictatorships.
Given Iraq, Afghanistan, and the acrimony at home ? so similar to the debate right before Pearl Harbor over the earlier discounted fascist threat to the United States ? we apparently are waiting for the enemy to strike again, before renewing the offensive.
So while we keep our defenses up at home, foster democracy in the heart of the Middle East in Afghanistan and Iraq, and hope the globalized march of modernity undermines jihadism faster than it can disrupt the 21st century, we also wait ? for the next blow that we know will come.
?2006 Victor Davis Hanson
Re: Political Rants
Reply #251 on:
September 12, 2006, 11:35:36 AM »
By BRET STEPHENS
? The Liberals' War
? In Britain, the Jihadi Is Us
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ABOUT BRET STEPHENS
Bret Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board. He joined the Journal in New York in 1998 as a features editor and moved to Brussels the following year to work as an editorial writer for the paper's European edition. In 2002, Mr. Stephens, then 28, became editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, where he was responsible for its news, editorial, electronic and international divisions, and where he also wrote a weekly column. He returned to his present position in late 2004 and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum the following year.
Mr. Stephens was raised in Mexico City and educated at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics. He lives with his family in New York City. He invites comments to
The Liberals' War
September 12, 2006; Page A21
"When I was 19, I moved to New York City. . . . If you had asked me to describe myself then, I would have told you I was a musician, an artist and, on a somewhat political level, a woman, a lesbian and a Jew. Being an American wouldn't have made my list. On Sept. 11, all that changed. I realized that I had been taking the freedoms I have here for granted. Now I have an American flag on my backpack, I cheer at the fighter jets as they pass overhead and I am calling myself a patriot."
-- Rachel Newman, "My Turn" in Newsweek, Oct. 21, 2001
Here's a puzzle: Why is it so frequently the case that the people who have the most at stake in the battle against Islamic extremism and the most to lose when Islamism gains -- namely, liberals -- are typically the most reluctant to fight it?
It is often said, particularly in the "progressive" precincts of the democratic left, that by aiming at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and perhaps the Capitol, Mohammed Atta and his cohorts were registering a broader Muslim objection to what those buildings supposedly represented: capitalism and globalization, U.S. military power, support for Israel, oppression of the Palestinians and so on.
But maybe Ms. Newman intuited that Atta's real targets weren't the symbols of American mightiness, but of what that mightiness protected: people like her, bohemian, sexually unorthodox, a minority within a minority. Maybe she understood that those F-16s overhead -- likely manned by pilots who went to church on Sunday and voted the straight GOP ticket -- were being flown above all for her defense, at the outer cultural perimeter of everything that America's political order permits.
This may be reading too much into Ms. Newman's essay. Yet after 9/11 at least a few old-time voices on the left -- Christopher Hitchens, Bruce Bawer, Paul Berman and Ron Rosenbaum, among others -- understood that what Islamism most threatened wasn't just America generally, but precisely the values that modern liberalism had done so much to promote and protect for the past 40 years: civil rights, gay rights, feminism, privacy rights, reproductive choice, sexual freedom, the right to worship as one chooses, the right not to worship at all. And so they bid an unsentimental good-bye to their one-time comrades and institutions: the peace movement, the pages of the Nation and the New York Review of Books, "the deluded and pathetic sophistry of postmodernists of the left, who believe their unreadable, jargon-clotted theory somehow helps liberate the wretched of the earth," as Mr. Rosenbaum wrote in the New York Observer in 2002.
Five years on, however, Messrs. Hitchens, Bawer et al. seem less like trendsetters and more like oddball dissenters from a left-liberal orthodoxy that finds less and less to like about the very idea of a war on Islamic extremism, never mind the war in Iraq. In the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, formerly Jimmy Carter's speechwriter, argues that the smart thing for the U.S. to do is declare victory and give the conflict a rest: "A state of war with no clear end point," he writes, "makes it more likely for a country to overreact in ways that hurt itself." Further to the left, a panoply of "peace" groups is all but in league with Islamists. Consider, for instance, QUIT! -- Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism -- a group that, in its hatred for Israel, curiously fails to notice that Tel Aviv is the only city in the Middle East that annually hosts a gay-pride parade.
An instinct for pacifism surely goes some way toward explaining the left's curious unwillingness to sign up for a war to defend its core values. A suspicion of black-and-white moral distinctions of the kind President Bush is fond of making about terrorism -- a suspicion that easily slides into moral relativism -- is another.
But there are deeper factors at work. One is appeasement: "Many Europeans feel that a confrontation with Islamism will give the Islamists more opportunities to recruit -- that confronting evil is counterproductive," says Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born, former Dutch parliamentarian whose outspoken opposition to Islamism (and to Islam itself) forced her repeatedly into hiding and now into exile in the United States. "They think that by appeasing them -- allowing them their own ghettoes, their own Muslim schools -- they will win their friendship."
A second factor, she says, is the superficial confluence between the bugaboos of the Chomskyite left and modern-day Islamism. "Many social democrats have this stereotype that the corporate world, the U.S. and Israel are the real evil. And [since] Islamists are also against Israel and America, [social democrats] sense an alliance with them."
But the really "lethal mistake," she says, "is the confusion of Islam, which is a body of ideas, with ethnicity." Liberals especially are reluctant to criticize the content of Islam because they fear that it is tantamount to criticizing Muslims as a group, and is therefore almost a species of racism. Yet Muslims, she says, "are responsible for their ideas. If it is written in the Koran that you must kill apostates, kill the unbelievers, kill gays, then it is legitimate and urgent to say, 'if that is what your God tells you, you have to modify it.'"
A similar rethink may be in order among liberals and progressives. For whatever else distinguishes Islamism from liberalism, both are remarkably self-absorbed affairs, obsessed with maintaining the purity of their own values no matter what the cost. In the former case, the result too often is terror. In the latter, the ultimate risk is suicide, as the endless indulgence of "the other" obstructs the deeper need to preserve itself. Liberal beliefs -- and the Rachel Newmans of the world -- deserve to be protected and fought for. A liberalism that abandons its own defense to others does not, something liberals everywhere might usefully dwell on during this season of sad remembrance.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #252 on:
September 13, 2006, 12:11:48 PM »
Commentary by Keith Olbermann
September 11, 2006
Half a lifetime ago, I worked in this now-empty space. And for 40 days after the attacks, I worked here again, trying to make sense of what happened, and was yet to happen, as a reporter. All the time, I knew that the very air I breathed contained the remains of thousands of people, including four of my friends, two in the planes and -- as I discovered from those "missing posters" seared still into my soul -- two more in the Towers.
And I knew too, that this was the pyre for hundreds of New York policemen and firemen, of whom my family can claim half a dozen or more, as our ancestors. I belabor this to emphasize that, for me this was, and is, and always shall be, personal.
And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.
However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.
Five years later this space is still empty.
Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.
Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.
Five years later this country's wound is still open.
Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.
Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.
It is beyond shameful.
At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.
Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.
Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.
Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.
And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.
And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.
The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.
Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.
Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.
Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.
History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.
Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.
The President -- and those around him -- did that.
They promised bi-partisanship, and then showed that to them, "bi-partisanship" meant that their party would rule and the rest would have to follow, or be branded, with ever-escalating hysteria, as morally or intellectually confused, as appeasers, as those who, in the Vice President's words yesterday, "validate the strategy of the terrorists."
They promised protection, and then showed that to them "protection" meant going to war against a despot whose hand they had once shaken, a despot who we now learn from our own Senate Intelligence Committee, hated al-Qaida as much as we did.
The polite phrase for how so many of us were duped into supporting a war, on the false premise that it had 'something to do' with 9/11 is "lying by implication."
The impolite phrase is "impeachable offense."
Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space, and to this, the current, curdled, version of our beloved country. Still, there is a last snapping flame from a final candle of respect and fairness: even his most virulent critics have never suggested he alone bears the full brunt of the blame for 9/11. Half the time, in fact, this President has been so gently treated, that he has seemed not even to be the man most responsible for anything in his own administration.
Yet what is happening this very night?
A mini-series, created, influenced -- possibly financed by -- the most radical and cold of domestic political Machiavellis, continues to be televised into our homes.
The documented truths of the last fifteen years are replaced by bald-faced lies; the talking points of the current regime parroted; the whole sorry story blurred, by spin, to make the party out of office seem vacillating and impotent, and the party in office, seem like the only option.
How dare you, Mr. President, after taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love, and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death, after monstrously transforming it into fear and suspicion and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections? How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?
Just as the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero. So, too, have they succeeded, and are still succeeding as long as this government uses 9/11 as a wedge to pit Americans against Americans.
This is an odd point to cite a television program, especially one from March of 1960. But as Disney's continuing sell-out of the truth (and this country) suggests, even television programs can be powerful things.
And long ago, a series called "The Twilight Zone" broadcast a riveting episode entitled "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."
In brief: a meteor sparks rumors of an invasion by extra-terrestrials disguised as humans. The electricity goes out. A neighbor pleads for calm. Suddenly his car -- and only his car -- starts. Someone suggests he must be the alien. Then another man's lights go on. As charges and suspicion and panic overtake the street, guns are inevitably produced. An "alien" is shot -- but he turns out to be just another neighbor, returning from going for help. The camera pulls back to a near-by hill, where two extra-terrestrials are seen manipulating a small device that can jam electricity. The veteran tells his novice that there's no need to actually attack, that you just turn off a few of the human machines and then, "they pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves."
And then, in perhaps his finest piece of writing, Rod Serling sums it up with words of remarkable prescience, given where we find ourselves tonight: "The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.
"For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own -- for the children, and the children yet unborn."
When those who dissent are told time and time again -- as we will be, if not tonight by the President, then tomorrow by his portable public chorus -- that he is preserving our freedom, but that if we use any of it, we are somehow un-American...When we are scolded, that if we merely question, we have "forgotten the lessons of 9/11"... look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me:
Who has left this hole in the ground?
We have not forgotten, Mr. President.
May this country forgive you.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #253 on:
September 17, 2006, 09:32:36 AM »
CRADLE OF HATE
By RALPH PETERS
September 15, 2006 -- ISLAMIST terror is a deadly threat we have barely
begun to address. Yet religion-fueled fanaticism in the Middle East
shouldn't surprise us: The tradition pre-dates the Prophet's birth by
thousands of years.
Terrorists just have better tools these days.
What should amaze us isn't the terrorists' strength, which has limits, but
the comprehensive failure of Middle Eastern civilization. Given all the
wealth that's poured into the region, its vast human resources and all of
its opportunities for change, the mess the Middle East has made of itself is
Beyond Israel, the region hasn't produced a single first-rate government,
army, economy, university or industry. It hasn't even produced convincing
Culturally, the region is utterly noncompetitive. Societies stagnate as
populations seethe. To the extent it exists, development benefits the
wealthy and powerful. The common people are either ignored or miserably
oppressed - and not just the women.
Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn't so much an invasion as a last-minute rescue
mission - an attempt to give one major Middle Eastern state a
two-minutes-to-midnight chance to develop a humane, democratic government.
It may not work. But we'd better hope it does.
The Middle East's failure on every front enabled the rise of the
terrorists - as well as the empowerment of other religious extremists,
secular dictators and political parties willing to poison electorates with
The popular culprit for the mess is Islam. And there can be no doubt that
the faith's local degeneration has been catastrophic for the region. By far
the most numerous victims of "Islam Gone Wild" have been Middle Eastern
But we can't be content with a single explanation for a civilization's
failure, as powerful as the answer may appear. Yes, Islamist governments
fail miserably. But so do secular Arab, Persian and Pakistani governments
(whose leaders belatedly play the Islamic card).
Yes, the culture is Islamic, even in nominally secular states. But we have
to ask some very politically incorrect questions that cut even deeper.
Many of the social, governmental and psychological structures at the core of
Middle Eastern societies pre-date Islam. Authoritarian government; a
slave-like status for women; pervasive corruption; labor viewed as an evil
to be avoided; the relegation of learning to narrow castes; economies that
rely on trade rather than productivity to generate wealth, even the
grandiose rhetoric - all were in place long before Islam appeared.
The repeated failures we've witnessed go far beyond a religion on its
sickbed. Instead of Islam being the Middle East's problem, what if Islam's
problem is the Middle East?
Were Christianity and Judaism "saved" because they escaped the Middle East?
Were these other two great monotheist religions able to master the power of
knowledge and human potential because they were driven from their
stultifying cultural and geographic origins? Did the Diaspora and the
subsequent Muslim destruction of the cradle of Christianity ultimately save
these two faiths?
The Middle East is a straitjacket that turns religions mad. We got away.
A dozen years ago, I wrote that "culture is fate." And culture is tied to
soil. My travels over the intervening years have only deepened that
conviction. Regions have distinct cultures that endure long beyond the
shelf-life predicted for them by academics.
The stunning conquests Islam made in its early centuries may have been its
undoing - a faith secure in its heartlands never had to worry about its
survival thereafter. Despite gruesome invasions, Islam remained safely
rooted in its native earth.
As "refugee religions," Christianity and Judaism had to struggle to
survive - the latter still struggles today. For all of the pop theories
blaming the Rise of the West on germs, dumb luck or sheer nastiness, the
truth is that Judeo-Christian civilization was hardened by mortal threats -
including horrendous internal conflicts.
We got tough. And the tough got going.
It isn't an accident that the industrial revolution took off in
resource-poor Britain, or that the poverty-ridden contin- ent of Europe
invented new means of exerting power.
In exile, the Judeo-Christian civilization grew up on the global mean
streets. MiddleEastern Islam suffered from easy wealth, luxury and a
narcotic regional heritage.
We changed, they froze. An Assyrian tyrant, such as the murderous
Ashurbanipal - who reigned over 1,200 years before Mohammed's birth -would
understand the governments, societies and disciplinarian religion of today's
Middle East. The West would baffle him.
Since the Renaissance, the West fixed its gaze on the future. Islamic
civilization sought to freeze time, to cling to a dream of a lost paradise,
part Islamic Baghdad, part Babylon.
Shocked awake over the past few centuries, some Middle Easterners realized
they had to change. But they didn't know how. Modernization sputtered out.
Pan-Arabism foundered on greed and corruption.
The shah tried to buy the "good parts" of Western civilization, but the
pieces didn't work on their own. Next, Iran tried theocracy - government by
bigots. Didn't work either.
"Oil-rich" Saudi Arabia has a per capita GDP half that of Israel's (whose
sole resource is people). Dubai has shopping malls - selling designer goods
with Western labels.
Today's fanatics can hurt us, but can't destroy us. Their fatal ability is
to drag their civilization down to an even lower level.
The problem is that the Middle East hasn't been able to escape the Middle
Whom the Crocodile Eats Last
Reply #254 on:
September 17, 2006, 12:17:55 PM »
Victor Davis Hanson
September 16, 2006 6:37 PM
Oriana Fallaci, RIP, the Pope, and a Sad Age
Rarely has the death of a public intellectual affected me as much as the passing of Oriana Fallaci. I never met her, and only received a brief note once from her accompanying a copy of The Rage and the Pride. The story of her career is well known, but her death, at this pivotal time, was full of paradoxes and yet instruction as well.
Radical Islam is, among other things, a patriarchal movement, embedded particularly in the cult of the Middle-Eastern male, who occupies a privileged position in a society that can be fairly described as one of abject gender apartheid. Islamism is also at war with the religious infidel, not just the atheist?and, in its envy and victimhood, fueled by a renewal of the age-old hatred of the Christian.
But so far, with very few exceptions other than the lion, Christopher Hitchens, the courageous William Shawcross, and a few others, the Left has either been neutral or anti-American in this struggle. And few Christians in positions of influence and respect have publicly defended their faith and the civilization that birthed it.
Candor, after all, can get one killed, exiled, or ostracized?whether a Danish cartoonist, a Dutch filmmaker, a Wall Street Journal reporter, or a British-Indian novelist. So here, ill and in her seventies, returned Ms. Fallaci one last time to take up the hammer and tongs against radical Islam?a diminutive woman of the Left and self-proclaimed atheist who wrote more bravely on behalf of her civilization than have most who are hale, males, conservatives, or Christians.
Her fiery message was as timely as it was caricatured and slandered: Muslims who leave the Middle East to live under the free aegis of the West have a moral duty to support and protect the civilization that has welcomed them, rather than romanticize about what they have forsaken; Christianity is more than a religion, but also a powerful emblem of the force of reason, in that it seeks to spread belief by rational thought as well as faith; and that affluent and leisured Westerners, bargaining away their honor and traditions out of fear and for illusory security, have only emboldened radical Islam that seeks to liquidate them.
I wish she were still alive to scoff at the politically correct, the appeaser, and the triangulator, but alas she is gone, defiant to the last.
And what are we to make of poor Benedict XVI, the scholastic, who, in a disastrous display of public sensitivity, makes the telling point, that Christianity, in its long evolution to the present, has learned to forsake violence, and to defend its faith through appeals to reason?and thus can offer its own experience in the current crisis of Islam. And by quoting from the emperor rhetorician Manuel Paleologus?whose desperate efforts at strengthening the Morea and the Isthmus at Corinth a generation before that awful Tuesday, May 29, 1453 all came to naught?the Pope failed to grasp that under the tenets of radical Islam of the modern age, context means little, intent nothing, learning less than zero. If a sentence, indeed a mere phrase can be taken out of context, twisted, manipulated to show an absence of deference to Islam, furor ensues, death threats follow, assassins load their belts?even as the New York Times or the Guardian issues its sanctimonious apologies in the hope that the crocodile will eat them last.
We learned the now familiar rage with the Danish cartoons, Theo Van Gogh, the false flushed Koran story, the forced change of ?Operation Infinite Justice? to ?Enduring Freedom?, the constant charges of ?Islamaphobia?, and a horde of other false grievances that so shook the West, traumatized in fear of having its skyscrapers, planes, trains, buses, nightclubs, and synagogues blown apart or its oil cut off.
So, yes, we know the asymmetrical rules: a state run-paper in Cairo or the West Bank, a lunatic Iranian mullah, a grand mufti from this or that mosque, can all rail about infidels, ?pigs and apes?, in language reminiscent of the Third Reich?and meet with approval in the Middle East and silence in the West. But for a Westerner, a Tony Blair, George Bush, or Pope Benedict to even hint that something has gone terribly wrong with modern Islam, is to endure immediate furor and worse. In short, no modern ideology, no religious sect of the present age demands so much of others, so little of itself.
In matters of the present war, I have given up on most of the neoconservatives, many of whom, following the perceived pulse of the battlefield, have either renounced their decade-long, pre-September11 rants to remove Saddam (despite the 140,000 brave souls still on the field of battle who took them at their word), or turned on the President on grounds that he is not waging the perfect fight and thus is not pursuing the good war. The Paleo-right is as frightening as is the lunatic Left. My old Democratic party is long dead, their jackals trying to tear apart the solitary and stumbling noble stag Joe Liebermann, the old center taken over by the Kerry and Soros billionaires, and the guilt-ridden academic, celebrity and media cadres.
So we really are left with very little in these pivotal times?the will of George Bush, of course, the Old Breed unchanged since Okinawa and the Bulge that still anchors the US military, the courage and skill of a very few brave writers like a Hitchens, Krauthammer, and the tireless and brilliant Mark Steyn, but very, very few others. No, this is an age in which we in the West make smug snuff movies about killing an American President, while the Taliban and the Islamists boast of assassinating the Pope.
So long may you run, Ms. Fallaci, you who by now have learned that, yes, there is a soul, and, yes, yours was indeed saved for eternity if only for its singular courage and honesty alone. And dear Pope: clarify, contextualize, express sorrow over the wrong interpretation of your remarks, but please don?t apologize for the Truth?not now, not ever.
Last Edit: September 17, 2006, 01:01:20 PM by buzwardo
Re: Political Rants
Reply #255 on:
September 18, 2006, 04:05:54 PM »
I'm not quite sure where to put this piece. "Dialog with Muslims" and "Free Speech vs. Islamo Fascism" are close, but not quite right. In that the views herein are strong and passionate I'm putting it here, even though here too it does not quite fit.
Regardless, what one thinks of the conclusions, a strong erudite piece of writing.
Jihad, the Lord's Supper, and eternal life
Jihad injures reason, for it honors a god who suffers no constraints on his caprice, unlike the Judeo-Christian god, who is limited by love. That is the nub of Pope Benedict XVI's September 12 address in Regensburg, Germany. It promises to be the Vatican's most controversial utterance in living memory.
When a German-language volume appeared in 2003 quoting the same analysis by a long-dead Jewish theologian, I wrote of "oil on the flames of civilizational war".  Now the same ban has been
preached from St Peter's chair, and it is a defining moment comparable to Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. Earlier this year, Benedict's elliptical remarks to former students at a private seminar in 2005, mentioned in passing by an American Jesuit and reported in this space, created a scandal.  I wrote at the time that even the pope must whisper when it comes to Islam. We have entered a different stage of civilizational war.
The Islamic world now views the pontiff as an existential threat, and with reason. Jihad is not merely the whim of a despotic divinity, as the pope implied. It is much more: jihad is the fundamental sacrament of Islam, the Muslim cognate of the Lord's Supper in Christianity, that is, the unique form of sacrifice by which the individual believer communes with the Transcendent. To denounce jihad on theological grounds is a blow at the foundations of Islam, in effect a papal call for the conversion of the Muslims.
Just before then-cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope last year, I wrote, "Now that everyone is talking about Europe's demographic death, it is time to point out that there exists a way out: convert European Muslims to Christianity. The reported front-runner at the Vatican conclave ... Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is one of the few Church leaders unafraid to raise the subject."  The Regensburg address oversteps the bounds of dialogue and verges upon the missionary. A great deal has changed since John Paul II kissed the Koran before news cameras in 1999. The boys and girls of the Catholic youth organization Communione e Liberazione that Ratzinger nurtured for a generation will have a great deal to talk to their Muslim school-fellows about.
No more can one assume now that Europe will slide meekly into dhimmitude.
In that respect [I wrote during the conclave] John Paul II recalled the sad position of Pius XII, afraid to denounce publicly the murder of Polish priests by Nazi occupiers - let alone the murder of Polish Jews - for fear that the Nazis would react by killing even more. It is hard to second-guess the actions of Pius XII given his terrible predicament, but at some point one must ask when the Gates of Hell can be said to have prevailed over St Peter.
Specifically, Benedict stated that jihad, the propagation of Islam by force, is irrational, because it is against the Reason of God. Citing a 14th-century Byzantine emperor to the effect that Mohammed's "decree that the faith he preached should be spread with the sword" as "evil and inhumane" provoked headlines. But of greater weight is the pope's observation that Allah is a god whose "absolute transcendence" allows no constraint, to the point that Allah is free if he chooses to promote evil. The great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig explained the matter more colorfully than did the pope, as I reported three years ago in the cited review:
The god of Mohammed is a creator who well might not have bothered to create. He displays his power like an Oriental potentate who rules by violence, not by acting according to necessity, not by authorizing the enactment of the law, but rather in his freedom to act arbitrarily ... Providence thus is shattered into infinitely many individual acts of creation, with no connection to each other, each of which has the importance of the entire creation. That has been the doctrine of the ruling orthodox philosophy in Islam. Every individual thing is created from scratch at every moment. Islam cannot be salvaged from this frightful providence of Allah ... despite its vehement, haughty insistence upon the idea of the god's unity, Islam slips back into a kind of monistic paganism, if you will permit the expression. God competes with God at every moment, as if it were the colorfully contending heavenful of gods of polytheism.
It is amusing to see liberal Jewish commentators in the United States, eg, the editorial page of the September 16 New York Times, deplore the pope's remarks, considering that Rosenzweig said it all the more sharply in 1920.
Benedict's comments regarding Islam served as a preamble to a longer discourse on the unity of faith and reason. "Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?" Benedict asked, and answered his own question: "I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God." It is not, however, the reasoned side of Benedict's remarks to which Muslims responded, but rather the existential.
Rather than rail at the pope's characterization of Islam, Muslims might have responded as follows: "Excuse me, Your Holiness, but did we hear you say that you represent a religion of reason, whereas Allah is a god of unreason? Do you not personally eat the body and blood of your god - at least things that you insist really are his flesh and blood - every day at Mass? And you accuse us of unreason!" That is a fair rebuttal, but it opens up Islam's can of worms.
True, we are not pottering about in this pilgrim existence to be rational. Today's Germans are irrational, and know that their time has past, and therefore desist from bearing children. What mankind - Christian, Muslim and Jew, and all - demand of God is irrational. We want eternal life! Christians do not want what the Greeks wanted - Socrates' transmigration of souls, nor the shadow existence of Homer's dead heroes in Hades. That is an unreasonable demand if ever there was one.
Before the Bible was written, the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh learned that his quest for immortality was futile. The demigods of Greece, mortals favored by Olympians, suffered a tedious sort of immortal life as stars, trees or rivers. The gods of the heathens are not in any case eternal, only immortal. They were born and they will die, like the Norse gods at the Ragnorak, and their vulnerability projects the people's presentiment of its own death. To whom, precisely, have the gods offered eternal life prior to the appearance of revealed religion? Eternal life and a deathless mortality are quite different things.
But what is it that God demands of us in response to our demand for eternal life? We know the answer ourselves. To partake of life in another world we first must detach ourselves from this world in order to desire the next. In plain language, we must sacrifice ourselves. There is no concept of immortality without some concept of sacrifice, not in any culture or in any religion. That is a demand shared by the Catholic bishops and the Kalahari Bushmen.
God's covenant with Abraham is unique and singular in world history. A single universal and eternal god makes an eternal pact with a mortal that can be fulfilled only if Abraham's tribe becomes an eternal people. But the price of this pact is self-sacrifice. That is an existential mortal act beyond all ethics, as Soren Kierkegaard tells us in Fear and Trembling. The sacraments of revealed religion are sublimated human sacrifice, for the revealed god in his love for humankind spares the victim, just as God provided a ram in place of the bound Isaac on Mount Moriah. Among Jews the covenant must be renewed in each male child through a substitute form of human sacrifice, namely circumcision.  Christians believe that a single human sacrifice spared the rest of humankind.
Jihad also is a form of human sacrifice. He who serves Allah so faithfully as to die in the violent propagation of Islam goes straight to paradise, there to enjoy virgins or raisins, depending on the translation. But Allah is not the revealed god of loving kindness, or agape, but - pace Benedict - a god of reason, that is, of cold calculation. Islam admits no expiatory sacrifice. Everyone must carry his own spear.
We are too comfortable, too clean, too squeamish, too modern to descend into the terrible space where birth, death and immortality are decided. We forget that we cannot have eternal life unless we are ready to give up this one - and this the Muslim knows only through what we should call the sacrament of jihad. Through jihad, the Muslim does almost precisely what the Christian does at the Lord's Supper. It is the sacrifice of Jesus that grants immortal life to all Christians, that is, those who become one with Jesus by eating his flesh and drinking his blood so that the sacrifice also is theirs, at least in Catholic terms. Protestants substitute empathy identification with the crucified Christ for the trans-substantiated blood and flesh of Jesus.
Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to give all men eternal life, on condition that they take part in his sacrifice, either through the physical communion of the Catholic Church or the empathetic Communion of Protestantism. From a Muslim vantage point, the extreme of divine humility embodied in Jesus' sacrifice is beyond reason. Allah, by contrast, deals with those who submit to him after the calculation of an earthly despot. He demands that all Muslims sacrifice themselves by becoming warriors and, if necessary, laying their lives down in the perpetual war against the enemies of Islam.
These are parallel acts, in which different peoples do different things, in the service of different deities, but for the same reason: for eternal life.
Why is self-sacrifice always and everywhere the cost of eternal life? It is not because a vengeful and sanguineous God demands his due before issuing us a visa to heaven. Quite the contrary: we must sacrifice our earthly self, our attachment to the pleasures and petty victories of our short mortal life if we really are to gain the eternal life that we desire. The animal led to the altar, indeed Jesus on the cross, is ourselves: we die along with the sacrifice and yet live, by the grace of God. YHWH did not want Isaac to die, but without taking Abraham to Mount Moriah, Abraham himself could not have been transformed into the man desirous and deserving of immortal life. Jesus died and took upon him the sins of the world, in Christian terms, precisely so that a vicarious sacrifice would redeem those who come to him.
What distinguishes Allah from YHWH and (in Christian belief) his son Jesus is love. God gives Jews and Christians a path that their foot can tread, one that is not too hard for mortals, to secure the unobtainable, namely immortal life, as if by miracle. Out of love God gives the Torah to the Jews, not because God is a stickler for the execution of 613 commandments, but because it is a path upon which the Jew may sacrifice and yet live, and receive his portion of the World to Come. The most important sacrifice in Judaism is the Sabbath - "our offering of rest", says the congregation in the Sabbath prayers - a day of inactivity that acknowledges that the Earth is the Lord's. It is a sacrifice, as it were, of ego. In this framework, incidentally, it is pointless to distinguish Judaism as a "religion of works" as opposed to Christianity as a "religion of faith".
To Christians, God offers the vicarious participation in his sacrifice of himself through his only son.
That is Grace: a free gift by God to men such that they may obtain eternal life. By a miracle, the human soul responds to the offer of Grace with a leap, a leap away from the attachments that hold us to this world, and a foretaste of the World to Come.
There is no Grace in Islam, no miracle, no expiatory sacrifice, no expression of love for mankind such that each Muslim need not be a sacrifice. On the contrary, the concept of jihad, in which the congregation of Islam is also the army, states that every single Muslim must sacrifice himself personally. Jihad is the precise equivalent of the Lord's Supper in Christianity and the Jewish Sabbath, the defining expression of sacrifice that opens the prospect of eternity to the mortal believer. To ask Islam to become moderate, to reform, to become a peaceful religion of personal conscience is the precise equivalent of asking Catholics to abolish Mass.
Islam, I have argued for years, faces an existential crisis in the modern world, which has ripped its adherents out of their traditional existence and thrust them into deadly conflicts. What was always latent in Islam has now come to the surface: the practice of Islam now expresses itself uniquely in jihad. Benedict XVI has had the courage to call things by their true names. Everything else is hypocrisy and self-delusion.
Regarding Benedict XVI's statement that the characterization of the Prophet Mohammed did not reflect his "personal opinion": In 1938, at the peak of Stalin's terror, a Muscovite called the KGB to report that his parrot had escaped. The KGB officer said, "Why are you calling us?" The Muscovite averred, "I want to state for the record that I do not share the parrot's political opinions."
1. See Oil on the flames of civilizational war, December 2, 2003.
2. See When even the pope has to whisper, January 10, 2006.
3. The crescent and the conclave, April 19, 2005.
4. See The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity, by Jon D Levinson (Harvard; Cambridge 1993).
(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing .)
Roots of the ACLU
Reply #256 on:
September 21, 2006, 09:50:15 PM »
ACLU: Conceived In Tyranny
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
The Enemy Within: From the beginning, the American Civil Liberties Union has aligned itself with America's adversaries. Its unrelenting strategy has been to twist our Constitution into a weapon against American values and security.
ACLU founder and longtime executive director Roger Baldwin's infamous quote still haunts his organization today, a quarter-century after the radical activist's death:
"I am for socialism, disarmament and ultimately for abolishing the state itself as an instrument of violence and compulsion. I seek social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied class, and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal."
It's a statement that's been repeated and reprinted so many times, some Americans might be numbed rather than outraged upon hearing it again. But it's no urban legend. The man who started the organization that claims to be the leading safeguard of the U.S. Constitution did say it, along with plenty of statements mirroring those sentiments.
Baldwin was already steeped in communist thought when in the late 1910s he jump-started the American Union Against Militarism, which was established to oppose the U.S. effort in World War I. Within the AUAM ? the progenitor of the ACLU ? Baldwin formed the Bureau of Conscientious Objectors to defend war resisters. He also joined the anti-war socialist People's Council.
In 1918, Baldwin pleaded guilty to his own draft dodging and was sentenced to a year in prison. He told his local draft board he refused to perform military service and "any service whatever designed to help the war." He opposed the draft in principle, during war or peacetime, or "for any purpose whatsoever."
That didn't mean Baldwin or the ACLU was pacifist, anti-violence or anti-oppression. In 1934 in an article in Russia Today, he described himself as "anti-capitalist and pro-revolutionary." According to Baldwin, "When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever."
The Soviet Union, he said, "has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world. . . . It is genuine, and it is the nearest approach to freedom that the workers have ever achieved."
In Baldwin's view, American workers had "no real liberties save to change masters," and if they only understood their own interests, "Soviet workers' democracy would be their goal."
Catholic League President William Donohue, author of "The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union," recounts how Baldwin, during a guided tour of the Soviet Union in 1927, was confided to by his tour guide, who "broke down and confessed that the secret police ran the country and deliberately concealed from fellow travelers the terrible torture that took place behind closed doors."
Baldwin later admitted to his biographer Peggy Lamson that he was "too prejudiced" to let that revelation affect his thinking. He told her, "Great upheavals like the Russian Revolution have their price, I told myself."
In the 1930s, Congress investigated the ACLU and found it to be "closely affiliated with the communist movement in the United States, and fully 90% of its efforts are on behalf of communists who have come into conflict with the law." According to the congressional investigation's conclusion, "It claims to stand for free speech, free press and free assembly, but it is quite apparent that the main function of the ACLU is to attempt to protect the communists in their advocacy of force and violence to overthrow the government."
The Soviet Union may be long dead, but as Fox News' Bill O'Reilly writes in his soon-to-be-released book "Culture Warrior," the ACLU "is still using Baldwin's strategy, wrapping itself in the flag and defending the rights of the 'folks.' Unless, of course, the folks are Christians, Boy Scouts, parents who want to know if their underage daughters are having abortions, or concerned Americans who want sexual predators who hurt children held accountable."
In the guise of protecting our constitutional rights, the ACLU does everything from defending child molestation advocates (as in the case of the North American Man/Boy Love Association in Massachusetts in 2000) to preventing our armed forces from recruiting; it sued the Defense Department this year for "violating American high school students' privacy rights."
As Congress discovered over 70 years ago, the ACLU doesn't stand for free speech; it stands against America.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #257 on:
September 21, 2006, 10:16:55 PM »
"In 1934 in an article in Russia Today..."
"...a guided tour of the Soviet Union in 1927"
"In the 1930s, Congress investigated the ACLU..."
Buzz, I like your posts so at least give me some recent history. Quoting facts from the 1910-1930's about the ACLU and the Communist menace really don't mean much. I may not agree with the ACLU but negative press from the '30s ain't gonna cut it.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #258 on:
September 22, 2006, 12:09:52 PM »
Buzz, I like your posts so at least give me some recent history. Quoting facts from the 1910-1930's about the ACLU and the Communist menace really don't mean much. I may not agree with the ACLU but negative press from the '30s ain't gonna cut it.
Ya know, if I had any sort of sense that yesterday's Marxists had done some sort of soul searching and learned the lessons of the gulags et al I'd probably consider this ancient history, too. Alas, though many of the hard core left take pains to conceal their former Communist inclinations, I don't get the sense that they've taken to heart the lessons of Stalin and sundry other butchers embracing Marxist ideology.
When the ACLU gets around to filing an amicus brief in support of the second amendment or individual property rights I'll be ready to conclude they are shedding their Marxist roots. 'Til then this sort of reflection strikes me as germane.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #259 on:
September 22, 2006, 07:52:04 PM »
Old article, but worth a read:
The hypocrisy of the ACLU
By Dr. Jeremy Blanks
web posted July 3, 2000
I consider myself to be a Constitutionalist and a believer in Jeffersonian principles. Some may ask, what is a Constitutionalist or Jeffersonian principles? Well, in general terms it means that I strongly support the Constitution as the law of this land and especially the Bill of Rights. Specifically, it means that I believe in individual rights. There are numerous organizations out there that support and fight every day for these rights. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is such a group as is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU is well known for its court, political, and media battles in support of First, Fourth, Fifth, Tenth, etc. Amendment rights. I am drawn to these organizations, due to my beliefs, and I generally support their positions in defending and preserving our rights from those that would limit or remove them.. However, I have become concerned about the ACLU, which has decided that the Second Amendment is not worthy of their support as are the other individual rights specifically listed in the Bill of Rights.
The ACLU takes this odd position on the Second Amendment for two primary reasons, along with a fall back stance. First, they have decided that the term "the people" that is contained in the Second Amendment does not apply to "the people" as it does in all of the other rights contained in the Bill of Rights. Instead, they take the position that this is a collective right and can only be assigned to a militia group, such as the National Guard, which means that Congress can limit or remove gun ownership as they see fit. Secondly, they cite the 1939 Supreme Court case of US. vs. Miller, as proof that the Supreme Court agrees with their beliefs. And finally, they take the fall back position that even if their first two reasons do not hold water, the Second is now outdated because the founding fathers could not have envisioned the type of arms that are currently available and the dangers of a few using firearms in criminal activity outweigh the value of this right to society.
Let's first address the position of the ACLU that the Second Amendment is a collective right rather than an individual one. Their entire position rests on the assumption that the term "the people" in the Second Amendment is different from the term "the people" that is used everywhere else in the Constitution and throughout the Bill of Rights. In further support of their position, the ACLU argues that the term militia is made in reference to something like the National Guard. Many people buy into these arguments without taking a close look at the Second Amendment and other supporting documentation. However, if one takes the time to only mildly explore the actual meanings here, they come to a very different conclusion. For example, the only way to assume that "the people" is a collective right in the Second Amendment is to apply that very same definition to much if not all of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Of course, that would mean that rights such as freedom of speech, press, etc. could be interpreted as collective rights rather than individual ones and therefore subject to limitations and removal of such rights listed for "the people" by Congress and other legislative bodies. Of course, that's exactly what the ACLU's position is on the Second Amendment, but in all other cases the ACLU does not support such a stance and has made it their only goal to oppose such things. How could the ACLU take such an odd position? Well, maybe it's that term "militia." When it comes to the term "militia" and this assumption by the ACLU, there is a significant body of information, which clearly indicates that the term "militia" means every able-bodied and law-abiding person. In addition, there are no quotes or written documents from the founders that would even lead one to suspect anything other than the definition commonly accepted by most constitutional scholars, i.e. the militia is the people. If anything, there is a wide collection of quotes that say just the opposite as compared to the ACLU's assumption. A few of the major ones are as follows:
"I ask, who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers." George Mason, Virginia's U.S. Constitution Ratification Convention, 1788.
"That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state." George Mason, Virginia ratification convention, 1788.
"What plan for the regulation of the militia may be pursued by the national government is impossible to be foreseen...Little more can reasonably be aimed at with the respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped." James Madison, Federalist No. 29.
"The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience, or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms." Samuel Adams, Massachusetts' U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788.
"Militias, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms." Richard Henry Lee, Letters from The Federal Farmer, 1788.
"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789.
Clearly, the ACLU's position here is not supported by any of the words of the founders nor is it supported when viewed against the rest of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Without a doubt, one must conclude on this point that the Second Amendment is an individual right and the ACLU is absolutely wrong.
The second stance by the ACLU that involves the 1939 Supreme Court case of U.S. vs. Miller is equally flawed as their first belief. This case is the only time the Supreme Court has had the opportunity to directly rule on the constitutionality of federal firearm statues during the 20th century. In this case, the court ruled that "in the absence of any evidence that the use or possession of a shotgun with a barrel of less than eighteen inches has a reasonable relationship or use in a militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of one to keep such an instrument." In addition, the Court ruled that the weapon in question was not any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Clearly, for the keeping and bearing of a firearm to be constitutionally protected, the firearm should be a militia or military type weapon. Also, the Court noted that the militia consisted of "all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time." The court implicitly rejected the belief that only those members of a specific militia are covered under the Second Amendment when it did not discuss whether there should be evidence that the defendants met the qualifications for inclusion in the militia. Clearly, they understood that the militia was all of the people. The rulings from this case are not supportive of the ACLU's position whatsoever, and in fact one could easily make an argument that if challenged, the bans on certain types of semiautomatic rifles, such as that included in the Brady Crime Bill and found in states such as New Jersey and California, are unconstitutional and would be struck down if challenged. As with the first position of the ACLU, one must conclude that there is little or no evidence to support their position. In fact, one would have to argue that the evidence supporting the opposite view presented by Second Amendment advocates is overwhelming.
The fallback position taken by the ACLU on the Second Amendment is possibly the most damaging to their overall position on individual rights. The ACLU argues that even if their first two stances are incorrect, as has been abundantly shown here and in other articles, the Second Amendment is still subject to any restrictions set forth by Congress, because the founders could not have foreseen the development of modern small arms and the potential danger from the few that would cause harm with firearms outweigh their overall value. Besides the fact that millions of crimes are prevented each year because law-abiding citizens possess firearms, the problem with this position is that the same argument applies to any of the individual rights listed in the Bill of Rights. In fact, such an argument has been used against the ACLU during court battles over the First Amendment. For example, surely the founders could not have expected the development of hate groups and their use of the First Amendment to further their divisive message. The vast majority of Americans, myself included, find such positions to be reprehensible and offensive, but yet the ACLU has fought many battles to insure that these people have the right to spread their message of hate. One could easily argue that the damage caused by racism and hate in this country are significant and in reality far more damaging on a much larger scale than anything a shotgun in ones closet could ever cause. Another example of where the ACLU has strongly opposed any regulation on the First Amendment rights is the Internet. Unquestionably, the founders could not have anticipated the development and explosion of use of the Internet as we have today and will experience in the coming decades. There are many great advantages to the Internet and we have only begun to scratch the surface, but yet there is also a dark side to the Internet. For example, there are negative Internet sites that range from groups spreading their messages of hate and lies, to descriptions of bomb making devices and how-to manuals, and finally to pornography. Does the existence of a few negative sites out of the millions of good sites mean that the entire Internet should be regulated and the First Amendment restricted? The ACLU says no. As with their first two positions on the Second Amendment, the ACLU's fallback position again does not hold water. With any freedom, there will always be those that abuse it and take advantage of the situation to further their positions. There will always be new challenges to any right and new ways to use it. Some good and some of a questionable nature. This is true of the Second Amendment as well as the First and other amendments. This is simply the price of freedom.
Having gone through this process of dissecting the position of the ACLU on the Second Amendment, the question now becomes why do they take such an odd stance that is counter to their supposed beliefs in individual rights? Why do they not join the NRA and other Second Amendment advocates in supporting all individual rights? I believe the answer comes down to a couple of issues. First, the vast majority of the members and leadership of the ACLU have never fired or maybe even held a firearm. Their knowledge base around firearms has been developed through movies, television, and the media. Therefore, many view firearms and firearm owners as a threat. Furthering their perceived fear of firearms is a belief that various firearm related activities, such as hunting, are unacceptable in a civilized society. And lastly, their lack of contact with firearms and knowledge around the subject makes it easy for them to believe that the rights listed under the Second Amendment are, in the arena of individual rights, unnecessary and even expendable. Until the members and leadership of the ACLU overcome their hypocritical desire to lessen the individual rights of those that they don't understand or agree with, they will never truly be viewed as an organization interested in supporting individual rights. Rather, they will be considered just another special interest group with a "holier than thou" belief system when it comes to the Second Amendment. Let's all hope that the ACLU quickly realizes the error of their ways on this topic and in turn joins the NRA in the fight for civil rights.
Dr. Jeremy Blanks is a Senior Research Scientist with the leading R&D company in the world. He has a wide range of interests, but lately has focused on the right to self defense.
Of Roots & Retreat
Reply #260 on:
October 02, 2006, 11:09:57 AM »
Traitors to the Enlightenment
Europe turns its back on Socrates, Locke, et al.
By Victor Davis Hanson
The first Western Enlightenment of the Greek fifth-century B.C. sought to explain natural phenomena through reason rather than superstition alone. Ethics were to be discussed in the realm of logic as well as religion. Much of what Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and the Sophists thought may today seem self-evident, if not at times nonsensical. But that century was the beginning of the uniquely Western attempt to bring to the human experience empiricism, self-criticism, irony, and tolerance in thinking.
The second European Enlightenment of the late 18th century followed from the earlier spirit of the Renaissance. For all the excesses and arrogance in its thinking that pure reason might itself dethrone religion ? as if science could explain all the mysteries of the human condition ? the Enlightenment nevertheless established the Western blueprint for a humane and ordered society.
But now all that hard-won effort of some 2,500 years is at risk. The new enemies of Reason are not the enraged democrats who executed Socrates, the Christian zealots who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity, or the Nazis who burned books. No, they are a pampered and scared Western public that caves to barbarism ? dwarves who sit on the shoulders of dead giants, and believe that their present exalted position is somehow related to their own cowardly sense of accommodation.
What would a Socrates, Galileo, Descartes, or Locke believe of the present decay in Europe ? that all their bold and courageous thinking, won at such a great cost, would have devolved into such cheap surrender to fanaticism?
Just think: Put on an opera in today?s Germany, and have it shut down, not by Nazis, Communists, or kings, but by the simple fear of Islamic fanatics.
Write a novel deemed critical of the Prophet Mohammed, as did Salman Rushdie, and face years of ostracism and death threats ? in the heart of Europe no less.
Compose a film, as did Theo Van Gogh, and find your throat cut in ?liberal? Holland.
Or better yet, sketch a cartoon in postmodern Denmark, and then go into hiding.
Quote an ancient treatise, as did the pope, and learn your entire Church may come under assault, and the magnificent stones of the Vatican offer no refuge.
There are three lessons to be drawn from these examples. In almost every case, the criticism of the artist or intellectual was based either on his supposed lack of sensitivity or of artistic excellence. Van Gogh was, of course, obnoxious and his films puerile. The pope was woefully ignorant of public relations. The cartoons in Denmark were amateurish and unnecessary. Rushdie was an overrated novelist, whose chickens of trashing the West he sought refuge in finally came home to roost. The latest Hans Neuenfels adaptation of Mozart?s Idomeneo was silly.
But isn?t that precisely the point? It is easy to defend artists when they produce works of genius that do not offend popular sensibilities ? Da Vinci?s Mona Lisa or Montesquieu?s Spirit of the Laws ? but not so when an artist offends with neither taste nor talent. Yes, Pope Benedict is old and scholastic; he lacks both the smile and tact of the late Pope John Paul II, who surely would not have turned for elucidation to the rigidity of Byzantine scholarship. But isn?t that why we must come to the present Pope?s defense ? if for no reason other than because he has the courage to speak his convictions when others might not?
Note also the constant subtext in this new self-censorship: fear of radical Islam and its gruesome appendages of beheadings, suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices, barbaric fatwas, riotous youth, petrodollar-acquired nuclear weapons, oil boycotts and price hikes, and fist-chanting mobs.
In contrast, almost daily in Europe, ?brave? artists caricature Christians and Americans with impunity. Why?
For a long list of reasons, among them most surely the assurance that they can do this without being killed. Such cowards puff out their chests when trashing an ill Oriana Fallaci or Ariel Sharon or beleaguered George W. Bush in the most demonic of tones, but prove sunken and sullen when threatened by a Dr Zawahri or a grand mufti of some obscure mosque.
Second, almost every genre of artistic and intellectual expression has come under assault: music, satire, the novel, films, academic exegesis. Somehow Europeans have ever-so-insidiously given up the promise of the Enlightenment that welcomed free thought of all kinds, the more provocative the better.
So the present generation of Europeans really is heretical, made up of traitors of a sort, since they themselves, not just their consensual governments or some invader across the Mediterranean, have nearly destroyed their won freedoms of expression ? out of worries over oil, or appearing as illiberal apostates of the new secular religion of multiculturalism, or another London or Madrid bombing.
Europe boldly produces films about assassinating an American president, and routinely disparages the Church that gave the world the Sermon of the Mount, but it simply won?t stand up for an artist, a well-meaning Pope, or a ranting filmmaker when the mob closes in. The Europe that believes in everything turns out to believe in nothing.
Third, examine why all these incidents took place in Europe. Since 2000 it has been the habit of blue-state politicians to rebuke the yokels of America, in part by showing us a supposedly more humane Western future unfolding in Europe. It was the European Union that was at the forefront of mass transit; the EU that advanced Kyoto and the International Criminal Court. And it was the heralded EU that sought ?soft? power rather than the Neanderthal resort to arms.
And what have we learned in the last five years from its boutique socialism, utopian pacifism, moral equivalence, and cultural relativism? That it was logical that Europe most readily would abandon the artist and give up the renegade in fear of religious extremists.
Those in an auto parts store in Fresno, or at a NASCAR race in southern Ohio, might appear to Europeans as primordials with their guns, ?fundamentalist? religion, and flag-waving chauvinism. But it is they, and increasingly their kind alone, who prove the bulwarks of the West. Ultimately what keeps even the pope safe and the continent confident in its vain dialogues with Iranian lunatics is the United States military and the very un-Europeans who fight in it.
We may be only 30 years behind Europe, but we are not quite there yet. And so Europe has done us a great favor in showing us not the way of the future, but the old cowardice of our pre-Enlightenment past.
? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.
National Review Online -
Cindy and Hugo and Cash, Oh My
Reply #261 on:
October 17, 2006, 05:58:03 PM »
UN, seats for sale, Hugo Chavez buying
Cindy Sheehan's friend in need
By John Burtis
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The news is as cruel lately as the Midwest's Children's Blizzard.
First you find out that Cindy Sheehan was a paid shill of the Kerry campaign all along, that she dabbles in the darker side of the internet, and you dab at a reflexive tear at that news.
And then, just when your frappacino has crept its way up your gizzard far enough to be thoroughly disheartening, you learn that Venezuela is busy purchasing its way to becoming the next member of the UN's fabled Security Council.
We all knew that the UN is nothing but the rottenest of all imaginable boroughs. It is a place where crude oil, baby food, careers, women, votes, children, and every conceivable brand of office equipment is for sale on the open market to the highest or quickest bidder.
The UN is an open and perfidious auction house where dollars are the accepted currency, but Euros, rubles, francs, pengos, and even the lowly rupee can be used to sway the end user, receiver, and owner of the private account - if it can be piled high enough - where the specie will come to rest after its hectic flight across open borders, boundaries, aisles, desk tops, and bus seats.
And the money may travel well, in tourist class, or be transported in greasy paper bags, plastic sacks, cellophane wrappers, food containers, and lunch boxes. It can even be carried wrapped around the common hamburger or tuna sandwich, and maybe even the sock.
But the money goes through the UN just as surely as the sun and moon rise, or as one wag put it, like pate through a goose. And the pay off will always land in a finely manicured and baby soft paddy cake, usually offered quietly by a tarted up foreign dignitary or his coat holder.
Today we are witnessing one of the greatest sell offs in even the fabled UN's extortionate history. Hugo Chavez, through his UN ambassador and his good graces, is disbursing hundreds of millions of dollars on the floor of the General Assembly -- which is looking a lot like the floor of the NY Stock exchange, littered as it is with Hugo's IOUs - to any country willing to vote for Venezuela's being added to the Security Council.
Thanks to Senor Chavez and his full, spontaneous, and unsurpassed generosity, hospitals, schools, free oil, discounted oil, natural gas, pocket money, show money, Texas bankrolls, jewelry, palatial homes, and vacation junkets, and the glowing hagiographical testimonials and the cloyingly obsequious blandishments issued from the offices of Representative Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Governor Bill Baldacci (D-ME), and Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT), are being sent to the non-aligned members of General Assembly as they prepare to climb aboard the forward looking socialist band wagon and vote for Venezuela.
Money, new construction, armaments, and bad will toward Bush are flooding the capitals, the warehouses of the power brokers in the non-aligned capitals, and their banks. And thanks to the largesse of Herr Chavez, who will be smashing the power of the Council and thwarting the US at every turn, he'll be doing it all on the backs of his poorest people, of course, if he can eke out a win.
And boy, Hugo will have a field day, thanks to his ceremonial passing of the dough. He'll be able to fortify Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Osama, the Taliban, the Tamil Tigers, Mr. Gadahn, Fidel Castro, the Lackawanna boys, and the Sandinistas for a start.
Mr. Chavez will be able to erect monuments to Mr. "Che" Guevara, aid in the needed rehabilitation of the Rosenbergs, rebuild the lost memorials to Mr. Stalin and Mr. Felikhs Dzerzhinsky, dry clean the memory of Walter Ulbricht, and resurrect the good old days of communism.
Hugo Chavez will be busy indeed if he can just carry the day with the floor vote.
All the while, he can kick Mr. Bush and Ambassador John Bolton in the teeth at every turn, an outcome important to both Hugo and, of course, to the new Democrats.
The new Democrats will profit the most if Hugo can destroy the actions of the General Assembly because they can show themselves to be the great conciliators, once they win control of the House and Senate.
John "Live Shot" Kerry will rise, pontificate, quibble, waffle, strut and preen, cast a great shadow, and finally offer to go to New York and meet with this latest criminal cabal for America's sake. And he will adduce, with oppressive and lifeless theatricality, as will any other new Democrat with perhaps a less elephantine delivery, whatever Mr. Chavez requires, if only he promises not to ask for quite so much in the future and promises to behave.
But you never can tell.
Mr. Chavez may not win his expensive quest for the Security Council, despite the millions spent in his pilgrimage for a purchased seat in this rotten borough on Turtle Bay.
Mr. Kerry may not get to greet Mr. Chavez in New York as a brother if the new Democrats fail to seize control of America next month, despite his own purchase of a lifetime sinecure in Massachusetts.
The first vote did not secure the sufficient number of ballots for Mr. Chavez to stymie Mr. Bush at the UN, despite the monies poured into the non-aligned countries. More money must still be piped into the willing hands of the third world's bandits for this hurdle to be over topped.
And to secure Mr. Chavez's rightful place at the UN, beyond the heaps of funny money, the casting of crooked votes, and the hurried arm twisting, the new Democrats may have to start phoning the penny ante autocrats for their little socialist brother.
Cindy Sheehan's friend's in need. And a friend in need is a friend indeed.
John Burtis is a former Broome County, NY firefighter, a retired Santa Monica, CA, police officer. He obtained his BA in European History at Boston University and is fluent in German. He resides in NH with his wife, Betsy.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #262 on:
October 17, 2006, 06:04:43 PM »
"First you find out that Cindy Sheehan was a paid shill of the Kerry campaign all along, that she dabbles in the darker side of the internet, and you dab at a reflexive tear at that news."
I missed this. Would someone fill me in please?
Re: Political Rants
Reply #263 on:
October 17, 2006, 06:27:02 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2006, 06:04:43 PM
"First you find out that Cindy Sheehan was a paid shill of the Kerry campaign all along, that she dabbles in the darker side of the internet, and you dab at a reflexive tear at that news."
I missed this.? Would someone fill me in please?
Bloggers are starting to speak about a new book being published. I generally don't post stuff like this as I'm not acquainted with the sources, but you can find some bon mots of undetermined accuracy here:
Whimpering Toward the Dark Ages
Reply #264 on:
October 30, 2006, 05:08:04 PM »
October 30, 2006
The Dark Ages
Live from the Middle East
by Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services
The most frightening aspect of the present war is how easily our pre-modern enemies from the Middle East have brought a stunned postmodern world back into the Dark Ages.
Students of history are sickened when they read of the long-ago, gruesome practice of beheading. How brutal were those societies that chopped off the heads of Cicero, Sir Thomas More and Marie Antoinette. And how lucky we thought we were to have evolved from such elemental barbarity.
Twenty-four hundred years ago, Socrates was executed for unpopular speech. The 18th-century European Enlightenment gave people freedom to express views formerly censored by clerics and the state. Just imagine what life was like once upon a time when no one could write music, compose fiction or paint without court or church approval?
Over 400 years before the birth of Christ, ancient Greek literary characters, from Lysistrata to Antigone, reflected the struggle for sexual equality. The subsequent notion that women could vote, divorce, dress or marry as they pleased was a millennia-long struggle.
It is almost surreal now to read about the elemental hatred of Jews in the Spanish Inquisition, 19th-century Russian pogroms or the Holocaust. Yet here we are revisiting the old horrors of the savage past.
Beheading? As we saw with Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, our Neanderthal enemies in the Middle East have resurrected that ancient barbarity ? and married it with 21st-century technology to beam the resulting gore instantaneously onto our computer screens. Xerxes and Attila, who stuck their victims' heads on poles for public display, would've been thrilled by such a gruesome show.
Who would have thought centuries after the Enlightenment that sophisticated Europeans ? in fear of radical Islamists ? would be afraid to write a novel, put on an opera, draw a cartoon, film a documentary or have their pope discuss comparative theology?
The astonishing fact is not just that millions of women worldwide in 2006 are still veiled from head-to-toe, trapped in arranged marriages, subject to polygamy, honor killings and forced circumcision, or are without the right to vote or appear alone in public. What is more baffling is that in the West, liberal Europeans are often wary of protecting female citizens from the excesses of Sharia law ? sometimes even fearful of asking women to unveil their faces for purposes of simple identification and official conversation.
Who these days is shocked that Israel is hated by Arab nations and threatened with annihilation by radical Iran? Instead, the surprise is that even in places like Paris or Seattle, Jews are singled out and killed for the apparent crime of being Jewish.
Since Sept. 11, the West has fought enemies who are determined to bring back the nightmarish world that we thought was long past. And there are lessons Westerners can learn from radical Islamists' ghastly efforts.
First, the Western liberal tradition is fragile and can still disappear. Just because we have sophisticated cell phones, CAT scanners and jets does not ensure that we are permanently civilized or safe. Technology used by the civilized for positive purposes can easily be manipulated by barbarians for destruction.
Second, the Enlightenment is not always lost on the battlefield. It can be surrendered through either fear or indifference as well. Westerners fearful of terrorist reprisals themselves shut down a production of a Mozart opera in Berlin deemed offensive to Muslims. Few came to the aid of a Salman Rushdie or Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh when their unpopular expression earned death threats from Islamists. Van Gogh, of course, was ultimately killed.
The Goths and Vandals did not sack Rome solely through the power of their hordes; they also relied on the paralysis of Roman elites who no longer knew what it was to be Roman ? much less whether it was any better than the alternative.
Third, civilization is forfeited with a whimper, not a bang. Insidiously, we have allowed radical Islamists to redefine the primordial into the not-so-bad. Perhaps women in head-to-toe burkas in Europe prefer them? Maybe that crass German opera was just too over the top after all? Aren't both parties equally to blame in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan wars?
To grasp the flavor of our own Civil War, impersonators now don period dress and reconstruct the battles of Shiloh or Gettysburg. But we need not show such historical reenactment of the Dark Ages. You see, they are back with us ? live almost daily from the Middle East.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #265 on:
November 10, 2006, 08:22:35 PM »
Politicians are at their best when acknowledging defeat.
Friday, November 10, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
In a way they never tell the truth until the concession speech. That's when nothing they say can hurt them anymore. They're worn to the bone and they've been in a struggle and it's over, and suddenly some basic, rock-solid, dumb knowledge of what they've been involved in--a great nation's life--comes loose and declares itself.
Rep. Harold Ford of Tennessee, who lost his Senate race, said he'd wanted to be in government since he was 4 years old, that people had taken a risk on him, that he was grateful. "I love my country," he said. "Don't lose faith in this great thing called America."
Sen. Lincoln Chafee up in Rhode Island said America is divided; "common ground is becoming scarce." He'd miss those in the Senate "who take their responsibility to govern more seriously than their personal ambitions."
From Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a demonstration of patriotic civility. He praised his opponent as a human being--"a fine man, he'll do a fine job for the state."
Sen. George Allen, gentleman of Virginia, said, "We are placed here on earth to do something well." He vowed to do all he could to help Jim Webb come in and serve in the U.S. Capitol.
Oh, that the new ones would carry in what the old ones have finally learned, or finally meant, or said.
It was the first real post-9/11 election, in that it was shaped not by the trauma itself but by public response to decisions taken after the trauma. Turnout was high. America is awake, alive, bristles. In the races for Senate, 25 million said "stay with the Republicans," while 31 million said "no, move on."
We have divided government. Good, and for many reasons. One: It confuses our enemies. "Who do we hate now?" they ask in their caves, "the evil woman from San Francisco or the old infidel from Texas? Which do we hate more? And if we hate them both does that...unite them?"
We are in a 30-year war. It is no good for it to be led by, identified with, one party. It is no good for half the nation to feel estranged from its government's decisions. It's no good for us to be broken up more than a nation normally would be. And straight down the middle is a bad break, the kind that snaps.
We all have things we would say to the new Congress if we could. We are a country that makes as many speeches in the shower as it sings songs. I would say this: Focus on the age you live in. Know what it is. Know what's coming. The old way is over; the old days are over; the old facts and habits of mind do not pertain, or no longer fully pertain.
This is the age we live in: One day in the future either New York or Washington or both will be hit again, hard. It will be more deadly than 9/11. And on that day, those who experience it, who see the flash or hear the alarms, will try to help each other. They'll be good to each other. An elderly conservative congresswoman will be unable to make it down those big old Capitol steps, and a young liberal congressman will come by and pick her up in his arms and carry her. (I witnessed a moment somewhat like this during a Capitol alarm two years ago, when we were told to run for our lives.) I would say: Keep that picture in mind. Cut to the chase, be good to each other now.
Make believe it's already happened. That's the only attitude that will help us get through it when it does. I do not mean think like Rodney King. We can't all get along, not on this earth. But we can know what time it is. We can be serious, and humane. We can realize that we're all in this together and owe each other an assumption of good faith.
There are rogue states and rogue actors, there are forces and nations aligned against us, and they have nukes and other weapons of mass destruction, and some of them are mad. Know this. Walk to work each day knowing it, not in a pointlessly fearful way but in a spirit of "What can I do to make it better?"
What can you do in two years? The common wisdom says not much. But here's a governing attitude: First things first.
Do all you can to keep America as safe as possible as long as possible. Make sure she's able to take a bad blow, a bad series of them. Much flows from this first thing, many subsets. Here is only one: Strengthen and modernize our electrical grid. When the bad thing comes we will need to be able to make contact with each other to survive together. Congress has ignored this for years.
Make America in the world as safe as possible by tending to and building our friendships in the world, by causing no unnecessary friction, by adding whatever possible and necessary emollients. In your approach to foreign affairs, rewrite Teddy Roosevelt: Speak softly, walk softly, and carry a big stick.
Much flows from this, including Iraq. This involves a huge and so far unanswered question: How to leave and not make it all infinitely worse. America will never accept a long war whose successful end even its most passionate proponents cannot convincingly envision or articulate. And America will never allow a repeat of the pictures of 1975, with desperate people who'd thrown their lot with us clinging to the skids of helicopters fleeing the U.S. Embassy. We will never get over Vietnam. And it's to our credit that we won't.
Those to me are the two big things. Much follows them, and flows from them. But to make some progress on these two things in the next two years would be breathtaking.
Singing in the Rain
Reply #266 on:
November 10, 2006, 08:46:38 PM »
Why Tuesday wasn't that bad.
by Noemie Emery
11/10/2006 3:00:00 PM
1. It has to rain sometime.
Some people seem to believe that their party could and should stay in power forever, always holding all branches of government, and that any loss any time is inexcusable, and always is somebody's fault. This is insanity. No party has enough of the people, or enough of the truth, to make this sustainable: The system is built around balance of power, frequent reverses, enforced House cleanings, and changes in tone. As David Brooks notes, lack of power corrupts absolutely. In the 1950's, having lost the White House for five elections running, Republicans produced Joe McCarthy. In the past decade, Democrats lost Congress and some very tight races, and produced Michael Moore. Few conservatives are morose at the loss of the House, which ought to flip every decade for reasons of hygiene. Turn the rascals out, and bring in new rascals. And then throw the new rascals out.
2. If it has to rain sometime, let it rain now.
If you must have a bloodletting--and most presidents need one--this is the time for it. Better now than 2002, which was still the beginning; better now than 2004, which was presidential; better now than two years from now, which is presidential again. Let the Democrats vent, relish their triumph, and blow off some of the steam that would have exploded in 2008. Actually, this result drains the left of one of the big advantages held by the out-party after eight years of other-side dominance: the natural hunger for change. A centrist conservative who is stylistically different from Bush now has a better chance in '08, as a change from both the president, and from a left that is bound to pick up some baggage. Some of its chairs are accidents waiting to happen, and the strains in its caucus are evident. Will it be beloved by the '08 election? We'll see.
3. Adversity Rocks.
Sometimes, good outcomes can be too rich for one's health. In 1992 and 2004, two bright politicians named Bill Clinton and George W. Bush won big elections, carried both houses of Congress, and were hailed far and wide as political geniuses who had cemented the gains of their parties for the next generation. Both proceeded at once to take leave of their senses, and had their rears kicked hard two years later. As it turns out, people work well on a short leash under pressure, when they are aware they are being watched constantly, and know an opposition nearly at parity is well-poised to strike. The Republican Congress was the making of Clinton, who became so great on defense that people forgot he was a klutz when on the offensive, and Bush gained his reputation as a political wizard in a come-from-behind race against Governor Ann Richards; when facing Democratic control back in Austin, and governing in Washington on a razor-thin margin, after losing the popular vote. Bush has got to get back to the agile politician that he was when he was fighting adversity. It's not as if he doesn't know how.
4. This is still, after all, a center-right country.
The old allocation of conservative-moderate-liberal seems to have changed not a bit.
If Iraq is the killer they think it is, why did Ned Lamont lose 60-40 to two 'war' candidates in sky-blue Connecticut ; and why do McCain and Guiliani, two of the biggest hawks in the country, lead all comers in 2008 polls?
6. 'The conservative movement is dead!'
Not even Rasputin has died so many times as the modern conservative movement, which has been dying since mere moments after its birth. It first died in the 1982 midterms; it died a second time with Iran-Contra; a third time in 1992, when Bush pere lost to Bill Clinton; again in 1996, and after the 1998 midterms; a fifth time during the Florida recount, and now, wouldn't you know it, the damned thing is dying again. Of course, this time it IS dead, but, but they said that the last time, and all the times previous. It has been shot, strangled, stabbed, beaten, stomped on, had its hands cuffed and been tossed into the Neva River, and, sure enough, a short time later, is rising up with a grin. And it will again.
Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of the forthcoming Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families (Wiley).
Dems to AQ
Reply #267 on:
November 11, 2006, 06:45:01 PM »
Dear Al Qaeda:
We the Democrats of the United States have won a major victory. The voice of the people has knocked the arrogant George Bush and his Republican Party, led by religious Christian fanatics on the Right Wing, to a historic defeat.
With this defeat, the imperialistic NeoCons?who are tools of Israel? have also been defeated. You probably have read how they have turned on President Bush and are retreating from their earlier aggressive ways. This is good, and we will welcome them back into the wide tent of the Democrat Party; where they once flourished.
You probably have also read how 87% of American Jews voted for change; change in our Iraq policy; change in our domestic policy; and change in the way we work with Islamic countries around the world. They understand the bias that concerns you. And they voted for change.
You see. It is not the Democrats in America who are against you. In fact, it is not even the Jews in America who are against you. We like you and can work with you. We accept that fact that America is evil. We are a wicked country who abuse the poor, give tax breaks to the rich and don?t speak French. We want to become more like Europe and it wasn?t our fault that you were forced to not like us.
But now the American people have issued us a mandate. The Christian Right will return to the closet and never come out again. And when the fanatic Christians among us get out of the political sphere...and there is no place for private religious beliefs in our system of government; we can finally become the progressive country we should be.
Therefore we beg you to stop your Jihad and let us all get along.
Please stop killing us?.and we know you are not doing it on purpose. Please forgive us our weaknesses. And please have patience with us. We will get out of Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as we can. We will stop our illegal wiretaps of your fund raising efforts. We will make sure to not check Muslims at our airports. And we will release and reward all of our illegal detainees at Guantanamo. We will even turn Abu Grab into a modern Madras where you can teach the wisdom of the Prophet.
And most importantly; because we have the support of 87% of American Jews; and as most Jews in the world are a bit embarrassed by Israel; we will drop our support of Israel and insist that they restore the rights of all Palestinians. There is no need for a State of Israel because all Jews are safe within Europe and America. The holocaust is a thing of the past and we agree with you that Israel; or as our French colleague once said: ?that sh**ty little country? should be no more.
We hope that with all the above, that you will want to live in peace with us. And we wish you peace.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #268 on:
November 13, 2006, 02:05:27 AM »
I'm getting that this is no longer available.
Also, pretty please with a cherry on top, give a description of URLS and articles that you post.
Last Edit: November 13, 2006, 01:36:14 PM by Crafty_Dog
"Angleton" on NYT's Newfound Security Concerns
Reply #269 on:
November 13, 2006, 04:11:41 PM »
Interesting imputation here that the New York Times developed concern over the release of captured Iraqi documents not because they might help Iran's nuclear program, but because they would demonstrate that WMD development and terrorist training were both active in pre-war Iraq. Might mess up the Democratic "mandate" if those sorts of facts emerged.
From the Gates, On Robert Gates
By Michael Ledeen
I hadn?t spoken with my favorite spook, the late James Jesus Angleton, for some time, in part because my ouija board had been in the shop for repairs, and in part because I assumed he was busy, what with Halloween and the Day of the Dead coming in rapid succession in late October and early November. But the torrent of recent articles about intelligence regarding Iraq obviously required investigation, and I was delighted when the ouija board hummed smoothly into gear, and within a minute or two his gravely voice was chuckling away, interrupted by the occasional cough.
ML: Are you still smoking? Haven?t they banned it yet?
JJA: HERE? You must be kidding.
ML: Sorry, I forgot. Fire and brimstone in every home, right?
JJA: Hah! They don?t call it paradise for nothing...
ML: Good news. Any good cigars?
JJA: I had a wonderful pre-Colombus Dominican a couple of days ago. Great stuff. But surely you didn?t wake me up to talk about tobacco.
ML: No, indeed I didn?t. I wanted to ask you what you made of the recent New York Times story about the government website that had to be shut down because some people thought there was sensitive information about, uh, how to make nukes.
JJA: Haha, the New York Times is suddenly concerned about keeping secrets. How droll. This from the crowd that wrote about the CIA giving nuclear blueprints directly to the Iranians? This from the people who wrote about the intercept program on terrorist financing? Anyway, I think you?ve left out some important details about what you call the website story.
ML: Yeah, well, you can?t put everything into one question, can you? The Times reported that there was sensitive material in some of the newly declassified Iraqi documents that had been posted...
JJA: Posted over the objections of the Intelligence Community (Negroponte in first person), in large part because the IC said it was all old news anyway, and they needed their translators and analysts to work on current intelligence.
ML: Yes, and posted only after three Republicans insisted on it: Senators Roberts and Santorum, and Representative Hoekstra.
JJA: Precisely. That?s two Intelligence Committee chairmen ? Roberts and Hoekstra ? and the third-ranking member of Senate leadership. They obviously thought that the IC was sitting on information that might be pertinent to the debate over Iraq, and there was lot of material ? 48,000 boxes of the stuff ? and obviously at the rate the IC was moving, it would be the fourth millenium before the information came out.
ML: So you think Negroponte was happy to shut down the site?
JJA: Has anyone asked why the whole site was blacked out? Couldn?t they have simply removed the document and left up the rest?
ML: Good question. And, as you say, there?s quite a political spin on the story, isn?t there? In essence ?the conservatives? are blamed for the release of sensitive information that could help the Iranian nuclear program.
JJA: Well, it?s convenient for many reasons. First of all, it?s convenient for the IC if it turns out the Iranians are closer to the bomb than the official estimates say, which is roughly ten years out. And it?s good cover for the IC, which as always wants to control the information.
ML: Speaking of Iran, do you think Gates is really the long nose of Jim Baker?s camel reaching into the Pentagon?
JJA: Actually he was a hell of an analyst at CIA. Bill Casey loved him, and his work on Soviet matters was so good that the moonbats from the Agency lined up to attack him when he was nominated to succeed Casey. And as for wanting to negotiate with the Iranians, I thought we?d been doing that for 27 years, or have I missed something?
ML: No, that?s certainly right. Do you think he?d be any good on the Iraqi documents mess?
JJA: Look, you keep asking about Gates changing policies, but that misses the point. Policy isn?t going to change just because there?s a new SecDef. Rice, Hadley, and Bush make the policy, and Gates is a team player, he?s always been loyal to the White House, he never took on State, and he?s good at working with Congress. He?s a professional bureaucrat, not a firebrand, not an ideologue, as they love to say.
ML: Couldn?t agree more, he?s an establishment figure, a talented one at that, and if anyone really wants to look for the Baker/Scowcroft ?takeover? of the administration, they need to go back to the original lineup: Rice, Hadley, Powell, Armitage. All had worked for Bush 43, all were ?realists,? all professional managers. So we?ve probably seen the last of even the few documents that were put out for the world to see, don?t you think?
JJA: The president had to be pounded by three leading members of Congress to get him to order Negroponte to start posting the documents, and as soon as the New York Times story came out, his former chief of staff, Andy Card, was chanting ?I told you so? to any journalist who would listen. If the White House won?t ride herd on the IC, it isn?t going to happen. The IC had sold the administration on the theory ? which I still think is false ? that they had gotten the WMDs story all wrong, and that Saddam really had nothing to do with terrorism. Even the handful of documents that were posted had many indications that there were indeed WMDs, including a very active deception operation to prevent us from finding them, and some pretty convincing evidence of ties to terrorist groups, including al Qaeda. That was bad for them, and they were very happy to shut down the whole website.
ML: Yeah, that?s really the main point, isn?t it? They blanked the screen, it wasn?t just a question of the nuclear stuff.
JJA: Just so. Their whole post-invasion narrative was in danger of being discredited, and they couldn?t have that.
ML: And the Dems?
JJA: You think Alcee Hastings wants those documents public? Hahahahahaha......
ML: Reid? Pelosi?
JJA: There you go again. They ran on the ?Bush Lied, People Died? mantra. They have no interest at all in having people looking at the actual facts. Quite the opposite, in fact. And Bush, Rice, and Hadley are on the run now, and it would actually make them very nervous if it turned out there?s convincing evidence Saddam had WMDs, and was in cahoots with Osama.
Meanwhile, everyone?s missed one of the most interesting aspects of the shakeup, if you look at the ?old? CIA guys now in high positions...
At which point there was a funny humming sound from the ouija board.
ML: Can you still hear me?
JJA: You bet...somebody ought to take a look at Bill Casey?s Return from the Dead...now there?s a story...
And I?d lost him. Casey returning from the dead? What?s the deal with that?
? Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute.
National Review Online -
Re: Political Rants
Reply #270 on:
November 13, 2006, 06:46:23 PM »
Quote from: G M on November 13, 2006, 02:05:27 AM
I'm getting that this is no longer available.
Also, pretty please with a cherry on top, give a description of URLS and articles that you post.
It was a new SNL skit. Worth a laugh. I will work on it Guro Crafty.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #271 on:
November 13, 2006, 07:56:08 PM »
U.S. must prove it's a staying power
November 12, 2006
BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist
On the radio a couple of weeks ago, Hugh Hewitt suggested to me the terrorists might try to pull a Spain on the U.S. elections. You'll recall (though evidently many Americans don't) that in 2004 hundreds of commuters were slaughtered in multiple train bombings in Madrid. The Spaniards responded with a huge street demonstration of supposed solidarity with the dead, all teary passivity and signs saying "Basta!" -- "Enough!" By which they meant not "enough!" of these murderers but "enough!" of the government of Prime Minister Aznar, and of Bush and Blair, and troops in Iraq. A couple of days later, they voted in a socialist government, which immediately withdrew Spanish forces from the Middle East. A profitable couple of hours' work for the jihad.
I said to Hugh I didn't think that would happen this time round. The enemy aren't a bunch of simpleton Pushtun yakherds, but relatively sophisticated at least in their understanding of us. We're all infidels, but not all infidels crack the same way. If they'd done a Spain -- blown up a bunch of subway cars in New York or vaporized the Empire State Building -- they'd have re-awoken the primal anger of September 2001. With another mound of corpses piled sky-high, the electorate would have stampeded into the Republican column and demanded the U.S. fly somewhere and bomb someone.
The jihad crowd know that. So instead they employed a craftier strategy. Their view of America is roughly that of the British historian Niall Ferguson -- that the Great Satan is the first superpower with ADHD. They reasoned that if you could subject Americans to the drip-drip-drip of remorseless water torture in the deserts of Mesopotamia -- a couple of deaths here, a market bombing there, cars burning, smoke over the city on the evening news, day after day after day, and ratcheted up a notch or two for the weeks before the election -- you could grind down enough of the electorate and persuade them to vote like Spaniards, without even realizing it. And it worked. You can rationalize what happened on Tuesday in the context of previous sixth-year elections -- 1986, 1958, 1938, yada yada -- but that's not how it was seen around the world, either in the chancelleries of Europe, where they're dancing conga lines, or in the caves of the Hindu Kush, where they would also be dancing conga lines if Mullah Omar hadn't made it a beheading offense. And, as if to confirm that Tuesday wasn't merely 1986 or 1938, the president responded to the results by firing the Cabinet officer most closely identified with the prosecution of the war and replacing him with a man associated with James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and the other "stability" fetishists of the unreal realpolitik crowd.
Whether or not Rumsfeld should have been tossed overboard long ago, he certainly shouldn't have been tossed on Wednesday morning. For one thing, it's a startlingly brazen confirmation of the politicization of the war, and a particularly unworthy one: It's difficult to conceive of any more public diminution of a noble cause than to make its leadership contingent on Lincoln Chafee's Senate seat. The president's firing of Rumsfeld was small and graceless.
Still, we are all Spaniards now. The incoming speaker says Iraq is not a war to be won but a problem to be solved. The incoming defense secretary belongs to a commission charged with doing just that. A nostalgic boomer columnist in the Boston Globe argues that honor requires the United States to "accept defeat," as it did in Vietnam. Didn't work out so swell for the natives, but to hell with them.
What does it mean when the world's hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists? You can call it "redeployment" or "exit strategy" or "peace with honor" but, by the time it's announced on al-Jazeera, you can pretty much bet that whatever official euphemism was agreed on back in Washington will have been lost in translation. Likewise, when it's announced on "Good Morning Pyongyang" and the Khartoum Network and, come to that, the BBC.
For the rest of the world, the Iraq war isn't about Iraq; it's about America, and American will. I'm told that deep in the bowels of the Pentagon there are strategists wargaming for the big showdown with China circa 2030/2040. Well, it's steady work, I guess. But, as things stand, by the time China's powerful enough to challenge the United States it won't need to. Meanwhile, the guys who are challenging us right now -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere -- are regarded by the American electorate like a reality show we're bored with. Sorry, we don't want to stick around to see if we win; we'd rather vote ourselves off the island.
Two weeks ago, you may remember, I reported on a meeting with the president, in which I'd asked him the following: "You say you need to be on the offense all the time and stay on the offense. Isn't the problem that the American people were solidly behind this when you went in and you toppled the Taliban, when you go in and you topple Saddam. But when it just seems to be a kind of thankless semi-colonial policing defensive operation with no end . . . I mean, where is the offense in this?"
On Tuesday, the national security vote evaporated, and, without it, what's left for the GOP? Congressional Republicans wound up running on the worst of all worlds -- big bloated porked-up entitlements-a-go-go government at home and a fainthearted tentative policing operation abroad. As it happens, my new book argues for the opposite: small lean efficient government at home and muscular assertiveness abroad. It does a superb job, if I do say so myself, of connecting war and foreign policy with the domestic issues. Of course, it doesn't have to be that superb if the GOP's incoherent inversion is the only alternative on offer.
As it is, we're in a very dark place right now. It has been a long time since America unambiguously won a war, and to choose to lose Iraq would be an act of such parochial self-indulgence that the American moment would not endure, and would not deserve to. Europe is becoming semi-Muslim, Third World basket-case states are going nuclear, and, for all that 40 percent of planetary military spending, America can't muster the will to take on pipsqueak enemies. We think we can just call off the game early, and go back home and watch TV.
It doesn't work like that. Whatever it started out as, Iraq is a test of American seriousness. And, if the Great Satan can't win in Vietnam or Iraq, where can it win? That's how China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and a whole lot of others look at it. "These Colors Don't Run" is a fine T-shirt slogan, but in reality these colors have spent 40 years running from the jungles of Southeast Asia, the helicopters in the Persian desert, the streets of Mogadishu. ... To add the sands of Mesopotamia to the list will be an act of weakness from which America will never recover.
?Mark Steyn, 2006
The Paper of Record, Except When it's Not
Reply #272 on:
November 14, 2006, 10:41:36 PM »
The New York Times usually favors making information public.
by The Editors
11/13/2006, Volume 012, Issue 09
For the second time this year, the New York Times has taken an interest in the vast collection of documents captured in postwar Iraq. The Times first noticed these materials six months ago, when the U.S. government began posting images of them on the Internet. In a dismissive report, the Times noted that intelligence professionals opposed the document release but had gone along under pressure from Republicans engaged in a quixotic attempt to find an ex post facto justification (terror connections, weapons of mass destruction efforts) for the Iraq war.
By now, thousands of documents have been posted, and last Friday, the Times wrote about them for a second time in its lead story on page one. The government had posted on the site a captured document detailing Iraqi plans for a nuclear weapon dating back to the first Gulf war, in 1991, when Iraq was less than a year away from completing a bomb. This was foolish and dangerous, the Times article suggested, as it provided a road map possibly useful to Iran and others seeking to build nuclear weapons. In their misbegotten effort to justify the Iraq war, the Times said, congressional Republicans, "conservative publications," and "amateur historians" had caused documents to be released that jeopardized national security. As a result of the Times's harrumphing, the government promptly shut down the document website.
Let us first reiterate what ought to be obvious. The U.S. government should not release documents that damage national security. In a speech this summer, House Intelligence Committee chairman Pete Hoekstra reported that the intelligence community had classified and withheld more than 30 percent of the Iraqi documents it has reviewed. If the intelligence community nevertheless released nuclear plans that really could be helpful to Iran, et al. (which is unclear), then it shouldn't have. Neither Hoekstra nor "conservative publications" nor "amateur historians" urged potentially dangerous disclosures. They simply urged that citizens be allowed to read for themselves what was found in the files of Saddam's regime in order to judge claims about terror connections and WMD threats.
The New York Times usually favors making information public. Indeed, twice in the past two years it has published details about eavesdropping and finance-tracking efforts by the U.S. government, two of the most effective and most closely guarded programs in the war on terror. The Times stubbornly defended that reporting even after government officials said the articles had done significant damage to national security. No matter, countered the Times, the public has a right to know.
But not about Saddam and the captured Iraqi records. And when the documents did begin to trickle out, the Times summoned only enough interest to dismiss the effort as a waste of time. So people who get their news from the Times may not know about the contents of documents that have already been released. One lays out plans for "Blessed July," an Iraqi regime-sponsored terrorist plot targeting Western interests in northern Iraq and Europe. Another mandates that the Iraqi regime pay foreign terrorists in the country at the same rate it paid its homegrown terrorists in the Saddam Fedayeen. Yet another details an offer from Hamas to stage suicide attacks against Americans. Still another presents a detailed plan for "utilizing" Arab suicide bombers. And on it goes.
And there are other interesting documents that have not yet been released, but whose existence has been reported here and in other publications, as well as in official government reports.
There's the one that confirms Saddam Hussein's Iraq trained thousands of non-Iraqi terrorists from 1998 to 2003. And the one that shows the Iraqi regime provided money and weapons to Abu Sayyaf, an al Qaeda affiliate in the Philippines. And the one that lists hundreds of jihadists imported from Gulf countries before the war. And the one demonstrating that for a decade, ending only with its overthrow, Saddam Hussein's regime harbored and financed the man who had mixed the chemicals for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the native Iraqi Abdul Rahman Yasin. It's a document that might be relevant to the national debate--now in its fifth year--about whether Iraq is part of the war on terror or a distraction from it. And yet the Times has not once mentioned it in its pages.
That news apparently isn't fit to print, which is why the document-release project, enlisting the attention of thousands of ordinary, interested web readers, is valuable. Of course the intelligence community should make sure that potentially dangerous information is not released. But as long as the New York Times remains an advocate of secrecy and suppression of debate, the American people should see for themselves the evidence about the nature and activities of Saddam's regime.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #273 on:
November 29, 2006, 01:31:45 AM »
Losing the Enlightenment
A civilization that has lost confidence in itself cannot confront the Islamists.
BY VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
Wednesday, November 29, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
Our current crisis is not yet a catastrophe, but a real loss of confidence of the spirit. The hard-won effort of the Western Enlightenment of some 2,500 years that, along with Judeo-Christian benevolence, is the foundation of our material progress, common decency, and scientific excellence, is at risk in this new millennium.
But our newest foes of Reason are not the enraged Athenian democrats who tried and executed Socrates. And they are not the Christian zealots of the medieval church who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity. Nor are they Nazis who burned books and turned Western science against its own to murder millions en masse.
No, the culprits are now more often us. In the most affluent, and leisured age in the history of Western civilization--never more powerful in its military reach, never more prosperous in our material bounty--we have become complacent, and then scared of the most recent face of barbarism from the primordial extremists of the Middle East.
What would a beleaguered Socrates, a Galileo, a Descartes, or Locke believe, for example, of the moral paralysis in Europe? Was all their bold and courageous thinking--won at such a great personal cost--to allow their successors a cheap surrender to religious fanaticism and the megaphones of state-sponsored fascism?
Just imagine in our present year, 2006: plan an opera in today's Germany, and then shut it down. Again, this surrender was not done last month by the Nazis, the Communists, or kings, but by the producers themselves in simple fear of Islamic fanatics who objected to purported bad taste. Or write a novel deemed unflattering to the Prophet Mohammed. That is what did Salman Rushdie did, and for his daring, he faced years of solitude, ostracism, and death threats--and in the heart of Europe no less. Or compose a documentary film, as did the often obnoxious Theo Van Gogh, and you may well have your throat cut in "liberal" Holland. Or better yet, sketch a simple cartoon in postmodern Denmark of legendary easy tolerance, and then go into hiding to save yourself from the gruesome fate of a Van Gogh. Or quote an ancient treatise, as did Pope Benedict, and then learn that all of Christendom may come under assault, and even the magnificent stones of the Vatican may offer no refuge--although their costumed Swiss Guard would prove a better bulwark than the European police. Or write a book critical of Islam, and then go into hiding in fear of your life, as did French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker.
And we need not only speak of threats to free speech, but also the tangible rewards from a terrified West to the agents of such repression. Note the recent honorary degree given to former Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, whose regime has killed and silenced so many, and who himself is under investigation by the Argentine government for his role in sponsoring Hezbollah killers to murder dozens of Jewish innocents in Buenos Aires.
There are many lessons to be drawn from these examples, besides that they represent a good cross-section of European society in Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, and Italy. In almost every case, the lack of public support for the threatened artist or intellectual or author was purportedly based either on his supposed lack of sensitivity, or of artistic excellence.
Van Gogh, it was said, was obnoxious, his films sometimes puerile. The academic Pope was perhaps woefully ignorant of public relations in the politically correct age. Were not the cartoons in Denmark amateurish and unnecessary? Rushdie was an overrated novelist, whose chickens of trashing the West he sought refuge in finally came home to roost. The latest Hans Neuenfels's adaptation of Mozart's "Idomeneo" was apparently as silly as it was cheaply sensationalist. And perhaps Robert Redeker need not have questioned the morality of Islam and its Prophet.
But isn't that fact precisely the point? It is easy to defend artists when they produce works of genius that do not challenge popular sensibilities--Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" or Montesquieu's "Spirit of the Laws"--but not so when an artist offends with neither the taste of a Michelangelo nor the talent of a Dante. Yes, Pope Benedict is old and scholastic; he lacks both the charisma and tact of the late Pope John Paul II, who surely would not have turned for elucidation to the rigidity of Byzantine scholarship. But isn't that why we must come to the present Pope's defense--if for no reason other than because he has the courage to speak his convictions when others might not?
Note also the constant subtext in this new self-censorship of our supposedly liberal age: the fear of radical Islam and its gruesome methods of beheadings, suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices, barbaric fatwas, riotous youth, petrodollar-acquired nuclear weapons, oil boycotts and price hikes, and fist-shaking mobs, as the seventh century is compressed into the twenty-first.
In contrast, almost daily in Europe, "brave" artists caricature Christians and Americans with impunity. And we know what explains the radical difference in attitudes to such freewheeling and "candid" expression--indeed, that hypocrisy of false bravado, of silence before fascists and slander before liberals is both the truth we are silent about, and the lie we promulgate.
There is, in fact, a long list of reasons, among them most surely the assurance that cruel critics of things Western rant without being killed. Such cowards puff out their chests when trashing an ill Oriana Fallaci or a comatose Ariel Sharon or beleaguered George W. Bush in the most demonic of tones, but they prove sunken and sullen when threatened by a thuggish Dr. Zawahiri or a grand mufti of some obscure mosque.
Second, almost every genre of artistic and intellectual expression has come under assault: music, satire, the novel, films, academic exegesis, and education. Somehow Europeans have ever so insidiously given up the promise of the Enlightenment that welcomed free thought of all kinds, the more provocative the better.
Yes, the present generation of Europeans really is heretical, made up of traitors of a sort. They themselves, not just their consensual governments, or the now-demonized American Patriot Act and Guantanamo detention center, or some invader across the Mediterranean, have endangered their centuries-won freedoms of expression--and out of worries over oil, or appearing as illiberal apostates of the new secular religion of multiculturalism, or another London or Madrid bombing. We can understand why outnumbered Venetians surrendered Cyprus to the Ottomans, and were summarily executed, or perhaps why the 16th-century French did not show up at Lepanto, but why this vacillation of present-day Europeans to defend the promise of the West, who are protected by statute and have not experienced war or hunger?
Third, examine why all these incidents took place in Europe, where more and more the state guarantees the good life even into dotage, where the here and now has become a finite world for soulless bodies, where armies devolve into topics of caricature, and children distract from sterile adults' ever-increasing appetites. So, it was logical that Europe most readily of Westerners would abandon the artist and give up the renegade in fear of religious extremists who brilliantly threatened not destruction, but interruption of the good life, or the mere charge of illiberality. Never was the Enlightenment sold out so cheaply.
We on this side of Atlantic also are showing different symptoms of this same Western malaise, but more likely through heated rhetoric than complacent indifference--given the events of September 11 that galvanized many, while disappointing liberals that past appeasement had created monsters rather than mere confused, if not dangerous rivals. The war on terror has turned out to be the torn scab that has exposed a deep wound beneath, of an endemic Western self-loathing--and near mania that our own superior education and material wealth have not eliminated altogether the need for force and coercion.
Consider some of the recent rabid outbursts by once sober, old-guard politicians of the Democratic Party. West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller insists that the world would be better off if Saddam were still running Iraq. Congressman John Murtha, of Pennsylvania, rushed to announce that our Marines were guilty of killing Iraqis in "cold blood" before they were tried. Illinois Senator Richard Durbin has compared our interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis and mass murderers, while Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said our soldiers have "terrorized" Iraqi women and children. The same John Kerry warned young Americans to study or they would end up in the volunteer army in Iraq--even though today's soldiers have higher educational levels than does the general public. But furor as well as fear, not logic, drives us in West to seek blame among the humane among us rather than the savagery of our enemies.
Billionaire leftist philanthropists seem to be confused about the nature of American society and politics that gave them everything they so sumptuously enjoy. Ted Turner of CNN fame and fortune said he resented President Bush asking Americans, after 9/11, to take sides in our war against Islamic terrorists. George Soros claimed that President Bush had improved on Nazi propaganda methods. Dreaming of killing an elected president, not a mass-murdering Osama Bin Laden, is a new national pastime. That is the theme of both a recent docudrama film and an Alfred Knopf book.
What are the proximate causes here in America that send liberal criticism over the edge into pathological hysteria? Is it only that George Bush is a singular polarizing figure of Christian and Texan demeanor? Or is the current left-wing savagery also a legacy of the tribal 1960s, when out-of-power protestors felt that expressions of speaking bluntly, even crudely, were at least preferable to "artificial" cultural restraint?
Or does the anger stem from the fact, that until last week, the Democrats had not elected congressional majorities in 12 years, and they've occupied the White House in only eight of the last 26 years. The left's current unruliness seems a way of scapegoating others for a more elemental frustration--that without scandal or an unpopular war they cannot so easily gain a national majority based on European-based beliefs. More entitlements, higher taxes to pay for them, gay marriage, de facto quotas in affirmative action, open borders, abortion on demand, and radical secularism--these liberal issues, at least for the moment, still don't tend to resonate with most Americans and so must be masked by opponents' scandals or overshadowed by a controversial war.
Just as the Europeans are stunned that their heaven on earth has left them weak and afraid, so too millions of Americans on the Left are angry that their own promised moral utopia is not so welcomed by the supposedly less educated and bright among them. But still, what drives Westerners, here and in Europe, to demand that we must be perfect rather than merely good, and to lament that if we are not perfect we are then abjectly bad--and always to be so unable to define and then defend their civilization against its most elemental enemies?
There has of course always been a utopian strain in both Western thought from the time of Plato's "Republic" and the practice of state socialism. But the technological explosion of the last 20 years has made life so long and so good, that many now believe our mastery of nature must extend to human nature as well. A society that can call anywhere in the world on a cell phone, must just as easily end war, poverty, or unhappiness, as if these pathologies are strictly materially caused, not impoverishments of the soul, and thus can be materially treated.
Second, education must now be, like our machines, ever more ambitious, teaching us not merely facts of the past, science of the future, and the tools to question, and discover truth, but rather a particular, a right way of thinking, as money and learning are pledged to change human nature itself. In such a world, mere ignorance has replaced evil as our challenge, and thus the bad can at last be taught away rather than confronted and destroyed.
Third, there has always been a cynical strain as well, as one can read in Petronius's "Satyricon" or Voltaire's "Candide." But our loss of faith in ourselves is now more nihilistic than sarcastic or skeptical, once the restraints of family, religion, popular culture, and public shame disappear. Ever more insulated by our material things from danger, we lack all appreciation of the eternal thin veneer of civilization.
We especially ignore among us those who work each day to keep nature and the darker angels of our own nature at bay. This new obtuseness revolves around a certain mocking by elites of why we have what we have. Instead of appreciating that millions get up at 5 a.m., work at rote jobs, and live proverbial lives of quiet desperation, we tend to laugh at the schlock of Wal-Mart, not admire its amazing ability to bring the veneer of real material prosperity to the poor.
We can praise the architect for our necessary bridge, but demonize the franchise that sold fast and safe food to the harried workers who built it. We hear about a necessary hearing aid, but despise the art of the glossy advertisement that gives the information to purchase it. And we think the soldier funny in his desert camouflage and Kevlar, a loser who drew poorly in the American lottery and so ended up in Iraq--our most privileged never acknowledging that such men with guns are the only bulwark between us and the present day forces of the Dark Ages with their Kalashnikovs and suicide belts.
So we are on dangerous ground. History gives evidence of no civilization that survived long as purely secular and without a god, that put its trust in reason alone, and believed human nature was subject to radical improvement given enough capital and learning invested in the endeavor. The failure of our elites to amplify their traditions they received, and to believe them to be not merely different but far better than the alternatives, is also a symptom of crisis in all societies of the past, whether Demosthenes' Athens, late imperial Rome, 18th-century France, or Western Europe of the 1920s. Nothing is worse that an elite that demands egalitarianism for others but ensures privilege for itself. And rarely, we know, are civilization's suicides a result of the influence of too many of the poor rather than of the wealthy.
But can I end on an optimistic note in tonight's tribute to Winston Churchill, who endured more and was more alone than we of the present age? After the horror of September 11, we in our sleep were also given a jolt of sorts, presented with enemies from the Dark Ages, the Islamic fascists who were our near exact opposites, who hated the Western tradition, and, more importantly, were honest and without apology in conveying that hatred of our liberal tolerance and forbearance. They arose not from anything we did or any Western animosity that might have led to real grievances, but from self-acknowledged weakness, self-induced failure, and, of course, those perennial engines of war, age-old envy and lost honor--always amplified and instructed by dissident Western intellectuals whose unhappiness with their own culture proved a feast for the scavenging Al-Qaedists.
By past definitions of relative power, al-Qaeda and its epigones were weak and could not defeat the West militarily. But their genius was knowing of our own self-loathing, of our inability to determine their evil from our good, of our mistaken belief that Islamists were confused about, rather than intent to destroy, the West, and most of all, of our own terror that we might lose, if even for a brief moment, the enjoyment of our good life to defeat the terrorists. In learning what the Islamists are, many of us, and for the first time, are also learning what we are not. And in fighting these fascists, we are to learn whether our freedom can prove stronger than their suicide belts and improvised explosive devices.
So we have been given a reprieve of sorts with this war, to regroup; and, in our enemies, to see our own past failings and present challenges; and to rediscover our strengths and remember our origins. We can relearn that we are not fighting for George Bush or Wal-Mart alone, but also for the very notion of the Enlightenment--and, yes, in the Christian sense for the good souls of those among us who have forgotten all that as they censor cartoons and compare American soldiers to Nazis.
So let me quote Winston Churchill of old about the gift of our present ordeal:
"These are not dark days: these are great days--the greatest days our country has ever lived."
Never more true than today.
Mr. Hanson is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, a distinguished fellow of Hillsdale College, and author most recently of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." This article is adapted form a speech he delivered at the Claremont Institute's annual dinner in honor Sir Winston Churchill.
Campus Speaker Censorship
Reply #274 on:
November 29, 2006, 03:08:51 PM »
Mob Rule on College Campuses
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
America's college campuses, once thought to be bastions of free speech, have become increasingly intolerant toward the practice. Visiting speakers whose views do not conform to the prevailing left-leaning political mind-set on most campuses are at particular risk of having their free speech rights infringed upon.
While academia has its own crimes to atone for, it's the students who have become the bullies as of late. A disturbing number seem to feel that theirs is an inviolate world to which no one of differing opinion need apply. As a result, everything from pie throwing to disrupting speeches to attacks on speakers has become commonplace.
Conservative speakers have long been the targets of such illiberal treatment. The violent reception given to Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group, at Columbia University in October is a recent example. Gilchrist had been invited to speak by the Columbia University College Republicans, but was prevented from doing so by an unruly mob of students. What could have been mere heckling descended into yelling, screaming, kicking and punching, culminating in the rushing of the stage and Gilchrist being shuttled off by security.
The fact that the rioting students could be heard yelling, "He has no right to speak!" was telling. Apparently, in their minds, neither Gilchrist nor anyone else with whom they disagree has a right to express their viewpoints. In any other setting this would be called exactly what it is -- totalitarianism. But in the untouchable Ivy League world of Columbia, it was chalked up to student activism gone awry. While condemning the incident, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has yet to apologize to Gilchrist or to conclude the supposed investigation into the affair. In other words, mob rule won the day.
Bay Area PC Intolerance
Such behavior is certainly not limited to East Coast universities. Last February at San Francisco State University, former liberal activist-author turned conservative activist-author David Horowitz had his entire speech shouted down by a group of protesters. Composed primarily of students and other members of the Spartacus Youth Club, a Trotskyist organization, the group stood in the back of the room shouting slogans and comments at every turn.
Even this was not enough to warrant their removal, so Horowitz and his audience, which included me, simply had to suffer through the experience. Horowitz, whose speech centered on his Academic Bill of Rights, took on his critics and attempted to engage them in dialogue, with varying degrees of success. But those who actually came to hear him speak, whether out of sympathy for his views or out of a desire to tackle them intellectually, were unable to do so fully because of the actions of a few bullies.
It is not only conservative speakers who are at risk of having their free speech rights trampled upon on American college campuses. Those who dare criticize radical Islam in any way, shape or form tend to suffer the same fate.
In 2004, UC Berkeley became the locus for bullying behavior during a speech by Islam scholar Daniel Pipes. I was witness to the spectacle, one I'll never forget. Members of the Muslim Student Association and other protesters formed a disruptive group in the audience, shouting, jeering and chanting continually. They booed loudly throughout and called Pipes everything from "racist" and "Zionist" (which in their minds is an insult) to "racist Jew" -- all because Pipes had the audacity to propose that moderate Muslims distance themselves from extremist elements in their midst; that in tackling terrorism authorities take into account the preponderance of Muslim perpetrators and that Israel has a right to exist peacefully among its neighbors.
This was hardly the first time that UC Berkeley students had espoused hostility toward speakers with "unpopular" views or those hailing from "unpopular" countries such as Israel. Nonetheless, it was a wake-up call for many in the audience who had not yet experienced first-hand the intimidation of the mob.
Muslim Reformers Silenced
Recently, reformers from within the Muslim world itself have been on the receiving end of such treatment. Whether it be the work of student groups or faculty, insurmountable security restrictions and last-minute cancellations have a strange way of arising whenever such figures are invited to speak on college campuses.
Arab American activist and author Nonie Darwish was to speak at Brown University earlier this month, when the event was canceled because her views were deemed "too controversial" by members of the Muslim Students' Association. Given that Darwish is the author of the recently released book, "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror," such claims are hardly unpredictable. Like most Muslim reformers, Darwish must overcome the resistance within her own community, aided and abetted by misguided liberal sympathizers, in order to get her message across.
Darwish was born and raised a Muslim in Egypt and later lived in Gaza. It was during this time that she had several experiences that led her to reject the anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism with which she was indoctrinated as a child. She eventually emigrated to the United States and has since dedicated her life to exposing the ways that hatred and intolerance are crippling the Muslim world and leading to violence against non-Muslims.
Her pro-Israel views led to an invitation from the campus Jewish group Hillel to speak at Brown University. Unfortunately, the very same organization later backed out, fearing that their relationship with the Muslim Students' Association would be harmed by the experience. But if such a relationship is based on mutually assured censorship, then it's hardly worth preserving. In the end, all of Brown's students missed out on what would undoubtedly have been a thought-provoking experience.
Word has it that Brown University has re-invited Darwish to speak, no doubt in response to the furor, so perhaps students will have that opportunity after all.
Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist turned Christian convert and outspoken anti-jihadist, fared slightly better at Columbia University in October. Shoebat is the author of "Why I Left Jihad: The Root of Terrorism and the Return of Radical Islam." He was invited to speak by the Columbia College Republicans, along with former Lebanese terrorist Zachariah Anani and former Nazi Hitler Youth member and German soldier, Hilmar von Campe. All three have renounced their former anti-Semitic views and dedicated themselves to exposing radical Islam in a no-holds-barred fashion.
They managed to give their presentation, but the turnout was greatly impacted by last-minute changes to security policies implemented in the wake of the Jim Gilchrist debacle. As a result, 75 to 120 people who had RSVP'd for the event were turned away at the door because only Columbia students and 20 guests were allowed to attend. An e-mail sent out 3 hours before the event was the only forewarning, and as one would expect, most of those planning to attend didn't receive it in time. The event had been widely advertised in the blogosphere, and those denied entry were not only greatly inconvenienced but also greatly disappointed.
Members of student groups who had boycotted the event were much cheerier at the prospect of a low turnout. A post at the blog for the Blue and White, Columbia's undergraduate magazine, expressed eagerness for "pretty pictures of empty chairs." Unfortunately, they got their wish, to the detriment of open discourse at Columbia.
Illiberal Mob Rule
It's a sad state of affairs indeed when the figures of moderation and reform that many who call themselves liberal or progressive should in theory support are instead shunned in the name of political correctness. For how can one expect to promote progress while helping to stifle the voices at its heart?
People such as Shoebat and Darwish, who literally risk their lives to call attention to a grave threat to all our rights, are the true freedom fighters of our day. But far too many accord that label to those who choose to effect political change by blowing themselves up in a crowd of civilians or by randomly lobbing rockets into homes and schools or by promoting hatred of other religions. By excusing such behavior and simultaneously helping to suppress reformers, liberal student groups are in fact aiding the very totalitarian forces they claim to oppose. They have in effect become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
It would be nice if we could look to our colleges and universities as the bearers of progress, but at this rate it seems an unlikely prospect. If we are to truly promote an atmosphere of intellectual openness, respectful political debate and the free flow of ideas on campus, then we must stem the tide of thuggery, bullying and intolerance that threatens to subsume future generations.
Otherwise, we cede the day to mob rule.
Cinnamon Stillwell is a San Francisco writer. She can be reached at
. Read her blog at cinnamonstillwell.blogspot.com/.
Pay No Attention to the Educator Behind the Curtain
Reply #275 on:
December 02, 2006, 08:04:44 PM »
Linked at the bottom, this piece is well annotated and links many interesting places.
The Dream Palace of Educational Theorists
by John Derbyshire (Dec. 2006)
Education is a subject I find hard to contemplate without losing my temper. In the present-day U.S.A., education is basically a series of rent-seeking rackets.
There is the public school racket, in which homeowners and taxpayers fork out stupendous sums of money to feed a socialistic extravaganza in which, when its employees can spare time from administration, “professional development” sabbaticals, and fund-raising for the Democratic Party, boys are pressed to act like girls, and dosed with calming drugs if they refuse so to act; girls are encouraged to act like boys by taking up advanced science, math, and strenuous sports, which few of them have any liking or aptitude for; and boys and girls alike are indoctrinated in the dubious dogmas of “diversity” and political correctness.
• There is the teacher-unions racket , in which people who only work half the days of the year are awarded lifetime tenure and lush pensions on the public fisc, subject to dismissal for no offense less grave than serial arson or piracy on the high seas.
• There is the federal Department of Education racket, aptly summed up by the teacher-union boss who declared, when the Department was established by Jimmy Carter, that he now belonged to the only labor union to have its very own cabinet officer. The DoE is also much beloved by politicians, who can posture as kiddie- and family-friendly by periodically voting to tip boxcar-loads of taxpayers’ money into this bureaucratic black hole.
• There is the homework racket, exposed in Alfie Kohn’s book The Homework Myth —basically, a device for getting parents to do teachers’ work for them.
• There is the teacher-training racket, in which the “professional” training of our nation’s educators has been placed in the hands of the clinically insane. You think I exaggerate? I offer you Dr. Kamau Kambon, a product of our teacher-training colleges—an atypical product only in that he has so many “professional” degrees. According to his Wikipedia entry: “Dr. Kambon holds a B.A. degree in education/history, a master's degree in physical education, both a M.A. and a M. Ed. degree in education/administration, and an Ed. D. in urban education/curriculum and instruction.” Phew! This is one very thoroughly teacher-trained dude! Listen to what Dr. Kambon has to say about the proper priorities for American educators here. There is a wellnigh infinite supply of news stories about teacher-college lunacy at websites like that of the estimable F.I.R.E., and Rita Kramer wrote a fine, if horribly depressing, book on the topic.
Towering over all these lesser scams is the college racket, a vast money-swollen credentialing machine for lower-middle-class worker bees. American parents are now all resigned to the fact that they must beggar themselves to purchase college diplomas for their offspring, so that said offspring can get low-paid outsource-able office jobs, instead of having to descend to high-paid, un-outsource-able work like plumbing, carpentry, or electrical installation.
(Professionals have their own credentialing systems: You may have graduated law school, but you’ll still have to pass the bar exam, and so on. Then why make aspiring lawyers go to law school? Presumably for the same reason we insist on cube jockeys having bachelor’s degrees from accredited four-year colleges. Why not let them study up at home from Teaching Company DVDs, then sit for a state-refereed common exam when they feel they’re ready? Why not let lawyers learn on the job from books and as articled clerks, the way they used to? I don’t know. College-going is just an irrational thing we do, the way upper-class German men used to acquire dueling scars, the way women in imperial China had their feet bound. Griggs vs. Duke Power probably has something to do with it. Since, following that decision, employers are not permitted to test job applicants to see how intelligent they are, the employers seek a college degree as a proxy for intelligence.)
* * * * *
And then there is the strange, precious little world of education theorists. Readers of the New York Times were given a glimpse into that world on November 26th, when the Sunday magazine of that paper ran a piece titled “What It Takes to Make a Student,” by staff journalist Paul Tough. The story is billed on the magazine’s cover under the different heading: “Still Left Behind—What It Will Really Take to Close the Education Gap.” Which gap would that be? “[T]he achievement gap between black and white students, and the one between poor and middle-class students.” Ah. So, two gaps then, actually.
Let’s cut to the chase here. What will it take to close those gaps? I turned to the end of Mr. Tough’s article.
The evidence is now overwhelming that if you take an average low-income child and put him into an average American public school, he will almost certainly come out poorly educated. What the small but growing number of successful schools demonstrate [sic] is that the public-school system accomplishes that result because we have built it that way. We could also decide to create a different system, one that educates most (if not all) poor minority students to high levels of achievement. It is not yet entirely clear what that system might look like—it might include not only KIPP-like structures and practices but also high-quality early-childhood education, as well as incentives to bring the best teachers to the worst schools—but what is clear is that it is within reach.
“KIPP” is an acronym for Knowledge is Power Program, a network of intensive college-preparatory schools for inner-city kids started up in 1994 by two idealistic young teachers, David Levin and Michael Feinberg, in Houston. There are now 52 of these schools nationwide. They get good results, but this is not very surprising. KIPP schools have long hours (typically 7:30am to 5:00pm), a longer than average school year, and strict standards of behavior. KIPP schools are covered in Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom’s 2003 book No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning, where more of the game is given away: “[T]here is an application process that tends to—and is intended to—discourage families unlikely to cooperate with the school. Indeed, one of the five pillars upon which the KIPP schools rest is ‘choice and commitment.’ ...the fact that these are schools of choice is not incidental to their success.” For sure it is not.
All the recommendations offered by Mr. Tough—and by other education theorists, like the Thernstroms—have little trapdoors built into them like this. Look back at Mr. Tough’s prescription: “...but also high-quality early-childhood education.” Oh, like Head Start? That landmark Great Society educational program, launched in 1965, is still going strong. The Thernstroms reported that 20 million children had passed through it when they wrote their book, at a cost to the federal taxpayer of $60 billion. They go on to report that while there is some slight, disputable evidence of marginal benefits for white children from Head Start, “It does not seem to have improved the educational achievement of African-American children in any substantial way.” Whether it has done anything for Hispanic children is not known.
Similarly with “incentives to bring the best teachers to the worst schools.” Setting aside the fact that you are dealing with a line of work whose labor union is armed with thermonuclear weapons, even supposing you could establish a free market in public-school teachers, how could the worst schools—inner-city schools serving black neighborhoods—ever outbid leafy, affluent suburbs for those “best teachers”? And how many “best teachers” are there, anyway? As the Thernstroms point out, a lot of these prescriptions for school reform assume an unlimited supply of “saints and masochists”—teachers like those in the KIPPS schools, who, Mr. Tough tells us, work 15 to 16 hours a day. I am sure there are some people who enter the teaching profession with the desire to crunch their way daily across the crack-vial-littered streets of crime-wrecked inner-city neighborhoods in order to put in 15-hour working days, but I doubt there are many such.
* * * * *
If you read much Ed Biz theorizing, you find yourself wondering how a single field of human enquiry can contain so much error and folly. One answer is that educationalists wilfully—ideologically, in fact—ignore the understanding of human nature that the modern human sciences are gradually attaining, and cling doggedly to long-exploded theories about how human beings develop from infancy to adulthood. From false premises they proceed to false conclusions.
The long and short of this new understanding is that human beings are much less malleable than everyone supposed half a century ago, and much less malleable than “blank slate” leftists—a category that includes practically all education theorists—have ever, for reasons not difficult to fathom, been willing to contemplate.
Reading recent results out of the human sciences always brings to my mind those “shape memory alloys” that so fascinate materials scientists. These are metal alloys that “remember” their original geometry, and can be made to return to it, or something close to it, usually by heating, after any amount of deformation and pressure.
So it is with humanity. We come into the world with a good deal of our life course pre-ordained in our genes. At age three or so we begin to interact with other children outside our home, with results that depend in part on us, and in part on where our home is situated. We pass through various educational processes—formalized extensions of that out-of-home environment, and also highly location-dependent. We end up as adults with personalities and prospects that are, according to the latest understandings, around 50 percent innate and pre-ordained, around 50 percent formed by “non-shared environment” (not shared, that is, with siblings raised in the same home by the same parents—a somewhat controversial concept in its precise contents, but clearly consisting mostly of those out-of-home experiences), and 0-5 percent formed by “shared environment”—mainly parenting style.
(And we then, having reached adulthood, regress a little to our pre-ordained shape, like one of those peculiar alloys. It is a curious fact, well supported by a mass of evidence, that the heritable components of our personality and intelligence become more marked as we age. The IQs of 40-year-olds correlate better with those of their parents or siblings than do the IQs of 20-year-olds. The advice traditionally given to young men contemplating marriage—“Get a good look at her mother”—is very sound.)
You would never know any of this from reading Ed Biz propaganda pieces like Paul Tough’s in the New York Times magazine. For example, he gives good coverage of some research on parenting. However, all the research he cites is premised on the notion that parents can mold their children in different ways by treating them differently. Parents do this and the kids turn out like this; if the parents had done that, then the kids would have turned out like that.
He does not cite any of the research showing that aside from very extreme approaches—e.g. locking a child in a broom cupboard for the first four years of its life—parenting style makes very little difference to life outcomes. (Though parental decisions influencing the non-shared environment—e.g. where parents choose to live—may make a great deal of difference.) Parents behave aggressively towards children; the children grow up aggressive; See!—the parents’ aggression caused that outcome! Well, not necessarily. What about child-to-parent effects—innately difficult kids drive their parents to aggressive distraction? What about genes? The kids have their parents’ genes, and most features of human personality—including aggressiveness—are highly heritable.
None of that for Mr. Tough. Genes? What are you, some kind of Klansman or Nazi? No, no, no, the kids are little blank slates for teachers, parents, and politicians to work their magic on, These undesirable outcomes—these mysterious test-score gaps, these dropping-outs and delinquencies—arise only because we are chanting the wrong spells!
A very good rule of thumb when reading child-development literature is that any study that has not taken careful account of heritable factors—by comparing identical twins raised together or separately, fraternal twins ditto ditto, non-twin siblings ditto ditto—is utterly and completely worthless. That sentence is (a) true, and (b) guaranteed to get you thrown out of a high window if spoken aloud at any gathering of education theorists.
Certainly Mr. Tough will have none of it. The child is a blank slate. Parents act on it, causing this and this. Then teachers act on it, causing that and that. Bingo!—you have a finished adult. Or, as Mr. Tough summarizes the interesting (but perfectly gene-free) work of sociologist Annette Lareau: “[G]ive a child X, and you get Y.” So simple! One wonders if there has ever been an education theorist who has actually raised children, or retained any memory of his own childhood.
* * * * *
In the end, all left-liberal prescriptions for educational improvement end up with two demands: that governments should spend more money on schools, and that parents should work harder at parenting.
Never mind that the spending-improves-education theory has been tested to destruction. Never mind that the demographics of the Western world are in free fall because of the ever-increasing demands in time and money placed on parents. (Raising two children in suburban America, I dream fondly but futilely of my own 1950s English childhood, when by far the commonest words I heard from my parents were: “Go out and play. Make sure you’re back in time for supper.” How on earth did civilization survive?)
Never mind that obstructionist, feather-bedding teacher unions firmly control one of our nation’s two big political parties. Never mind the mountains of evidence from the human sciences that everything education theorists and their liberal camp followers like Mr. Tough believe about human nature is false. Never mind, never mind. The Ed Biz show must go on—for the sake of the children, you know.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #276 on:
December 04, 2006, 02:43:18 PM »
Here's the meat of the article, starting about halfway through:
Don't get me wrong, I like a Friars' Club Roast as much as the next guy and I'm sure Jim Baker kibitzing with John Kerry was the hottest ticket in town. But doesn't it strike you as just a tiny bit parochial? Aside from Senator Kerry, I wonder whether the commission thought to hear from anyone such as Goh Chok Tong, the former prime minister of Singapore. A couple of years back, on a visit to Washington just as the Democrat-media headless-chicken quagmire-frenzy was getting into gear, he summed it up beautifully:
''The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America's credibility and will to prevail.''
As I write in my new book, Singaporean Cabinet ministers apparently understand that more clearly than U.S. senators, congressmen and former secretaries of state. Or, as one Baker Commission grandee told the New York Times, ''We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out.''
An ''exit strategy'' on those terms is the path out not just from Iraq but from a lot of other places, too -- including Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela, Russia, China, the South Sandwich Islands. For America would be revealed to the world as a fraud: a hyperpower that's all hype and no power -- or, at any rate, no will. According to the New York Sun, ''An expert adviser to the Baker-Hamilton commission expects the 10-person panel to recommend that the Bush administration pressure Israel to make concessions in a gambit to entice Syria and Iran to a regional conference . . .''
On the face of it, this sounds an admirably hard-headed confirmation of James Baker's most celebrated soundbite on the Middle East ''peace process'': ''F - - k the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway.'' His recommendations seem intended to f - - k the Jews well and truly by making them the designated fall guys for Iraq. But hang on: If Israel could be forced into giving up the Golan Heights and other land (as some fantasists suggest) in order to persuade the Syrians and Iranians to ease up on killing coalition forces in Iraq, our enemies would have learned an important lesson: The best way to weaken Israel is to kill Americans. I'm all for Bakerite cynicism, but this would seem to f - - k not just the Jews but the Americans, too.
It would, furthermore, be a particularly contemptible confirmation of a line I heard Bernard Lewis, our greatest Middle Eastern scholar, use the other day -- that ''America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.'' To punish your friends as a means of rewarding your enemies for killing your forces would seem to be an almost ludicrously parodic illustration of that dictum. In the end, America would be punishing itself. The world would understand that Vietnam is not the exception but the rule.
It has been strange to see my pals on the right approach Iraq as a matter of inventory and personnel. Many call for more troops to be sent to Baghdad, others say the U.S. armed forces overall are too small and overstretched. Look, America is responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending: It spends more money on its armed forces than the next 43 biggest militaries combined, from China, Britain and France all the way down the military-spending hit parade to Montenegro and Angola. Yet it's not big enough to see off an insurgency confined to a 30-mile radius of a desert capital?
It's not the planes, the tanks, the men, the body armor. It's the political will. You can have the best car in town, but it won't go anywhere if you don't put your foot on the pedal. Three years ago, when it was obvious Syria and Iran were violating Iraq's borders with impunity, we should have done what the British did in the so-called ''Confrontation'' with Indonesia 40 years ago when they were faced with Jakarta doing to the newly independent state of Malaysia exactly what Damascus and Tehran are doing to Iraq. British, Aussie and Malaysian forces sent troops on low-key, lethally effective raids into Indonesia, keeping the enemy on the defensive and winning the war with barely a word making the papers. If the strategic purpose in invading Iraq was to create a regional domino effect, then playing defense in the Sunni Triangle for three years makes no sense. We should never have wound up hunkered down in the Green Zone. If there has to be a Green Zone, it should be on the Syrian side of the border.
Perhaps the Baker Commission's proposals will prove not to be as empty and risible as those leaked. But, if they are, the president should pay them no heed. A bipartisan sellout -- the Republicans cut and the Democrats run -- would be an awesome self-humiliation of the United States. And once the rest of the world figures it out, it'll be America that's the Green Zone.
© Mark Steyn, 2006
Re: Political Rants
Reply #277 on:
December 19, 2006, 09:08:29 AM »
Re: Political Rants
Reply #278 on:
January 24, 2007, 05:28:13 PM »
The State of the Union is a Disaster:
PJM in Seattle
January 23, 2007 3:36 AM
The Speech George Bush Should Make Tuesday Night
Exclusive to PJM by Jules Crittenden
Don’t bother standing up or clapping, any of you. I already know who won the election, and I know how you feel.
I come before you tonight not to make amends, not to make it good, curry any favor or find any middle ground.
I am, more or less, a lame duck. You’ve had your 100 hours of party time. I know. I won’t get any legislation passed without some major bottom-kissing. Maybe something on illegal aliens. That health insurance thing I’ll be talking about later tonight is pretty much for show. I know it isn’t going anywhere. A proposal to raise middle-class taxes for a healthcare plan you don’t even want? What was I thinking?
None of that really matters. Not now. Those are peacetime issues we’ve been bickering about for a long time, and I don’t expect we’ll resolve them anytime soon.
So what is the best thing I can do tonight? I can tell you the truth. What none of you want to hear. What you’ve been stopping your ears to. The ugly truth.
The State of the Union is a disaster. I did my best, but I made mistakes, and my best wasn’t good enough.
We went to war without building up our army, and now, I am trying to make up for that.
But that is not the disaster.
The disaster is that you, Congress and the American people, do not care to fight.
Faced with a fundamental challenge to our own security, to everything we believe in, to the world order to peace and security for which we and our parents fought so hard for so many years, you now want to pretend like none of these threats are real. You want to surrender to the evil I have been telling you about. An evil that, unchecked, can consume large parts of the world and threatens to usher in a dark age.
You didn’t like it when I talked about evil. Sounded too simple, too uncompromising, too moralistic. Too … biblical.
I don’t know what else you call people who fly passenger jets into office buildings; who rape women in front of their husbands and children, and execute their opponents in acid baths; who seek to spread tyrannical and archaic religious regimes that enslave women and stifle fundamental freedoms. Who want to dominate the world’s primary oil fields with nuclear weapons.
I call it evil. Works for me.
I’ve heard all the comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam. George Bush’s Vietnam. The myopia is astonishing, even for me, George Bush, who you all think just isn’t that smart. But I learned something in school: People who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Didn’t you learn anything from Vietnam? Didn’t you see what happened when your predecessors in Congress, disgruntled and responding to public opinion polls just like you are, voted repeatedly to undermine an ally that was fighting for its survival and making headway against evil? There, I’ve said it again. Millions of people were murdered or imprisoned.
And then, those who wished us ill … the evil-doers … evil, evil evil … took advantage of our weakness.
The Soviet Union, evil personified, invaded Afghanistan, knowing we’d do nothing about it. Iran defied all international norms, took our sovereign embassy and held our people hostage for 444 days. They knew we’d do nothing about it. It was a massive humiliation we have been paying for with our own precious blood ever since.
Where do you think this war we are now engaged in started, anyway? Just ask Osama bin Laden, veteran of the Afghan war against the Soviets, what lesson he learned from two decades of American appeasement and withdrawal in the face of provocation.
Now, you want to negotiate with two of the world’s primary sponsors of terrorism, who are directly involved in support of the terrorists who murder our soldiers. You want to make an arrangement by which we will exit Iraq, and leave it to them. To loot, to murder, to fight over, while the rest of the world’s evil regimes look on, see our weakness, and plot their own moves.
You can try that, with resolutions, by cutting spending for troops in the field, as you seek the short-term satisfaction of withdrawal. But I remain President of the United States, and as long as I am, I will be no lame duck in this fight.
I will engage evil directly where I find it, in Iraq and in Iran. With an aggressive and ruthless new strategy and a plan to build our army as we should have a long time ago, I will show the American people that we can fight and we can win. I expect that the American people, though misled by their press and many of their elected representatives, will see results and will get it. Because the American people are a people who in the end don’t give up, don’t stop fighting, refuse to lose, and will choose to win. I have faith in them.
Oh, there’s another one of those words you don’t like.
A nation that is not willing to fight for what it believes in, for its place in the world, is not worthy of its own ideals. But that is not America. I now intend to help America restore its faith in itself. By fighting this necessary fight that we cannot afford to lose.
So … are you with me, or against us?
Jules Crittenden is an editor and columnist for the Boston Herald.
Crittenden’s web page is at Forward Movement.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #279 on:
January 29, 2007, 10:44:01 AM »
Old U.S.S.R. made Old Europe look new
By Mark Steyn
John O'Sullivan's new book The President, The Pope And The Prime Minister has a marvelous account of the funeral of Yuri Andropov. In case you've forgotten, he was one of those late-period Soviet leaders who looked like he'd been plucked in haste from the local embalmer's and propped up against the balcony for the May Day parade. When he was eventually pronounced (officially) dead in 1984, Margaret Thatcher was prevailed upon by an aide to stop at a shoe store en route to the airport and get some fleece-lined boots for the chilly February burial. She grumbled about the cost all the way to Moscow. There she met Andropov's successor, Konstantin Chernenko, whom the Politburo had anointed as the next cadaver-in-chief. And, after shaking hands with him, she stopped complaining about the cost of her Kremlin boots. "They were a prudent long-term investment," she told her aide.
More like short-term. Vice President George H. W. Bush was nearer to the mark when he said goodbye to the U.S. Embassy staff after the Andropov funeral: "Next year, same time, same place." Close enough. Chernenko died 13 months later.
The decrepitude of the Politburo waxworks and their Eastern European clients embodied the ideological health of communism: Andropov and Chernenko were the sclerosis of the regime made wan flesh. With democracies, decrepitude is harder to spot. Our leaders are younger, and even in the U.S. Senate — the nearest the Western world has to a Brezhnevite politburo — new blood occasionally shows up: Barack Obama is hot, hip, happening, even if none of his political ideas are. But old whines in new bottles sell better than old whines in old bottles, as John Kerry evidently concluded. Last week, the senator took to the floor and reduced himself to tears as he announced that he'd regretfully decided not to run for president again. John Edwards shoveled him into the landfill oistory with some oleaginous boilerplate about Kerry's readiness to "respond to any call to serve his country." Was anybody calling? And why would they? What does Senator Kerry weep for other than his own thwarted ambition? What did he stand for? What was his vision other than a belief in his own indispensability?
Alas, the air of Andropovian exhaustion is not confined to Massachusetts. In the State of the Union, the president (as presidents are wont to do on Tuesday nights in January) spoke about energy, but he didn't seem to have any. Five years ago, when he was genuinely engaged by the subject, he wanted to drill in ANWR and go nuclear: He was energetic about energy. When both those excellent ideas went nowhere, President Bush retreated to some familiar bromides about vague targets and new regulations and increased efficiencies: His list was listless.
This seems to suit the Democrats. The only energy displayed by Nancy Pelosi was the spectacular leap to her feet within a nano-second of the president mentioning Darfur. Up went Madam Speaker and the entire Democratic caucus like enthusiastic loons on a gameshow. Darfur! We're all in favor of Darfur. People are being murdered! Hundreds of thousands! We oughtta do something! Like, er, jump up and down when it's mentioned in a speech. And, er, call for the international community to mobilize. Maybe one of those leathery old '60s rockers could organize an all-star concert or something. If Darfur were indeed a game show, the Sudanese would quickly discover it's one of those ones where you come on down to discover you've missed out on all the big prizes but you're not going away empty-handed: No, sir, here's your very own SAVE DARFUR! T-shirt autographed by Nancy Pelosi and George Clooney.
Darfur is an apt symbol of early 21st century liberalism: What matters is that you urge action rather than take any. On Iraq, meanwhile, the president declared: "Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory." And the Dems sat on their hands.
The American left has long deplored Bush's rhetorical reliance on such vulgar conceits as "good" and "evil." But it seems even "victory" is a problematic concept, and right now the momentum is all for defeat of one kind or another. America is talking itself into willing a defeat that has not (yet) occurred on the ground, and would be fatally damaging to this nation's credibility if it did. Last year Arthur M. Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, gave a commencement address of almost parodic boomer narcissism, hailing his own generation for their anti-war idealism. Advocating defeat first time round, John Kerry estimated America might have to relocate a few thousand local allies. As it happens, millions died in Vietnam and Cambodia. And the least the self-absorbed poseurs like Sulzberger could do is occasionally remember that the world is about more than their moral vanity.
The open defeatists on the Democrat side and the nuanced defeatists among "moderate" Republicans seem to think that big countries can choose to lose small wars. After all, say the "realists," Iraq isn't any more important to Americans than Vietnam was. But a realpolitik cynic knows the tactical price of everything and the strategic value of nothing. This is something on an entirely different scale from the 1930s: Seventy years ago, Britain and Europe could not rouse themselves to focus on a looming war; today, we can't rouse ourselves even to focus on a war that's happening right now. Read 100 percent of the Democratic presidential candidates' platforms and a sizeable chunk of the Republicans': We're full of pseudo-energy for phantom crises and ersatz enemies, like "global warming.''
The other day I was reading an account of the latest genius idea from Britain. The carbon emission-trading system imposed by Kyoto is absurd and entirely ineffectual, but in London David Cameron now wants to apply it to hamburgers. Over there, a Big Mac costs three bucks or so. But, if children eat too many, the consequent problems of juvenile obesity will be a further strain on the National Health Service. So Cameron wants to impose some sort of Kyotoesque calorie-trading system on fast-food purveyors whereby McDonald's would have some trans fat cap imposed on it to ensure they pick up the tab for what that $3 Big Mac really costs society.
And David Cameron is the leader of the alleged Conservative Party.
He's also living in a country whose major cities have been hollowed out by Islamist cells. Nevertheless, as England decays into Somalia with chip shops, taxing the chip shops is the Conservatives' priority.
The civilized world faces profound challenges that threaten the global order. But most advanced democracies now run two-party systems in which both parties sell themselves to the electorate on the basis of unaffordable entitlements whose costs can be kicked down the road, even though the road is a short cul-de-sac and the kicked cans are already piled sky-high. That's the real energy crisis.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #280 on:
January 29, 2007, 12:33:43 PM »
Second rant of the day:
22% of Fox Poll hope surge fails (UPDATED)
Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?
16-17 Jan 07
22% (34% of self-identified Democrats) don't want the plan to succeed? 11% of self-identified Republicans? 15% "don't know" if they want it to succeed? What can these idiots be thinking? Are they "Patriotic Terrorists"?
From the Huffington Post
New Trend On The Rise: The Patriotic Terrorist (168 comments )
READ MORE: United States, Iraq
Whenever I visit this lovely blog, I usually run into someone - a "leftist," if you will - who finds pleasure in things that make our country or the President look bad. I suppose I could say these angry types are no better than cheerleaders for terrorism. After all, both entities - the left and terrorists - seem to share the same desire: to put the US, humiliatingly, in its place.
But I would be wrong to say such things. Very wrong. Of course, "dissent is patriotic," and the left is only critical of America because it simply loves our country much more than I do.
That's why calling them terrorists would be intolerant and pretty shameful.
But what about "patriotic terrorists?"
That's kinda neat.
What is a patriotic terrorist?
It is an American who claims to love his or her country while enjoying the enemy's success against said country. It is a person who gets deeply offended if you question their patriotism, while also appearing to share the same ideals of the more spirited folk who like to blow up innocent people.
Patriotic terrorists love America with so much intensity that it appears to the untrained eye that they hate it. But it's actually the most powerful form of "tough love" known to man, woman and Rosie O'Donnell. Patriotic terrorists love America so much that they realize it needs an intervention - and real terror is the only way to enable that intervention. In fact, to keep a mammoth, arrogant superpower like America in check, terrorism is the only thing we've got. Noam Chomsky knew this from the start, making him a patriotic terrorist of the highest order.
This is why he gets the chicks.
Hey, I bet you've probably wondered why Al Qaeda hasn't struck in the US since 9/11. They don't have to. It has its own offshoot franchise here at work already. Patriotic Terrorists.
Think about how much both groups have in common!
-Both patriotic terrorists and Al Qaeda want the US to abandon Iraq, for that reveals Bush and America to be monstrous, laughable failures. It does not matter to either group that the withdrawal from Iraq will make post-Vietnam look like an afternoon at Ikea shopping for a Hoggbo innerspring mattress.
-For patriotic terrorists and real terrorists, car bombs going off is music to their ears. It proves that you can't offer democracy to troubled countries, as long as you've got terrorists standing in your way. And that's great news for everyone who believes in checks and balances between the haves and the have nots! (Note: "haves" means the US. "Have nots" means those who hate the US)
-Patriotic terrorists and the more committed terrorists both believe that infractions at Guantanamo Bay are far worse than anything a genocidal dictator could muster, and such horrors possess far more PR potential in denigrating the US than anything involving Ed Begley Jr.
-Both patriotic terrorists and Al Qaeda terrorists believe the US desires to control the Middle East, empower evil Israel and expand it's power base at the expense of innocent Arab lives. But both groups also realize that the US is too stupid to achieve these goals - and that makes being a patriotic terrorist loads of fun!
Are you a patriotic terrorist?
If you are intensely critical of the US, while tolerating homicidal enemies who condemn everything you previously claimed you are for - human rights, voting rights, gay rights, women's rights, porn - then you're a patriotic terrorist.
If you talk about tolerance constantly - and hilariously tolerate genocide and suicide bombers because those actions undermine your more intimate opposition, the American right - then you're a patriotic terrorist.
The only difference between a patriotic terrorist and a real one? Real terrorists are simply patriotic terrorists who've taken the extra step - choosing to actually die for their beliefs - rather than simply talking about them at Spago. If Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, and their ilk had real cojones, they'd all be wearing cute black vests - but stuffed with more than dog-eared copies of Deterring Democracy.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #281 on:
February 15, 2007, 05:10:10 AM »
Awaiting the Dishonor Roll
February 15, 2007; Page A18
Congress has rarely been distinguished by its moral courage. But even grading on a curve, we can only describe this week's House debate on a vote of no-confidence in the mission in Iraq as one of the most shameful moments in the institution's history.
On present course, the Members will vote on Friday to approve a resolution that does nothing to remove American troops from harm's way in Iraq but that will do substantial damage to their morale and that of their Iraqi allies while emboldening the enemy. The only real question is how many Republicans will also participate in this disgrace in the mistaken belief that their votes will put some distance between themselves and the war most of them voted to authorize in 2002.
The motion at issue is plainly dishonest, in that exquisitely Congressional way of trying to have it both ways. (We reprint the text nearby.) The resolution purports to "support" the troops even as it disapproves of their mission. It praises their "bravery," while opposing the additional forces that both President Bush and General David Petreaus, the new commanding general in Iraq, say are vital to accomplishing that mission. And it claims to want to "protect" the troops even as its practical impact will be to encourage Iraqi insurgents to believe that every roadside bomb brings them closer to their goal.
As for how "the troops" themselves feel, we refer readers to Richard Engel's recent story on NBC News quoting Specialist Tyler Johnson in Iraq: "People are dying here. You know what I'm saying . . . You may [say] 'oh we support the troops.' So you're not supporting what they do. What they's (sic) here to sweat for, what we bleed for and we die for." Added another soldier: "If they don't think we're doing a good job, everything we've done here is all in vain." In other words, the troops themselves realize that the first part of the resolution is empty posturing, while the second is deeply immoral.
All the more so because if Congress feels so strongly about the troops, it arguably has the power to start removing them from harm's way by voting to cut off the funds they need to operate in Iraq. But that would make Congress responsible for what followed -- whether those consequences are Americans killed in retreat, or ethnic cleansing in Baghdad, or the toppling of the elected Maliki government by radical Shiite or military forces. The one result Congress fears above all is being accountable.
We aren't prone to quoting the young John Kerry, but this week's vote reminds us of the comment the antiwar veteran told another cut-and-run Congress in the early 1970s: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" The difference this time is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and John Murtha expect men and women to keep dying for something they say is a mistake but also don't have the political courage to help end.
Instead, they'll pass this "non-binding resolution," to be followed soon by attempts at micromanagement that would make the war all but impossible to prosecute -- and once again without taking responsibility. Mr. Murtha is already broadcasting his strategy, which the new Politico Web site described yesterday as "a slow-bleed strategy designed to gradually limit the administration's options."
In concert with antiwar groups, the story reported, Mr. Murtha's "goal is crafted to circumvent the biggest political vulnerability of the antiwar movement -- the accusation that it is willing to abandon troops in the field." So instead of cutting off funds, Mr. Murtha will "slow-bleed" the troops with "readiness" restrictions or limits on National Guard forces that will make them all but impossible to deploy. These will be attached to appropriations bills that will also purport to "support the troops."
"There's a D-Day coming in here, and it's going to start with the supplemental and finish with the '08 [defense] budget,'' Congressman Neil Abercrombie (D., Hawaii) told the Web site. He must mean D-Day as in Dunkirk.
All of this is something that House Republicans should keep in mind as they consider whether to follow this retreat. The GOP leadership has been stalwart, even eloquent, this week in opposing the resolution. But some Republicans figure they can use this vote to distance themselves from Mr. Bush and the war while not doing any real harm. They should understand that the Democratic willingness to follow the Murtha "slow-bleed" strategy will depend in part on how many Republicans follow them in this vote. The Democrats are themselves divided on how to proceed, and they want a big GOP vote to give them political cover. However "non-binding," this is a vote that Republican partisans will long remember.
History is likely to remember the roll as well. A newly confirmed commander is about to lead 20,000 American soldiers on a dangerous and difficult mission to secure Baghdad, risking their lives for their country. And the message their elected Representatives will send them off to battle with is a vote declaring their inevitable defeat.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #282 on:
February 20, 2007, 05:24:20 PM »
Over four years ago, I wrote of a phenomenon I dubbed “Al-Qaedism” to explain why random violence and terrorism by individual Muslims—while not connected with al-Qaeda per se—were still a danger. Often the ill or unhappy try to justify their own failings of inadequacy with a sort of cosmic Islamic rage against the West—one also often abetted by our own failure to counter our enemies’ rhetoric or eagerness to hush up the psychology of such attacks:
“Rather than confront the reality of past character flaws, mental instability, failed marriages, or the bleak future of no money, dead-end jobs, or social ostracism, the al Qaedist — whether an erstwhile Black Muslim, a Middle Eastern immigrant with a criminal past, or mixed-up pampered suburbanites who dabble in fundamentalism — seeks notoriety for his crimes, and therein perhaps at last a sense of importance.”
Beside the numerous examples I listed in that 2002 article, we have witnessed since a number of similar killings—especially Muslim drivers trying to run down others in a sort of politicized road rage, that were officially not listed as acts of terrorism. In this regard, I remember especially the 2006 attack in San Francisco by Omeed Aziz Popal, who apparently chose the area around a Jewish community center to run over people. And then the same year, there was the similar car ramming at the University of North Carolina by Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a graduate student apparently furious over our treatment of Muslims abroad.
I recall all this in the context of the latest shootings in Utah by Solejman Talovic, a Bosnian Muslim, and the recent ramming of Tennessee students by cabdriver Ibrihim Ahmed.
None of these are organized terrorist acts, much less orchestrated by al Qaeda. Rather, the constant furor against the West and sense of victimhood that reverberates in the radical mosques, madrassas, and in worldwide Islamic media, often enhanced and abetted by Western Leftist hysteria, reaches many in a vague and haphazard way to instill a sort of paranoia and desire to lash out at “them”.
And now and again, those with mental problems, or plagued with a sense of failure, or angry about some such grievance, will strike out in terrorist fashion. Likewise we now learn that the sick Ali Abu Kamal, who in 1997 went up the Empire State Building to kill random Americans (he murdered one and wounded several others), was not just despondent over financial losses as reported. But, as his family now brags, Kamal was furious at Israel and America—again a way of rationalizing personal setbacks through cosmic issues that once again reflects the effects of Islamist propaganda on unhinged minds.
The only mystery is that in our politically-correct efforts to deny the possibility of any and all links between such random violence and formal radical Islam, we then go to the other extreme, and deny there is any loose connection at all with perceived Muslim grievance. And that sadly only results in wide scale public cynicism that once again authorities appear hedging for political reasons.
U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced to the world that she wants a 90-day deadline to start pulling American troops from Iraq. Other Democrats in Congress, according to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will soon declare their intentions to cut-off of US funding for all military deployments in Iraq.
Well aside from the paradox that the Congress had just approved unanimously the appointment of Gen. David Petraeus (the hero in the recent spate of anti-Bush books on Iraq) to take command of coalition forces in Iraq—the planner of a surge over 20,000 American troops into Baghdad—it is always a mistake in war to assure enemies of our intention not to fight any longer (unless of course you are indifferent to losing).
Do We remember all that?
The most famous example was the 1974 Foreign Relations Act. Passed in the wake of Watergate scandal, the congressional resolution cut off all military assistance to the South Vietnamese government. But that pubic stand-down only encouraged the North Vietnamese communists to violate the Paris peace accords and renew the war—without any more worries of U.S arms shipments or air strikes.
The Neutrality Acts of the 1930s, passed by an isolationist Congress, forbade U.S. military assistance to, or trade in war material with, any belligerent, regardless of whether they were aggressors or victims. Such actions of “conscious” only emboldened Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan to attack democracies and other neutral states. Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were convinced that whatever their provocations, the United States had no stomach to stand up to any of them, or even to join Britain and France in a united front of resistance. World War II with its 50 million dead followed.
Often even mere assurances of restraint by American officials, that suggest either inaction or weariness, have had the same effect as congressional resolutions in assuring interested observers that the United States would either not act in the face of aggression—or tire more quickly of ongoing fighting than their our enemies.
In a routine policy address Cold War warrior and Secretary of States Dean Acheson once warned the communist bloc that the American defensive perimeter in the Pacific went from Aleutians to Japan to the Ryukyus and onto the Philippine Islands. But Acheson, perhaps inadvertently, left out the Korean Peninsula. Many argued at the time that this omission gave the green light for the communists to invade South Korea in 1950 on their erroneous assumption that the United States would not intervene in an area outside its sphere of influence. Three years and hundreds of thousands of war dead followed.
Jimmy Carter had a far worse habit of telegraphing his intention to enemies. In 1977 he declared that America had outgrown its “inordinate fear of communism”. But by that time, global communism from Stalin to Mao had killed nearly 100 million of its own and invaded dozens of natural countries. Nothing “inordinate” about that.
So next when Carter made it clear that he would not retaliate immediately against Iran for storming of the US embassy in November 1979, it was not much of a surprise that the Soviet Union quickly invaded Afghanistan—unafraid of an America that wouldn’t use force to free its own diplomats or punish those who took them.
In a July 1990 in a meeting with Saddam Hussein, then American ambassador Arpil Glaspie purportedly assured the Iraqi government that “ we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” Saddam attacked Kuwait a little more than a week later.
In everyone of our wars, there have been terrible setbacks—winter 1776, summer 1864, spring 1918, winter 1942, autumn 1974, and now winter 2007. In almost all of these weeks of depression, there were terrible blunders, and ensuing grumblings about the conduct of the war. Any time we announced our intention in advance to quit or scale back, we later came to regret it; and on the far more numbers occasions when we did not, we did not.
If in peacetime it is wise to keep quiet and carry a big stick, in war it is even more critical not to assure our enemies that we won’t fight to achieve victory.
North on Moscow-Tehran Ties
Reply #283 on:
February 25, 2007, 11:16:04 PM »
Thursday , February 22, 2007
By Lt. Col. Oliver North
Washington, D.C. — “The lion and the bear are hunting the eagle.” That's how a refugee from Tehran's reigning ayatollahs put it when he called me this week about recent developments in his homeland. The lion to which my friend referred was on the coat of arms of nearly every Persian king for more than a thousand years. The bear, of course, is imperial Russia. And we're the bird.
It's an apt metaphor. Vladimir Putin, Moscow's current czar, is behaving like a bear awakened from hibernation — hungry and territorial. His recent words condemning U.S. foreign policy are mirrored by actions — both overt and covert — aimed at undermining U.S. national security. While eschewing animal symbols on their green, white and red flag, the Islamic radicals running Iran's theocracy act like lions on the prowl — dangerous to any prey. And while the simile is unlikely in nature — the lions and bears in my friend's parable have certainly teamed up to hunt the eagle. The only trouble with the allegory is that the United States is acting more like an ostrich than an eagle. A few examples:
Last week Mr. Putin told European leaders gathered in Munich "the United States has overstepped its national borders in every way." He claimed that the U.S. is forcing weaker nations to “acquire weapons of mass destruction" and defended Moscow's recent sale of $700 million worth of TOR-M1 anti-aircraft batteries to Iran. And in an effort to sound less like a bear and more like a Democrat running for the U.S. presidency, he declared that “wars, local and regional conflicts, have only grown in number" and charged America with taking "unilateral, illegitimate actions" in Iraq and elsewhere that "have not managed to resolve any problems, but made them worse."
This week, General Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of Russia's strategic missile forces, warned the U.S. against installing anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses in Eastern Europe. Construction is scheduled to begin on an ABM interceptor site in Poland and a radar array in the Czech Republic later this year. Both are components of a U.S.-NATO defense system to shield against a nuclear attack. In a clear-cut effort to intimidate the Czechs and the Poles to reconsider their participation, General Solovtsov suggested that Russia may abrogate the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and observed that “[Russia's] strategic missile forces will be capable of targeting these facilities.”
While Moscow was busy dusting off its Cold War nuclear attack plans, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency — the United Nation's toothless “nuclear watchdog” — told the U.N. Security Council that Iran has increased production of weapons-grade uranium and decreased cooperation with the IAEA. ElBaradei told the Financial Times that Iran would be able to enrich uranium on an industrial scale within six months, having now developed the technology to do so.
The phrase “industrial scale” is diplo-speak for “sufficient to build nuclear weapons.” U.S. and British intelligence agencies believe that much of the technology being used by Iranian engineers to construct 3,000 gas centrifuges to enrich uranium is being obtained from Moscow. In response to this frightening report, Russia's ambassador to the U.N. once again threatened to veto any resolution tightening sanctions on Tehran.
For their part, the lions in Iran have clearly stated their perspective on nuclear arms. In December 2001, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani publicly announced that a nuclear exchange “would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce [minor] damages in the Muslim world." Last week, after rejecting an offer for multi-party talks on stopping the production of fissile nuclear material, Iran's mercurial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. of pursuing false peace initiatives while secretly plotting with Israel to "hit Islamic countries," presumably with nuclear weapons.
But Moscow and Tehran aren't just cooperating on weapons of mass destruction. Last week, U.S. and allied officials in Baghdad presented irrefutable evidence that Iran has been supplying advanced weaponry to anti-coalition forces and killing Americans — charges Mr. Ahmadinejad describes as "excuses to prolong the stay" of U.S. forces in Iraq.
On Wednesday, Iraqi terrorists downed another U.S. helicopter — the eighth in the last five weeks. A U.S. commander on the ground told me that “nearly new SA-14 and SA-16 man-portable surface-to-air missiles are now being used against us” in Iraq. Source of the weapons: Russia — sold to Iran and slipped across the porous border for delivery to Iranian supported terror cells operating inside Iraq. That's cooperation between the bear and the lion, indeed.
Meanwhile, there is no “Eagle-Eye” on this burgeoning Moscow-Tehran nexus of evil. Our mainstream media remains fixated on the never-ending Anna Nicole Smith soap opera. The State Department is furiously cranking out press releases on how Condi is going to convene yet another “Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.” And the navel-gazers in Congress busy themselves by doing all things possible to damage the commander-in-chief — regardless of the consequences to our troops in harm's way.
Those who think none of this matters should consider the comments of Iran's “Supreme Spiritual Guide.” After meeting this week with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — the leading “Lion” in Tehran — said that "the position of [President George W.] Bush is so weak that even members of his own party criticize him." It's time for the Eagle to pull his head out of the sand.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #284 on:
April 04, 2007, 10:39:09 AM »
§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.
18 U.S.C. § 953 (2004).
1146 GMT -- UNITED STATES, SYRIA -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with
Syrian President Bashar al Assad on April 4, despite calls against the visit
by the White House. A member of Pelosi's delegation said the speaker planned
to discuss Syria's suspected support for rebels in Iraq as well as the
country's support for Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Palestinian movement
Re: Political Rants
Reply #285 on:
April 04, 2007, 03:10:43 PM »
Terrorists endorse Pelosi's 'good policy of dialogue'
Militants call House speaker's visit 'brave' and hope for talks with Iran
Posted: April 4, 2007
2:14 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
JERUSALEM – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit today to Syria – in which she called for dialogue with Damascus – was "brave" and "very appreciated" and could bring about "important changes" to America's foreign policy, including talks with "Middle East resistance groups," according to members of terror organizations here whose top leaders live in Syria.
One terror leader, Khaled Al-Batch, a militant and spokesman for Islamic Jihad, expressed hope Pelosi would continue winning elections, explaining the House speaker's Damascus visit demonstrated she understands the Middle East.
Pelosi's visit was opposed by President Bush, who called Syria a "state sponsor of terror."
"Nancy Pelosi understands the area (Middle East) well, more than Bush and Dr. (Condoleeza) Rice," said Al-Batch, speaking to WND from Gaza. "If the Democrats want to make negotiations with Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah, this means the Democratic Party understands well what happens in this area and I think Pelosi will succeed. ... I hope she wins the next elections."
Islamic Jihad has carried out scores of shootings and rocket attacks, and, together with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years.
Ramadan Shallah, overall chief of Islamic Jihad, lives in Syria, as does Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal. Israel has accused the Syrian-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership of ordering militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to carry out terror attacks.
Al-Batch expressed hope Pelosi and the Democratic Party will pressure Bush to create dialogue with Syria and Middle East "resistance movements" and prompt an American withdrawal from Iraq.
"Bush and Dr. Rice made so many mistakes in the Middle East. Just look at Palestinian clashes and Iraq. But I think some changes are happening for the Bush administration's foreign policy because of the hand of Nancy Pelosi. I think the Democratic Party can do things the best. ... Pelosi is going down a good road by this policy of dialogue," he said.
Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the willingness by some lawmakers to talk with Syria "is proof of the importance of the resistance against the U.S."
"The Americans know and understand they are losing in Iraq and the Middle East and that their only chance to survive is to reduce hostilities with Arab countries and with Islam. Islam is the new giant of the world."
"Pelosi's visit to Syria was very brave. She is a brave woman," Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told WND. "I think it's very nice and I think it's much better when you sit face to face and talk to (Syrian President Bashar) Assad. It's a very good idea. I think she is brave and hope all the people will support her. All the American people must make peace with Syria and Iran and with Hamas. Why not?" Jaara said.
Pelosi, the most senior U.S. official to visit Syria in two years, sat next to Assad earlier today in front of camera crews before starting their meeting at his hilltop palace overlooking Damascus. The Syrian president then reportedly took Pelosi to lunch at a restaurant in a restored house in Damascus' historic district, according to witnesses.
At a press conference after the meeting, Pelosi said that during her talks with Assad she "determined that the road to Damascus is the road to peace."
"We came in friendship, hope," she said.
The House speaker also said she conveyed an Israeli message to Assad that the Jewish state was ready to resume peace talks.
"(Our) meeting with the president enabled us to communicate a message from Prime Minister (Ehud) Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks as well," Pelosi told reporters.
Syria has demanded a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, strategic mountainous territory that looks down on Israeli and Syrian population centers twice used by Syria to mount invasions into Israel.
Syria, which signed a military alliance with Iran, openly hosts Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. Israel says Syria has been allowing large quantities of weapons to be transported from its borders to the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia, which last summer engaged in a war with the Jewish state. Syria has been accused of supporting the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq; generating unrest in Lebanon; and has been widely blamed for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Bush criticized visits by Pelosi and other lawmakers saying they sent "mixed messages" to the region and undermined U.S. policy.
"Photo opportunities and/or meetings with President Assad lead the Assad government to believe they're part of the mainstream of the international community," Bush told reporters in Washington. "In fact, they're a state sponsor of terror."
Pelosi is not the only lawmaker to recently visit Syria. A congressional delegation including three Republicans traveled to Damascus Sunday stating they believe there is an opportunity for dialogue with the Syrian leadership.
Last month, Ellen Sauerbrey, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, held talks in Damascus in a public gesture widely seen as an expression of Washington's willingness to engage Damascus.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #286 on:
April 05, 2007, 11:33:20 PM »
***Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the willingness by some lawmakers to talk with Syria "is proof of the importance of the resistance against the U.S."***
This says it all. It verifies exactly what W. says, and that is that Pelosi and the crats undermine us all. You won't see this statement on the clinton news network! Maybe on Fox. But you will hear them quote W. as though he is an idiot.
I know. Our freedom of speech and diversity makes us strong.
While we talk - they build nuclear bombs.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #287 on:
April 06, 2007, 10:53:57 AM »
It verifies exactly what W. says, and that is that Pelosi and the crats undermine us all.
I guess you missed this part of the article:
Pelosi is not the only lawmaker to recently visit Syria. A congressional delegation including three Republicans traveled to Damascus Sunday stating they believe there is an opportunity for dialogue with the Syrian leadership.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #288 on:
April 06, 2007, 01:06:15 PM »
No I didn't miss part of the article.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #289 on:
April 06, 2007, 02:36:34 PM »
So...the republicans were over there for tea and crumpets?
It seems to me that "...the willingness by some lawmakers to talk with Syria" would include the Republicans in the visiting delegation as well, would it not?
Re: Political Rants
Reply #290 on:
April 06, 2007, 03:11:12 PM »
The only Americans that should be in Syria are SpecOps/SOCOM calling in airstrikes.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #291 on:
April 06, 2007, 03:18:23 PM »
Re: Political Rants
Reply #292 on:
April 06, 2007, 03:31:29 PM »
Pelosi hammered for her stupidity.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #293 on:
April 08, 2007, 08:09:45 AM »
Re: Political Rants
Reply #294 on:
April 08, 2007, 01:07:50 PM »
It sounds like we are mostly on the same page. You take issue with a minor point on my part and ignore the main point of my post that is that Pelosi's trip plays right into the hands of our enemies.
I think you know full well the Demorcrats lead en mass (except for a few like Lieberman) in conveying to our enemies our weaknesses.
So a few cans went there as well. Why you harp on this beats me. Does this make you feel superior? Wise guy.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #295 on:
April 08, 2007, 09:18:42 PM »
Lieberman is right.
Reply #296 on:
April 09, 2007, 10:26:59 AM »
While Iran teaches children to be warriors willing to die and go to heaven for their God our children sell their stories for a quick buck. Remember the descriptions of Iran sending 100,000 teenage boys accross no-man's land in their war with Iraq. The boys' mission was to clear the mine fields for the older soldiers. Even the Iraqis were aghast at seeing this.
I do not want to disparage our brave men and women who serve for us or those of our closest ally Britain, but I feel the contrast serves to underscore what in my opinion is the misjudgement of some our leaders/pols who think they can chat their way out of this:
I couldn't agree more with Sen Leiberman or Bolton on this issue.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #297 on:
April 09, 2007, 01:31:31 PM »
The point you made was this:
This says it all. It verifies exactly what W. says, and that is that Pelosi and the crats undermine us all.
Let me re-phrase my response so as not to offend:
You neglected to mention the Republican lawmakers and their visit to Syria. Heck, even the President called them out on it:
Bush criticized visits by Pelosi and other lawmakers saying they sent "mixed messages" to the region and undermined U.S. policy.
I feel that anyone going over there is an idiot and if we're going to parcel out blame we should do it across both sides of the aisle. I am frankly tired of the Red/Blue, 'Crat/Repub, our side is better than your side, we (re: either party) are the good guys b***s***. It's about time that we start calling all politicians out for their failings and irresponsible behavior. Maybe then they would actually get some work done...but I'm not counting on it.
My point was, if your gonna have a beef with politicians, spread the blame.
Your only responses have been to call me a wise guy and ask me if my responses make me feel somehow superior. What's up with that?
Re: Political Rants
Reply #298 on:
April 09, 2007, 04:39:10 PM »
My opinion is that the labels ARE helpful even when exceptions are available. Pelosi is the highest ranking Democrat. Can't we just all talk and get along is a philosophy from her side of the aisle - primarily. Bush, not these few congressmen, was chosen to represent his side of the aisle to run for Pres and lead foreign policy if elected. The Bush policy for the most part seeks to avoid adding stature to thugs like Assad and Ahmedinajad and for the most part I agree.
In hindsight(IMO), the valid correction - that a few R's were included and the fact that labels don't tell the whole story - could have been added to the discussion without blame for omission. FWIW, I have seen CCP dish out plenty of criticisms at either side of the aisle at his own choosing.
Re: Political Rants
Reply #299 on:
April 09, 2007, 09:50:14 PM »
The quick and dirty assessment is: The republicans are fighting a half-assed war against the global jihad while the dems (with a few exceptions) think the global jihad is just some neocon conspiracy to enrich Halliburton, and if there actually are terrorists, read enough Noam Chomsky books and they'll be mollified.
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