Thursday, December 30, 2004

Foot In Mouth: UK

Captain Ed is rendered nearly speechless by UK Foriegn Minister Clare Short's comments on the President's aid proposal.

Here's what the President said:
Secretary Powell is working hard. He has spoken with his counterparts in Japan, India, Australia, as well as other nations who are helping with the response in order to begin building an international coalition for immediate humanitarian relief and long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts. Based on these discussions, we've established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts. I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order. Under Secretary of State Mark Grossman will lead a U.S. task force to work with these partners to help coordinate interagency response in our own government and to encourage other nations to participate in the relief efforts.
Here is what Ms. Short said:
“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

“It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”

Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.

She said the US was “very bad at coordinating with anyone” and India had its own problems to deal with.
This is mindbogglingly stupid on so many different levels.

Captain Ed is stuck on the assertion that the UN has any moral authority, let alone supreme moral authority.

But what moral authority is required to give away bottled water to people drinking sewage?

India has the world's fourth largest air force, and as Ms. Short points out, is itself affected; the Japanese have spent billions and decades to transform the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force into a global humanitarian vehicle; the Australians have three dozen heavy airborne transports and have coordinated military traffic with the USA for over fifty years; and the US Air Force has more transports and global bases and personnel than any other nation on earth.

The UN has exactly: 0 transports, 0 bases, 0 ground crew. It has nothing but what national governments place at its disposal.

The megatons of food and medicine and supplies would not be moving to the afflicted without the participation of those four nations.

There is no separate UN cargo capacity in competition with this aid coalition. Ms. Short is, in effect, claiming that the US, Australia, India and Japan would somehow work better through a layer of UN bureaucracy than by cooperating directly.

Ms. Short gets one thing right:
“I don’t know what that is about but it sounds very much, I am afraid, like the US trying to have a separate operation and not work with the rest of the world through the UN system,” she added.
Give the little lady a cigar!
A nine-ring Churchill, to remind her of a competent Minister whose motto was "Action This Day".

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Foot in Mouth

Jan Egeland, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, has made a warm meal of his own foot.
In a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, Egeland called for a major international response -- and went so far as to call the U.S. government and others "stingy" on foreign aid in general.

"If, actually, the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the gross national income, I think that is stingy, really," he said. "I don't think that is very generous."

...Egeland, at the U.N. news conference, said the cost of the devastation will "probably be many billions of dollars. However, we cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages that have just been wiped out."

"The important thing is that we give and that we as citizens also demand that our countries give generously to those who have been so hard hit."

Egeland is already backpedaling from these comments, which have widely been denounced as in poor taste.

His yardstick is badly designed for measuring the aid contributions of the United States. In this country we limit the grip of the government over the national economy as much as possible. We're not likely to change it to suit the sampling methods of the UN.

Shame on Egeland for trying to use shame as a lever.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Powerline highlighted a pessimistic piece in the Weekly Standard by Reuel Marc Gerecht, entitled “The Struggle For the Middle East”. Gerecht thinks we are in peril of losing Iraq:
The administration really should not use here the refrain..."only Iraqis can secure their country." Clearing the roads adequately, which means suppressing the occasional bombings, brigandage, and assassinations, really has nothing to do with "standing up" Iraqi security forces. If there is one kind of military operation that does not require much local knowledge, it's undertaking roadblocks, observation posts, and ground and air patrols. The military personnel required to perform this function 24/7 isn't small, but it is certainly within the capabilities of forces already present in Iraq if the Pentagon so chose to allocate these resources. It beggars the mind to believe that the U.S. military cannot deploy sufficient forces to secure the highway between Baghdad and the capital's international airport. Insurgents and brigands--it's very difficult often to tell the difference--now own this short stretch of highway, which regularly sees ordinary Iraqis robbed and shot, often in carefree, outrageous ways.

…But we have reached a point in Iraq where our first priority must be to guarantee Iraqis--not Americans--a minimum of security on the major highways. A greater American presence and firepower on the roads could kill more innocent Iraqis. The American death toll could climb. Yet it is an excellent bet that most Iraqis would be willing to absorb the losses provided they can see improvement in their daily security.

...At this late date before the January 30 elections, there is probably no more effective and essential campaign for the U.S. military than securing the roads. Start with the highway to the airport, and then go after the roads from the capital south to the Shiite heartlands... Everybody...needs to see that the United States can protect one short airport highway that connects Iraq to the outside world.
A Powerline reader and IDF veteran, Paul Kotik, supports this policy:
In Lebanon, we quickly learned what Gerecht advocates: control of the roads is everything. The daily, nightly, and dreaded priority mission of Israeli forces in Lebanon became 'Ptihat Tzir" - opening the road. We set ambushes and lay there all night motionless and silent. We laid sensors, flew drones, and at daybreak walked our section of road in plain view.

By and large, it worked. I didn't need to whine about armor in Lebanon at the height of the Shi'ite insurgency. I got around in a Toyota sedan just fine, thank you.
I think Gerecht, and many in the media and much of their American audience, are confused about the definition of “security”.
We have already secured the ability of Iraqi commerce and government to function day-to-day, and are constantly improving the quality of Iraqi services. What we are unable to prevent are spectacles and incidents of violence by the insurgents. This is the core of the grunts’ complaint to Rumsfeld this week about the “propaganda war”: no matter how much the effective government of Iraq improves, the focus remains on the incoherent spectacles of violence.

A problem with Gerecht’s theory of “security” is that the media and much of the public regard the presence of any violence in Iraq as a failure of security. When Iraqis are dragged from their vehicles and murdered, this is reported as “more violence in Iraq”. When Marines kill 30 insurgents, this is reported as “more violence in Iraq”. As Gerecht acknowledges, a series of checkpoints would increase both Iraqi and American casualties; yet he argues it would improve “security”. In fact, by increasing the violence on the roads, it would fuel the complaints of a ‘security breakdown’.

Gerecht decries a Coalition that to him occupies “ever smaller, disconnected, fortified oases surrounded by insurgents, their sympathizers, and a fearful population”. That's a perfect description of his proposed checkpoints.

This method was employed by the French in Vietnam. Their "vietnamization" program merely produced Vietnamese garrison forces to relieve French troops on sentry duty. The French forces thus spared duty in the blockhouses and remote outposts were rotated home to France.

The result was failure. The French could not prevent the Viet Minh from mustering superior forces just beyond the range of their outposts; their outposts were too weak to withstand attacks without reinforcements and their reinforcements moved too slowly to prevent Viet Minh escape. In time, along the Rue Coloniales of North Vietnam, the Viet Minh had sufficient strength to obliterate the relieving columns; and eventually, surround and overrun the fortified bases. Long before Vietnamese divisions swarmed over Dien Bien Phu, their companies and battalions were destroying smaller French strongpoints across Vietnam.

Kotik says his IDF unit in Lebanon was successful because it ensured the road was clear. From his description of their tactics, I would argue it was due to aggressive and intelligent use of aerial and electronic surveillance and mobile patrols to force combat on terrorist guerrillas. The French successfully employed these measures against Algerian fellouze when interdicting covert traffic across Algeria's western frontiers. The purpose there was not to preserve French traffic from attack, but to deny mobility to the terrorists.

Likewise the Navy SEALS seriously damaged the Viet Cong in the river deltas of South Vietnam, through accurate intelligence, superior firepower, and excellent mobility. The SEALs earned the name "Greenfaced Devils" for their swift raids and overpowering ambushes against what was supposed to be an elusive guerrilla force.

In each case, the roads, trails, wadis, and rivers were not valuable as means of commerce and mobility, but as arenas in which to ensnare and destroy an opponent who survives by avoiding open battle. In those actions, small, speedy units, well-informed and familiar with their territory, are very valuable; and it is easier to train and equip Iraqis to fight like American commandos, than it is to train American commandos to move through the cities and countryside, and interact with Iraqi civilians, as easily as native Iraqis. Gerecht's advice to the contrary ignores these realities.

How should a terrorist insurgency be fought?
Let's absorb the lessons of a successful insurgent strategist: dawned on me that we had won the Hejaz war. Out of every thousand square miles of Hejaz, nine hundred ninety-nine were now free...If we held the rest, the Turks were welcome to the tiny fraction on which they stood, til peace or Doomsday showed them the futility of clinging to our windowpane.

...I wondered why Feisal wanted to fight the Turks, and why the Arabs wanted to help him, and saw that their aim was geographical, to extrude the Turk from all Arabic-speaking lands...If they would go quietly the war would end. If not, we would urge them, or try to drive them out. In the last resort, we should be compelled to the desperate course of blood and the maxims of "murder war", but as cheaply as could be for ourselves, since the Arab fought for freedom, and that was a pleasure to be tasted only by a man alive.

...Armies were like plants, immobile, firm-rooted, nourished by long stems to the head. We might be like a vapour, blowing where we listed. It seemed a regular soldier might be helpless without a target, owning only what he sat on, and subjugating only what, by order, he could point his rifle at.

Then I figured out how many men they would need to cover all this ground...I knew the Turkish Army seemed they would need a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than twenty men. If so, they would need six hundred thousand men...

...In Turkey things were scarce and precious, men less esteemed than equipment. Our cue was to destroy, not the Turk's army, but his minerals...In the Arab Army at the moment we were chary both of materials and of men. Governments saw men only in mass; our men, being irregulars, were not formations, but individuals...We could not afford casualties.

...Most wars were wars of contact, both forces striving into touch to avoid tactical surprise. Ours should be a war of detachment...Many Turks on our front had no chance all the war to fire on us, and we were never on the defensive except by accident and in error.
T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

This is an effective answer to war by garrison and checkpoint. It can also serve as a direct statement of the aims of the insurgency: the absence of a foriegn occupier and the "freedom" to practice self-determined despotism.

Fortunately for our efforts in Iraq, we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of the Turks, nor are our opponents capable of the cold objectivity of Lawrence of Arabia.

In the Iraq war, America's weakness is not material poverty, but public opinion. The death of a dozen soldiers is fuel for the liberal anti-war machine, which includes much of the highest levels of American media. Insurgency by remote detonator and light artillery works well against this weakness.

However, the insurgents seem unable to rely upon ambush, and appear unable to avoid premature seizures of local power. The terrorist uprisings in Najaf and Karbala, Fallujah and Samarra, worked only as traps for the insurgents, permitting the Coalition to kill hundreds of insurgents and capture huge stockpiles of munitions--more than had been expended all year in terrorist attacks. As this mistake was made by both Shiite and Sunni insurgents, separately, it would seem to indicate an Iraqi political need for some measure of territorial soveriegnity, no matter how impractical. This need is a serious weakness in an unpopular uprising.

Lawrence gave clear reasons for his confidence in ultimate Arab victory over the Turks:
It seemed to me proven that our rebellion had an unassailable base, guarded not only from attack, but from the fear of attack. It had a sophisticated alien enemy, disposed into an army of occupation in an area greater than could be dominated effectively from fortified posts. It had a friendly population, of which some two in the hundred were active, and the rest quietly sympathetic to the point of not betraying the movements of the minority. The active rebels had the virtues of secrecy and self-control, and the qualities of speed, endurance and independence of arteries of supply. They had technical equipment enough to paralyse the enemy's communications. A province would be won when we had taught the civilians in it to die for our ideal of freedom.
The insurgents do not have "an unassailable base" unless we grant them such freedom from fear; our communications are several hundred miles beyond their reach; they do not have 2% of Iraq's 25,000,000 people in their ranks; although they fight an alien enemy their propaganda is corroded by association with a hated domestic oppressor; they are no more free of foriegn aid than Lawrence's Bedouin, as his very presence demonstrated; we match them in speed and endurance and surpass them in self-control.

All of these are reasons for optimism so long as we actively and aggressively exploit our strengths and our enemy's weaknesses; accept violence as a means to ultimate victory and peace, instead of a lamentable failure of 'security'; and reject totally the passive doctrines of stasis and serenity that would leave us plant-like, predictable, and passively content to point rifles at nothing, leaving the enemy free to prepare for their Day.

We cannot avoid combat in Iraq, so long as the enemy is willing to fight. We can only seize the initiative and impose greater losses on them than we suffer ourselves, or yield the initiative, and the casualties, and the loss of public confidence which is the only sure means by which we can be driven from Iraq.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone enjoys the time with family as we wind down a wild and historic year.

I'm working the graveyard shift through the holidays, but will have supper at home with my folks.

We don't wait for The Day to open and enjoy our gifts. I've already enjoyed watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended version. Funny how much has changed for me since the first film hit the theaters in late 2001.

In these times of silly controversy and overblown hype, it's important to focus a while on what's really important in life. Enjoy the holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Yet Another Tet

Apparently we lost the Iraq war last week. For the umpteenth time.

We're told we have to flee Iraq to get out of harm's way.
To where? Yemen, where the USS Cole was hit in 2000?
Germany, where a disco was bombed in 1986?
New York City?

What's going on in Afghanistan? Is that country seriously walking down the path of democratic society? I don't hear anything about the perilous state of Afghan democracy anymore; it must mean we're succeeding there. A good reason to be hopeful as Iraq counts down to its own elections.

Monday, December 20, 2004


Long pause between posts!

I've been thrashing out something regarding liberal opposition to religious morality. Hugh Hewitt, Powerline and Captains Quarters are discussing similar topics.

Master of None suggests abortion in case of incest or rape is okay.
Big question: at what point would the government accept that a rape had occurred? When a guilty verdict is returned, when an indictment is handed down, when DNA shows paternity of a suspect? Or would it not most likely be, as soon as a woman filed a complaint of rape against an unknown assailant?
If so, what's the real difference between that and abortion-on-demand?

The media has deigned to allow President Bush to speak at length about his first term and his plans for his second. It's too bad you have to wait until after the election to see this sort of reporting. I will have to review the conference to see if the President made any mention of Joe Biden's tantrum this weekend.

Enjoy your holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Illegal Immigration Illogic

Ith from Absinthe & Cookies has posted on a William F. Buckley article on illegal immigration. Buckley says in part:
It is the market contribution to the dilemma: There are jobs only illegals are willing to perform, e.g. serving as nannies for Bernard Kerik. Much of the menial and agricultural work done in the southwestern states is done by illegals.

This logic has been put forward by President Bush also, as a reason to support a migrant worker program.
The President's thinking is that if a US employer can demonstrate that American workers will not fill a job, they should be able to legally contract out to foriegn labor.

I am surprised by this reasoning from a man with an MBA from Harvard Business School and real-world executive experience.

A job is: a collection of duties and responsibilities, to be performed in a given time, for a set amount of compensation.
The employer controls all three aspects, and could easily define them so that "no American worker will do the job".

If George W. Bush defined the job of White House Chief of Staff to be the present collection of duties, for $12.75/hr, on a week-to-week basis, then he could leave it open for a year and find no takers. He would then have demonstrated that "no American worker will do the job".

Plenty of employers define employment opportunities too cheaply, or too strenously, or too loosely, to attract the average American worker. They may do this out of inexperience or budget constraints. The President's plan would create a concrete reason: by deliberately bidding low, American employers would earn the legal right to access a cheaper foriegn labor pool, with the US government facilitating the contact.

The last time the President made a push to enact his plan, he met a wall of flak from Congressional Republicans. Let's hope that continues.

Newsweek's Nativity Nonsense

I think the Newsweek article on the Birth of Jesus is a lot of hokum, psuedointellectual heresy from someone who obviously is not a believer in any sense of having faith.

But I clearly recognize where editor Jon Meacham is coming from. Sad to say, it is a well-respected--though unrespectable--tradition in American scholarship to treat all histories as "narratives" or "texts" or "fictions" which should be read as an explanation of the author and audience, as much as an account of actual events.

This has a grain of value. Our accounts of the drafting of the Constitution do not relate anything of the influence of the wives of the Founding Fathers--except for Dolly Madison, who was clearly no airhead. Is it possible that she, alone, argued thoroughly with her husband about politics and society during the Convention? Our accounts are silent.

And you can certainly make judgements about historians by their acceptance--or rejection-- of the Marxist narratives.

But the postmodernists take this to ridiculous extremes. What does it say about 18th century America, that it needed to invent the narrative that Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence? What does it say about 21st century America that we accept this narrative?

A very young child, given a 2x4x4, will play games with reality, imagining his simple block to be a rocketship, an aircraft carrier, a castle, a robot. To me, postmodernist history has descended to this juvenile sophistry, adding only a university vocabulary. Let's pretend Jesus Christ never existed, okay? So then how would you explain the Gospels?

I think Jon Meacham does not fully respect the Christian faith; I think he is trying to win scholarly respect by adopting the postmodernist conceit towards religion; I think Newsweek ran the article because they are conceited fools as a rule and love to show it with topical stories.

For every 100 people who read Newsweek for the first time this week and walked away disgusted, there may be 1 person who says: This is a sassy, smart, and daring magazine. I will certainly buy it from now on to show that I'm hip. The first 100 weren't subscribers anyhow.

I also think that any Christian prompted into a crisis of faith by a bad Newsweek article has larger issues to deal with, and should chat with the pastor for a few hours.

Christ Himself had to personally answer the doubting Apostle Thomas, whose faith was renewed to the degree that he achieved martyrdom as a missionary in Asia.

If you meet Christians in doubt because of this article, withhold your exasperation at the author; it would be misunderstood as hostility. Explain the errors calmly, and refer curious to the many good posts at Vox Blogoli VI.

As a side note, regarding Catholic doctrine about the truth of Scripture:

Certain passages of the Bible describe events in specific terms. For example, the Israelites are said to have wandered 40 years in the desert, and the Flood has been said to have lasted 40 days and 40 nights.

Christian exgesis has made much of the relationships of such measures, in part because the ancients were deeply impressed with the universal nature of mathematics.

The 40 days of the Flood and the 40 years of the Exodus were compared to the 40 days between Christ's entry into Jerusalem and his Resurrection. All were periods of trial for the faithful, followed by a miracle forging deeper bonds between humanity and God. The trials of the Old Testament were interpreted as anticipating the Incarnation and Salvation.

The Church stresses that all of this is true, whether or not Christ spent exactly 960 hours in Jerusalem, or if the Flood lasted 960 hours, or if the wandering in Sinai lasted exactly 480 months.

To Catholics, suggesting that Christ's divinity is dubious if you can prove Jesus walked into Jerusalem, is deeply disrespectful and spiritually perilous.

We do not suggest that Christ's divinity or commands may be considered apocryphal yet wholesome, as some fringe preachers are doing.

I understand some Protestant denominations resolve the issue by teaching the Bible as literal truth in every aspect. That is certainly conducive to a moral life, but faithful Christians with a certain inherent inquisitiveness are going to note discrepancies and contradictions.

The Pope's statements about the accuracy of Scripture are better understood as addressed to those amateur and professional scholars of the Bible, seeking to resolve minor issues of time, place, and numbers.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Recommended Reads

Lex Communis on Clarence Thomas.

Miller's Time on Dr. Dean.

American Digest on the Groningen Protocol.

No slight intended to the dozens of other Calblog authors.

I'm thinking of doing a weekly recommended read post; but more than likely that will have to wait until after the holidays.
I'm working 13 days out of 15, with some turnaround 8hrs-on/8hrs-off days.

It's like I joined the Navy, without the guaranteed beer.

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

Then [the Army of the Potomac] came to a crossroads. If they turned left, they would be retreating again. They turned right, and suddenly those tired men lifted their heads and a great cheer rose in the night.

Robert Leckie, The Wars of America

December 13, 2004. Along the icy Potomac, the Republican center launches an offensive. Hugh Hewitt marches in the van:

A front-page article in the Washington Post is on the "nuclear option" in the Senate. Bill Frist's finger is on the button. Push it, Senator.

This is the fruit of the Specter brouhaha. Far from opening a festering sore in the ranks of the GOP, it has jolted the pragmatists into a better awareness of the Party. We are ready for battle and eager for a fightin' general. Senator Frist will oblige us? Then bully for Frist!

Of course, the Washington Post attempts to spin this as unfair, arrogant bullying.

Scholars agree that a bitter showdown could shatter the fragile comity that is essential for action in the Senate and set a precedent for further erosion of minority party rights in the chamber. "I think we're headed into uncharted waters in terms of the scope of the filibuster and the retaliatory moves that are being contemplated," said Sheldon Goldman of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an expert on the judicial nomination process.

Could you quote a scholar who says that then, WaPo? Mr. Goldman is saying that this is unprecedented because of the "scope of the filibuster", a Democrat tactic, and the promised retaliation, another Democratic tactic.

And the Democrats, in the disarray of total unpreparedness, are positively disintegrating:

Use of the nuclear option "would make the Senate look like a banana republic . . . and cause us to try to shut it down in every way," Schumer said. "Social Security and tax reform need Democratic support. If they use the nuclear option, in all likelihood they would not get Democratic support" for those and other initiatives, he added.

Put aside, for a second, your justifiable outrage that a United States Senator would let Social Security go bust, out of partisan pique.
Consider: if Schumer could hold the line on judicial filibusters, wouldn't he be promising to do that? Isn't it significant that he does not so promise?

What would happen to a Pentagon theater commander who promised to meet an attack with a bitter guerrilla campaign that would lay waste to his entire zone of operations?

Charles Schumer's office will surely clarify his ill-considered remarks. Yet he is not the most ill-spoken Democrat today. Seniority takes precedence:

"If they, for whatever reason, decide to do this, it's not only wrong, they will rue the day they did it, because we will do whatever we can do to strike back," incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said last week. "I know procedures around here. And I know that there will still be Senate business conducted. But I will, for lack of a better word, screw things up."

December 13, 2004. Sen. Harry M. Reid. "But I will, for lack of a better word, screw things up."

Thanks, Santa!

It is not often that a man can forfeit a job in the brief time between his selection and his first day of work. Sen. Harry M. Reid, prospective Senate Minority Leader, is doing his damnedest to make the club.

Of course that is up to the Senate Democrats, and there may be other champions of blind suicidal cussedness to stand with Reid and Schumer.
Let's hope so.
Let this be the rallying cry of the Democratic Party: "SEMPER FUBAR!"
Senate Democrat Badge

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Saddam Aides Go On Junk-Food-Diet Strike

Tariq Aziz and pals have started refusing the prison menu to raise awareness: They don't accept the new Iraqi government:

"Some of the other 11 high-value detainees have been rejecting food, although they continue to snack and to take on liquids," Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, who has charge of prisoners in Iraq, told Reuters. "We're trying to ascertain who is turning their food back and why."

"Saddam has eaten today," he added.

Former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, once Saddam's urbane envoy to the outside world, and former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan were among dozens refusing food, Aziz's lawyer said. Nearly all of the 55 "most wanted" Iraqis sought by U.S. troops after the war are held at a secret location.

Aref Badia said they were complaining of lack of access to lawyers -- Badia has yet to meet his client Aziz in detention -- and were concerned that they may be placed physically in the hands of Iraqis following the country's election on Jan. 30. "They heard they are going to be handed over after the elections to an Iraqi government they will not recognise," Badia said.

Of course this is reported as a full-blown hunger strike.
Back in the 1980s that meant total starvation until the prisoner was too weak to resist IV nutrition.
Today it means "snacks and liquids". After all, a fellow's got to look after himself.

Captain's Quarters has a good piece on Vatican lawyers for Aziz. With that kind of support in the wings, do not expect to read that Aziz has killed himself demonstrating his total loyalty to Saddam.

Unless to snack and to take on liquids means chili-cheese-fries and Heffenweisen...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What Do I Owe You?

Captains Quarter's is disappointed in Jason Van Beek. Van Beek, a blogger from South Dakota, received $8000 from the Thune senatorial campaign. Captain Ed thinks Van Beek was obligated to highlight that financial support on his blog.

The argument is not that Van Beek compromised his ["impartiality"- ed.]--he had none. The argument is that he compromised his independence, by taking $8000 from one political party--and against that charge, his history of opposing Daschle long before being paid as a consultant is directly relevant.
He did not oppose Daschle because he was paid $8000. He was paid $8000 for effectively opposing Daschle.

Is there any question that Van Beek was insincere about supporting Thune? Then isn't it just about the failure to conform to the standards of another profession?

CBS is regulated by the FCC, FEC, and SEC. It must promote full disclosure and a pretense at objectivity because of its professional code, and the federal laws drafted around that code.
Bloggers are not a profession, have few rules of conduct, and are not federally regulated. We don't pretend to be unbiased and the overwhelming majority earn our living elsewhere than posting op-eds on the internet. It is foolish for us to adopt their restrictions just because they, the professionals, must endure them.

I don't even post my name on this blog anymore, at the request of The Yell Sr., because we both now reside in Riverside. None of my readers know if I write this because I was paid to, or because I wanted to, or because I am a prisoner forced by No. 2 to blog when possible.

So what?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A Plan For Pro-Life Victory

In hashing out the pragmatist/idealist argument on various comment boards online, I hear a lot of argument that our idealism is too vague, too indefinite, too long-range to form a basis for GOP strategy.

I put forward the following series of concrete steps achievable in the short-term:

Exercise the nuclear option. Do this immediately after the new Senate is seated. Do not bother negotiating a pledge from Dems not to filibuster nominees; they would violate that pledge as soon as we nominate an "extremist". Unilaterally strip that option from them and any future minority, GOP or Donkey.

Stack the Court with strict constructionists. Don't bother trying to win support or commendation or respect from the Dems, the liberal media, or liberal academia. They want a Court that will overturn laws based on European jurisprudence and seal off cultural issues from legislatures; they say so openly. Either they are granted agreeable judges or they aren't; if they aren't they will raise Hell. Confound them. Select and confirm our sort of judges, the ones who recognize that not every answer is contained within the Constitution; that federalism has a purpose; and that the country cannot be ruled by judicial fiat. Pass every judge on a 51-50 vote if need be. We need not apologize for ensuring the public, not the courts, decide the laws.

Pass federal bans on abortion techniques.
With 5 strict constructionists on the Court, a challenge to such a law will only result in the complete reversal of Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton, and Casey v Planned Parenthood. Abortion would be thrown back to the legislatures. So either the new restrictions are immediately challenged or not, we win. Eventually a case will arrive at the Court and we will be able to fight out abortion in 50 state legislatures and in Congress.

I'd expect people to argue these steps shouldn't be done. But can anyone argue they can't be done?

Friday, December 03, 2004


The UN report on reforming the Security Council is out. It is breathtakingly obtuse.

A. The question of legality
185. The Charter of the United Nations, in Article 2.4, expressly prohibits Member States from using or threatening force against each other, allowing only two exceptions: self-defence under Article 51, and military measures authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII (and by extension for regional organizations under Chapter VIII) in response to “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression”.
186. For the first 44 years of the United Nations, Member States often violated these rules and used military force literally hundreds of times, with a paralysed Security Council passing very few Chapter VII resolutions and Article 51 only rarely providing credible cover. Since the end of the cold war, however, the yearning for an international system governed by the rule of law has grown. There is little evident international acceptance of the idea of security being best preserved by a balance of power, or by any single — even benignly motivated — superpower.

"The yearning for an international system governed by the rule of law" was probably stronger when the USSR was driving tanks over its neighbors. It's just a lot more noticeable since Europeans can voice such yearnings without being arrested for sedition.
The complete lack of a global alliance against the United States demonstrates evident international acceptance of the reality that security is best preserved by a benignly motivated superpower.

I've been on committees that argued out drafts word by word. If you're not careful in editing the finished product, it can end up as badly formed as these paragraphs:
189. Can a State, without going to the Security Council, claim in these circumstances the right to act, in anticipatory self-defence, not just pre-emptively (against an imminent or proximate threat) but preventively (against a non -imminent or non-proximate one)? Those who say “yes” argue that the potential harm from some threats (e.g., terrorists armed with a nuclear weapon) is so great that one simply cannot risk waiting until they become imminent, and that less harm may be
done (e.g., avoiding a nuclear exchange or radioactive fallout from a reactor destruction) by acting earlier.
190. The short answer is that if there are good arguments for preventive military action, with good evidence to support them, they should be put to the Security Council, which can authorize such action if it chooses to. If it does not so choose,
there will be, by definition, time to pursue other strategies, including persuasion, negotiation, deterrence and containment — and to visit again the military option.

Note the open admission by the Security Council's own best advocates that in the evident a state should submit clear proof of imminent threat, the Security Council may choose not to act.
The panel apparently imagines that terrorists scheming to destroy a city with a nuke will dance attendance on the Security Council.
A transfer of nuclear weapons from a rogue state to terrorists, and its deployment by terrorists against its target, would not be in any way dependent on the cooperation of the target country or the international community as a whole. It would not be delayed by a withdrawal of international cooperation for such strategies as "persuasion, negotiation, deterrence and containment".
A denial of permission to act would not grant more time for other strategies. The terrorist timetable would countdown unaltered.

191. For those impatient with such a response, the answer must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of non –intervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all.

Again, given the panel's own examples, this can only mean they conclude a legal precedent of intervention would be more damaging to the global order than a terrorist nuclear attack, a nuclear exchange, or fallout from a reactor strike.

If this is how the UN thinks, I'm not sure we want to have their support...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Why We Fight--Other Republicans

Since Patterico and Clark Smith are debating pragmatism versus principle in the GOP, I’m going to try and make clear my defense of ideology over partisanship.

1. The defining loyalties of conservatives are irreversibly fixed elsewhere than government.

When conservatives acknowledge a problem, we turn to faith, or family, or the free market for solutions. We feel that they have greater worth and more lasting power than the State. We feel that a State that does not engage the great social institutions is anemic, and a State that challenges them directly is doomed.

2. Liberals are primarily political. Conservatives are indirectly political.

Because our main loyalties lie outside of government, we turn to government only when our cherished institutions seem incapable of solving problems. Our preferred method is to redefine the State so as to enable the great social institutions to succeed.
Liberals, on the other hand, desire a State that transcends irrationally independent institutions, and scheme to empower the State whenever possible.

3. A negative political vision cannot triumph.

This may seem contradictory to the first two precepts, but a government policy that merely seeks to avoid the worst outcome will never defeat a Liberal plan to manage trouble while empowering the State, or a Conservative plan that solves problems by strengthening institutions. The overwhelming majority of the electorate falls into one of those two camps.

4. Collaboration with moderates and liberals necessitates commitments to both action and inaction.

Whether tacit or explicit, vague or concrete, an exchange of votes or compensation in other political commodities, the pattern is the same: the junior partner will cooperate with the senior partner in one instance, and the senior partner will avoid mention of another point of dispute altogether.

5. When in doubt, act as agreed.

Having hammered out a positive political platform to engage and strengthen the great social institutions, conservative politicians should actively pursue its achievement, and err on the side of pursuing the greatest advantage towards the common cause in the shortest amount of time possible. Thus they avoid appearing as though indifferent, or worse, actively hostile, to the institutions that hold the deepest loyalties of the conservative electorate.

Pragmatic Republican partisanship challenges every one of these precepts.
It asks deficit-hawks to be patient and tolerant as their concerns are totally ignored.
It tells pro-life Republicans to consider the cost to the Party of a fulfilled pro-life agenda.
It is beginning to frame its best argument, national defense, in negative terms of Democratic incapability.
It seeks wider collusion with moderates without reckoning the increasing number of awkward issues that must be avoided in the name of the Big Tent.
It considers the party platform essential to winning elections and disposable when governing.

So long as the backbone of the GOP is conservatism, and it is likely to stay that way for a long, long time to come, the pragmatists are playing with dynamite.

We’ve won a workable majority in the federal government. The pragmatists are not happy with it; they envision even larger majorities. But to what purpose? The justification of politics, to conservatives, lies outside politics. An eternal majority for the sake of blocking out the opposition does not motivate us.

Arlen Specter openly discussed thwarting the majority of the party towards his own views. It was outrageous to conservatives that any Republican would so abuse the hard-won majority. What truly shocked us was how many GOP leaders insisted that there was nothing outrageous at all. Specter made the mistake of overestimating the promise of inaction on abortion by the GOP leadership. He had to cover the overdraft with active promises of cooperation. Whether he has learnt a lesson, or whether the GOP will hold him to his word, has yet to be seen.

An Everest guide cannot halt halfway up and expect gratitude for avoiding a catastrophic fall. The conservatives in the GOP demand we make summit, and that is our measure of success or failure.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Mad Macedonian Reviews "Alexander"

His review here. He liked it.

I still doubt I'll pay $9 to see a 3-hr sexbio of an ancient tyrant. I'll probably catch the DVD, if only to see if Angelina Jolie really does sound like Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle.

About four years ago I was watching a PBS documentary on Napoleon, that spent less time on the battle of Austerlitz as with his honeymoon with his Austrian wife. At that point I told my friend this was the New History: "Who/how did he screw?"
And so it has come to pass.

Dutch Can't Wait To Start Killing Babies

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.
...In August, the main Dutch doctors' association KNMG urged the Health Ministry to create an independent board to review euthanasia cases for terminally ill people "with no free will," including children, the severely mentally retarded and people left in an irreversible coma after an accident.

The Health Ministry is preparing its response, which could come as soon as December, a spokesman said.

Three years ago, the Dutch parliament made it legal for doctors to inject a sedative and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant at the request of adult patients suffering great pain with no hope of relief.

It seems clear that such review would be done after the fact:
The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital's guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.

The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it's best.

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life, such as severe cases of spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a rare blistering illness.

The hospital revealed last month it carried out four such mercy killings in 2003, and reported all cases to government prosecutors. There have been no legal proceedings against the hospital or the doctors.

It is fortunate that Stephen Hawking is English.
The Groningen Medical Academy believes it is only doing what everybody else does anyway--just ask the anonymous experts of secret medical crimes:
Child euthanasia remains illegal everywhere. Experts say doctors outside Holland do not report cases for fear of prosecution.

"As things are, people are doing this secretly and that's wrong," said Eduard Verhagen, head of Groningen's children's clinic. "In the Netherlands we want to expose everything, to let everything be subjected to vetting."

"Can we kill this baby?"
"Too late."

But of course that happens just across town from you, only your doctors aren't as honest as the Dutch. Just ask the experts.
However, experts acknowledge that doctors euthanize routinely in the United States and elsewhere, but that the practice is hidden.

"Measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day," said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. "Everybody knows that it happens, but there's a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they're not going to do."

More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it's really about management and method of death, Stell said.

I've often thought that the job of bioethicists is not to ensure the limits on science are crafted by people knowledgeable in the subject matter, but rather to find the most popular 'spin' on research and techniques so that science has no limits at all. Dr. Stell seems a good example.

There is a vast difference between rejecting "measures that might marginally extend a child's life by minutes or hours or days or weeks", and injecting "a sedative and a lethal dose of muscle relaxant" to end life instantly. The Vatican, hardly a vacillating moderate on this issue, describes the first as licit and the second as evil.

The general public understands this difference full well. We don't describe rejecting chemotherapy as a form of euthanasia.

But this view is not useful to Dr. Stell or other "experts".

Thankfully we have elected a President who is not mesmerized by labcoats.

Oh, the Humanity

By Neil A. Lewis, New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 - The International Committee of the Red Cross has charged in confidential reports to the United States government that the American military has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The finding that the handling of prisoners detained and interrogated at Guantánamo amounted to torture came after a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of last June in Guantánamo..

Gestapo tactics such as fake come-ons!
...Some accounts of techniques at Guantánamo have been easy to dismiss because they seemed so implausible. The most striking of the accusations, which have come mainly from a group of detainees released to their native Britain, has been that the military used prostitutes who made coarse comments and come-ons to taunt some prisoners who are Muslims.

But the Red Cross report hints strongly at an explanation of some of those accusations by stating that there were frequent complaints by prisoners in 2003 that some of the female interrogators baited their subjects with sexual overtures.

Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention and intelligence operation at Guantánamo until April, when he took over prison operations in Iraq, said in an interview early this year about general interrogation procedures that the female interrogators had proved to be among the most effective. General Miller's observation matches common wisdom among experienced intelligence officers that women may be effective as interrogators when seen by their subjects as mothers or sisters. Sexual taunting does not, however, comport with what is often referred to as the "mother-sister syndrome."

But the Red Cross report said that complaints about the practice of sexual taunting stopped in the last year. Guantánamo officials have acknowledged that they have improved their techniques and that some earlier methods they tried proved to be ineffective, raising the possibility that the sexual taunting was an experiment that was abandoned.

Through an anonymous, unimpeachable source with ties to the Bush Administration, I have an audio clip of deliberate brutality and sexual taunting.

The Red Cross, in all seriousness, claims the following are "torture":

-Forcing people to hold uncomfortable positions
-Cooperation between interrogators and medical personnel
-Loud music
-Sexual taunting
-Unspecified release dates or detention status
-Having the air-conditioning cranked up
-Sending prisoners to interrogation in their underpants

The report of the June visit said investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guantánamo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions." Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly "more refined and repressive" than learned about on previous visits.

"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to "some beatings." The report did not say how many of the detainees were subjected to such treatment.

Maybe they should investigate Greyhound. I once took a LandCruiser from San Bernardino, CA to Ames, IA; I must report low temperatures, cramped positions, loud music, sexual taunting, uncertainty as to when I could leave, and a deliberate attempt to submerge my will to that of the guy up front in uniform.

Lewis makes one editorial error. It is not true that "the issue of whether torture at Guantánamo was condoned or encouraged has been a problem before for the Bush administration"; the political opponents of the President have not been able to demonstrate there was any torture in the first place.

If the Red Cross must find something to complain about or lose the appearance of legitimacy, hasn't the substance of legitimacy been sacrificed?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving in Maryland

Supposedly, a commitment to secular education and a reduction of religious content in the classroom requires Maryland to strike mention of the religious aspects of the first Thanksgiving from the lesson plan.

A commitment to secular education and the separation of church and state require that it be taught.

The English colonies prospered because a broad section of the wealth and society of England were committed in the Americas. English colonies were not operated as a royal business, as with Spanish and French colonies, but as thriving communities living under the English Crown.

This was uniquely possible in the English colonies because of the religious repression in England during the 17th century. As the Crown and Parliament settled on one faction of one denomination, discordant groups were urged to either submit or take exile. Because the area of contention was personal conscience, the dispute affected all social and economic classes. Great Catholic lords, and Quaker friends of Court, as well as Puritan merchants and clerks sought refuge in America.

The various colonies were not beacons of tolerance. They determined to create intolerant communities of the untolerated, isolated in the wilderness. Any who dissented could leave, and expulsion was a formal penalty in some places.

But the similar problems of an import economy, unwelcome environment, and hostile neighbors, as well as common origins, provided a framework for cooperation among the colonies. They came to work together directly, because issues of religious contention could be put aside to resolve civic concerns, so long as individual conscience was firmly respected.

The guarantees of individual liberties and ban on government interference on religion are so strong in this country, because religious liberty was once prized above all other concerns. That is a simple lesson that deserves to be taught, not ignored out of cowardice.

DaVinci Code Cracked

Lex Communis has a fun parody of the DaVinci Code.

I'm not sure why more Protestants aren't angry with the book, since the alleged conspiracy at the Nicene Council would pervert all Christianity. Perhaps they just denounce it as crap, instead of preparing refutations.

Once I read a MAD Magazine parody called "The Fershlugginer Falcon". At the end, after the punk, the dame, and the fat man, have all been gunned down, Spayed ambushes and unmasks the sniper: the bartender from the opening scene...

"Surprised to see me?" he wheezed.
"Not really," I said. "Everybody else is dead."

The DaVinci Code is like that.
Sorry to spoil it for you.
"The Fershlugginer Falcon", I mean.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Opposing Lifetime Tenure

Norman Ornstein has a good article on ending the lifetime tenure of the judiciary.

The thought has occurred to me before, not just for the Supreme Court, and not just as a contingency.

Ornstein gives several good reasons, although the role of the Senate deserves more consideration.

I think it unreasonable to expect the 100 most opinionated and least self-effacing people in America to accept their own impending mortality when considering judges. They know the judges they vote on will outlive them, and judicial appointments offer them a chance to fix their legacy as with no other legislation.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Welcome to Shaking Spears!

ShakingSpears joined the BFL this week. A good informative read. Welcome!

Up From The Deep Freeze

It's interesting what working the graveyard shift can do to your knowledge of current events.

Iraq seems to be mastering democratic government; from viewing CNN headline news on my shift, the big question in Iraq is "Will Democracy Look Bad To Its Critics?" not "When Allawi Goes To The Wall Who'll Be In Line Behind Him?"
Big News From Iraq: People Who Don't Make the Decisions Demand Different Decision. Clear proof they are absorbing our political system.

Ukraine is in ferment over elections; its voters clog the streets like USC/Notre Dame fans, awaiting resolution.

Hugh Hewitt wants us to boycott Target because they pushed the Salvation Army off the sidewalk.
I am bothered with Hugh's reasoning for two reasons.
First, when I go gift shopping I think of a gift or category of gift (home electronic gadget) and then I go to whatever store I am sure has it in stock. I don't go to the mall and browse. Boycotting a store makes little sense to me, I don't think of a store at all until I consider where to make my definite purchase.

Second, it reminds me too much of quasi-socialism I saw up in Minnesota when the Twins wanted to move: I have childhood memories of the corporation, so I have a voice in its affairs.
Hugh said that Target's donation to St. Jude's Children's Hospital did not balance pushing a "faith-based organization" to the curb, and besides the Salvation Army actually puts money to feed the needy whereas St. Jude is just medical research.
Not quite: St. Jude's research is slashing the mortality rates of childhood cancer; their budget includes inpatient care for indigent cancer patients, and it's named St. Jude because of a religious pledge to the patron of lost causes.
I don't think either is inappropriate for Target.

Anyhow I'll symbolically join the boycott, as I'm not going to buy anything this year beyond cards, what with being unemployed for ten months.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Desperate Tug At the Brake Cord

By ministers of Arab dictatorships that do not want a successful election to take place in Iraq.

Had a laugh today?

In Syria, the state-owned daily Ath-Thawra said that the Sharm el-Sheikh conference represented "the best chance for the international parties to affirm the importance of the United Nations and neighbouring countries" in organizing the elections.

But it also warned: "The elections must take place on all Iraqi territory and not on 75 percent of the country as the United States hints at due to the insecurity in regions where resistance actions are taking place."

Elections in Syria are currently held in whatever room Assad is sitting in when he decides to remain El Supremo. They're pretty big rooms, but are probably too small to measure as a percentage of the national territory.

As we hammer out victory in Fallujah--and we must be winning since NBA fights are bigger news--the sob sisters of the Left are rushing to declare that wars are won when feelings change.
Jackson Diehl's piece is a good summary of the feeling.

But that still leaves the question of whether the hard-hitting combat tactics employed in Fallujah, including the liberal use of heavy artillery and 500-pound bombs, will in the end prove to have done more harm than good. Yes, the Marines and Army were able to rout the dug-in insurgents in relatively short order, with relatively few U.S. casualties, thereby achieving a textbook victory according to traditional U.S. doctrine. But what of the aftermath? Will others -- Fallujans, Iraqis, other Arabs, the world -- judge that the U.S. attack involved "excessive force"? And if so, will we still have won?

It's not enough that the Americans are satisfied, or that Falluja somehow looks over its ruin and shrugs, or that the rest of Iraq is happy that we broke that den of vipers, or even the rest of the Arab world accepts Falluja--if the "world", if France or Germany opposes the US, the Iraqis, and the Arabs, then maybe it wasn't worth it.

[Bombardment anecdotes] prompted some acerbic commentary from the veteran Israeli journalist Zeev Schiff, a sympathetic observer who has covered his own country's wars for decades. After resorting to warplanes and artillery in urban areas, he wrote in the daily Haaretz, Americans should at least find it more difficult to issue reports lambasting Russian military offensives in Chechnya or Israel's in the Gaza Strip.

I wasn't aware Americans had done so. But then I don't regularly read the Washington Post.

Alternatively, U.S. commanders could learn something from the Israelis, who, Schiff says, found out the hard way that "this is not World War II" and that "the legitimization of international public opinion" is needed to fight terrorists successfully.

And Israeli journalists could learn something from watching A&E, if they compare the superficial damage in Fallujah to WWII. "The legitimization of international public opinion" is a pyrite idol. America prefers the legitimization of doing the right thing, globally popular or not.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Both Use Whitewash, Actually

Drudge tried to argue that Clinton's Library was even more brazen than Nixon's Library at playing fast and loose with the facts.

I've been to Nixon's Library. He's got a twenty minute audio-visual display on Watergate, where a narrator does his darnedest to explain just how misunderstood Nixon was.

The "smoking gun" for example, was just an attempt to keep the FBI apolitical. They've got audio of Nixon explaining that to his diary, after the Watergate scandal broke. "What Nixon actually meant..."

I was there at the same time as a senior citizen tour, and the elderly man listening next to me threw his headphones on the floor.

But Drudge may have a point, since Nixon's Library was privately funded. And Clinton's does resemble a trailer home. And balancing Clinton's legacy over a deep, fast-moving river is probably not the metaphor they wanted...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I Regret The Wasted Bullet

I don't understand Hugh Hewitt's complaint that NBC "provided aid and comfort to the enemy" by airing video of a US marine shooting a wounded Iraqi in the head, since apparently that video is entirely negative and can only provide a gold mine of propoganda to the enemy.

First of all, if doing something to piss off the Arab street is treason, Hewitt the Christian author and Bush supporter would make the Ten Most Wanted list.

Secondly, the Arab street is aroused by Israeli walls, bare legs, Johnny Walker billboards, and women drivers. Worrying about arousing Islamist fanatics is like worrying about arousing pedophiles: they've got irrational standards that cannot be rationally appeased.

And yes: I compare anybody who'd slit a girl's throat for not wearing a scarf, with a pedophile.

Bush holding the Thanksgiving turkey was useful propoganda if you transpose it with images of burning cities.
Read the press reports, they all have Muslims outraged that we shot the guy in a mosque. Why was that? Did we capture those men in the suburbs, truck them into a mosque and then shoot them? No, we fight in mosques because that's where the bad guys hole up and shoot from. The Arab street doesn't care: we desecrated a mosque. Pfui.

We should fine any American one penny for providing such yahoos with the rant of the day?

Third, I'm getting sick of hearing everybody run away from this video.

From the tape I don't see him offering to surrender, and to the experienced Marines, he wasn't incapacitated to the point that he posed no threat. In that situation I'll back the Marine every time. They're not peace officers, they're warriors.

I also hear American commentators shocked, shocked, that the Marine appeared to quip "He's dead now" after pulling the trigger.
Are we to expect Marines to shoot our enemies like the boy in Old Yeller, with a trembling hand and a tearful eye?

"Oppose us, and die a dog's death". Now, there's a message for the Arab street.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Gallic Froth

This is rich.

Chirac wants us to mind our place, at the same time he wants us to hammer out a Mideast peace plan? You wanna sit at the big table with the USA as an equal, go out and win your own Nobel Peace Prize.

Sheesh, Jimmy Carter does people a favor and they mistake it for a permanent duty.

I could see saying Rumsfeld lacks sense, or observation, or even sanity or sobriety, but calling him out on a lack of culture? Should he listen to more Wagner? It can't be about the hair, not with Chirac...

Maybe Chirac doesn't remember two years ago, when he told half the continent that it missed a good chance to remain silent on Iraq.
To us rubes, telling somebody to shut up and look pretty indicates a rift.

Chirac once worked as a soda-jerk at a Howard Johnson's. There's a great commercial in that. For Holiday Inn.

Man At Work

Sporadic blogging this week. I've finally found steady regular employment as night-clerk/auditor for a local hotel. As I train on their system my hours vary from dawn-to-midafternoon, midafternoon-to-11pm, and 11 to dawn.

Once my schedule settles down I'll talk about the Counterinsurgency, the Cabinet shuffle and the rumored seduction of conservative Senate Dems.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A CA Jury Does It Again

So Scott Peterson planned the death of his wife Laci, but the death of his unborn son Connor was unpremeditated?

So you're tired of living in a hotel without newspapers or TV and losing members day by day and starting over each time, can't you take a day or two more to get it right?

Land of Fruits and Nuts, is right.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Battle for the Sunni Triangle

Belmont Club has some interesting and informative posts on the insurgency, their latest attempts to spark unrest outside of Fallujah itself, and the government response.

Everytime the insurgents stand and fight, they lose men and materiel and territory. However, the presence of chaos gives them propaganda points inside the USA.

Thankfully, we've chosen a President with thick enough skin to weather this tactic.

Summing Up on Specter

It appears clear that Arlen Specter will win his chairmanship on the Judiciary Committee. Apparently, the GOP leadership has his solemn promise not to steer us into ditch (although the cynic in me wonders what promises the GOP leadership made to Specter?).

This minor affray has revealed a deep division in the Party between those who expect action on the pro-life platform and those who think any such activity is too politically risky to undertake.

I'll subside on this issue, pending future events, with two Laws of Republican politics for consideration:

1. The GOP will never be anything better than first-alternate for pro-choice voters.

2. Pro-choice voters can only be wooed at the expense of pro-life voters.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Victory On The March

Central Command

At Camp Fallujah, Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassim checked the status of his forces at about 4 a.m., Nov. 9, while his soldiers engaged the insurgents in the city—the night sky flashing sporadically from artillery rounds and tracers from small arms fire.

“Before I came to Fallujah, I asked a cleric if I should come here and he told me, ‘Yes, you must go. It is God’s will. God be with you,” Qader said.

Fallujah, Iraq – Early this morning, multinational and Iraqi officials here stated that forces had fought their way through half of the city, including the Jolan District, suspected of being the epicenter of insurgent activity in the city. The combined Iraqi and multinational force operation had encountered light resistance along the way into the heart of the city, running into small pockets of fighters as they made their way through the restive town.

Forces of Operation Al Fajr, Arabic for “dawn,” have retaken key civic buildings, including Fallujah’s mayoral office, which was taken over by multinational and Iraqi forces at about 4 a.m. today. Several mosques, key bridges and other military and civic buildings have also been retaken. Insurgent reinforced strongholds in and around the city have been destroyed, including insurgent defensive positions on the outskirts of the city.

Reports from combat units indicate that several weapons and explosives caches have been found, as well as car bombs and improvised explosive devices, also known as IEDs.

Yesterday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Ayad Allawi announced that Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Mohammed Jassim, the Iraqi ground forces commander in Fallujah, was appointed as the interim military governor of the Western Anbar province until a civilian can take control of the area once order is restored. The province includes Fallujah.

The appointment comes as multinational and Iraqi forces continue their operation “on schedule and as planned,” officials here stated.

In recently liberated Al-Sadr City:
Making the job of finding IEDs a little bit easier, local residents regularly tell 1st BCT patrols of explosives that have been installed near their homes. Such intelligence, combined with other sources, is then compiled into a list of potential ‘targets’ for the 766th and the 20th to neutralize during daily missions.

“It’s promising to see that people realize we’re here to help,” Distefano said.

Improvements to the living conditions of other areas of Baghdad have often correlated with a decrease in insurgent activity, making clearing IEDs in Sadr City an essential step towards stability in the region.

51-50 and Fight

Hugh Hewitt offers a comprehensive summary of his posts regarding Specter:

We are already deep into an age of bitter politics, where every maneuver is justified by the ends being pursued. The decision in the last couple of years --led by Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy-- to radicalize judicial nominations even beyond the terrible precedents of the Bork and Thomas nomination battles was one of the most irresponsible ever taken, and now the prospect of filibusters and smear campaigns seems inevitable. The only chance of repairing this process is for a united and determined GOP caucus to demand a return to past, pre-Bork practices, and failing to obtain that demand, to launch and win a great debate leading to new rules on judicial nominations. That debate would be ferocious and would lead to an up-or-down vote on a package of rule changes on the floor. This so-called "nuclear option" was not attempted in the last few years because GOP leadership doubted that it had the votes. With a caucus of 55 and some sober Democrats across the aisle, the threat of that option might be enough to calm the Democrats and undo the knots which they have tied. The Specter debate is giving exactly the wrong signal, and forcing the very confrontation that might have been avoided.

Perhaps some folks welcome the battles. I think it is better to win quietly than it is to emerge with a nominee confirmed by a single vote of the Vice President, the nominee's reputation scarred by the slanders of an out-of-control left, the country even more polarized, and two or three more nominations to go. These are the circumstances upon which the fever swamp and the Michael Moore caucus of opportunists feed.

Jeffords, Jeffords, Jeffords.

I'll settle for consistent victories on judicial appointments.

Sure, I'd love to have loyalty from moderate Senators, generosity from Senate Democrats, accuracy from the MSM, sanity from the fever swamp, and amity from the Left. But, we're talking about loyalty from a man who Hewitt thinks is for sale at the price of a chairmanship; generosity from people who violated over 200 years of tradition to filibuster federal judges; accuracy from people who said Fallujah would be another Hue City, as if the memory of Hue was a dark shadow; sanity from people who shriek that an ill-fitting jacket proved Bush cheated to lose a debate; amity from people talking about secession from the Union because they lost an election.

The 229th birthday of the Marine Corps suggests an analogy: It would have been better to win by warping up to the docks at Saipan and Tarawa and Iwo Jima, and walking down the gangplanks to accept the surrender of the Japanese garrisons. Since they refused to cooperate, our victory required hard fighting.

We talk about judicial reform in absolutist terms because the opposition made them absolutist. No ban of abortion. No restrictions on abortion. No discouragements to abortion. Period. Exclamation point! Either that arbitrary fiat stands or it doesn't. Given our lifetime judiciary, we can't pick our moment to fight; we must act when vacancies occur or concede the issue.

And a number of bloggers have noted: First we couldn't reverse Roe because we didn't have the White House and the Senate. Then it was because we didn't have the votes in the Senate. Now it's because we don't have enough friends in Hollywood and the MSM to prevent calumny of strict constructionists? We never will!

"[A] nominee confirmed by a single vote of the Vice President, the nominee's reputation scarred by the slanders of an out-of-control left, the country even more polarized, and two or three more nominations to go" represents a success, a judge or Justice with an appropriate understanding of the Constitution to counter the foriegn-consensus and emanations-and-penumbras cliques. A success with looming opportunities for further successes.

I don't want a Democrat agreement to renounce the judicial filibuster, without forcing the issue with the "nuclear option". Such agreement could be reversed anytime they felt like it.
I want them--and every other future minority--explicitly barred from trying such stonewalling ever again.

Since we agree we could win, why not win?

Monday, November 08, 2004

If We Wreck Ourselves, We Lose On Our Own Terms!

That about sums up the case for Specter's chairmanship, as made by the partisans.


PS: Hugh Hewitt is asking today: what if we try the nuclear option and Specter's been insulted and other moderates vote with him against the GOP and cloture fails?

The answer is, the same result as if Specter is confirmed and other moderates vote with him against the GOP and cloture fails.

In his comments last Wednesday, his statement Friday, over the weekend, and yesterday with Judy Woodruff, Specter continues to insist that the Democrat filibusters are a political reality that the GOP has to accept.
I don't call that offering leadership against the illegitimate and atraditional filibusters of judicial nominees. I don't even call it a condemnation of the practice.

Speaking of seeking cover, I think it is Specter who is seeking the cover of the filibuster; so that he can shrug his shoulders and say, "Well, I tried"--as he's done for the past two years.

A lot of us detect the stench of bad leadership emanating from the GOP Senate: "Well, of course we would win, but do we really want to pay the price? What if the Democrats are sore losers?"

How bout we whup them every time?

'Nuke' the Moderates

I remain opposed to a Specter chairmanship. I saw his remarks with Judy Woodruff and am not impressed. He continues to describe the judicial filibuster as a fact of life.

Destruction of the judicial filibuster should be a GOP priority in this Congress. The "nuclear option" was dropped to buy votes for GOP legislation--a clear sellout-- and should be resumed. If Dems try to filibuster it, make it a general filibuster so that nothing is resolved until they quit. Meet them head-on and break them!

The imminent retirement of Supreme Court Justices will not likely recur for another decade at the earliest. An ever growing number of federal seats remain vacant. We must be poised to take full advantage of these opportunities, not only to restrain judicial activism, but to prevent the greater outrage of submission to foriegn legal theories.

Without the filibuster, and with a firm conservative as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, our nominees can be passed without a single Democratic vote, and we could lose up to 5 Republican votes on each nominee and still win through with the Vice-President's vote.

We have everything to gain by aggressively pursuing our agenda and marginalizing the moderate fringe with the opposition.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Damn You Sir, You Will Try

The Corner has posted the transcript of Arlen Specter's remarks to the press on Nov. 4th 2004. His open intent to frustrate the clear pro-life/strict constructionist agenda of the GOP renders him unfit for the Chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
JORDAN: Senator, you didn't talk about the Judiciary Committee, it is something you are expected to Chair this January. With 3 Supreme Court Justices rumored to retire soon, starting with Rehnquist, how do you see this unfolding in the next couple of months and what part do you intend to play on it?

SPECTER: You know my approach is cautious with respect to the Judiciary Committee. I am in line, Senator Hatch is barred now by term limits and Senate Rules so that I am next in line. There has to be a vote of the Committee and I have already started to talk to some of my fellow committee members. I am respectful of Senate traditions, so I am not designating myself Chairman, I will wait for the Senate procedures to act in do course. You are right on the substance, the Chief Justice is gravely ill. I had known more about that than had appeared in the media. When he said he was going to be back on Monday, it was known inside that he was not going to be back on Monday. The full extent of his full incapacitation is really not known, I believe there will be cause for deliberation by the President. The Constitution has a clause called advise and consent, the advise part is traditionally not paid a whole lot of attention to, I wouldn't quite say ignored, but close to that. My hope that the Senate will be more involved in expressing our views. We start off with the basic fact that the Democrats are have filibustered and expect them to filibuster if the nominees are not within the broad range of acceptability. I think there is a very broad range of Presidential Discretion but there is a range.

ODOM: Is Mr. Bush, he just won the election, even with the popular vote as well. If he wants anti-abortion judges up there, you are caught in the middle of it what are you going to do? The party is going one way and you are saying this.

SPECTER: When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v Wade, I think that is unlikely. And I have said that bluntly during the course of the campaign and before. When the Inquirer endorsed me, they quoted my statement that Roe v Wade was inviolate. And that 1973 decision, which has been in effect now for 33 years, was buttressed by the 1992 decision, written by three Republican justices-O'Conner, Souter, and Kennedy-and nobody can doubt Anthony Kennedy's conservativism or pro-life position, but that's the fabric of the country. Nobody can be confirmed today who didn't agree with Brown v. Board of Education on integration, and I believe that while you traditionally do not ask a nominee how they're going to decide a specific case, there's a doctorate and a fancy label term, stari decisis, precedent which I think protects that issue. That is my view, now, before, and always.

ODOM: You are saying the President should not bother to send somebody up there like that.

SPECTER: Can't hear you

ODOM: You are saying the President should not bother or make the move to send somebody up there who is clearly anti-abortion.

SPECTER: I don't want to prejudge what the President is going to do. But the President is well aware of what happened when a number of his nominees were sent up, were filibustered, and the President has said he is not going to impose a litmus test, he faced that issue squarely in the third debate and I would not expect the President, I would expect the President to be mindful of the considerations that I mentioned.

JORDAN: However, Senator the President has President has sent up, as you know, a number of very very conservative judges socially, you have made a point in this campaign of saying that you have supported all of those ______ at least I the last two years, how is this going to square with what you are saying today about wanting the Republican party to be big tent and moderate.

SPECTER: I have been very careful in what I have said and what I have done. The nominees whom I supported in Committee, I had reservations on. As for judge Pryor, there had been an issue as to whether as Attorney General he had raised money, I said in voting him out of committee, that he did not have my vote on the floor until I satisfied myself about collateral matters. The woman judge out of California, who had dismissed a case on invasion of privacy where the doctor had permitted an insurance adjuster to watch a mammogram, I had a reservation on it, so I wanted to talk to her to see if that was aberrational or whether that really reflected her judgment on each and every one of those cases. This may be more detail than you want, but there was one judge for a district judgeship, Judge Holmes, in Arkansas, who was first in his class at the University of Arkansas, had a PhD from Duke, had a master's degree, was touted by both Democratic Arkansas Senators, was supported by 2 pro-choice women, Senator Landrieu and Senator Lincoln, highly regarded in the Arkansas editorial pages, and for a district court judgeship I thought. He had made two statements, and they were, one was in a religious context that a wife should be subservient to a husband, that was in a religious context. Then he made a statement doubting the potential for impregnation from rape, and made an absurd statement that it would be as rare as snow in Florida in July. That was about a 20 year-old statement and I brought him in and sat down, had a long talk with him and concluded that they were not disqualifiers. He was the only judge whom I voted to confirm on the floor vote where any question has been raised and I think that was the right decision for a district court judgeship, not to make that a disqualifier. There are few if any whose record if you go back over 30 or 40 years, and not find some dumb thing, I don't want you to take a to close a look at my 40 year record.

HIGHSMITH: Talk to us a little bit beyond judgeships, you said again today and last night that your goal now is to moderate the party, bring it to the center.

SPECTER: Correct

[BREAK-Bringing the Country Together Question]

[BREAK-Stem Cell Question]

MACINTOSH: What are the characteristics that you are looking for in any candidate for the high court who might come your way in the next year or two?

SPECTER: Well I would like to see a select someone in the mold of Holmes, Brandeis, Cardozo, or Marshall. With all due respect to the U.S. Supreme Court, we don't have one. And I haven't minced any words about that during the confirmation process.


SPECTER: Where I have questioned them all very closely. I had an argument before the Supreme Court of the United States on trying to keep the Navy base, and you should heard what the eight of them had to say to me. They were almost as tough as this gang here this morning.

ODOM: Senator, the judges you mentioned are obviously renown. Are you saying that there are no greatness on there, is that what you're driving at?

SPECTER: Yes. Can you take yes for an answer Vernon? I'm saying that we don't have anybody of the stature of Oliver Wendell Holmes, or Willy Brandeis, or Cardozo, or Marshall. That's what I'm saying. I'm saying that we have a court which they're graduates from the Court of Appeals from the District of Columbia basically, some other Circuit Courts of Appeals. I think that we could use, and I am repeating myself again, a Holmes or a Brandeis.

ODOM: Would you resign to take the appointment? You're the only person I can think of?

SPECTER: I can think of quite a few other people.

JORDAN: Like who?

SPECTER: I think there's some possibility, just a slight possibility, I may not be offered the appointment.

JORDAN: Senator, who do you think would be a good candidate?

SPECTER: For the Supreme Court?


SPECTER: I have some ideas but I'm going to withhold my comments. If, as, and when the President asks that question, Lara, I'll have some specific information for him. In the alternative, if you become President, I'll have it for you.

[BREAK-Election 2010 question]

[BREAK-Iraq questions]

Jordan: Do you expect to continue supporting all of President Bush's judicial nominees?

AS: I am hopeful that I'll be able to do that. That obviously depends upon the President's judicial nominees. I'm hopeful that I can support them.

[BREAK-Election question]

[End Press Conference]

Specter's own words show he considers Roe v. Wade settled, the Democrat filibusters unstoppable, the President's past nominees unworthy, the party too conservative.
What defense, other than the rococo evolutions of the Senate, can be cited in defense of Chairmanship?

What a Suprise

France sinks deeper into a quagmire in its former colonial empire.

The US mission in Iraq is in the tradition of British conservative intervention a la Palmerston and Churchill: Pick a side, back it to the hilt. Our mission is to break the back of the insurgency so that the national government we support prevails through the whole country.

Whereas France has got itself in a real quagmire, a peacekeeping operation where all factions remain present but are supposed to be kept nonviolent. Since tensions have to be pretty high for a civil war to erupt at all, the French have no support for their UN-mandated stalemate and must be prepared for violence from all sides--which despite MSM propaganda to the contrary, is not true of US troops in Iraq.

Bon chance, Jacques! Our troops in Iraq are fighting for a win, not a draw. Wanna bet who finishes the mission first?

Friday, November 05, 2004

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

Iraqi and American forces are moving into place to assault Fallujah.

This time the Iraqi authorities have approved the assault in advance, having already exhausted their patience with the insurgents.

Kofi Annan hasn't though:
However, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that the election could be undermined by a new campaign against Fallujah because of a possible backlash from the Sunni Muslim community.

In a letter dated Oct. 31, Annan told American, British and Iraqi leaders that the United Nations wants to help prepare for the elections but fears a rise in violence could disrupt the process.

''I have in mind not only the risk of increased insurgent violence, but also reports of major military offensives being planned by the multinational force in key localities such as Fallujah,'' Annan wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

Wasn't this the guy who said he didn't think elections could be held because of insurgent violence and the presence of insurgent enclaves?

You know, I think American conservatives are wrong about the UN? I think our Cold War experience has skewed our perspective. Certainly, when a Leonid Brehznev or Deng Xiaoping stood up and spewed nonsense, we were right to suspect that they didn't believe it either, that their own bloody ambition was preparing a snare to destroy us.

But when Boutros-Boutros Ghali or Kofi Annan spews nonsense--You know the guys who are killing anybody who works for the interim government? Maybe driving them into the desert to cower in holes will undermine your election?--I think we're wrong to suspect them.

I begin to believe they really are that clueless.
Thankfully, Lincoln was right. 51% of Americans can't be fooled all of the time.

From Deep Left Field

Paul Krugman:
The resurgence of Al Qaeda, the debacle in Iraq, the explosion of the budget deficit and the failure to create jobs weren't things that just happened to occur on Mr. Bush's watch. They were the consequences of bad policies made by people who let ideology trump reality.

...But Democrats are not going to get the support of people whose votes are motivated, above all, by their opposition to abortion and gay rights (and, in the background, opposition to minority rights). All they will do if they try to cater to intolerance is alienate their own base.

...Rather than catering to voters who will never support them, the Democrats - who are doing pretty well at getting the votes of moderates and independents - need to become equally effective at mobilizing their own base.

In fact, they have made good strides, showing much more unity and intensity than anyone thought possible a year ago. But for the lingering aura of 9/11, they would have won.

There's a lot of material to work with in just four paragraphs!

The phrase "ideology trump reality" better describes an economist who doesn't see 16 months of consecutive job growth, including 337,000 in October 2004 alone; a political writer who misses the consistent political development in Iraq, and the disruption of Al-Qaeda around the world.

If the secret motivation driving Republican opposition to abortion and homosexuality is racial intolerance, then why are increasing numbers of ethnic minorities siding with the GOP on those issues? What dark bigotry drives them?

It’s ridiculous to look at an election where more people voted than ever before, and turnout was its highest in 36 years, and the victor won 51% of the vote, and claim you lost because your base wasn’t out there on Election Day.
It’s self-destructive to label a majority of American voters as bigots lashing out, sheep fleeing imaginary (but “resurgent”?) threats.

It’s instructive that Krugman clearly doesn’t think the conservatives are the party’s base; moderates and independents aren’t the Democrat base; who’s left?

But to hell with it! To hell with 59 million Americans who won’t change their minds anyhow! Write off anybody who cares about winning in Iraq, roaring job growth, fighting terrorism, heterosexual marriage, banning partial-birth abortion and abortion on demand for any nubile female, absolute institutional equality as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, and all that other crap!

Remember that ostrich/eagle ad? Exactly backwards.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Won One With The Gipper?

When the Republicans stormed the House of Representatives in 1994, the Democrats refused to acknowledge the power of the Contract with America. Instead they scrambled for a politically harmless explanation, such as sympathy for Reagan after he announced his retirement in ill health.

I thought that was silly then.

But this year, I think the massive week-long eulogy of Reagan did have a subtle effect favorable to Bush.

I don't think people suddenly viewed Bush as the obvious heir to Reagan's legacy.

I think the near universal praise and salute to Reagan as a national hero undermined the fever-swamp propaganda.

This year, they couldn't declare a devoutly religious, prolife, tax-cutting, global crusader Republican was an obvious threat to the American way of life.
This year, it did no good to spin tax relief as creating a decade of suffering.
This year, it wasn't enough to claim America could not change the world or "fight an idea".

Clinton proved that a majority of Americans could be persuaded to thinking these fallacies were true.
But not this year, the year we celebrated Reagan.

Stop the Autovoxiphiliac Jackassertarian

From The Corner:
SPECTER: THIS IS WHAT TO DO [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Frist knows our beef (probably painfully well). Call your Republicans senators. When they meet on leadership posts (next week), they can vote against extending the judiciary chairmanship to Specter. Here's the Senate website. Call and email. (I'll get you a straight list of all the numbers and emails just as soon as possible.) I think that transcript emphasises Specter does not have the conservative temperment or instincts to be judiciary chairman. Why, after yesterday's victory, would the majority party put in place such a huge obstacle, just because of tradition?

The Corner has a transcript of Specter's comments. Despite the damage-control spin from Specter's office (also on the site), it's actually worse than I thought.

Not only does Specter state that Roe v Wade is as firmly unchallengeable as Brown v Board of Education, he believes the constitutionally dubious and historically baseless Democrat filibusters are facts-of-life the President must consider when making nominations.

And Specter indeed did belittle the entire Supreme Court:
ODOM: Senator, the judges you mentioned are obviously renown. Are you saying that there are no greatness on there, is that what you're driving at?

SPECTER: Yes. Can you take yes for an answer Vernon? I'm saying that we don't have anybody of the stature of Oliver Wendell Holmes, or Willy Brandeis, or Cardozo, or Marshall. That's what I'm saying. I'm saying that we have a court which they're graduates from the Court of Appeals from the District of Columbia basically, some other Circuit Courts of Appeals. I think that we could use, and I am repeating myself again, a Holmes or a Brandeis.

Read the whole transcript. You can just see the journalists with their tongues hanging out, as the Senator destroys his own reputation for the love of the sound of his own voice.

We might as well have let Daschle back, if his desperate tactics and abortion-on-demand platform will be perpetuated by our Judiciary Committee chairman.