Author Topic: Political Rants & interesting thought pieces  (Read 843885 times)


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Political Rants
« Reply #200 on: January 02, 2006, 02:47:49 AM »
"At the far left of the major media spectrum were the Los Angeles Times (70), CBS Evening News (74), The New York Times (74), and The Wall Street Journal (85)."

I'm completely comfortable with the basic conclusion of the piece.  Indeed, as an ex-New Yorker I'll vouch for the NY Slimes, and as an Angeleno, I vouch for the Left Angeles Times, but the WSJ is the furthest left of all?!?!?  I understand that they are not talking about the editorial page, but , , , get serious.


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Perpetual Petroleum Prognostications
« Reply #201 on: January 20, 2006, 12:21:42 PM »
Not quite a rant so filed here by default. Next time someone tells you we are running out of oil, or play the "no blood for oil" card, point 'em at this piece.

"Estimates of the world's oil reserves have risen faster than production."   
Oil is a nonrenewable resource. Every gallon of petroleum burned today is unavailable for use by future generations. Over the past 150 years, geologists and other scientists often have predicted that our oil reserves would run dry within a few years. When oil prices rise for an extended period, the news media fill with dire warnings that a crisis is upon us. Environmentalists argue that governments must develop new energy technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels. The facts contradict these harbingers of doom:

World oil production continued to increase through the end of the 20th century.

Prices of gasoline and other petroleum products, adjusted for inflation, are lower than they have been for most of the last 150 years.
Estimates of the world?s total endowment of oil have increased faster than oil has been taken from the ground.

How is this possible? We have not run out of oil because new technologies increase the amount of recoverable oil, and market prices ? which signal scarcity ? encourage new exploration and development. Rather than ending, the Oil Age has barely begun.

    History of Oil Prognostications
The history of the petroleum industry is punctuated by periodic claims that the supply will be exhausted, followed by the discovery of new oil fields and the development of technologies for recovering additional supplies. For instance:

Before the first U.S. oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, petroleum supplies were limited to crude oil that oozed to the surface. In 1855, an advertisement for Kier?s Rock Oil advised consumers to ?hurry, before this wonderful product is depleted from Nature?s laboratory.?1
In 1874, the state geologist of Pennsylvania, the nation?s leading oil-producing state, estimated that only enough U.S. oil remained to keep the nation?s kerosene lamps burning for four years.2

   "Warnings of U.S. oil shortages were made before the first well was drilled in 1859."
Seven such oil shortage scares occurred before 1950.3 As a writer in the Oil Trade Journal noted in 1918: At regularly recurring intervals in the quarter of a century that I have been following the ins and outs of the oil business[,] there has always arisen the bugaboo of an approaching oil famine, with plenty of individuals ready to prove that the commercial supply of crude oil would become exhausted within a given time ? usually only a few years distant.4

1973 Oil Embargo.

    "After the revolution in Iran, oil prices returned to the long-term average of $10 to $20 a barrel, in real terms."   
The 1973 Arab oil embargo gave rise to renewed claims that the world?s oil supply would be exhausted shortly. ?The Oil Crisis: This Time the Wolf Is Here,? warned an article in the influential journal Foreign Affairs.5 Geologists had cried wolf many times, acknowledged the authors of a respected and widely used textbook on economic geology in 1981; ?finally, however, the wolves are with us.? The authors predicted that the United States was entering an incipient 125-year-long ?energy gap,? projected to be at its worst shortly after the year 2000.6

The predictions of the 1970s were followed in a few years by a glut of cheap oil:

The long-term inflation-adjusted price of oil from 1880 through 1970 averaged $10 to $20 a barrel.7

The price of oil soared to over $50 a barrel in inflation-adjusted 1996 U.S. dollars following the 1979 political revolution in Iran.8 [See Figure I.]
But by 1986, inflation-adjusted oil prices had collapsed to one-third their 1980 peak.9

   "When projected shortages failed to appear, doomsayers made new predictions."   

When projected crises failed to occur, doomsayers moved their predictions forward by a few years and published again in more visible and prestigious journals:

In 1989, one expert forecast that world oil production would peak that very year and oil prices would reach $50 a barrel by 1994.10
In 1995, a respected geologist predicted in World Oil that petroleum production would peak in 1996, and after 1999 major increases in crude oil prices would have dire consequences. He warned that ?[m]any of the world?s developed societies may look more like today?s Russia than the U.S.?11

A 1998 Scientific American article entitled ?The End of Cheap Oil? predicted that world oil production would peak in 2002 and warned that ?what our society does face, and soon, is the end of the abundant and cheap oil on which all industrial nations depend.?12

Similar admonitions were published in the two most influential scientific journals in the world, Nature and Science. A 1998 article in Science was titled ?The Next Oil Crisis Looms Large ? and Perhaps Close.?13 A 1999 Nature article was subtitled ?[A] permanent decline in global oil production rate is virtually certain to begin within 20 years.?14

1990s Oil Glut.

However, rather than falling, world oil production continued to increase throughout the 1990s. Prices have not skyrocketed, suggesting that oil is not becoming more scarce:

Oil prices were generally stable at $20 to $30 a barrel throughout the 1990s. [See Figure I.]

In 2001, oil prices fell to a 30-year low after adjusting for inflation.
Furthermore, the inflation-adjusted retail price of gasoline, one of the most important derivatives of oil, fell to historic lows in the past few years. [See Figure II.]

    Reserves versus Resources   
Nonexperts, including some in the media, persistently predict oil shortage because they misunderstand petroleum terminology. Oil geologists speak of both reserves and resources.

Reserves are the portion of identified resources that can be economically extracted and exploited using current technology.
Resources include all fuels, both identified and unknown, and constitute the world?s endowment of fossil fuels.

Oil reserves are analogous to food stocks in a pantry. If a household divides its pantry stores by the daily food consumption rate, the same conclusion is always reached: the family will starve to death in a few weeks. Famine never occurs because the family periodically restocks the pantry.

Similarly, if oil reserves are divided by current production rates, exhaustion appears imminent. However, petroleum reserves are continually increased by ongoing exploration and development of resources. For 80 years, oil reserves in the United States have been equal to a 10- to 14-year supply at current rates of development.15 If they had not been continually replenished, we would have run out of oil by 1930.

    How Much Oil Is Left?
Scaremongers are fond of reminding us that the total amount of oil in the Earth is finite and cannot be replaced during the span of human life. This is true; yet estimates of the world?s total oil endowment have grown faster than humanity can pump petroleum out of the ground.16

The Growing Endowment of Oil.

Estimates of the total amount of oil resources in the world grew throughout the 20th century [see Figure III].

In May 1920, the U.S. Geological Survey announced that the world?s total endowment of oil amounted to 60 billion barrels.17
In 1950, geologists estimated the world?s total oil endowment at around 600 billion barrels.

From 1970 through 1990, their estimates increased to between 1,500 and 2,000 billion barrels.

In 1994, the U.S. Geological Survey raised the estimate to 2,400 billion barrels, and their most recent estimate (2000) was of a 3,000-billion-barrel endowment.

By the year 2000, a total of 900 billion barrels of oil had been produced.18 Total world oil production in 2000 was 25 billion barrels.19 If world oil consumption continues to increase at an average rate of 1.4 percent a year, and no further resources are discovered, the world?s oil supply will not be exhausted until the year 2056.

    "Oil shales may hold another 14,000 billion barrels -- a 500 year supply."   

Additional Petroleum Resources.

The estimates above do not include unconventional oil resources. Conventional oil refers to oil that is pumped out of the ground with minimal processing; unconventional oil resources consist largely of tar sands and oil shales that require processing to extract liquid petroleum. Unconventional oil resources are very large. In the future, new technologies that allow extraction of these unconventional resources likely will increase the world?s reserves.

Oil production from tar sands in Canada and South America would add about 600 billion barrels to the world?s supply.20
Rocks found in the three western states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming alone contain 1,500 billion barrels of oil.21
Worldwide, the oil-shale resource base could easily be as large as 14,000 billion barrels ? more than 500 years of oil supply at year 2000 production rates.22
Unconventional oil resources are more expensive to extract and produce, but we can expect production costs to drop with time as improved technologies increase efficiency.

    The Role of Technology   

With every passing year it becomes possible to exploit oil resources that could not have been recovered with old technologies. The first American oil well drilled in 1859 by Colonel Edwin Drake in Titusville, Pa. ? which was actually drilled by a local blacksmith known as Uncle Billy Smith ? reached a total depth of 69 feet (21 meters).

Today?s drilling technology allows the completion of wells up to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) deep.

The vast petroleum resources of the world?s submerged continental margins are accessible from offshore platforms that allow drilling in water depths to 9,000 feet (2,743 meters).

The amount of oil recoverable from a single well has greatly increased because new technologies allow the boring of multiple horizontal shafts from a single vertical shaft.

Four-dimensional seismic imaging enables engineers and geologists to see a subsurface petroleum reservoir drain over months to years, allowing them to increase the efficiency of its recovery.
New techniques and new technology have increased the efficiency of oil exploration. The success rate for exploratory petroleum wells has increased 50 percent over the past decade, according to energy economist Michael C. Lynch.23

    Hubbert?s Prediction of Declining Production   

Despite these facts, some environmentalists claim that declining oil production is inevitable, based on the so-called Hubbert model of energy production. They ignore the inaccuracy of Hubbert?s projections.

Problems with Hubbert?s Model.

In March 1956, M. King Hubbert, a research scientist for Shell Oil, predicted that oil production from the 48 contiguous United States would peak between 1965 and 1970.24 Hubbert?s prediction was initially called ?utterly ridiculous.?25 But when U.S. oil production peaked in 1970, he became an instant celebrity and living legend.

    "Environmentalists now tie their predictions of declining energy supplies to M. King Hubbert's model of energy production -- which has been consistently inaccurate."
Hubbert based his estimate on a mathematical model that assumes the production of a resource follows a bell-shaped curve ? one that rises rapidly to a peak and declines just as quickly. In the case of petroleum, the model requires an accurate estimate of the size of the total oil endowment.26 His best estimate of the size of petroleum resources in the lower 48 states was 150 billion barrels. His high estimate, which he considered an exaggeration, was 200 billion barrels.

Based on these numbers, Hubbert produced two curves showing a ?best? estimate of U.S. oil production and a ?high? estimate. The claimed accuracy of Hubbert?s predictions are largely based on the upper curve ? his absolute upper limit [see Figure IV].

Hubbert set the absolute upper limit for peak U.S. oil production at roughly 3 billion barrels a year, and his best or lower estimate of peak future U.S. crude oil production was closer to 2.5 billion barrels.
As early as 1970, actual U.S. crude oil production exceeded Hubbert?s upper limit by 13 percent.

By the year 2000, actual U.S. oil production from the lower 48 states was 2.5 times higher than Hubbert?s 1956 ?best? prediction.
Production in the 48 contiguous states peaked, but at much higher levels than Hubbert predicted. From about 1975 through 1995, Hubbert?s upper curve was a fairly good match to actual U.S. production data. But in recent years, U.S. crude oil production has been consistently higher than Hubbert considered possible.

    "U.S. oil production has been higher than Hubbert thought possile."   
Hubbert?s 1980 prediction of U.S. oil production, his last, was substantially less accurate than his 1956 ?high? estimate.27 In the year 2000, actual U.S. oil production from the lower 48 states was 1.7 times higher than his 1980 revised prediction [see Figure V].

In light of this, it is strange that Hubbert?s predictions have been characterized as remarkably successful. While production in the United States is declining, as Hubbert predicted, it is doing so at a much slower rate. Furthermore, lower production does not necessarily indicate the looming exhaustion of U.S. oil resources. It shows instead that at current prices and with current technology, less of the remaining petroleum is economically recoverable.

Hubbert?s Prediction for Natural Gas.

In 1998, Peter McCabe of the U.S. Geological Survey showed that energy resources do not necessarily follow Hubbert-type curves, and even if they do a decline in production may not be due to exhaustion of the resource.28

For example, Hubbert also predicted future U.S. natural gas production. This prediction turned out to be grossly wrong. As of 2000, U.S. natural gas production was 2.4 times higher than Hubbert had predicted in 1956.29

The Production Curve for Coal.

Production of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania through the 19th and 20th centuries followed a Hubbert-type curve more closely than any other known energy resource. Production started around 1830, peaked around 1920, and by 1995 had fallen to about 5 percent of its peak value. However, the supply of Pennsylvania anthracite coal is far from exhausted. If production were to resume at the all-time high rate of 100 million short tons per year, the resource base would support 190 years of production. Production declined not because the resource was depleted but because people stopped heating their homes with coal and switched to cleaner-burning oil and gas.30

    "U.S. production in 2000 was 1.7 times higher than Hubbert projected in 1980."   

The primary problem with a Hubbert-type analysis is that it requires an accurate estimate of the total resource endowment. Yet estimates of the total endowment have grown systematically larger for at least 50 years as technology has made it possible to exploit petroleum resources previously not considered economical. Hubbert-type analyses of oil production have systematically underestimated future oil production. This will continue to be the case until geologists can produce an accurate and stable estimate of the size of the total oil endowment.

    Is an Oil Economy Sustainable?   

In the long run, an economy that utilizes petroleum as a primary energy source is not sustainable, because the amount of oil in the Earth?s crust is finite. However, sustainability is a misleading concept, a chimera. No technology since the birth of civilization has been sustainable. All have been replaced as people devised better and more efficient technologies. The history of energy use is largely one of substitution. In the 19th century, the world?s primary energy source was wood. Around 1890, wood was replaced by coal. Coal remained the world?s largest source of energy until the 1960s when it was replaced by oil. We have only just entered the petroleum age.31

    "Without innovation, no technology is sustainable."   

How long will it last? No one can predict the future, but the world contains enough petroleum resources to last at least until the year 2100. This is so far in the future that it would be ludicrous for us to try to anticipate what energy sources our descendants will utilize. Over the next several decades the world likely will continue to see short-term spikes in the price of oil, but these will be caused by political instability and market interference ? not by an irreversible decline in supply.

David Deming of the University of Oklahoma?s School of Geology and Geophysics is an Adjunct Scholar with the NCPA.


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Recycled Silliness
« Reply #202 on: January 27, 2006, 03:08:44 PM »
My biggest pet peeve is recycling, a lamebrained scam by any objective measure. The day they start issuing tickets for how I sort my trash is the day I start dropping Dr. Pepper cans into the garbage of the local sweetness and light Nazis.

Recycle This!
Separating tin cans and pizza boxes and exposing the facts about the High Church of Recycling.
by James Thayer
01/26/2006 12:00:00 AM

ELIAS ROHAS is a garbage hauler in Seattle. He works for Rabanco/Allied Waste Industries and his beat is Magnolia, the city's tony westernmost neighborhood. According to the Seattle Times, Rohas has been on the job 14 years. He slowly cruises Magnolia streets, using his truck's mechanical arm to lift and dump curbside garbage bins.

Since the first of the year Rohas has enjoyed a new responsibility, one shared by Seattle policemen: he can officially determine who is breaking the law, and issue a ticket.

On January 1, placing more than 10 percent recyclable materials into a garbage bin became illegal in Seattle. An offending bin is tagged with a bright yellow slip that announces, "Recycle. It's not garbage anymore." The un-emptied bin is then left at the curb in hopes that the homeowner will learn the lesson and remove the reusable material by next week's collection. Businesses that offend three times are fined $50.

Seattle's proudly progressive leaders were alarmed when, almost two decades after voluntary recycling programs were initiated in the city--recycling rates had stalled at about 40 percent of the total amount of waste. Too many bottles and too much paper were still finding their way to the eastern Oregon landfill that receives Seattle's garbage.

So after a year-long $450,000 television, radio and newspaper education campaign, the mandatory recycling law went into effect at the first of the year. The goal is to raise the percentage of recyclables to sixty percent of total waste. Seattle is not alone, of course; many other cities, from Philadelphia to Honolulu, also have mandatory recycling programs. But these laws are based on myth and followed as faith.

RECYCLING FEELS RIGHT. Echoing widespread Seattle sentiment (85 percent of the city's citizens approve of curbside recycling), the Seattle Times editorial board has concluded that "Recycling is a good thing." After all, using a bottle twice must be better than using it once, saving resources and sparing the landfill.

The truth, though, is that recycling is an expense, not a savings, for a city. "Every community recycling program in America today costs more than the revenue it generates," says Dr. Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute.

A telling indicator is that cities often try to dump recycling programs when budgets are tight. As Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, points out in the Wall Street Journal, every New York City mayor has attempted to stop the city's recycling program since it was begun in 1989. Mayor David Dinkins tried, but changed his mind when met with noisy criticism. Rudy Giuliani tried, but was sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which won the case. Mayor Bloomberg has proposed temporarily ending the recycling program because, as Logomasini notes, it costs $240 per ton to recycle and only $130 per ton to send the material to a landfill. The numbers for other areas are roughly comparable. The net per-ton cost of recycling exceeds $180 in Rhode Island, while conventional garbage collection and disposal costs $120 to $160 per ton.

The funds go for trucks and collectors and inspectors and bureaucrats. Clemson professor Daniel K. Benjamin points out that Los Angeles has 800 trucks working the neighborhoods, instead of 400, due to recycling. Radley Balko at aBetterEarth.Org, a project of the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, writes, "That means extra wear and tear on city streets, double the exhaust emissions into the atmosphere, double the man hours required for someone to drive and man those trucks, and double the costs of maintenance and upkeep of the trucks." Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute says costs include "the energy necessary to deliver the recyclables to the collection centers, process the post-consumer material into usable commodities for manufacturers, and deliver the processed post-consumer material to manufacturing plants." Franklin Associates, which provides consulting services for solid waste management, estimates that curbside recycling is 55 percent more expensive, pound for pound, than conventional garbage disposal.

CITY BUDGETS aren't the only victims of recycling. Citizens also have a significant cost--their time. Seattle Public Utilities researchers (in collaboration with University of California, Davis) conducted a survey in 2005 that indicated 98 percent of Seattle households participate in the curbside recycling program, and that 16 minutes are spent recycling per household. The city contains 260,000 households, which means each week Seattleites spend almost 8,500 work days recycling. Working days lost in traffic jams are commonly cited by proponents of HOV lanes, bike paths, and light rail. Nary a word is heard about lost time when the topic is recycling.

And what are those 16 minutes spent doing? Sorting, extracting, rinsing, bundling, and stomping. In Seattle, household batteries can be put into the garbage, but not rechargeable batteries. Plastic soda bottles can be recycled, but not plastic flower pots. Plastic shopping bags go into the recycle bin (bundle them first), but not plastic produce bags or plastic freezer wrap bags. Plastic cottage cheese tubs, yes, but not plastic six-pack rings. Frozen food boxes go into the recycle bin, but not paper plates. Cardboard, sure, but not if a pizza came in it, and make sure to flatten the box. And remove any tape. Cereal boxes, yes, but pull out the liner. Typing paper, of course, but sort out the paper punch holes, as those little dots can't be recycled. Hardback books, okay, but wrestle off the covers. Metal hangers, yes: aluminum foil, no. Tin cans, you bet, but rinse them, and push the lid down into the can. No loose lids can go in the recycle bin. And no confetti.

So at least it's a fun 16 minutes. There are out-of-pocket expenses, too: Rod Kauffman, president of the Building Owners and Managers Association of Seattle and King County, says this sorting will add 10 percent to a building's janitorial bills.

IF WE WEREN'T RECYCLING, wouldn't the landfills soon overflow? Al Gore certainly thinks so, as he claimed we are "running out of ways to dispose of our waste in a manner that keeps it out of either sight or mind." Nonsense. Clemson Professor Daniel K. Benjamin notes that rather than running out of space, overall capacity is growing. "In fact," he says, "the United States today has more landfill capacity than ever before." He adds that the total land area required to contain every scrap of this country's garbage for the next 100 years would be only 10 miles square. The Nevada Policy Research Institute's numbers are even more dramatic: an area 44 miles square and 120 feet deep would handle all of America's garbage for the next millennium.

America's image of landfills was fixed decades ago, and is that of Staten Island's Fresh Kills, a vast swampy expanse of detritus, with huge Caterpillar tractors trundling over it, and clouds of seagulls obscuring everything above ground. Fresh Kills received New York's garbage for 53 years before it was closed in 2001. Modern landfills have nothing in common with the place. Benjamin says that new landfills are located far from groundwater supplies, and are built on thick clay beds that are covered with plastic liners, on top of which goes another layer of sand or gravel. Pipes remove leachate, which is then treated at wastewater plants. Escaping gas is burned or sold. A park or golf course or industrial development eventually goes over the landfill.

Fresh Kills also looked dangerous, a veritable soup of deadly poisons and nasty chemicals, seeping and dissolving and dispersing. But that's not the case with new landfills. Daniel Benjamin writes, "According to the EPA's own estimates, modern landfills can be expected to cause 5.7 cancer-related deaths over the next 300 years--just one death every 50 years. To put this in perspective, cancer kills over 560,000 people every year in the United States."

But what about saving precious resources by recycling? Almost 90 percent of this country's paper comes from renewable forests, and to say we will someday run out of trees is the same as saying we will some day run out of corn. According to Jerry Taylor, we are growing 22 million acres of new forest each year, and we harvest 15 million acres, for a net annual gain of 7 million acres. The United States has almost four times more forested land today than it did 80 years ago.

Are we running out of that other staple of recycle bins, glass? All those wine and beer bottles are manufactured from silica dioxide, the fancy term for sand, which Jay Lehr points out is the most abundant mineral in the earth's crust.

Nor will we ever suffer a shortage of plastic, which is made from petroleum byproducts. Today more petroleum reserves are being discovered than are being used up. And plastics can now also be synthesized from farm products. Lehr concludes, "We are not running out of, nor will we ever run out of, any of the resources we recycle."

Why then do we go to all this trouble for so little--or no--reward? Lehr says it's because "we get a warm and fuzzy feeling when we recycle." Richard Sandbrook who was executive director of the International Institute for Environment and Development, said, "Environmentalists refuse to countenance any argument which undermines their sacred cow."

The Seattle Times concludes, "Recycling is almost a religion in Seattle." An irrational religion, says Professor Frank Ackerman, who specializes in environment policy at Tufts University. But his arguments cut little weight here in the Northwest. We attend the church of recycling, where perfervid faith compensates for lack of factual support.

Seattle Public Utilities estimates that 1 in 10 garbage bins will contain too much recyclable material, and so will be left full on the curb. Hauler Elias Rohas said they aren't hard to spot. "We can tell right away," he told the Times. He said the sound of glass is unmistakable, and that paper adds bulk without weight. "You can tell even when it's in the bag."

James Thayer is a frequent contributor to The Daily Standard. His twelfth novel, The Gold Swan, has been published by Simon & Schuster.


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« Reply #203 on: February 07, 2006, 02:19:24 PM »
Posted Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006, at 4:31 PM ET


Cartoon Debate
The case for mocking religion
By Christopher Hitchens

As well as being a small masterpiece of inarticulacy and self-abnegation, the statement from the State Department about this week's international Muslim pogrom against the free press was also accidentally accurate.


"Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief."


Thus the hapless Sean McCormack, reading painfully slowly from what was reported as a prepared government statement. How appalling for the country of the First Amendment to be represented by such an administration. What does he mean "unacceptable"? That it should be forbidden? And how abysmal that a "spokesman" cannot distinguish between criticism of a belief system and slander against a people. However, the illiterate McCormack is right in unintentionally comparing racist libels to religious faith. Many people have pointed out that the Arab and Muslim press is replete with anti-Jewish caricature, often of the most lurid and hateful kind. In one way the comparison is hopelessly inexact. These foul items mostly appear in countries where the state decides what is published or broadcast. However, when Muslims republish the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or perpetuate the story of Jewish blood-sacrifice at Passover, they are recycling the fantasies of the Russian Orthodox Christian secret police (in the first instance) and of centuries of Roman Catholic and Lutheran propaganda (in the second). And, when an Israeli politician refers to Palestinians as snakes or pigs or monkeys, it is near to a certainty that he will be a rabbi (most usually Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the disgraceful Shas party) and will cite Talmudic authority for his racism. For most of human history, religion and bigotry have been two sides of the same coin, and it still shows.


Therefore there is a strong case for saying that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and those who have reprinted its efforts out of solidarity, are affirming the right to criticize not merely Islam but religion in general. And the Bush administration has no business at all expressing an opinion on that. If it is to say anything, it is constitutionally obliged to uphold the right and no more. You can be sure that the relevant European newspapers have also printed their share of cartoons making fun of nuns and popes and messianic Israeli settlers, and taunting child-raping priests. There was a time when this would not have been possible. But those taboos have been broken.


Which is what taboos are for. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet?who was only another male mammal?is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.


I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive." ( By the way, hasn't the word "offensive" become really offensive lately?) The innate human revulsion against desecration is much older than any monotheism: Its most powerful expression is in the Antigone of Sophocles. It belongs to civilization. I am not asking for the right to slaughter a pig in a synagogue or mosque or to relieve myself on a "holy" book. But I will not be told I can't eat pork, and I will not respect those who burn books on a regular basis. I, too, have strong convictions and beliefs and value the Enlightenment above any priesthood or any sacred fetish-object. It is revolting to me to breathe the same air as wafts from the exhalations of the madrasahs, or the reeking fumes of the suicide-murderers, or the sermons of Billy Graham and Joseph Ratzinger. But these same principles of mine also prevent me from wreaking random violence on the nearest church, or kidnapping a Muslim at random and holding him hostage, or violating diplomatic immunity by attacking the embassy or the envoys of even the most despotic Islamic state, or making a moronic spectacle of myself threatening blood and fire to faraway individuals who may have hurt my feelings. The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species.


As it happens, the cartoons themselves are not very brilliant, or very mordant, either. But if Muslims do not want their alleged prophet identified with barbaric acts or adolescent fantasies, they should say publicly that random murder for virgins is not in their religion. And here one runs up against a curious reluctance. ? In fact, Sunni Muslim leaders can't even seem to condemn the blowing-up of Shiite mosques and funeral processions, which even I would describe as sacrilege. Of course there are many millions of Muslims who do worry about this, and another reason for condemning the idiots at Foggy Bottom is their assumption, dangerous in many ways, that the first lynch mob on the scene is actually the genuine voice of the people. There's an insult to Islam, if you like.


The question of "offensiveness" is easy to decide. First: Suppose that we all agreed to comport ourselves in order to avoid offending the believers? How could we ever be sure that we had taken enough precautions? On Saturday, I appeared on CNN, which was so terrified of reprisal that it "pixilated" the very cartoons that its viewers needed to see. And this ignoble fear in Atlanta, Ga., arose because of an illustration in a small Scandinavian newspaper of which nobody had ever heard before! Is it not clear, then, that those who are determined to be "offended" will discover a provocation somewhere? We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.


Second (and important enough to be insisted upon): Can the discussion be carried on without the threat of violence, or the automatic resort to it? When Salman Rushdie published The Satanic Verses in 1988, he did so in the hope of forwarding a discussion that was already opening in the Muslim world, between extreme Quranic literalists and those who hoped that the text could be interpreted. We know what his own reward was, and we sometimes forget that the fatwa was directed not just against him but against "all those involved in its publication," which led to the murder of the book's Japanese translator and the near-deaths of another translator and one publisher. I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun. (The menacing Muslim bigmouth on the other side refused to forswear state-sponsored suborning of assassination, and was of course backed up by the Catholic bigot Pat Buchanan.) The same point holds for international relations: There can be no negotiation under duress or under the threat of blackmail and assassination. And civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts, and it is positively outrageous that the administration should have discarded them at the very first sign of a fight.



Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. His most recent collection of essays is titled Love, Poverty, and War.


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« Reply #204 on: February 07, 2006, 09:44:44 PM »
Herbert E. Meyer: Take Out the Mullahs ? Tonight
The American Thinker | February 7th, 2006 | Herbert E. Meyer

To think clearly about the looming crisis with Iran, close your eyes and imagine that you?re standing outside your children?s school. It?s 2:55pm, and you?re chatting amiably with other parents while waiting for the 3pm bell to ring.  Suddenly you see a man running toward the school, holding a hand grenade and shouting: ?I hate kids.  I welcome death.?

Now, what do you propose to do?

One option is to engage your fellow parents in a dialogue about the serious and complex questions raised by the running man with the grenade.

For instance, you might try to calculate precisely how long it will take him to reach the school.  When he does reach the school, will he stop or go inside?  If he does go inside, will he run toward the basement, or toward the auditorium where the third and fourth grades have been brought to watch a video?  (It?s probably about ?safe sex? ? but what the schools teach our kids is another subject for another day.)  Is the hand grenade real, or might it be a fake?  If the grenade is real, does the man really know how to pull the pin?  And if he does, how big will be blast radius be and what?s the potential number of casualties?

And why is the man doing this?  Is he really a vicious killer?  Or is he a harmless but mentally disturbed individual who didn?t take his medication today and slipped out of the house without being noticed by his wife?  Or is this just a case of a well-meaning but very misguided protester who?s mad at the Bush administration for not signing the Kyoto accords, or who?s upset because dolphins are still getting caught in tuna nets?  Oh, and is it possible that in addition to the hand grenade he?s got a gun inside his coat pocket?

Should you try to talk with the man?  Or would it be better to notify the school?s principal, and perhaps suggest he call the police?

And remember?while you and your fellow parents debate all this, the distance between the man holding the grenade and your kids is narrowing.

The Option to Act

Your other option is to take the man down ? now, this minute, however you can ? and to sort out the mess later.

If you go for this option, it?s because you believe that anyone who runs toward a school with what appears to be a live grenade while shouting ?I hate kids.  I welcome death? forfeits all rights to a cautious, comprehensive inquiry about his motives and real capabilities.  If it turns out that the grenade was a fake, or that the man is a harmless nut who really wouldn?t hurt a fly ? too bad.  And if the man or his family sues you or the school district for injury or wrongful death ? so what.

If you choose this option, it?s because you understand that when someone puts your children?s lives at risk, the instinct for survival trumps the analytic process.  Take too long to think, and you may lose the opportunity to act ? and it?s impossible to accurately project when this line will be crossed until you?re already over it.

Okay, now let?s turn our attention to Iran.

The country is led by individuals who are proven, ruthless killers.  Several of them ? most especially the country?s president, Mahmoud Amadinejad ? are visibly insane.  They have launched huge programs to develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, and Iran has both the money and talent to pull it off.  They have pledged to wipe at least one country off the map ? Israel?and they don?t like us, either.

In response, our diplomats are fanning out to engage our allies in ?frank and comprehensive? consultations about the looming, potential crisis.  They are even struggling mightily to bring non-allies including France, Russia and China into the dialogue.  Our State Department is ?cautiously optimistic? that the issue will eventually be brought to the U.N. Security Council.

Meanwhile, members of Congress are demanding to know how much time we have before it will be too late to act.  Just last week the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that in the judgment of our country?s intelligence experts, Iran ?probably? hasn?t yet built a bomb or gotten its hands on enough fissile material to build one.  Over in Vienna the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that it will be several years, at least, before Iran?s mullahs have a nuke.

What Can We Do?

Based on public comments by officials of the Bush Administration and of various European and Asian governments, there are four options on the table for dealing with Iran:  First, do nothing since Iran won?t actually have nukes for several years ? and hope that the mullahs really aren?t serious about using them.  Second, engage the mullahs diplomatically in hopes of dissuading them from pursuing their present course.  Third, help trigger a revolution by providing as much covert support as possible to those within Iran ? students and a growing range of worker organizations, for example ? who are already demonstrating against their hated regime.  And fourth, launch a military strike on Iran?s nuclear facilities to destroy, or at least delay, that country?s weapons programs.

Alas, none of these options is any good.  The first is feckless, and the second is hopeless.  The third ? helping support a revolution ? is terrific, but even under the best possible circumstances would take a long time to bear fruit.  And the fourth option ? taking out the nuclear facilities with military force ? is extraordinarily difficult to execute, runs the real risk of igniting a political explosion throughout the Moslem world, and in any case it isn?t imminent.

Meanwhile, with each day that passes the distance between Iran?s mullahs and nuclear weapons is narrowing.  And remember:  Take too long to think, and you may lose the opportunity to act ? and it?s impossible to accurately project when this line will be crossed until you?re already over it.

Indeed, we may already be over the line.  While it may be correct, as Director Negroponte has testified, that Iran ?probably? hasn?t yet built a bomb or gotten its hands on enough fissile material to build one?it also may not be correct.  Given our intelligence community?s recent track record, it would be foolhardy to place much confidence in this judgment.  Generally, countries trying to build nuclear weapons succeed sooner rather than later ? usually to the great surprise of Western intelligence services.  And isn?t it possible that Iran already has a bomb or two that it bought rather than built itself?  When the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991 there were the so-called ?loose nukes? that the Soviet military wasn?t able to account for.  Make a list of those countries with the money and desire to get its hands on one of these weapons ? and Iran tops the list.

It Isn?t Only Nukes

Most worrisome, while everyone in Washington is focusing on nuclear weapons, no one has uttered so much as a peep about the possibility that Iran may be developing chemical or biological weapons.  These weapons are far less costly than nuclear weapons, and the technology required to develop them is more widely available.  And since a cupful of anthrax or botulism is enough to kill 100,000 people, our ability to detect these weapons is ? zilch.  So why wouldn?t the mullahs in Teheran order the development of chemical and biological weapons?  If they really do plan to wipe Israel ? or us ? off the map, these will do the job just as well as nukes.  And if reports are true that Saddam Hussein had such weapons before the war and shipped them out to Syria and Iran before we attacked in 2003 ? then the mullahs already have stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

Simply put, Iran?s nuclear weapons program, combined with the murderous comments of that country?s president, is the political equivalent of a man running toward your children?s school holding a hand grenade and shouting ?I hate kids.  I welcome death.?  The risk of taking time?to think, to talk, to analyze, to co-ordinate with other countries ? is just too high.  We know where Amadinejad and the mullahs work, and we ought to know where they live.  (And if we don?t know, the Israelis do and would be more than happy to lend a hand.)  We have cruise missiles, Stealth fighters, and B-1 bombers that can fly from the US to Teheran, drop their lethal loads, then return to the US without ever landing en route.  We have skilled, courageous Special Forces teams that can get themselves on the ground in Teheran quietly and fast.

The question is whether we still have within us the instinct for survival.  If we do, then our only course is to act ? now, this minute, however we can ? and to take out the mullahs.  Tonight.

Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA?s National Intelligence Council.  His DVD on The Siege of Western Civilization  has become an international best-seller.


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Sensitivity and the Fearless MSM
« Reply #205 on: February 08, 2006, 12:29:11 PM »
The end of civilization was a joke

By Kathleen Parker

Feb 8, 2006

What if the world went up in a mushroom cloud over a cartoon - or because of a photograph of some reveler dressed up like a pig?

Well, of course, that would be absurd, a comedy, a Clouseauean flick about a bumbling inspector, right? No, that would be a documentary about the end of civilization circa 2006 - unless we come to our senses.

The cartoon implosion now rocking the Muslim world - featuring embassy burnings, threats of 9-11 sequels and the Arab street equivalent of the Terrible Twos - is based on equal parts fake photographs and a default riot mode looking for an excuse. Extreme propaganda on one side and a lack of fortitude on the other have brought us near the brink of extinction through a global act of accidental self-mockery.

The world isn't mad over cartoons; the world IS a cartoon.

The dozen Danish drawings everyone by now has heard about - but not necessarily seen thanks to our own media's sanctimonious sensitivity to insanity - were mild by modern satirical standards. In brief, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September published 12 cartoons that depicted Muhammad in various poses. The worst of them showed the Prophet wearing a bomb-turban.

Naturally, the Muslim world has gone insane.

And unnaturally, much of the Western world has retreated into fetal repose. Only in Europe did a few newspapers republish the allegedly offensive cartoons, while most American papers have genuflected to the altar of multiculturalism.

One after another, editors have explained their decision not to run the images for fear of offending American Muslims. Never mind that the same papers, notably The Boston Globe, felt no such compunction in the past when they defended "Piss Christ," a photograph of crucifix submerged in urine. Or the Virgin Mary covered in feces.

Meanwhile, querulous Americans still reliant on traditional media are left in the kind of darkness admired by Islamic states. How are they to debate and make a judgment about the cartoons without seeing them?

They can go to the blogosphere, that's how.

The Internet is now the only place Americans can view the cartoons and, as a bonus, learn that much of the outrage now seething through the Middle East was stoked not by the cartoons in question, but by three bogus photographs circulated by the (peace-loving) Islamic Society of Denmark. A spokesman for the group said they circulated the photos to demonstrate Denmark's Islamophobia.

Except that the photographs weren't published in Denmark or elsewhere on terra firma. One of them, allegedly depicting Muhammad dressed like a pig, is in fact a photo of Frenchman Jacques Barrot as he participated in last August's annual French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise. And that's no joke.

The pig photograph, lifted from an MSNBC story, is posted at, where other blogs (Gateway Pundit and Counter Terrorism Blog) also are credited with reporting the photoscam. The other photos (origins unknown), including one of a man dressed in Arab garb being mounted by a dog, are the sort of images bored college students Photoshop in dorm rooms late at night.

Whether Islamophobia inspired any of these images is a question for documentarians to explore. Meanwhile, fear for our future is an appropriate response to mass insanity. But potentially more dangerous than short-fused fanatics is our own cowardice in declining to treat this madness as anything but inexcusably barbaric.

Instead, we kneel in apology for our own hard-won principles. Newspapers especially deserve contempt for their spineless refusal to deal honestly with this controversy. Instead of publishing the cartoons and explaining why free expression is central to the West's survival, editors with few exceptions have swaddled themselves in the blankie of "sensitivity."

Kudos and curtseys to Philadelphia Inquirer editor Amanda Bennett, who published one of the cartoons along with a story about the controversy. For her trouble, she has been visited by Muslim protesters who promise to return if the paper doesn't apologize. Bennett deserves not just congratulations, but solidarity from other newspapers that have a fresh opportunity to prove their mettle.

Incensed Iranians are preparing to lob a few cartoon bombs of their own with a Holocaust cartoon competition. Fine. All comers are welcome to the free-speech fray. Far better that we wage the war of ideas with words and images than with bombs and bullets.

That's the beauty of free expression, in honor of which - and as an opportunity to teach - American newspapers surely will print the Iranian cartoons. Won't they?

Kathleen Parker is a popular syndicated columnist and director of the School of Written Expression at the Buckley School of Public Speaking and Persuasion in Camden, South Carolina.


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Penal Pandering
« Reply #206 on: February 16, 2006, 10:23:22 PM »
The criminal constituency


February 16, 2006

WASHINGTON -- If you can't win elections, change the rules.
Despite warnings from people such as the chairman of Maryland's State Board of Elections that the new rules are inviting voter fraud, the General Assembly has pushed through regulations weakening safeguards on provisional ballots, absentee ballots and a long early voting period.

Not satisfied, the legislature now wants to make it easier for convicted murderers, rapists, armed robbers and other violent criminals to vote. Overall, 150,000 felons would be eligible.

When asked if the felon voting bill was motivated to defeat Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s re-election bid this year, Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, replied, "Of course that's the reason."

The power to deny voting rights to ex-convicts now rests with the states, so standards vary across the country. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution explicitly allows for states to deny felons the right to vote.

Maryland Democrats are not alone in wanting to let felons vote. Last year, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. John Kerry introduced the Count Every Vote Act, which would restore voting rights to felons who had completed their prison terms, parole or probation.

Maryland Democrats are proposing even more liberal rules and would allow any convict who is not imprisoned or waiting to serve a prison sentence to cast a ballot. Similar legislation is being pushed in other states.

Democrats have a good reason to want ex-convicts to vote: Felons overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

In recent academic work, Jeff Manza and Marcus Britton of Northwestern University and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota estimated that Bill Clinton pulled 86 percent of the felon vote in 1992 and a whopping 93 percent in 1996.

The researchers found that about one-third of felons vote when given the chance. So if all 150,000 eligible Maryland felons are re-enfranchised, about 50,000 will cast ballots, and Democrats will pick up a net gain of 40,000 votes. Mr. Ehrlich still would have won in 2002, but his margin would have been cut by almost two-thirds.

At the national level, the study's results indicate that the felon vote would have given Democrats the White House in 2000 and control of the Senate from 1986 to 2004.

Felons voting for liberals is not just something we see in the United States. The Canadian Liberal Party recently passed legislation letting criminals vote while they are still in prison. Before the most recent election, a Canadian TV reporter said he went "from cell to cell, [where] prisoner after prisoner told [the reporter] they were voting Liberal, with no exceptions."

But why shouldn't felons be able to vote if they have paid their debt to society?

It is hardly a radical notion to penalize felons long after they have left prison or completed parole. Laws deny ex-cons the right to hold office, to retain professional licenses (lawyers, for example, lose their ability to practice) or business licenses, to work for the government, or to serve as an officer in a publicly traded company. In some cases, felons can lose their right to inherit property, to collect pension benefits or even to get a truck-driving license. In fact, in most states, the loss of voting rights does not last as long as other prohibitions.

Post-sentence penalties are placed not only on criminals who have committed felonies, but also on those who have committed misdemeanors. This includes, under federal law, the right to own a gun. It's doubtful that Maryland or national Democrats will be crusading to restore that right any time soon.

My guess is that most felons care more about getting good jobs than they do about the right to vote.

There are important reasons for banning felons, particularly violent ones, from voting. When people harm others, we learn something about them. Do we want someone who has committed multiple rapes helping determine how much money will be spent on social programs that help rape victims? Do we want convicted child molesters or murderers voting to determine what police budgets will be?

Democrats appear to be angling not for the votes of centrists but for the votes of the most dedicated left-wing constituency in America: criminals.

Do most Americans really believe that felons constitute a minority group that deserves such special favors?

John R. Lott Jr. is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His e-mail is,0,5189088.story?coll=bal-oped-headlines


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Forgotten Franchise
« Reply #207 on: February 22, 2006, 09:22:35 AM »
James Bovard: Ignorance is the American people?s great enemy
7 hours, 40 minutes ago

IGNORANCE IS dragging down democracy. Most Americans are increasingly on automatic pilot, paying less attention to each new war, each new power grab, each new Presidential assertion. But citizens need not slavishly follow every public debate in order to tilt the playing field against demagoguery.

The typical voter fails to comprehend even the basics of government. Most Americans do not know the name of their representative in the House, the length of terms of House or Senate members, or what the Bill of Rights purportedly guarantees, according to surveys by the University of Michigan.

A survey by the Polling Company after the 2002 congressional election revealed that less than one-third of Americans knew ?that the Republicans controlled the House of Representatives prior to the election.? Almost two-thirds of Americans cannot name a single Supreme Court justice, according to another Polling Company survey.

An American Bar Association poll last summer found that barely half of respondents recognized the three branches of the federal government, and even fewer knew what ?separation of powers? meant. Yet, that issue goes to the heart of controversies including the recently disclosed wiretapping program and congressional meddling in the Terri Schiavo case.

Power grabs by politicians are rarely accompanied by multiple-choice questions for the benefit of citizens. Instead, when the President is seizing new power, he can deploy his prestige and top advisers with focus-group-tested phrases. The President can address the nation in choreographed settings with hand-picked audiences guaranteed to applaud. Few citizens have the knowledge (or the self-confidence) to resist such tidal waves.

The number of government agencies that can accost, prohibit, tax, impound, impede, detain, subpoena, confiscate, search, indict, fine, audit, interrogate, wiretap, sanction and otherwise harass and subjugate citizens or their property and rights has skyrocketed. But few citizens have made a corresponding buildup of knowledge of their rights and government processes. It takes more than invocations of high school civics lessons to rescue ordinary people in the bureaucratic crosshairs.

With the rise of the Internet, it has become much easier to find politicians? speeches, proposed new laws and media reports and analyses of government policies. Still, people probably spend a hundred times longer online checking out pornography sites than they do tracking down government abuses.

It is unrealistic to expect the typical American to become a devoted reader of the Congressional Record or of Supreme Court decisions ? to say nothing of the footnotes in dissenting opinions. But the political system can be improved even if most citizens don?t immerse themselves in the arcana of government.

The key is not the raw amount of data ingested, but a more enlightened attitude. An ounce of skepticism is worth a shelf of federal registers. The U.S. system of government functioned fairly well in its early decades partly because citizens were wary of politicians offering favors.

The more deference government receives, the more damage politicians can inflict. Government has expanded in recent decades in part because many people forgot the perils of permitting some people to acquire sweeping power over them. Americans should recall why Thomas Jefferson trumpeted the need to ?bind? all rulers ?down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.?

But even with the right attitude, Americans must read more about political developments and pay closer attention ? especially when politicians raise the stakes with saber-rattling for war or propose sweeping new laws. Reading the Bill of Rights takes less time than watching a Super Bowl halftime show. If people don?t know the basic rules of the game, they will be oblivious when the government fouls them.

Even if the majority continues to be apathetic about almost all political issues, the rise of a savvier minority can make a difference. Every 1 percent of the population that understands and opposes unjust policies sharply raises the cost of political abuse. Remembering past political falsehoods and follies can stack the deck in favor of prudence and liberty.

In 1693, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, declared, ?Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed.? Penn?s words should make Americans recognize the choice between knowledge and subjugation. People must either better understand government and politicians, or kiss their remaining rights and liberties good-bye.

James Bovard is the author, most recently, of ?Attention Deficit Democracy.?


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No Shame, with Gain
« Reply #208 on: February 23, 2006, 11:25:33 AM »
February 23, 2006
Madness in the Middle East and in the West
By David Warren

On the front of the Arabic index page of the Al-Qassam website, any reader yesterday would have found an animated cartoon. It consists of the Star of David -- the symbol of the Jewish faith -- being obliterated by a mushroom cloud.

Al-Qassam speaks for the ?militant wing? of Hamas, the party that recently won the Palestinian election, by a landslide. The distinction between Hamas and its militant wing is meaningless. Western reporters habitually make this distinction, and stress that the ?non-militant? branches of Hamas run orphanages and distribute welfare. This is like implying that President Bush is not responsible for the Pentagon, because the U.S. government also has a Department of Health and Human Services. It is a brainless distinction, that can only serve to confuse people.

Hamas, like the PLO before it, is reasonably adept at managing the ?useful idiots? in the Western media. It does not take much. If you flip over from their Arabic to their English website, you will find much that is frightening, but couched in a mealy-mouth that is less than candid about the party?s chief purpose. According to its own charter, this is killing Jews. In their defence, I could say of many Western newsmen, that they cannot conceive of an organization so evil, that this would be its principal purpose. They should remember the Holocaust, and wake up.

Hamas is now the duly elected government of ?Palestine?. Because it rejects the late Yasser Arafat?s nominal undertakings, in English only, to recognize Israel?s right to exist, and to condemn terrorist violence, Western governments feel obliged to cut the very generous funding with which the Palestinian Authority has been supported.

Enter the Organization of the Islamic Conference, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The OIC?s members include all 56 of the world?s majority-Muslim states, plus quasi-state Palestine. No other organization of states exists for the purpose of advancing a religion. Most of these states are authoritarian regimes, or absolute monarchies; a few are counted as democracies, with qualifications necessary in every case. The OIC contains a fair selection of the world?s poorest and most desperate countries, but also, six of the world?s 15 largest arms importers (and none of the suppliers). It is rapidly becoming the respectable front for what Salman Rushdie called, "Paranoid Islam, which blames outsiders, ?infidels?, for all the ills of Muslim societies, and whose proposed remedy is the closing of those societies to the rival project of modernity.?

Pakistan has now called an ?emergency meeting? (almost all the OIC?s meetings are such), to deal with the issue of the Danish cartoons. And no sooner called, than many members have put the funding of Hamas on the agenda. Such oil-rich states as Saudi Arabia and Iran already direct money to Palestine, explicitly to encourage violence against Israelis (e.g. bounties to the families of suicide-bombers). And there being no credible opposition to the scheme, we cannot doubt the OIC will officially replace the U.S., the European Union, and Israel, as the financial backers of the Palestinian regime under Hamas. By doing which, they all explicitly condone terrorism.

Some dubious cartoons in a private Danish provincial newspaper -- versus psychopathic graphics on an official website, unambiguously projecting the extermination of the Jews. Or if you want better, listen again to President Ahmadinejad of Iran, member in good standing of the OIC, repeatedly promising to ?wipe Israel off the map?, while his country races to produce nuclear missiles.

On the Danish cartoon front, here is what Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turk who is the OIC?s current secretary-general, is demanding: ?The OIC member states expect from the European Union to identify Islamophobia as a dangerous phenomenon and to observe and combat it like in the cases of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, by creating suitable observance mechanisms and revising its legislation, in order to prevent the recurrence of the recent unfortunate incidents.? (He makes similar demands of the United Nations.)

In other words, Europe must monitor and censor its media, and introduce criminal punishments, to prevent any affront to Islam ever happening again.

What makes this poignant is that, Javier Solana, the EU?s bureaucrat-in-chief, who has already delivered several obsequious apologies, gratuitously on behalf of all Europe, has personally promised Prof. Ihsanoglu that action will be taken. According to one report, he is considering going to Jeddah to make an act of obeisance before the assembled Muslim foreign ministers. Similar, continuing, cringing apologies are coming from politicians in many Western countries -- and contrived gestures of ?respect for Islam? from Western media.

This beggars the mind. The West is apologizing for what? And to whom?

Were we crazy to start, or has our bedwetting fear of Muslim fanatics deprived us of our judgement?

The more we apologize, the more we appease, the larger the demands will get. Yet we have not one prominent politician in the West, able to stand before the OIC and say, ?How dare you!?

Copyright 2006 Ottawa Citizen

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Political Rants
« Reply #209 on: February 27, 2006, 09:56:39 PM »
Jihadi Turns Bulldog
The Taliban's former spokesman is now a Yale student. Anyone see a problem with that?

Monday, February 27, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday's New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far.

Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last week Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard when it became clear he would lose a no-confidence vote held by politically correct faculty members furious at his efforts to allow ROTC on campus, his opposition to a drive to have Harvard divest itself of corporate investments in Israel, and his efforts to make professors work harder. Now Yale is giving a first-class education to an erstwhile high official in one of the most evil regimes of the latter half of the 20th century--the government that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001.

"In some ways," Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times. "I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale." One of the courses he has taken is called Terrorism-Past, Present and Future.

Many foreign readers of the Times will no doubt snicker at the revelation that naive Yale administrators scrambled to admit Mr. Rahmatullah. The Times reported that Yale "had another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber apply for special-student status." Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions, told the Times that "we lost him to Harvard," and "I didn't want that to happen again."

In the spring of 2001, I was one of several writers at The Wall Street Journal who interviewed Mr. Rahmatullah at our offices across the street from the World Trade Center. His official title was second foreign secretary; his mission was to explain the regime's decision to rid the country of two 1,000-year-old towering statues of Buddha carved out of rock 90 miles from the Afghan capital, Kabul. The archeological treasures were considered the greatest remaining examples of third- and fifth-century Greco-Indian art in the world. But Taliban leader Mullah Omar had ordered all statues in the country destroyed, calling them idols of infidels and repugnant to Islam.
Even Muslim nations like Pakistan denounced the move. Mr. Rahmatullah, who at the time claimed to be 24 but now says he was lying about his age and was actually two years younger, cut a curious figure in our office. He wore a traditional Afghan turban and white baggy pants and sported a full beard. His English, while sometimes elliptical, was smooth and colloquial. He made himself very clear when he said the West had no business worrying about the statues, because it had cut off trade and foreign aid to the Taliban. "When the world destroys the future of our children with economic sanctions, they have no right to worry about our past," he told us, according to my notes from the meeting.

He smiled as he informed us that the statues had been blown up with explosive charges only after people living nearby had been removed. He had no comment on reports that Mullah Omar had ordered 100 cows be sacrificed as atonement for the Taliban government's failure to destroy the Buddhas earlier.

As for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Rahmatullah called the Saudi fugitive a "guest" of his government and said it hadn't been proved that bin Laden was linked to any terrorist acts, despite his indictment in the U.S. for planning the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He said that if the embassy bombings were terrorist acts, then so was the Clinton administration's firing cruise missiles into his country in an attempt to kill bin Laden. "You killed 19 innocent people," he told us.

After the meeting I walked him out. I vividly recall our stopping at a window as he stared up at the World Trade Center. We stood there for a minute chatting, but I don't recall what he said. He then left. I next thought about him a few months later, on Sept. 11, as I stood outside our office building covered in dust and debris staring at the remains of the towers that had just collapsed. I occasionally wondered what had happened to Mr. Rahmatullah. I assumed he either had died in the collapse of the Taliban regime, had been jailed, or was living quietly in the new, democratic Afghanistan.

From newspaper clips I knew that his visit to the Journal's offices was part of a PR tour. He visited other newspapers and spoke at universities, and the State Department had granted him a meeting with midlevel officials. None of the meetings went particularly well. At the University of Southern California, Mr. Rahmatullah expressed irritation with a question about statues that at that point hadn't yet been blown up. "You know, really, I am asked so much about these statues that I have a headache now," he moaned. "If I go back to Afghanistan, I will blow them."

Carina Chocano, a writer for who attended several of his speeches in the U.S., noted the hostility of many of his audiences. "A lesser publicist might have melted down," she wrote. "But the cool, unruffled and media-smart Hashemi instead spun his story into a contemporary parable of ironic iconoclasm," peppering his lectures with "statue jokes."

But sometimes his humor really backfired. At a speech for the Atlantic Council, Mr. Rahmatullah was confronted by a woman in the audience who lifted the burkha she was wearing and chastised him for the Taliban's infamous treatment of women. "You have imprisoned the women--it's a horror, let me tell you," she cried. Mr. Rahmatullah responded with a sneer: "I'm really sorry to your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you."

A videotape of his cutting remark became part of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," and infuriated the likes of Mavis Leno, wife of "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. Mrs. Leno helped found the Feminist Majority's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and devoted countless hours to focusing public attention on the plight of Afghanistan's women and girls. "I will never, ever abandon these women," she often said before the Taliban's overthrow. Here's hoping she has saved some of her outrage for Yale's decision to welcome Mr. Rahmatullah with open arms.

In his interview with the New York Times, Mr. Rahmatullah, said that if he had to do it all over, he would have been less "antagonistic" in his remarks during his U.S. road tour. "I regret the way I spoke sometimes. Now I would try to be softer. A little bit." Just a little?

Today, when he is asked if Afghanistan would be better off if the Taliban were still in charge, Mr. Rahmatullah, has a mixed answer: "Economically, no. In terms of security, yes. In terms of general happiness, no. In the long-term interests of the country? I don't think so. I think the radicals were taking over and doing crazy stuff. I regret when people think of the Taliban and then think of me--that feeling people have after they know I was affiliated with them is painful to me." Note that the government official who represented the Taliban abroad now claims to have been only "affiliated" with them.

Even though he evinces only semiregret for his actions in service to the Taliban, there is evidence that he has become quite a charmer. After the fall of the Taliban, he resumed a friendship he had developed with Mike Hoover, a CBS News cameraman who, according to a 2001 Associated Press story, had visited Afghanistan three times as a guest of the Taliban. Mr. Hoover inspired Mr. Rahmatullah to think about going to the U.S. to finish his studies. "I thought he could do a lot as a student/teacher," said Mr. Hoover. He persuaded Bob Schuster, an attorney friend of his from Wyoming who had gone to Yale, to help out. As the Times reported, "Schuster called the provost's office to ask how an ex-Taliban envoy with a fourth-grade education and a high-school equivalency degree might go about applying to one of the world's top universities."

Intrigued by Mr. Rahmatullah, Dean Shaw arranged for his admission into a nondegree program for special students. He apparently has done well, so far pulling down a 3.33 grade-point average.

There is something to be said for the instinct to reach out to one's former enemies. America's postwar reconciliation with the Japanese and Germans has paid great dividends. But there are limits.
During a trip to Germany I once ran into a relative of Hans Fritsche, the top deputy to Josef Goebbels, whom the Guardian, a British newspaper, once described as "the Nazi Propaganda Minister's leading radio spokesman [whose] commentaries were among the main items of German home and foreign broadcasting." After the war he was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg, but because he had only given hate-filled speeches, he was acquitted of all charges in 1946. In the early 1950s, he applied for a visa to visit the U.S. and explain his regret at having served an evil regime. He was turned down, to the everlasting regret of the relative with whom I spoke. She noted that Albert Speer, Hitler's former architect, was also turned down for a U.S. visa even after he had completed a 20-year prison sentence and had written a best-selling book detailing Hitler's madness.

I don't believe Mr. Rahmatullah had direct knowledge of the 9/11 plot, and I don't think he has ever killed anyone. I can appreciate that he is trying to rebuild his life. But he willingly and cheerfully served an evil regime in a manner that would have made Goebbels proud. That he was 22 at the time is little of an excuse. There are many poor, bright students--American and foreign alike--who would jump at the opportunity to attend Yale. Why should Mr. Rahmatullah go to the line ahead of all of them? That's a question Yale alumni should ask when their alma mater comes looking for contributions.

President Bush, who already has a well-known disdain for Yale elitism from his student days there, may also have some questions. In the wake of his being blindsided by his own administration over the Dubai port deal, he should be interested in finding out exactly who at the State Department approved Mr. Rahmatullah's application for a student visa.


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« Reply #210 on: March 03, 2006, 07:33:50 AM »
Syriana feeds our enemies hatred

Mar 3, 2006
by Charles Krauthammer ( bio | archive | contact )

WASHINGTON -- Nothing tells you more about Hollywood than what it chooses to honor. Nominated for best foreign film is "Paradise Now,'' a sympathetic portrayal of two suicide bombers. Nominated for best picture is "Munich,'' a sympathetic portrayal of yesterday's fashion in barbarism: homicide terrorism.

But until you see "Syriana,'' nominated for best screenplay (and George Clooney, for best supporting actor) you have no idea how self-flagellation and self-loathing pass for complexity and moral seriousness in Hollywood.
"Syriana's'' script has, of course, the classic liberal tropes such as this stage direction: "The Deputy National Security Advisor, MARILYN RICHARDS, 40's, sculpted hair, with the soul of a seventy year-old white, Republican male, is in charge'' (Page 21). Or this piece of over-the-top, Gordon Gekko Republican-speak, placed in the mouth of a Texas oilman: "Corruption is our protection. Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. ... Corruption ... is how we win'' (Page 93).
But that's run-of-the-mill Hollywood. The true distinction of "Syriana's'' script is the near-incomprehensible plot -- a muddled mix of story lines about a corrupt Kazakhstan oil deal, a succession struggle in an oil-rich Arab kingdom and a giant Texas oil company that pulls the strings at the CIA and, naturally, everywhere else -- amid which, only two things are absolutely clear and coherent: the movie's one political hero and one pure soul.

The political hero is the Arab prince who wants to end corruption, inequality and oppression in his country. As he tells his tribal elders, he intends to modernize his country by bringing the rule of law, market efficiency, women's rights and democracy.
What do you think happens to him? He, his beautiful wife and beautiful children are murdered, incinerated, by a remote-controlled missile, fired from CIA headquarters in Langley, no less -- at the very moment that (this passes for subtle cross-cutting film editing) his evil younger brother, the corrupt rival to the throne and puppet of the oil company, is being hailed at a suitably garish ``oilman of the year'' celebration populated by fat and ugly Americans.
What is grotesque about this moment of plot clarity is that the overwhelmingly obvious critique of actual U.S. policy in the real Middle East today is its excess of Wilsonian idealism in trying to find and promote -- against a tide of tyranny, intolerance and fanaticism -- local leaders like the Good Prince. Who in the greater Middle East is closest to "Syriana's'' modernizing, democratizing paragon? Without a doubt, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, a man of exemplary -- and quite nonfictional -- personal integrity, physical courage and democratic temperament. Hundreds of brave American (and allied NATO) soldiers have died protecting him and the democratic system they established to allow him to govern. On the very night the Oscars will be honoring "Syriana,'' American soldiers will be fighting, some perhaps dying, in defense of precisely the kind of tolerant, modernizing Muslim leader that "Syriana'' shows America slaughtering.
It gets worse. The most pernicious element in the movie is the character who is at the moral heart of the film: the physically beautiful, modest, caring, generous Pakistani who becomes a beautiful, modest, caring, generous ... suicide bomber. In his final act, the Pure One, dressed in the purest white robes, takes his explosives-laden little motorboat head first into his target. It is a replay of the real-life boat that plunged into the USS Cole in 2000, killing 17 American sailors, except that in ``Syriana's'' version, the target is another symbol of American imperialism in the Persian Gulf -- a newly opened liquefied natural gas terminal.
The explosion, which would have the force of a nuclear bomb, constitutes the moral high point of the movie, the moment of climactic cleansing, as the Pure One clad in white merges with the great white mass of the huge terminal wall, at which point the screen goes pure white. And reverently silent.
In my naivete, I used to think that Hollywood had achieved its nadir with Oliver Stone's "JFK,'' a film that taught a generation of Americans that President Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA and the FBI in collaboration with Lyndon Johnson. But at least it was for domestic consumption, an internal affair of only marginal interest to other countries. "Syriana,'' however, is meant for export, carrying the most vicious and pernicious mendacities about America to a receptive world.
Most liberalism is angst- and guilt-ridden, seeing moral equivalence everywhere. "Syriana'' is of a different species entirely -- a pathological variety that burns with the certainty of its malign anti-Americanism. Osama bin Laden could not have scripted this film with more conviction.

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.


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Cheering Crowds, no Civil Strife
« Reply #211 on: March 05, 2006, 10:05:37 AM »
Bitch slapping the New York Times and the MSM in general. . . .



I'M trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it.

Maybe actually being on the ground in Iraq prevents me from seeing it. Perhaps the view's clearer from Manhattan. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills.

And riding around with the U.S. Army, looking at things first-hand, is certainly a technique to which The New York Times wouldn't stoop in such an hour of crisis.

Let me tell you what I saw anyway. Rolling with the "instant Infantry" gunners of the 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery, I saw children and teenagers in a Shia slum jumping up and down and cheering our troops as they drove by. Cheering our troops.

All day - and it was a long day - we drove through Shia and Sunni neighborhoods. Everywhere, the reception was warm. No violence. None.

And no hostility toward our troops. Iraqis went out of their way to tell us we were welcome.

Instead of a civil war, something very different happened because of the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. The fanatic attempt to stir up Sunni-vs.-Shia strife, and the subsequent spate of violent attacks, caused popular support for the U.S. presence to spike upward.

Think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi intended that?

In place of the civil war that elements in our media declared, I saw full streets, open shops, traffic jams, donkey carts, Muslim holiday flags - and children everywhere, waving as our Humvees passed. Even the clouds of dust we stirred up didn't deter them. And the presence of children in the streets is the best possible indicator of a low threat level.

Southeast Baghdad, at least, was happy to see our troops.

And we didn't just drive past them. First Lt. Clenn Frost, the platoon leader, took every opportunity to dismount and mingle with the people. Women brought their children out of their compound gates to say hello. A local sheik spontaneously invited us into his garden for colas and sesame biscuits.

It wasn't the Age of Aquarius. The people had serious concerns. And security was No. 1. They wanted the Americans to crack down harder on the foreign terrorists and to disarm the local militias. Iraqis don't like and don't support the militias, Shia or Sunni, which are nothing more than armed gangs.

Help's on the way, if slowly. The Iraqi Army has confounded its Western critics, performing extremely well last week. And the people trust their new army to an encouraging degree. The Iraqi police aren't all the way there yet, and the population doesn't yet have much confidence in them. But all of this takes time.

And even the police are making progress. We took a team of them with us so they could train beside our troops. We visited a Public Order Battalion - a gendarmerie outfit - that reeked of sloth and carelessness. But the regular Iraqi Police outfit down the road proved surprisingly enthusiastic and professional. It's just an uneven, difficult, frustrating process.

So what did I learn from a day in the dust and muck of Baghdad's less-desirable boroughs? As the long winter twilight faded into haze and the fires of the busy shawarma stands blazed in the fresh night, I felt that Iraq was headed, however awkwardly, in the right direction.

The country may still see a civil war one day. But not just yet, thanks. Violence continues. A roadside bomb was found in the next sector to the west. There will be more deaths, including some of our own troops. But Baghdad's vibrant life has not been killed. And the people of Iraq just might surprise us all.

So why were we told that Iraq was irreversibly in the throes of civil war when it wasn't remotely true? I think the answers are straightforward. First, of course, some parties in the West are anxious to believe the worst about Iraq. They've staked their reputations on Iraq's failure.

But there's no way we can let irresponsible journalists off the hook - or their parent organizations. Many journalists are, indeed, brave and conscientious; yet some in Baghdad - working for "prestigious" publications - aren't out on the city streets the way they pretend to be.

They're safe in their enclaves, protected by hired guns, complaining that it's too dangerous out on the streets. They're only in Baghdad for the byline, and they might as well let their Iraqi employees phone it in to the States. Whenever you see a column filed from Baghdad by a semi-celeb journalist with a "contribution" by a local Iraqi, it means this: The Iraqi went out and got the story, while the journalist stayed in his or her room.

And the Iraqi stringers have cracked the code: The Americans don't pay for good news. So they exaggerate the bad.

And some of them have agendas of their own.

A few days ago, a wild claim that the Baghdad morgue held 1,300 bodies was treated as Gospel truth. Yet Iraqis exaggerate madly and often have partisan interests. Did any Western reporter go to that morgue and count the bodies - a rough count would have done it - before telling the world the news?

I doubt it.

If reporters really care, it's easy to get out on the streets of Baghdad. The 506th Infantry Regiment - and other great military units - will take journalists on their patrols virtually anywhere in the city. Our troops are great to work with. (Of course, there's the danger of becoming infected with patriot- ism . . .)

I'm just afraid that some of our journalists don't want to know the truth anymore.

For me, though, memories of Baghdad will be the cannoneers of the 1st Platoon walking the dusty, reeking alleys of Baghdad. I'll recall 1st Lt. Frost conducting diplomacy with the locals and leading his men through a date-palm grove in a search for insurgent mortar sites.

I'll remember that lieutenant investigating the murder of a Sunni mullah during last week's disturbances, cracking down on black-marketers, checking up on sewer construction, reassuring citizens - and generally doing the job of a lieutenant-colonel in peacetime.

Oh, and I'll remember those "radical Shias" cheering our patrol as we passed by.

Ralph Peters is reporting from Forward Operating Base Loyalty, where he's been riding with the 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.


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« Reply #212 on: March 08, 2006, 07:44:40 AM »
A Call to the Muslims of the World
from a Group of Freethinkers and
Humanists of Muslim Origin

Dear Friends,

The tragic incidents of September 11 have shocked the world. It is unthinkable that anyone could be so full of hate as to commit such heinous acts and kill so many innocent people. We people of Muslim origin are as much shaken as the rest of the world and yet we find ourselves looked upon with suspicion and distrust by our neighbours and fellow citizens. We want to cry out and tell the world that we are not terrorists, and that those who perpetrate such despicable acts are murderers and not part of us. But, in reality, because of our Muslim origins we just cannot erase the "stigma of Islamic Terrorism" from our identity!

What most Muslims will say:

"Islam would never support the killing of innocent people. Allah of the Holy Qur'an never advocated killings. This is all the work of a few misguided individuals at the fringes of society. The real Islam is sanctified from violence. We denounce all violence. Islam means peace. Islam means tolerance."

What knowledgeable Muslims should say:

That is what most Muslims think, but is it true? Does Islam really preach peace, tolerance and non-violence? The Muslims who perpetrate these crimes think differently. They believe that what they do is Jihad (holy war). They say that killing unbelievers is mandatory for every Muslim. They do not kill because they wish to break the laws of Islam but because they think this is what true Muslims should do. Those who blow-up their own bodies to kill more innocent people do so because they think they will be rewarded in Paradise. They hope to be blessed by Allah, eat celestial food, drink pure wine and enjoy the company of divine consorts. Are they completely misguided? Where did they get this distorted idea? How did they come to believe that killing innocent people pleases God? Or is it that we are misguided? Does really Islam preach violence? Does it call upon its believers to kill non-believers? We denounce those who commit acts of violence and call them extremists. But are they really extremists or are they following what the holy book, the Qur'an tells them to do? What does the Qur'an teach? Have we read the Qur'an? Do we know what kind of teachings are there? Let us go through some of them and take a closer look at what Allah says.

What the Qur'an Teaches Us:

We have used the most widely available English text of the Qur'an and readers are welcome to verify our quotes from the holy book. Please have an open mind and read through these verses again and again. The following quotes are taken from the most trusted Yusufali's translation of the Qur'an.

The Qur'an tells us: "not to make friendship with Jews and Christians" (5:51), "kill the disbelievers wherever we find them" (2:191), "murder them and treat them harshly" (9:123), "fight and slay the Pagans, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem" (9:5). The Qur'an demands that we fight the unbelievers, and promises "If there are twenty amongst you, you will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, you will vanquish a thousand of them" (8:65).

Allah and his messenger want us to fight the Christians and the Jews "until they pay the Jizya [a penalty tax for the non-Muslims living under Islamic rules] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued" (9:29). Allah and his messenger announce that it is acceptable to go back on our promises (treaties) and obligations with Pagans and make war on them whenever we find ourselves strong enough to do so (9:3). Our God tells us to "fight the unbelievers" and "He will punish them by our hands, cover them with shame and help us (to victory) over them" (9:14).

The Qur'an takes away the freedom of belief from all humanity and relegates those who disbelieve in Islam to hell (5:10), calls them najis (filthy, untouchable, impure) (9:28), and orders its followers to fight the unbelievers until no other religion except Islam is left (2:193). It says that the "non-believers will go to hell and will drink boiling water" (14:17). It asks the Muslims to "slay or crucify or cut the hands and feet of the unbelievers, that they be expelled from the land with disgrace and that they shall have a great punishment in world hereafter" (5:34). And tells us that "for them (the unbelievers) garments of fire shall be cut and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water whereby whatever is in their bowels and skin shall be dissolved and they will be punished with hooked iron rods" (22:19-22) and that they not only will have "disgrace in this life, but on the Day of Judgment He shall make them taste the Penalty of burning (Fire)" (22:9). The Qur'an says that "those who invoke a god other than Allah not only should meet punishment in this world but the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to them, and they will dwell therein in ignominy" (25:68). For those who "believe not in Allah and His Messenger, He has prepared, for those who reject Allah, a Blazing Fire!" (48:13). Although we are asked to be compassionate amongst each other, we have to be "harsh with unbelievers", our Christian, Jewish and Atheist neighbours and colleagues (48:29). As for him who does not believe in Islam, the Prophet announces with a "stern command": "Seize ye him, and bind ye him, And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire. Further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits! This was he that would not believe in Allah Most High. And would not encourage the feeding of the indigent! So no friend hath he here this Day. Nor hath he any food except the corruption from the washing of wounds, Which none do eat but those in sin." (69:30-37) The Qur'an prohibits a Muslim from befriending a non-believer even if that non-believer is the father or the brother of that Muslim (9:23), (3:28). Our holy book asks us to be disobedient towards the disbelievers and their governments and strive against the unbelievers with great endeavour" (25:52) and be stern with them because they belong to Hell (66:9). The holy Prophet prescribes fighting for us and tells us that "it is good for us even if we dislike it" (2:216). Then he advises us to "strike off the heads of the disbelievers"; and after making a "wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives" (47:4). Our God has promised to "instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers" and has ordered us to "smite above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them" (8:12). He also assures us that when we kill in his name "it is not us who slay them but Allah, in order that He might test the Believers by a gracious trial from Himself" (8:17). He orders us "to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies" (8:60). He has made the Jihad mandatory and warns us that "Unless we go forth, (for Jihad) He will punish us with a grievous penalty, and put others in our place" (9:39). Allah speaks to our Holy Prophet and says "O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern against them. Their abode is Hell - an evil refuge indeed" (9:73).

He promises us that in the fight for His cause whether we slay or are slain we return to the garden of Paradise (9:111). In Paradise he will "wed us with Houris (celestial virgins) pure beautiful ones" (56:54), and unite us with large-eyed beautiful ones while we recline on our thrones set in lines (56:20). There we are promised to eat and drink pleasantly for what we did (56:19). He also promises "boys like hidden pearls" (56:24) and "youth never altering in age like scattered pearls" (for those who have paedophiliac inclinations) (76:19). As you see, Allah has promised all sorts or rewards, gluttony and unlimited sex to Muslim men who kill unbelievers in his name. We will be admitted to Paradise where we shall find "goodly things, beautiful ones, pure ones confined to the pavilions that man has not touched them before nor jinni" (56:67-71). In the West we enjoy freedom of belief but we are not supposed to give such freedom to anyone else because it is written "If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good) (3:85). And He orders us to fight them on until there is no more tumult and faith in Allah is practiced everywhere (8:39).

As for women the book of Allah says that they are inferior to men and their husbands have the right to scourge them if they are found disobedient (4:34). It advises to "take a green branch and beat your wife", because a green branch is more flexible and hurts more. (38:44). It teaches that women will go to hell if they are disobedient to their husbands (66:10). It maintains that men have an advantage over the women (2:228). It not only denies the women's equal right to their inheritance (4:11-12), it also regards them as imbeciles and decrees that their witness is not admissible in the courts of law (2:282). This means that a woman who is raped cannot accuse her rapist unless she can produce a male witness. Our Holy Prophet allows us to marry up to four wives and he licensed us to sleep with our slave maids and as many 'captive' women as we may have (4:3) even if those women are already married. He himself did just that. This is why anytime a Muslim army subdues another nation, they call them kafir and allow themselves to rape their women. Pakistani soldiers allegedly raped up to 250,000 Bengali women in 1971 after they massacred 3,000,000 unarmed civilians when their religious leader decreed that Bangladeshis are un-Islamic. This is why the prison guards in Islamic regime of Iran rape the women that in their opinion are apostates prior to killing them, as they believe a virgin will not go to Hell.

Dear fellow Muslims:

Is this the Islam you believe in? Is this your Most Merciful, Most Compassionate Allah whom you worship daily? Could Allah incite you to kill other peoples? Please understand that there is no terrorist gene - but there could be a terrorist mindset. That mindset finds its most fertile ground in the tenets of Islam. Denying it, and presenting Islam to the lay public as a religion of peace similar to Buddhism, is to suppress the truth. The history of Islam between the 7th and 14th centuries is riddled with violence, fratricide and wars of aggression, starting right from the death of the Prophet and during the so-called 'pure' or orthodox caliphate. And Muhammad himself hoisted the standard of killing, looting, massacres and bloodshed. How can we deny the entire history? The behaviour of our Holy Prophet as recorded in authentic Islamic sources is quite questionable from a modern viewpoint. The Prophet was a charismatic man but he had few virtues. Imitating him in all aspects of life (following the Sunnah) is both impossible and dangerous in the 21st century. Why are we so helplessly in denial over this simple issue?

When the Prophet was in Mecca and he was still not powerful enough he called for tolerance. He said "To you be your religion, and to me my religion" (109:6). This famous quote is often misused to prove that the general principle of Qur'an is tolerance. He advised his follower to speak good to their enemies (2: 83), exhorted them to be patient (20:103) and said that "there is no compulsion in religion" (2:256). But that all changed drastically when he came to power. Then killing and slaying unbelievers with harshness and without mercy was justified in innumerable verses. The verses quoted to prove Islam's tolerance ignore many other verses that bear no trace of tolerance or forgiveness. Where is tolerance in this well-known verse "Alarzu Lillah, Walhukmu Lillah." (The Earth belongs to Allah and thus only Allah's rule should prevail all over the earth.).

Is it normal that a book revealed by God should have so many serious contradictions? The Prophet himself set the example of unleashing violence by invading the Jewish settlements, breaking treaties he had signed with them and banishing some of them after confiscating their belongings, massacring others and taking their wives and children as slaves. He inspected the youngsters and massacred all those who had pubic hair along with the men. Those who were younger he kept as slaves. He distributed the women captured in his raids among his soldiers keeping the prettiest for himself (33:50). He made sexual advances on Safiyah, a Jewish girl on the same day he captured her town Kheibar and killed her father, her husband and many of her relatives. Reyhana was another Jewish girl of Bani Quriza whom he used as a sex slave after killing all her male relatives. In the last ten years of his life he accumulated two scores of wives, concubines and sex slaves including the 9 year old Ayesha. These are not stories but records from authentic Islamic history and the Hadiths. It can be argued that this kind of behaviour was not unknown or unusual for the conquerors and leaders of the mediaeval world but these are not the activities befitting of a peaceful saint and certainly not someone who claimed to be the Mercy of God for all creation. There were known assassinations of adversaries during the Prophet's time, which he had knowledge of and had supported. Among them there was a 120 year old man, Abu 'Afak whose only crime was to compose a lyric satirical of the Prophet. (by Ibn Sa'd Kitab al Tabaqat al Kabir, Volume 2, page 32) Then when a poetess, a mother of 5 small children 'Asma' Bint Marwan wrote a poetry cursing the Arabs for letting Muhammad assassinate an old man, our Holy Prophet ordered her to be assassinated too in the middle of the night while her youngest child was suckling from her breast. (Sirat Rasul Allah (A. Guillaume's translation "The Life of Muhammad") page 675, 676).

The Prophet did develop a 'Robin Hood' image that justified raiding merchant caravans attacking cities and towns, killing people and looting their belongings in the name of social justice. Usama Bin Laden is also trying to create the same image. But Robin Hood didn't claim to be a prophet or a pacifist nor did he care for apologist arguments. He did not massacre innocent people indiscriminately nor did he profit by reducing free people to slaves and then trading them.

With the known and documented violent legacy of Islam, how can we suddenly rediscover it as a religion of peace in the free world in the 21st century? Isn't this the perpetuation of a lie by a few ambitious leaders in order to gain political control of the huge and ignorant Muslim population? They are creating a polished version of Islam by completely ignoring history. They are propagating the same old dogma for simple believing people in a crisp new modern package. Their aim: to gain political power in today's high-tension world. They want to use the confrontational power of the original Islam to catalyse new conflicts and control new circles of power.

Dear conscientious Muslims, please question yourselves. Isn't this compulsive following of a man who lived 1400 years ago leading us to doom in a changing world? Do the followers of any other religion follow one man in such an all-encompassing way? Who are we deceiving, them or ourselves? Dear brothers and sisters, see how our Umma (people) has sunk into poverty and how it lags behind the rest of the world. Isn't it because we are following a religion that is outdated and impractical? In this crucial moment of history, when a great catastrophe has befallen us and a much bigger one is lying ahead, should not we wake up from our 1400 years of slumber and see where things have gone wrong?

Hatred has filled the air and the world is bracing itself for its doomsday. Should we not ask ourselves whether we have contributed, wittingly or unwittingly, to this tragedy and whether we can stop the great disaster from happening?

Unfortunately the answer to the first question is yes. Yes we have contributed to the rise of fundamentalism by merely claiming Islam is a religion of peace, by simply being a Muslim and by saying our shahada (testimony that Allah is the only God and Muhammad is his messenger). By our shahada we have recognized Muhammad as a true messenger of God and his book as the words of God. But as you saw above those words are anything but from God. They call for killing, they are prescriptions for hate and they foment intolerance. And when the ignorant among us read those hate-laden verses, they act on them and the result is the infamous September 11, human bombs in Israel, massacres in East Timor and Bangladesh, kidnappings and killings in the Philippines, slavery in the Sudan, honour killings in Pakistan and Jordan, torture in Iran, stoning and maiming in Afghanistan and Iran, violence in Algeria, terrorism in Palestine and misery and death in every Islamic country. We are responsible because we endorse Islam and hail it as a religion of God. And we are as guilty as those who put into practice what the Qur'an preaches - and ironically we are the main victims too. If we are not terrorists, if we love peace, if we cried with the rest of the word for what happened in New York, then why are we supporting the Qur'an that preaches killing, that advocates holy war, that calls for the murder of non-Muslims? It is not the extremists who have misunderstood Islam. They do literally what the Qur'an asks them to do. It is we who misunderstand Islam. We are the ones who are confused. We are the ones who wrongly assume that Islam is the religion of peace. Islam is not a religion of peace. In its so-called "pure" form it can very well be interpreted as a doctrine of hate. Terrorists are doing just that and we the intellectual apologists of Islam are justifying it. We can stop this madness. Yes, we can avert the disaster that is hovering over our heads. Yes, we can denounce the doctrines that promote hate. Yes, we can embrace the rest of humanity with love. Yes, we can become part of a united world, members of one human family, flowers of one garden. We can dump the claim of infallibility of our Book, and the questionable legacy of our Prophet.

Dear friends, there is no time to waste. Let us put an end to this lie. Let us not fool ourselves. Islam is not a religion of peace, of tolerance, of equality or of unity of humankind. Let us read the Qur'an. Let us face the truth even if it is painful. As long as we keep this lie alive, as long as we hide our head in the sands of Arabia we are feeding terrorism. As long as you and I keep calling Qur'an the unchangeable book of God, we cannot blame those who follow the teachings therein. As long as we pay our Khums and Zakat our money goes to promote Islamic expansionism and that means terrorism, Jihad and war. Islam divides the world in two. Darul Harb (land of war) and Darul Islam (land of Islam). Darul Harb is the land of the infidels, Muslims are required to infiltrate those lands, proselytize and procreate until their numbers increase and then start the war and fight and kill the people and impose the religion of Islam on them and convert that land into Darul Islam. In all fairness we denounce this betrayal. This is abuse of the trust. How can we make war in the countries that have sheltered us? How can we kill those who have befriended us? Yet willingly or unwillingly we have become pawns in this Islamic Imperialism. Let us see what great Islamic scholars have had to say in this respect.

Dr. M. Khan the translator of Sahih Bukhari and the Qur'an into English wrote: "Allah revealed in Sura Bara'at (Repentance, IX) the order to discard (all) obligations (covenants, etc), and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the Pagans as well as against the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizia (a tax levied on the Jews and Christians) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (as it is revealed in 9:29). So the Muslims were not permitted to abandon "the fighting" against them (Pagans, Jews and Christians) and to reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them for an unlimited period while they are strong and have the ability to fight against them. So at first "the fighting" was forbidden, then it was permitted, and after that it was made obligatory" [Introduction to English translation of Sahih Bukhari, p.xxiv.]

Dr. Sobhy as-Saleh, a contemporary Islamic academician quoted Imam Suyuti the author of Itqan Fi 'Ulum al- Qur'an who wrote: "The command to fight the infidels was delayed until the Muslims become strong, but when they were weak they were commanded to endure and be patient". [ Sobhy as_Saleh, Mabaheth Fi 'Ulum al- Qur'an, Dar al-'Ilm Lel-Malayeen, Beirut, 1983, p. 269.]

Dr. Sobhy, in a footnote, commends the opinion of a scholar named Zarkashi who said: "Allah the most high and wise revealed to Mohammad in his weak condition what suited the situation, because of his mercy to him and his followers. For if He gave them the command to fight while they were weak it would have been embarrassing and most difficult, but when the most high made Islam victorious He commanded him with what suited the situation, that is asking the people of the Book to become Muslims or to pay the levied tax, and the infidels to become Muslims or face death. These two options, to fight or to have peace return according to the strength or the weakness of the Muslims." [ibid p. 270]

Other Islamic scholars (Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, Ga'far ar-Razi, Rabi' Ibn 'Ons, 'Abil-'Aliyah, Abd ar-Rahman Ibn Zayd Ibn 'Aslam, etc.) agree that the verse "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them" (9:5) cancelled those few earlier verses that called for tolerance in the Qur'an and were revealed when Islam was weak. Can you still say that Islam is the religion of peace?

We propose a solution.

We know too well that it is not easy to denounce our faith because it means denouncing a part of ourselves. We are a group of freethinkers and humanists with Islamic roots. Discovering the truth and leaving the religion of our fathers and forefathers was a painful experience. But after learning what Islam stands for we had no choice but to leave it. After becoming familiar with the Qur'an the choice became clear: It is either Islam or humanity. If Islam thrives, then humanity will die. We decided to side with humanity. Culturally we are still Muslims but we no longer believe in Islam as the true religion of God. We are humanists. We love humanity. We work for the unity of humankind. We work for equality between men and women. We strive for the secularization of Islamic countries, for democracy and freedom of thought, belief and expression. We decided to live no longer in self-deception but to embrace humanity, and to enter into the new millennium hand in hand with people of other cultures and beliefs in amity and in peace.

We denounce the violence that is eulogized in the Qur'an as holy war (Jihad). We condemn killing in the name of God. We believe in the sanctity of human life, not in the inviolability of beliefs and religions. We invite you to join us and the rest of humanity and become part of the family of humankind - in love, camaraderie and peace.



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Context and Second Guessing Swill
« Reply #213 on: March 24, 2006, 11:57:00 AM »
Once again VDH kicks vicious booty. . . .

March 24, 2006, 7:26 a.m.
Hard Pounding
Who will keep his nerve?
Victor Davis Hanson

If I could sum up the new orthodoxy about Iraq, it might run something like the following: ?I supported the overthrow of the odious Saddam Hussein. But then the poor postwar planning, the unanticipated sectarian strife and insurrection, the mounting American losses, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction ? all that and more lost my support. Iraq may or may not work out, but I can see now it clearly wasn?t worth the American effort.?

Aside from the old rehash over disbanding the Iraqi army or tardiness in forming a government, three observations can be made about this ?readjustment? in belief. First, the nature of the lapses after March 2003 is still the subject of legitimate debate; second, our mistakes are no more severe than in most prior wars; and third, they are not fatal to our cause.

Consider the most frequently alleged errors: the need for more troops; the need to have restored immediate order; and the need to have had up-armored vehicles and some tactical counterplan to improvised explosive devices.

In none of these cases, was the manner of the solution all that clear-cut ? especially since on the first day of the war the United States was trying to avoid targeting civilians, avoiding infrastructure as much as possible, and waging a supposed war of liberation rather than one of punitive annihilation.

Had we brought in another 200,000 troops to secure Iraq, the vast increases in the size and cost of American support might not have been commensurate within an increased ability to put down the insurrection, which from the beginning was decentralized and deliberately designed to play off larger concentrations of conventional patrolling Americans ? the more targets the better.

The insurrection broke out not so much because we had 200,000 rather than 400,000 troops in country; but rather because a three-week strike that decapitated the Baathist elite, despite its showy ?shock and awe? pyrotechnics, was never intended, World War II-like, to crush the enemy and force terms on a shell-shocked, defeated, and humiliated populace. Many of our challenges, then, are not the war in Iraq per se, but the entire paradox of postmodern war in general in a globally televised world.

And if the point of Iraq was to stress ?Iraqification? and avoid too large an American footprint in the Middle East, then ubiquitous Americans may have posed as many problems as they solved ? with two or three Green zones rather than one. Instead of drawing down to 100,000 we might now be talking of hoping to keep below 300,000 troops.

Past history suggests that military efficacy is not so much always a question of the number of troops ? but rather of how they are used. Especially large American deployments can foster dependency rather than autonomy on the part of the Iraqi security forces. Each month, fewer Americans are dying in Iraq, while more Iraqis are fighting the terrorists ? as it becomes clear to them that some enormous occupation force is not on its own going to save the Iraqis? democracy for them.

The looting should have been stopped. But by the same token, after the statue fell, had the U.S. military begun immediately to shoot looters on sight ? and that was what restoring order would have required ? or carpet bombed the Syrian and Iranian borders to stop infiltration, the outcry would have arisen that we were too punitive and gunning down poor and hungry people even in peace. I fear that 400,000 peacekeepers, given the rules of postbellum engagement, would have been no more likely to shoot thieves than would 200,000.

We forget that one of the reasons for the speed of the American advance and then the sudden rush to stop military operations ? as was true in the first Gulf War ? was the enormous criticism leveled at the Americans for going to war in the first place, and the constant litany cited almost immediately of American abuses involving excessive force. Shooting looters may have restored order, but it also would have now been enshrined as an Abu-Ghraib-like crime ? a photo of a poor ?hungry? thief broadcast globally as an unarmed victim of American barbarism. We can imagine more ?Highway of Death? outrage had we bombed concentrations of Shiites pouring in from Iran or jihadists from Syria going to ?weddings? and ?festivals? in Iraq.

Throughout this postmodern war, the military has been on the horns of a dilemma: Don?t shoot and you are indicted for being lax and allowing lawlessness to spread; shoot and you are gratuitously slandered as a sort of rogue LAPD in camouflage. We hear only of the deliberately inexact rubric ?Iraqi civilian losses? ? without any explanation that almost all the Iraqi dead are either (1) victims of the terrorists, (2) Iraqi security forces trying to defend the innocent against the terrorists, or (3) the terrorists themselves.

Legitimate questions arise as to whether America? army is too small, or whether requisite political support for military operations is too predicated on the 24-hour news cycle. But all those are issues transcending the war in Iraq. In retrospect, up-armoring humvees would have been wise from the very outset ? so would having something remotely comparable to a Panzerfaust in 1943, more live than dud torpedoes in 1942, or deploying a jet at the beginning of the Korean War that could compete with a Russian Mig 15.

So again, the proper question is not whether there were tragic errors of judgment in Iraq ? but to what degree were they qualitatively different from past errors that are the stuff of war, to what degree were they addressed and corrected, and to what degree did their commission impair the final verdict of the mission?

Instead of this necessary ongoing discussion, we are left with former hawks that clamor ad nauseam for the secretary of Defense?s resignation as a sort of symbolic atonement for their own apparently collective lament that the postwar did not turn out like the aftermaths of Panama, Kosovo, Afghanistan, or Gulf War I. All that angst is about as helpful as perpetually damning Turkey for not letting the 4th ID come down from the north into the Sunni Triangle at the beginning of the war.

It is often said we had no plan to deal with postwar Iraq. Perhaps. But the problem with such a simplistic exegesis is that books and articles now pour forth weekly from disgruntled former constitutional architects and frustrated legal experts who once rushed in to draft Iraqi laws, or angry educationists and bankers whose ideas about school charters or currency regulations were not fully implemented. Somebody apparently had some sort of plan ? or the legions that went into the Green Zone in Spring 2003 wouldn?t have been sent there immediately in the first place.

Yes, we had zillions of plans alright ? but whether they were sufficient to survive the constant and radically changing cycles of war is another matter, especially in a long-failed state plagued with fundamentalism, tribalism, chaos, insurrection, and Sunni, Shiite, and Baathist militias whose leadership had been routed rather than its military crushed. The best postwar plans do not work as they should when losing enemies feel that they won?t be flattened and a successful attacker feels it can?t really flatten them.

In March 2004 perhaps our initial manner of enacting the ?plan? ? train the Iraqi security forces, craft a consensual government, and put down the terrorists ? was thwarted by our inexperience and naivet?. But by March 2006, the identical plan seems to be working far better ? precisely because, as in all wars, we have adapted, modified, and nuanced our way of fighting and nation-building, as American fatalities decrease and Iraqis step up to fight for their freedom.

Nothing in this war is much different from those of the past. We have fought suicide bombers in the Pacific. Intelligence failures doomed tens of thousands ? not 2,300 ? at the Bulge and Okinawa. We pacified the Philippines through counterinsurgency fighting. Failure to calibrate the extent of Al Zarqawi?s insurrection pales before the Chinese crossing of the Yalu.

Even our current clinical depression is typically American. In July 1864, Lincoln was hated and McClellan and the Copperheads who wished a cessation of war and bisection of country canonized. Truman left office with the nation?s anger that he had failed in Korea. As George Bush Sr. departed, the conventional wisdom was that the budding chaos and redrawing of the map of Eastern Europe would prompt decades of instability as former Communists could not simply be spoon fed democracy and capitalism. During Afghanistan by week five we were in a quagmire; the dust storm supposedly threatened our success in Iraq ? in the manner that the explosion of the dome at Samarra marked the beginning of a hopeless civil war that ?lost? Iraq.

The fact is that we are close to seeing a democratically elected government emerge, backed by an increasingly competent army, pitted against a minority of a minority in Zaraqawi?s Wahhabi jihadists.

While we worry about our own losses, both human and financial, al Qaeda knows that thousands of its terrorists are dead, with its leadership dismantled or in hiding ? and most of the globe turning against it. For all our depression at home, we can still win two wars ? the removal of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of jihadists that followed him ? and leave a legitimate government that is the antithesis of both autocracy and theocracy.

Syria is out of Lebanon ? but only as long as democracy is in Iraq. Libya and Pakistan have come clean about nuclear trafficking ? but only as long as the U.S. is serious about reform in the Middle East.

And the Palestinians are squabbling among themselves, as democracy is proving not so easy to distort after all ? a sort of Western Trojan Horse that they are not so sure they should have brought inside their walls. When has Hamas ever acted as if it has a "sort of" charter to "sort of" destroy Israel? We worry that Iran is undermining Iraq. The mullahs are terrified that the democracy across the border may undermine them ? as if voting and freedom could trump their beheadings and stonings.

Ever since 9/11 we have been in a long, multifaceted, and much-misunderstood war against jihadists and their autocratic enablers from Manhattan to Kabul, from Baghdad to the Hindu Kush, from London and Madrid to Bali and the Philippines. For now, Iraq has become the nexus of that struggle, in the heart of the ancient caliphate, rather than the front once again in Washington and New York. Whose vision of the future wins depends on who keeps his nerve ? or to paraphrase the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, ?Hard pounding, gentlemen; but we will see who can pound the longest.?

? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.


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Peaceful Folly
« Reply #214 on: March 27, 2006, 02:06:53 PM »
The tyrant's best friend
Lorne Gunter
National Post

Monday, March 27, 2006

George Orwell detested tyrants, Communist and fascist alike. But he reserved a special contempt for pacifists.

"Those who 'abjure' violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf."

Orwell saw pacifists as self-superior freeloaders capable of indulging their naive beliefs only because brave men and women were prepared to lay down their lives to defend them.

And Orwell didn't even know the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) whose members had to be rescued in Iraq last week by daring British, Canadian, American and Iraqi commandos.

He knew their type, though.

In his 1945 essay Notes on Nationalism, Orwell explains, "The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority ... whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing ... they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of the western countries."

He certainly had the CPT pegged.

They are not in Iraq to stop war. They are there, instead, to thwart what they call the "illegal occupation" by Western forces.

By their use of words, they have chosen sides. CPT volunteers may not take up arms in support of the Iraqi insurgency -- their shallow thinking is at least consistent on that point -- but war is not their enemy, nor peace their sole objective.

They do not condemn the violence on both sides equally, even though that is what real pacifists would do.

The trio released last week claimed they had been in Iraq to uncover human rights abuses. Yet before their abduction, they had canvassed only Iraqis opposed to the coalition for lists of grievances. They weren't seeking to convince both sides of the futility of battle. Rather, they were looking to make a case against American and British action -- only.

And since being released, Canadians Harmeet Sooden and Jim Loney, and Brit Norman Kember, have made only excuses for their abductors. They have charged that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq created the conditions that led to their kidnapping, but never once disparaged their abductors' motives.

They haven't even been able to condemn those who murdered their colleague Tom Fox, the American CPT member kidnapped along with them last Nov. 26, whose bullet-riddled corpse was found near a railway line earlier this month.

But you can bet had Fox been killed or even merely injured during the rescue attempt, the CPT would have screeched indignantly about the brutality of coalition forces and demanded Congressional and Parliamentary inquiries, so great is their hypocritical commitment to non-violence.

There have even been reports in London's Daily Telegraph that CPT leaders back home were vaguely aware of ongoing intelligence and special forces efforts to free Sooden, Loney and Kember, but had demanded no action be taken until the rescuers could be certain no one -- not even a kidnapper -- would be killed.

How arrogant.

Not only were rescuers expected to put their lives on the line to free idealists who blamed the rescuers for their abduction (even though it was the idealists' own silly actions had gotten them kidnapped in the first place), the idealists' colleagues back in the West were demanding the brave soldiers, spies and informants double their risk just so their mission would be carried out in a way that didn't offend the idealists' beliefs.

Writing in Partisan Review in 1942, Orwell explained "This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other." That is why "Pacifists are the objective allies of tyrants," rather than crusaders or martyrs for peace, as they like to see themselves.

Because free countries tolerate pacifists' views and actions -- just look at the extraordinary efforts coalition countries took to locate and save the CPT hostages -- "pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it."

The smug moralists of the CPT may fool themselves by thinking they are making the world freer and more peaceful. In truth, they are likely achieving the opposite.


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Radical Islam: The Greater Threat
« Reply #215 on: March 28, 2006, 01:16:11 PM »
The Islamic threat is greater than German and Soviet threats were

By Dennis Prager

Mar 28, 2006

Only four types of individuals can deny the threat to civilization posed by the violence-supporting segment of Islam: the willfully naive, America-haters, Jew-haters and those afraid to confront evil.

Anyone else sees the contemporary reality -- the genocidal Islamic regime in Sudan; the widespread Muslim theological and emotional support for the killing of a Muslim who converts to another religion; the absence of freedom in Muslim-majority countries; the widespread support for Palestinians who randomly murder Israelis; the primitive state in which women are kept in many Muslim countries; the celebration of death; the "honor killings" of daughters; and so much else that is terrible in significant parts of the Muslim world -- knows that civilized humanity has a new evil to fight.

Just as previous generations had to fight Nazism, communism and fascism, our generation has to confront militant Islam.

And whereas there were unique aspects to those evils, there are two unique aspects to the evil emanating from the Islamic world that render this latest threat to humanity particularly difficult to overcome.

One is the number of people who believe in it. This is a new phenomenon among organized evils. Far fewer people believed in Nazism or in communism than believe in Islam generally or in authoritarian Islam specifically. There are one billion Muslims in the world. If just 10 percent believe in the Islam of Hamas, the Taliban, the Sudanese regime, Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, bin Ladin, Islamic Jihad, the Finley Park Mosque in London or Hizbollah -- and it is inconceivable that only one of 10 Muslims supports any of these groups' ideologies -- that means a true believing enemy of at least 100 million people. Outside of Germany, how many people believed in Nazism? Outside of Japan, who believed in Japanese imperialism and militarism? And outside of universities, the arts world or Hollywood, how many people believed in Soviet-style totalitarianism?

A far larger number of people believe in Islamic authoritarianism than ever believed in Marxism. Virtually no one living in Marxist countries believed in Marxism or communism. Likewise, far fewer people believed in Nazism, an ideology confined largely to one country for less than one generation. This is one enormous difference between the radical Islamic threat to our civilization and the two previous ones.

But there is yet a second difference that is at least as significant and at least as frightening: Nazis and Communists wanted to live and feared death; Islamic authoritarians love death and loathe life.

That is why MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) worked with the Soviet Union. Communist leaders love life -- they loved their money, their power, their dachas, their mistresses, their fine wines -- and were hardly prepared to give all that up for Marx. But Iran's current leaders celebrate dying, and MAD may not work, because from our perspective, they are indeed mad. MAD only works with the sane.

There is much less you can do against people who value dying more than living.

The existence of an unprecedentedly large number of people wishing to destroy decent civilization as we know it -- and who celebrate their own deaths -- poses a threat the likes of which no civilization in history has had to confront.

The evils committed by Nazism and Communism were, of course, greater than those committed by radical Islam. There has been no Muslim Gulag and no Muslim Auschwitz.

But the threat is far more serious.

Dennis Prager is a radio talk show host, author, and contributing columnist for

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Political Rants
« Reply #216 on: March 30, 2006, 11:49:08 PM »
Patriots, Then and Now
With nations as with people, love them or lose them.

Thursday, March 30, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

I had a great experience the other night. I met some of the 114 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. It was at their annual dinner, held, as it has been the past four years, at the New York Stock Exchange.

I met Nick Oresko. Nick is in his 80s, small, 5-foot-5 or so. Soft white hair, pale-pink skin, thick torso, walks with a cane. Just a nice old guy you'd pass on the street or in the airport without really seeing him. Around his neck was a sky-blue ribbon, and hanging from that ribbon the medal. He let me turn it over. It had his name, his rank, and then "1/23/45. Near Tettington, Germany."

Tettington, Germany. The Battle of the Bulge.

When I got home I looked up his citation on my beloved Internet, where you can Google heroism. U.S. Army Master Sgt. Nicholas Oresko of Company C, 302nd Infantry, 94th Infantry Division was a platoon leader in an attack against strong enemy positions:

Deadly automatic fire from the flanks pinned down his unit. Realizing that a machinegun in a nearby bunker must be eliminated, he swiftly worked ahead alone, braving bullets which struck about him, until close enough to throw a grenade into the German position. He rushed the bunker and, with pointblank rifle fire, killed all the hostile occupants who survived the grenade blast. Another machinegun opened up on him, knocking him down and seriously wounding him in the hip. Refusing to withdraw from the battle, he placed himself at the head of his platoon to continue the assault. As withering machinegun and rifle fire swept the area, he struck out alone in advance of his men to a second bunker. With a grenade, he crippled the dug-in machinegun defending this position and then wiped out the troops manning it with his rifle, completing his second self-imposed, 1-man attack. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused to be evacuated until assured the mission was successfully accomplished. Through quick thinking, indomitable courage, and unswerving devotion to the attack in the face of bitter resistance and while wounded, M /Sgt. Oresko killed 12 Germans, prevented a delay in the assault, and made it possible for Company C to obtain its objective with minimum casualties.
Nick Oresko lives in Tenafly, N.J. If courage were a bright light, Tenafly would glow.

I met Pat Brady of Sumner, Wash., an Army helicopter medevac pilot in Vietnam who'd repeatedly risked his life to save men he'd never met. And Sammy Davis, a big bluff blond from Flat Rock, Ill., on whom the writer Winston Groom based the Vietnam experiences of a character named Forrest Gump. Sgt. Davis saved men like Forrest, but he also took out a bunch of bad guys. And yes, he was wounded in the same way as Forrest. That scene in the movie where Lyndon Johnson puts the medal around Tom Hanks's neck: that's from the film of LBJ putting the medal on Sammy's neck, only they superimposed Mr. Hanks.
I talked to James Livingston of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a Marine, a warrior in Vietnam who led in battle in spite of bad wounds and worse odds. I told him I was wondering about something. Most of us try to be brave each day in whatever circumstances, which means most of us show ourselves our courage with time. What is it like, I asked, to find out when you're a young man, and in a way that's irrefutable, that you are brave? What does it do to your life when no one, including you, will ever question whether you have guts?

He shook his head. The medal didn't prove courage, he said. "It's not bravery, it's taking responsibility." Each of the recipients, he said, had taken responsibility for the men and the moment at a tense and demanding time. They'd cared for others. They took care of their men.

Other recipients sounded a refrain that lingered like Taps. They felt they'd been awarded their great honor in part in the name of unknown heroes of the armed forces who'd performed spectacular acts of courage but had died along with all the witnesses who would have told the story of what they did. For each of the holders of the Medal of Honor there had been witnesses, survivors who could testify. For some great heroes of engagements large and small, maybe the greatest heroes, no one lived to tell the tale.

And so they felt they wore their medals in part for the ones known only to God.

In a brief film on the recipients that was played at the dinner, Leo Thorsness, an Air Force veteran of Vietnam, said something that lingered. He was asked what, when he performed his great act, he was sacrificing for. He couldn't answer for a few seconds. You could tell he was searching for the right words, the right sentence. Then he said, "I get emotional about it. But we're a free country." He said it with a kind of wonder, and gratitude.

And of course, he said it all.

What this all got me thinking about, the next day, was . . . immigration. I know that seems a lurch, but there's a part of the debate that isn't sufficiently noted. There are a variety of things driving American anxiety about illegal immigration and we all know them--economic arguments, the danger of porous borders in the age of terrorism, with anyone able to come in.
But there's another thing. And it's not fear about "them." It's anxiety about us.

It's the broad public knowledge, or intuition, in America, that we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don't do that, you'll lose it all.

We used to do it. We loved our country with full-throated love, we had no ambivalence. We had pride and appreciation. We were a free country. We communicated our pride and delight in this in a million ways--in our schools, our movies, our popular songs, our newspapers. It was just there, in the air. Immigrants breathed it in. That's how the last great wave of immigrants, the European wave of 1880-1920, was turned into a great wave of Americans.

We are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically now. We are assimilating them culturally. Within a generation their children speak Valley Girl on cell phones. "So I'm like 'no," and he's all 'yeah,' and I'm like, 'In your dreams.' " Whether their parents are from Trinidad, Bosnia, Lebanon or Chile, their children, once Americans, know the same music, the same references, watch the same shows. And to a degree and in a way it will hold them together. But not forever and not in a crunch.

So far we are assimilating our immigrants economically, too. They come here and work. Good.

But we are not communicating love of country. We are not giving them the great legend of our country. We are losing that great legend.

What is the legend, the myth? That God made this a special place. That they're joining something special. That the streets are paved with more than gold--they're paved with the greatest thoughts man ever had, the greatest decisions he ever made, about how to live. We have free thought, free speech, freedom of worship. Look at the literature of the Republic: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist papers. Look at the great rich history, the courage and sacrifice, the house-raisings, the stubbornness. The Puritans, the Indians, the City on a Hill.

The genius cluster--Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, Franklin, all the rest--that came along at the exact same moment to lead us. And then Washington, a great man in the greatest way, not in unearned gifts well used (i.e., a high IQ followed by high attainment) but in character, in moral nature effortfully developed. How did that happen? How did we get so lucky? (I once asked a great historian if he had thoughts on this, and he nodded. He said he had come to believe it was "providential.")

We fought a war to free slaves. We sent millions of white men to battle and destroyed a portion of our nation to free millions of black men. What kind of nation does this? We went to Europe, fought, died and won, and then taxed ourselves to save our enemies with the Marshall Plan. What kind of nation does this? Soviet communism stalked the world and we were the ones who steeled ourselves and taxed ourselves to stop it. Again: What kind of nation does this?

Only a very great one. Maybe the greatest of all.

Do we teach our immigrants that this is what they're joining? That this is the tradition they will now continue, and uphold?

Do we, today, act as if this is such a special place? No, not always, not even often. American exceptionalism is so yesterday. We don't want to be impolite. We don't want to offend. We don't want to seem narrow. In the age of globalism, honest patriotism seems like a faux pas.

And yet what is true of people is probably true of nations: if you don't have a well-grounded respect for yourself, you won't long sustain a well-grounded respect for others.

Because we do not communicate to our immigrants, legal and illegal, that they have joined something special, some of them, understandably, get the impression they've joined not a great enterprise but a big box store. A big box store on the highway where you can get anything cheap. It's a good place. But it has no legends, no meaning, and it imparts no spirit.
Who is at fault? Those of us who let the myth die, or let it change, or refused to let it be told. The politically correct nitwit teaching the seventh-grade history class who decides the impressionable young minds before him need to be informed, as their first serious history lesson, that the Founders were hypocrites, the Bill of Rights nothing new and imperfect in any case, that the Indians were victims of genocide, that Lincoln was a clinically depressed homosexual who compensated for the storms within by creating storms without . . .

You can turn any history into mud. You can turn great men and women into mud too, if you want to.

And it's not just the nitwits, wherever they are, in the schools, the academy, the media, though they're all harmful enough. It's also the people who mean to be honestly and legitimately critical, to provide a new look at the old text. They're not noticing that the old text--the legend, the myth--isn't being taught anymore. Only the commentary is. But if all the commentary is doubting and critical, how will our kids know what to love and revere? How will they know how to balance criticism if they've never heard the positive side of the argument?

Those who teach, and who think for a living about American history, need to be told: Keep the text, teach the text, and only then, if you must, deconstruct the text.

When you don't love something you lose it. If we do not teach new Americans to love their country, and not for braying or nationalistic reasons but for reasons of honest and thoughtful appreciation, and gratitude, for a history that is something new in the long story of man, then we will begin to lose it. That Medal of Honor winner, Leo Thorsness, who couldn't quite find the words--he only found it hard to put everything into words because he knew the story, the legend, and knew it so well. Only then do you become "emotional about it." Only then are you truly American.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Thursdays.

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« Reply #217 on: April 03, 2006, 10:03:28 AM »
  Anyone interested in making their views known to their Senators about amnesty for illegal aliens or enforceing our immigration laws by prosecuting employers who hire them, can call the Senate switch board at (202) 224- 3121 and ask for the office of your state Senators and they will put you in direct contact with the Senator you name.


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Death Rattle?
« Reply #218 on: April 03, 2006, 02:58:08 PM »
When Islam Breaks Down
Theodore Dalrymple

My first contact with Islam was in Afghanistan. I had been through Iran overland to get there, but it was in the days of the Shah?s White Revolution, which had given rights to women and had secularized society (with the aid of a little detention, without trial, and torture). In my naive, historicist way, I assumed that secularization was an irreversible process, like the breaking of eggs: that once people had seen the glory of life without compulsory obeisance to the men of God, they would never turn back to them as the sole guides to their lives and politics.

Afghanistan was different, quite clearly a pre-modern society. The vast, barren landscapes in the crystalline air were impossibly romantic, and the people (that is to say the men, for women were not much in evidence) had a wild dignity and nobility. Their mien was aristocratic. Even their hospitality was fierce. They carried more weapons in daily life than the average British commando in wartime. You knew that they would defend you to the death, if necessary?or cut your throat like a chicken?s, if necessary. Honor among them was all.

On the whole I was favorably impressed. I thought that they were freer than we. I thought nothing of such matters as the clash of civilizations, and experienced no desire, and felt no duty, to redeem them from their way of life in the name of any of my own civilization?s ideals. Impressed by the aesthetics of Afghanistan and unaware of any fundamental opposition or tension between the modern and the pre-modern, I saw no reason why the West and Afghanistan should not rub along pretty well together, each in its own little world, provided only that each respected the other.

I was with a group of students, and our appearance in the middle of a country then seldom visited was almost a national event. At any rate, we put on extracts of Romeo and Juliet in the desert, in which I had a small part, and the crown prince of Afghanistan (then still a kingdom) attended. He arrived in Afghanistan?s one modern appurtenance: a silver convertible Mercedes sports car?I was much impressed by that. Little did I think then that lines from the play?those of Juliet?s plea to her mother to abrogate an unwanted marriage to Paris, arranged and forced on her by her father, Capulet?would so uncannily capture the predicament of some of my Muslim patients in Britain more than a third of a century after my visit to Afghanistan, and four centuries after they were written:

Is there no pity sitting in the clouds That sees into the bottom of my grief? O sweet my mother, cast me not away! Delay this marriage for a month, a week, Or if you do not, make the bridal bed In that dim monument where Tybalt lies. How often have I been consulted by young Muslim women patients, driven to despair by enforced marriages to close relatives (usually first cousins) back ?home? in India and Pakistan, who have made such an unavailing appeal to their mothers, followed by an attempt at suicide!

Capulet?s attitude to his refractory daughter is precisely that of my Muslim patients? fathers:

Look to?t, think on?t, I do not use to jest. Thursday is near, lay hand on heart, advise: And you be mine, I?ll give you to my friend; And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, For by my soul, I?ll ne?er acknowledge thee, Nor what is mine shall ever do thee good. In fact the situation of Muslim girls in my city is even worse than Juliet?s. Every Muslim girl in my city has heard of the killing of such as she back in Pakistan, on refusal to marry her first cousin, betrothed to her by her father, all unknown to her, in the earliest years of her childhood. The girl is killed because she has impugned family honor by breaking her father?s word, and any halfhearted official inquiry into the death by the Pakistani authorities is easily and cheaply bought off. And even if she is not killed, she is expelled from the household?O sweet my mother, cast me not away!?and regarded by her ?community? as virtually a prostitute, fair game for any man who wants her.

This pattern of betrothal causes suffering as intense as any I know of. It has terrible consequences. One father prevented his daughter, highly intelligent and ambitious to be a journalist, from attending school, precisely to ensure her lack of Westernization and economic independence. He then took her, aged 16, to Pakistan for the traditional forced marriage (silence, or a lack of open objection, amounts to consent in these circumstances, according to Islamic law) to a first cousin whom she disliked from the first and who forced his attentions on her. Granted a visa to come to Britain, as if the marriage were a bona fide one?the British authorities having turned a cowardly blind eye to the real nature of such marriages in order to avoid the charge of racial discrimination?he was violent toward her.

She had two children in quick succession, both of whom were so severely handicapped that they would be bedridden for the rest of their short lives and would require nursing 24 hours a day. (For fear of giving offense, the press almost never alludes to the extremely high rate of genetic illnesses among the offspring of consanguineous marriages.) Her husband, deciding that the blame for the illnesses was entirely hers, and not wishing to devote himself to looking after such useless creatures, left her, divorcing her after Islamic custom. Her family ostracized her, having concluded that a woman whose husband had left her must have been to blame and was the next thing to a whore. She threw herself off a cliff, but was saved by a ledge.

I?ve heard a hundred variations of her emblematic story. Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties?feminism and multiculturalism?come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.

Certainly such experiences have moderated the historicism I took to Afghanistan?the naive belief that monotheistic religions have but a single, ?natural,? path of evolution, which they all eventually follow. By the time Christianity was Islam?s present age, I might once have thought, it had still undergone no Reformation, the absence of which is sometimes offered as an explanation for Islam?s intolerance and rigidity. Give it time, I would have said, and it will evolve, as Christianity has, to a private confession that acknowledges the legal supremacy of the secular state?at which point Islam will become one creed among many.

That Shakespeare?s words express the despair that oppressed Muslim girls feel in a British city in the twenty-first century with much greater force, short of poisoning themselves, than that with which they can themselves express it, that Shakespeare evokes so vividly their fathers? sentiments as well (though condemning rather than endorsing them), suggests?does it not??that such oppressive treatment of women is not historically unique to Islam, and that it is a stage that Muslims will leave behind. Islam will even outgrow its religious intolerance, as Christian Europe did so long ago, after centuries in which the Thirty Years? War, for example, resulted in the death of a third of Germany?s population, or when Philip II of Spain averred, ?I would rather sacrifice the lives of a hundred thousand people than cease my persecution of heretics.?

My historicist optimism has waned. After all, I soon enough learned that the Shah?s revolution from above was reversible?at least in the short term, that is to say the term in which we all live, and certainly long enough to ruin the only lives that contemporary Iranians have. Moreover, even if there were no relevant differences between Christianity and Islam as doctrines and civilizations in their ability to accommodate modernity, a vital difference in the historical situations of the two religions also tempers my historicist optimism. Devout Muslims can see (as Luther, Calvin, and others could not) the long-term consequences of the Reformation and its consequent secularism: a marginalization of the Word of God, except as an increasingly distant cultural echo?as the ?melancholy, long, withdrawing roar? of the once full ?Sea of faith,? in Matthew Arnold?s precisely diagnostic words.

And there is enough truth in the devout Muslim?s criticism of the less attractive aspects of Western secular culture to lend plausibility to his call for a return to purity as the answer to the Muslim world?s woes. He sees in the West?s freedom nothing but promiscuity and license, which is certainly there; but he does not see in freedom, especially freedom of inquiry, a spiritual virtue as well as an ultimate source of strength. This narrow, beleaguered consciousness no doubt accounts for the strand of reactionary revolt in contemporary Islam. The devout Muslim fears, and not without good reason, that to give an inch is sooner or later to concede the whole territory.

This fear must be all the more acute among the large and growing Muslim population in cities like mine. Except for a small, highly educated middle class, who live de facto as if Islam were a private religious confession like any other in the West, the Muslims congregate in neighborhoods that they have made their own, where the life of the Punjab continues amid the architecture of the Industrial Revolution. The halal butcher?s corner shop rubs shoulders with the terra-cotta municipal library, built by the Victorian city fathers to improve the cultural level of a largely vanished industrial working class.

The Muslim immigrants to these areas were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously. They neither anticipated, nor wanted, the inevitable cultural tensions of translocation, and they certainly never suspected that in the long run they could not maintain their culture and their religion intact. The older generation is only now realizing that even outward conformity to traditional codes of dress and behavior by the young is no longer a guarantee of inner acceptance (a perception that makes their vigilantism all the more pronounced and desperate). Recently I stood at the taxi stand outside my hospital, beside two young women in full black costume, with only a slit for the eyes. One said to the other, ?Give us a light for a fag, love; I?m gasping.? Release the social pressure on the girls, and they would abandon their costume in an instant.

Anyone who lives in a city like mine and interests himself in the fate of the world cannot help wondering whether, deeper than this immediate cultural desperation, there is anything intrinsic to Islam?beyond the devout Muslim?s instinctive understanding that secularization, once it starts, is like an unstoppable chain reaction?that renders it unable to adapt itself comfortably to the modern world. Is there an essential element that condemns the Dar al-Islam to permanent backwardness with regard to the Dar al-Harb, a backwardness that is felt as a deep humiliation, and is exemplified, though not proved, by the fact that the whole of the Arab world, minus its oil, matters less to the rest of the world economically than the Nokia telephone company of Finland?

I think the answer is yes, and that the problem begins with Islam?s failure to make a distinction between church and state. Unlike Christianity, which had to spend its first centuries developing institutions clandestinely and so from the outset clearly had to separate church from state, Islam was from its inception both church and state, one and indivisible, with no possible distinction between temporal and religious authority. Muhammad?s power was seamlessly spiritual and secular (although the latter grew ultimately out of the former), and he bequeathed this model to his followers. Since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion.

But his model left Islam with two intractable problems. One was political. Muhammad unfortunately bequeathed no institutional arrangements by which his successors in the role of omnicompetent ruler could be chosen (and, of course, a schism occurred immediately after the Prophet?s death, with some?today?s Sunnites?following his father-in-law, and some?today?s Shi?ites?his son-in-law). Compounding this difficulty, the legitimacy of temporal power could always be challenged by those who, citing Muhammad?s spiritual role, claimed greater religious purity or authority; the fanatic in Islam is always at a moral advantage vis-?-vis the moderate. Moreover, Islam?in which the mosque is a meetinghouse, not an institutional church?has no established, anointed ecclesiastical hierarchy to decide such claims authoritatively. With political power constantly liable to challenge from the pious, or the allegedly pious, tyranny becomes the only guarantor of stability, and assassination the only means of reform. Hence the Saudi time bomb: sooner or later, religious revolt will depose a dynasty founded upon its supposed piety but long since corrupted by the ways of the world.

The second problem is intellectual. In the West, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment, acting upon the space that had always existed, at least potentially, in Christianity between church and state, liberated individual men to think for themselves, and thus set in motion an unprecedented and still unstoppable material advancement. Islam, with no separate, secular sphere where inquiry could flourish free from the claims of religion, if only for technical purposes, was hopelessly left behind: as, several centuries later, it still is.

The indivisibility of any aspect of life from any other in Islam is a source of strength, but also of fragility and weakness, for individuals as well as for polities. Where all conduct, all custom, has a religious sanction and justification, any change is a threat to the whole system of belief. Certainty that their way of life is the right one thus coexists with fear that the whole edifice?intellectual and political?will come tumbling down if it is tampered with in any way. Intransigence is a defense against doubt and makes living on terms of true equality with others who do not share the creed impossible.

Not coincidentally, the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death: apostates are regarded as far worse than infidels, and punished far more rigorously. In every Islamic society, and indeed among Britain?s Muslim immigrants, there are people who take this idea quite literally, as their rage against Salman Rushdie testified.

The Islamic doctrine of apostasy is hardly favorable to free inquiry or frank discussion, to say the least, and surely it explains why no Muslim, or former Muslim, in an Islamic society would dare to suggest that the Qu?ran was not divinely dictated through the mouth of the Prophet but rather was a compilation of a charismatic man?s words made many years after his death, and incorporating, with no very great originality, Judaic, Christian, and Zoroastrian elements. In my experience, devout Muslims expect and demand a freedom to criticize, often with perspicacity, the doctrines and customs of others, while demanding an exaggerated degree of respect and freedom from criticism for their own doctrines and customs. I recall, for example, staying with a Pakistani Muslim in East Africa, a very decent and devout man, who nevertheless spent several evenings with me deriding the absurdities of Christianity: the paradoxes of the Trinity, the impossibility of Resurrection, and so forth. Though no Christian myself, had I replied in kind, alluding to the pagan absurdities of the pilgrimage to Mecca, or to the gross, ignorant, and primitive superstitions of the Prophet with regard to jinn, I doubt that our friendship would have lasted long.

The unassailable status of the Qu?ran in Islamic education, thought, and society is ultimately Islam?s greatest disadvantage in the modern world. Such unassailability does not debar a society from great artistic achievement or charms of its own: great and marvelous civilizations have flourished without the slightest intellectual freedom. I myself prefer a souk to a supermarket any day, as a more human, if less economically efficient, institution. But until Muslims (or former Muslims, as they would then be) are free in their own countries to denounce the Qu?ran as an inferior hodgepodge of contradictory injunctions, without intellectual unity (whether it is so or not)?until they are free to say with Carlyle that the Qu?ran is ?a wearisome confused jumble? with ?endless iterations, longwindedness, entanglement??until they are free to remake and modernize the Qu?ran by creative interpretation, they will have to reconcile themselves to being, if not helots, at least in the rearguard of humanity, as far as power and technical advance are concerned.

A piece of pulp fiction by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in 1898, when followers of the charismatic fundamentalist leader Muhammad al-Mahdi tried to establish a theocracy in Sudan by revolting against Anglo-Egyptian control, makes precisely this point and captures the contradiction at the heart of contemporary Islam. Called The Tragedy of the Korosko, the book is the story of a small tourist party to Upper Egypt, who are kidnapped and held to ransom by some Mahdists, and then rescued by the Egyptian Camel Corps. (I hesitate, as a Francophile, to point out to American readers that there is a French character in the book, who, until he is himself captured by the Mahdists, believes that they are but a figment of the British imagination, to give perfidious Albion a pretext to interfere in Sudanese affairs.) A mullah among the Mahdists who capture the tourists attempts to convert the Europeans and Americans to Islam, deriding as unimportant and insignificant their technically superior civilization: ? ?As to the [scientific] learning of which you speak . . . ? said the Moolah . . . ?I have myself studied at the University of Al Azhar at Cairo, and I know that to which you allude. But the learning of the faithful is not as the learning of the unbeliever, and it is not fitting that we pry too deeply into the ways of Allah. Some stars have tails . . . and some have not; but what does it profit us to know which are which? For God made them all, and they are very safe in His hands. Therefore . . . be not puffed up by the foolish learning of the West, and understand that there is only one wisdom, which consists in following the will of Allah as His chosen prophet has laid it down for us in this book.? ?

This is by no means a despicable argument. One of the reasons that we can appreciate the art and literature of the past, and sometimes of the very distant past, is that the fundamental conditions of human existence remain the same, however much we advance in the technical sense: I have myself argued in these pages that human self-understanding, except in purely technical matters, reached its apogee with Shakespeare. In a sense, the mullah is right.

But if we made a fetish of Shakespeare (much richer and more profound than the Qu?ran, in my view), if we made him the sole object of our study and the sole guide of our lives, we would soon enough fall into backwardness and stagnation. And the problem is that so many Muslims want both stagnation and power: they want a return to the perfection of the seventh century and to dominate the twenty-first, as they believe is the birthright of their doctrine, the last testament of God to man. If they were content to exist in a seventh-century backwater, secure in a quietist philosophy, there would be no problem for them or us; their problem, and ours, is that they want the power that free inquiry confers, without either the free inquiry or the philosophy and institutions that guarantee that free inquiry. They are faced with a dilemma: either they abandon their cherished religion, or they remain forever in the rear of human technical advance. Neither alternative is very appealing; and the tension between their desire for power and success in the modern world on the one hand, and their desire not to abandon their religion on the other, is resolvable for some only by exploding themselves as bombs.

People grow angry when faced with an intractable dilemma; they lash out. Whenever I have described in print the cruelties my young Muslim patients endure, I receive angry replies: I am either denounced outright as a liar, or the writer acknowledges that such cruelties take place but are attributable to a local culture, in this case Punjabi, not to Islam, and that I am ignorant not to know it.

But Punjabi Sikhs also arrange marriages: they do not, however, force consanguineous marriages of the kind that take place from Madras to Morocco. Moreover?and not, I believe, coincidentally?Sikh immigrants from the Punjab, of no higher original social status than their Muslim confr?res from the same provinces, integrate far better into the local society once they have immigrated. Precisely because their religion is a more modest one, with fewer universalist pretensions, they find the duality of their new identity more easily navigable. On the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth?s reign, for example, the Sikh temples were festooned with perfectly genuine protestations of congratulations and loyalty. No such protestations on the part of Muslims would be thinkable.

But the anger of Muslims, their demand that their sensibilities should be accorded a more than normal respect, is a sign not of the strength but of the weakness?or rather, the brittleness?of Islam in the modern world, the desperation its adherents feel that it could so easily fall to pieces. The control that Islam has over its populations in an era of globalization reminds me of the hold that the Ceausescus appeared to have over the Rumanians: an absolute hold, until Ceausescu appeared one day on the balcony and was jeered by the crowd that had lost its fear. The game was over, as far as Ceausescu was concerned, even if there had been no preexisting conspiracy to oust him.

One sign of the increasing weakness of Islam?s hold over its nominal adherents in Britain?of which militancy is itself but another sign?is the throng of young Muslim men in prison. They will soon overtake the young men of Jamaican origin in their numbers and in the extent of their criminality. By contrast, young Sikhs and Hindus are almost completely absent from prison, so racism is not the explanation for such Muslim overrepresentation.

Confounding expectations, these prisoners display no interest in Islam whatsoever; they are entirely secularized. True, they still adhere to Muslim marriage customs, but only for the obvious personal advantage of having a domestic slave at home. Many of them also dot the city with their concubines?sluttish white working-class girls or exploitable young Muslims who have fled forced marriages and do not know that their young men are married. This is not religion, but having one?s cake and eating it.

The young Muslim men in prison do not pray; they do not demand halal meat. They do not read the Qu?ran. They do not ask to see the visiting imam. They wear no visible signs of piety: their main badge of allegiance is a gold front tooth, which proclaims them members of the city?s criminal subculture?a badge (of honor, they think) that they share with young Jamaicans, though their relations with the Jamaicans are otherwise fraught with hostility. The young Muslim men want wives at home to cook and clean for them, concubines elsewhere, and drugs and rock ?n? roll. As for Muslim proselytism in the prison?and Muslim literature has been insinuated into nooks and crannies there far more thoroughly than any Christian literature?it is directed mainly at the Jamaican prisoners. It answers their need for an excuse to go straight, while not at the same time surrendering to the morality of a society they believe has wronged them deeply. Indeed, conversion to Islam is their revenge upon that society, for they sense that their newfound religion is fundamentally opposed to it. By conversion, therefore, they kill two birds with one stone.

But Islam has no improving or inhibiting effect upon the behavior of my city?s young Muslim men, who, in astonishing numbers, have taken to heroin, a habit almost unknown among their Sikh and Hindu contemporaries. The young Muslims not only take heroin but deal in it, and have adopted all the criminality attendant on the trade.

What I think these young Muslim prisoners demonstrate is that the rigidity of the traditional code by which their parents live, with its universalist pretensions and emphasis on outward conformity to them, is all or nothing; when it dissolves, it dissolves completely and leaves nothing in its place. The young Muslims then have little defense against the egotistical licentiousness they see about them and that they all too understandably take to be the summum bonum of Western life.

Observing this, of course, there are among Muslim youth a tiny minority who reject this absorption into the white lumpenproletariat and turn militant or fundamentalist. It is their perhaps natural, or at least understandable, reaction to the failure of our society, kowtowing to absurd and dishonest multiculturalist pieties, to induct them into the best of Western culture: into that spirit of free inquiry and personal freedom that has so transformed the life chances of every person in the world, whether he knows it or not.

Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong: that accounts for its so frequent shrillness. The Shah will, sooner or later, triumph over the Ayatollah in Iran, because human nature decrees it, though meanwhile millions of lives will have been ruined and impoverished. The Iranian refugees who have flooded into the West are fleeing Islam, not seeking to extend its dominion, as I know from speaking to many in my city. To be sure, fundamentalist Islam will be very dangerous for some time to come, and all of us, after all, live only in the short term; but ultimately the fate of the Church of England awaits it. Its melancholy, withdrawing roar may well (unlike that of the Church of England) be not just long but bloody, but withdraw it will. The fanatics and the bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed, fundamentalist Islam, but its death rattle.


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« Reply #219 on: April 04, 2006, 09:02:56 AM »

That was one fine piece of writing.



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« Reply #220 on: April 21, 2006, 06:29:19 AM »
Not really a rant, but I didn't know where else to put it--Crafty

This is a review of a museum exhibition in today?s NYT.
Exhibition Review
The Anti-Semitic Hoax That Refuses to Die

Published: April 21, 2006
pagewanted=all#secondParagraph#secondParagraph> Skip to next paragraph

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
A Mexican edition, published in 2005, of "The Protocols of the Elders of
"A Dangerous Lie: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" opens today at the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum is open
daily, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays through mid-June, 10
a.m. to 7:50 p.m. Free timed passes are required for the permanent
collection but not for the special exhibition; call (800) 400-9373.
Information: (202) 488-0400.
Readers? Opinions
dexhibitions/index.html?page=recent> Forum: Artists and Exhibitions
A SMALL cloth is draped over each digit of a giant hand, each finger puppet
inscribed with a symbol. One is a dollar sign: a reference to international
capital in all its manifestations. There is also the sign of the Masons,
since for centuries that secret society has been caricatured as insidious
and manipulative, without recognizing, perhaps, that its own strings were
being pulled.
There is the hammer and sickle, symbolizing a Communist world that no longer
possesses fearsome power but was once, apparently, under the sway of an even
greater master. The cross is there, for the church has supposedly been
enslaved by the same forces. And there is a swastika, for even Nazism,
according to this particular vision, arose out of the deep maneuverings of a
group prepared to sacrifice six million of its own so its larger aims might
be realized in the creation of an imperial state.
And controlling them all is the hand, its palm inscribed with a Jewish star.

Such is the cover art for a Spanish-language edition of "The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion" published last year in Mexico.
Mexico is not alone. Look around the small space allotted to a new
exhibition opening today at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here
? "A Dangerous Lie: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" ? and the intensity
and extent of agreement are striking. For more than a century "The
Protocols" has made its way into many languages, selling untold numbers of
copies, portraying Jews as demonic schemers.
Said to be the minutes of a secret council of Jews discussing their plot for
world domination, this slim volume, first published in Russia in 1905, has
become a nearly sacred text for political and religious movements ranging
from American nativism and German Nazism to Arab Islamicism.
Henry Ford was captivated by the idea of Jewish financiers plotting to
undermine the United States; he became a proselytizer for "The Protocols" in
his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent.
ndex.html?inline=nyt-per> Hitler, an admirer of Ford, was introduced to "The
Protocols" by the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, and cited it in "Mein
Kampf." More than 23 editions of "The Protocols" were published by the Nazi
party over 20 years.
During the last half-century, it has also become a canonical text in the
Islamic world. One edition on display here, printed in Pakistan in 1969, was
presented by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to state visitors in the 1970's,
its jacket showing a snake, representing the Jews, wrapped around the
crescent of Islam while casting its glance over the entire Eastern
Hemisphere. Another edition is an Arabic translation of "The Protocols" that
was posted on the Palestinian State Information Services Web site until
protests led to its removal last year.
Now "The Protocols" would presumably be affirmed with less embarrassment:
the Palestinian Authority is presently controlled by the militant Islamist
ndex.html?inline=nyt-org> Hamas, whose 1988 covenant could almost be read as
a rewrite of "The Protocols." "Our struggle against the Jews is very great
and very serious," that covenant says. "With their money, they took control
of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses,
broadcasting stations and others," it declares of Jews.
"They aim at undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting
consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam," it says,
asserting that Jews were behind the French and Russian revolutions, the
Freemasons, the Rotary Clubs, imperialism, the two world wars, the
nations/index.html?inline=nyt-org> United Nations, the drug trade and
alcoholism. It cites a source: "Their plan is embodied in 'The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion.' "
Unfortunately, this exhibition, organized by Daniel Greene, while
illuminating as far as it goes, doesn't do more than briefly refer to that
charter. It also only cursorily summarizes the perspective of the various
editions of "The Protocols" on display. And the text of "The Protocols"
itself can be read only on two pages of an open book.
Evidence that "The Protocols" was forged is scarcely more detailed, revealed
primarily in a wall-size reproduction of part of the 1921 Times of London
expos? that demonstrated that the book was cribbed from an 1864 polemic by
the French writer Maurice Joly attacking Napoleon III: "Dialogue in Hell
Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu." The words of Joly's villain,
Machiavelli, were later put into the mouths of conspiratorial Jews.
But what an opportunity was missed in not doing more with this exhibition!
For the tale of how this volume was forged ? which only recently came to
light with the release of Soviet-era files, suggesting that it was written
by Mathieu Golovinski, a Russian exile living in France in 1898 ? is
remarkable in itself. So are the peculiarities of its sources, which also
include an 1868 novel, "Biarritz" by Hermann Goedsche, which describes a
nocturnal meeting of rabbis in a Prague cemetery, where they discuss plans
for world domination. So a royalist Russian used the fantastical imaginings
of a German and the antiroyalist text of a Frenchman imitating the arguments
of an Italian, in order to defame Jews.
The text itself also demands more analysis. One reason for its resiliency
despite its demonstrably faked origins is that it is not just another
anti-Semitic tract. Its intellectual trappings reflect something profound
about anti-Semitism itself.
Conspiracy theorists abound in all arenas, of course, and there is surely
something satisfying about seeing varied sources of villainy so swiftly
click into place as manifestations of a single master plan. Advocates of
"The Protocols" are undeterred by evidence that the book is forged: it
reveals, they say, a higher truth.
That truth, though, is not really about Jews. Reading the text itself (which
can be found at  <>, one is shocked not at its anti-Semitism,
but at its knotty, pseudophilosophic assertions; "The Protocols" really is
ersatz Machiavelli. It is astounding that something so difficult has been so
"Men with bad instincts are more in number than the good," states its
opening sally; they are "beasts of prey" who can only be governed by
cunning. Their greatest delusion, asserts the purportedly Jewish narrator,
is their growing belief in liberalism. But political freedom is a "bait,"
being offered to them by Jews, who are using it to undermine the traditional
order. Soon societies everywhere, the narrator says, will fall prey to the
"despotism of capital, which is entirely in our hands."
A catalog of threatening modernity is being boasted of: liberal rights
proliferate, faith falters, commerce rules, citizens are seduced by
"corruption and luxury." "Think carefully of the successes we arranged for
Darwinism, Marxism, Nietzscheism," the Jews in "The Protocols" say, and look
what "disintegrating" effect these ideas have had. These Jews claim to be
undermining the world with "disenchantments" in order to take it over.
This forgery encapsulates the image of the cosmopolitan Jew as the
unprincipled molder of modernity.
But modernity and liberalism are never really meant seriously by these Jews;
the ideas are manipulations, fabrications. In addition these Jews sound as
if they could confirm
a/index.html?inline=nyt-org> Al Qaeda or Islamist movements in their
indictments against the West. The Jews of "The Protocols," in their
determination to dissolve national boundaries in pursuit of power and
profit, could also as easily be associated with globalization, inspiring
anti-Americanism as much as anti-Semitism. "The Protocols" feeds into a wide
variety of resentments and longings for a premodern world.
But the really astonishing thing is this: These Jews, in secretly planning
to overturn the very forces of liberalism and modernity they have just
created are doing just what their anti-Semitic nemeses desire. That is not
the only point of agreement. Look at the Jews' approach in "The Protocols."
They believe in absolute power. They will brook no opposition. They will use
the rights and values of liberalism to undermine it, exploiting its
weaknesses. They will be patient and ruthless and unrelenting.
Hitler once said he used similar techniques for similar ends. He did. So do
the Islamists. If "The Protocols" has found such resonance among
anti-Semites across the world, it is partly because, in its villainous Jews,
they see images of what they yearn to be.
Cindy "Pretty Kitty" Denny.
Dog Brothers, Inc.


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NYT Reign of Error
« Reply #221 on: April 21, 2006, 02:26:45 PM »
Always fun to watch the New York Times get bitch slapped.

Pinch Gets Punched
April 21st, 2006

Arthur Ochs ?Pinch? Sulzberger, Jr., the scion of a family dynasty founded by his great grandfather, is well into the process of destroying the patrimony handed to him on a silver platter. Even worse, the whole world is starting to notice, something which will make other family members distinctly unhappy. And because the family controls the election of a majority of the board of directors of the New York Times Company, despite owning a tiny fraction of the actual equity (thanks to a two class system of shares), this unhappiness could affect Pinch?s tenure in office.

No less an authority on corporate governance than Arianna Huffington, whose credentials are impeccable in matters of marriage, family fortunes, inheritance, and society soirees, noted on her eponymous website:

I hear the Sulzberger clan is also getting an earful from friends on the dinner party circuit from New York to Paris

Wall Street is Not Pleased

Quite a bit of ink, and billions of pixels have been expended over the open challenge launched against Pinch?s reign or error by the company?s fourth largest investor, Morgan Stanley Investment Management. At the company?s annual meeting Tuesday, holders of 28% of the company?s equity voted against  the management slate of directors, effectively saying in public that they want to dump Pinch and his cronies, as would happen in almost any publicly-held company performing as dismally as the Times.

There is delicious irony aplenty in the spectacle of a self-righteous lefty like Pinch, whose editorial page imperiously advises other companies on the fairness and morality of their corporate governance, clinging to power on the basis of a stock ownership scheme which disenfranchises the owners of the vast majority of equity, allowing them to elect only 30% of the board of directors. But as securities law professor and blogger Steven Bainbridge authoritatively points out,

Morgan Stanley bought Class A shares in the Times knowing that the Sulzbergers were in charge and would remain so by virtue of the dual class stock structure. Morgan Stanley knew or should have known that dual class stock presents a serious agency cost problem because incumbents who cannot be voted out of office are almost impossible to discipline. Morgan Stanley accepted whatever trade-offs the deal entailed as appropriate compensation for that risk.

He?s absolutely correct that no legal case can be successfully waged against the dual class shareholder arrangement. Moreover, The American Thinker has been warning shareholders in the New York Times Company for at least two years that Pinch Sulzberger?s management team has been dissipating the company?s formidable assets, and driving the company in the wrong direction. Smart investors like Morgan Stanley and other institutions and individuals should have noticed that the company doubled-down on newsprint operations through the expensive purchase of properties like the Boston Globe in negative growth New England, just as the internet was eating away at the newspaper industry, that the company has held onto local television stations as the market values have declined in the face of cable and internet competition, and that the company paid lavishly for its first acquisition in the internet industry.

And if any of the MBAs on Wall Street took the time to tease the underlying data out of the company?s 10-K reports (as Jack Risko and I did), where it was carefully buried, they would find that the core cash cow business, the metropolitan print edition of the New York Times, has been in a steep decline, milked to support the national edition?s growth, which has leveled off and not achieved profitability anything like the declining metro edition.

Given the impossibility of a Class A shareholder revolt actually ousting Pinch and his family-elected directors, either through elections or the courts, why did Morgan Stanley publicly stand against the management slate, even leaking word of its vote in advance?

The answer lies in the company?s balance sheet. The New York Times Company has been taking on debt to finance itself. In 2001, the company?s debt-to-equity ratio was 1 part debt to 1.51 parts equity. By 2005, the ratio was close to 1 to 1 (1.08, to be exact).  The company is still generating cash from operations, but it must also invest considerable sums, and so depends on the financial markets to sell commercial paper and other debt instruments.

Pinch?s Palace

Most notably, the company is in the process of developing a lavish new headquarters building in New York City (taking advantage, by the way, of public money incentives aimed at helping to rebuild New York in the wake of 9/11). The project is currently expected to cost over a billion dollars, though the company shares this cost with its developer-partner.

But the New York Times Company (and its shareholders) will still need to come up with almost 400 million dollars more to complete the Taj Mahal it is erecting as Pinch?s monument to himself. That?s quite a palace for company whose shares are down 40-some percent in the last year, and whose assets are deployed mostly in declining businesses like newspapers and broadcast television stations.

As the company?s 10-K blandly notes:

We have funded, and will continue to fund, our share of capital contributions from cash from operations and external financing sources.

Those external financing sources are now officially on notice from Morgan Stanley and several other major institutions that management is not, in their opinion, to be entrusted with the stewardship of the company?s assets.

And also on notice are members of the extended Sulzberger clan. If the company needs to cut its dividend to throw ?cash from operations? into Pinch?s palace because ?external financing sources? won?t throw in their bucks at an acceptable price, then some of those Class B shareholders might become very unhappy campers.

The next family reunion of the Sulzbergers ought to be interesting.

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.  He is a graduate of and former faculty member at Harvard Business School.


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Breathless Press Hypocrisy
« Reply #222 on: April 24, 2006, 02:33:07 PM »
Joseph Wilson's Revenge
Why no special prosecutor for the latest CIA leak case?
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, April 24, 2006, at 1:31 PM ET

If Mary O. McCarthy should ever be so desperate as to need a character witness, or to require one so badly that she must stoop to my level, I declare in advance that I shall step forward pro bono. I am quite willing to accept that whatever she did or did not do or say about the surreptitious incarceration of al-Qaida suspects overseas (and let's not prejudge this), she did it from the most exalted motives.

I accept this because, however much of her hard-earned money she threw away on making a donation to the John Kerry presidential campaign, she is obviously more than a mere partisan. Back in 1998, she wrote a formal memo to President Clinton about his decision to bomb the Al-Shifa factory outside Sudan's capital of Khartoum. I wrote a slew of articles at the time to prove that this wild Clintonian action was wag-the-doggery, pure and simple. (You can look it up if you like in my book No One Left To Lie To.) At that time, I interviewed a number of CIA people, both on and off the record, and came to the conclusion that it was the wrong factory in the wrong place and had been blitzed mainly because of Clinton's difficulties with Monica Lewinsky. The clincher was the direct plagiarism of his own hysterical speech of justification from the glib speech delivered by Michael Douglas, trying to de-knicker Annette Bening in the mediocre film The American President. If George Bush had even tried to pull anything like this, he would have been impeached by now, or so I hope.

Several senior CIA officials, and people in other departments, also let their dissent be known. I might instance Jack Downing, head of the agency's directorate of operations as well as the chief of the Africa bureau, and also Milton Bearden, veteran of many a covert op in Africa, who agreed to be interviewed by me for the record. On Oct. 27, 1999, the New York Times got around to publishing an article by James Risen in which it was made plain that Madeleine Albright had suppressed a report from the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research casting grave doubt on the Al-Shifa intelligence. The only person who still maintains that the factory was Osama Bin Laden's place for mixing Saddam Hussein's chemicals is Richard Clarke, who has been rather quiet on that subject lately. (He could well have been right at that, but not about this particular factory: See my Slate article on Clarke's Sudan contradictions.)

That was an exceptionally rich harvest of high-level disagreement overridden by a sitting president. And it strengthened the case for, to put it no higher, more "transparency" in the famously overpaid and underperforming CIA. This case has become no weaker, to say the least, in the years of George Tenet and other Clinton holdovers who left us under open skies on Sept. 11, 2001.

But now, instead of being rewarded for her probity, Mary McCarthy has been given the sack. And the New York Times rushes to her aid, with a three-hankie story on April 23, moistly titled "Colleagues Say Fired CIA Analyst Played by the Rules." This is only strictly true if she confined her disagreement to official channels, as she did when she wrote to Clinton in 1998. Sadly enough, the same article concedes that McCarthy may have lied and then eventually told the truth about having unauthorized contact with members of the press.

Well! In that case the remedy is clear. A special counsel must be appointed forthwith, to discover whether the CIA has been manipulating the media. All civil servants and all reporters with knowledge must be urged to comply, and to produce their notes or see the inside of a jail. No effort must be spared to discover the leaker. This is, after all, the line sternly proposed by the New York Times and many other media outlets in the matter of the blessed Joseph Wilson and his martyred CIA spouse, Valerie Plame.

I have a sense that this is not the media line that will be taken in the case of McCarthy, any more than it was the line taken when James Risen and others disclosed the domestic wiretapping being conducted by the NSA. Risen's story is also the object of an investigation into unlawful disclosure. One can argue that national security is damaged by unauthorized leaks, or one can argue that democracy is enhanced by them. But one cannot argue, in the case of a man who says that his CIA wife did not send him to Niger, that the proof that his wife did send him to Niger must remain a state secret. If one concerned official can brief the press off the record, then so can another.

It has long been pretty obvious to me that the official-secrecy faction within the state machinery has received a gigantic fillip from the press witch hunt against Lewis Libby and Karl Rove. What bureaucrat could believe the luck of an editorial campaign to uncover and punish leaking? A campaign that furthermore invokes the most reactionary law against disclosure this century: the Intelligence Identities Protection Act? It was obvious from the first that the press, in taking Wilson and Plame at their own estimation, was fashioning a rod for its own back. I await the squeals that will follow when this rod is applied, which it will be again and again.

Joseph Wilson update: In my article last week on Wilson's utter failure to notice the visit of Saddam Hussein's chief nuclear diplomat to Niger, I mentioned his substitution of another Iraqi name?Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf?as having just possibly approached some Niger businessmen and officials at an OAU summit in Algeria in 1999. Sahaf is now better known to us as the risible figure of "Baghdad Bob," which allowed Wilson to make mock of the whole thing. It is almost irrelevant when set beside the visit of Wissam al-Zahawie to Niger itself the same year, but at the time he attended the Algiers meeting, "Baghdad Bob" was?as I ought to have known and have since found out?Saddam Hussein's foreign minister. This fact is not mentioned in Wilson's terrible book, either. And Sahaf still had time to meet with some people from a tiny African state known only for its uranium!

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. His most recent collection of essays is titled Love, Poverty, and War.

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Political Rants
« Reply #223 on: April 29, 2006, 06:38:16 PM »
April 28, 2006 -- IF a street-corner thug knowingly receives stolen goods for profit, he goes to jail. If a well-educated, privileged journalist profits from receiving classified information - stolen from our government - he or she gets a prize.
Is something wrong here?
Media outlets, including the generally responsible Washington Post, have had fits over a few retired generals' unclassified criticism of the Secretary of Defense, while simultaneously insisting on their own right to receive and publish our nation's wartime secrets - and to shield the identities of unethical bureaucrats who betray our nation's trust.
Since the Vietnam era, reporters have convinced themselves that they are the real heroes in any story. The archways above our journalism faculties soon may sport the maxim: "The Press can do no wrong."
But the press can do wrong. And it does it with gusto. Let me tell you what the illegal receipt and exploitation of our nation's secrets used to be called: Espionage. Spying. Yet today's "real" spies cause less harm to our national security than self-righteous journalists do.
A NATION at war must keep secrets. The media can't plead that classified documents just fell into their hands, obligating them to publish our secrets out of a noble respect for truth. That's bull, and every journalist knows it. Could a punk down on the block claim that, since he was offered a gun, he was obligated to aim it and pull the trigger?
Many in the media not only want to re-write election results and change national policies - they've been re-writing history, too. On the entertainment-and-propaganda side, George Clooney produced a gorgeous, seductive and whoppingly dishonest film about journalism last year, "Good Night, and Good Luck."
Deftly re-arranging the fall of Sen. Joseph McCarthy - by slighting the fact that only the Department of the Army had the guts to stand up to Tailgunner Joe at the height of his powers (a civilian lawyer for the Army asked the famous question, "Senator, have you no shame?") - the film leads the viewer to believe that a lone journalist, Edward R. Murrow, broke the senator's evil spell.
Of course, crediting the Army with the courage to defend the Constitution would have played havoc with the left-wing view of civil-military relations. But the greater omission had to do with Murrow's background. He made his bones with courageous radio coverage of the London Blitz. And he didn't feel compelled to tell the Nazi side of the story and help us feel Hitler's pain.
Edward R. Murrow kept secrets. Lots of them. He wanted the Allies to win. He even respected those in uniform. So he - and other journalists - remained silent about the landing exercise that went tragically awry at Slapton Sands, and about many another bad-for-morale event that might've made a hot headline. He kept D-Day-related secrets, too.
Do even our most self-adoring journalists really think that Edward R. Murrow would have published secret documents about prisons for senior Nazis during wartime?
NONE of us wants our media to engage in propaganda. We'd just like them to refrain from harming our country for selfish ends.
Which brings us to the Pulitzer-Prize-winning (and still not confirmed) story that claimed to reveal secret prisons holding a few high-ranking terrorists in Eastern Europe: If such facilities existed, what harm did they do to our country or the world? On the other hand, proclaiming their existence played into the hands of terrorists and America-haters.
That Pulitzer Prize wasn't really for journalism. It was a political statement. No one's going to get a journalism award for reporting on the War on Terror's successes or progress in Iraq. Only left-wing children get a prize.
AFTER laboring in the intelligence vineyards for over two decades, I can assure you of a few things: First, there are no super-top-secret, black-helicopter, kidnap-American-Idol-judges conspiracies hidden since 1776. Second, there are legitimate secrets that must be protected - usually because revealing them would tip our collection methods or operational techniques to our country's mortal enemies (as the secret-prisons story did).
I can assure you of a third thing, too: If an intelligence professional saw a genuine threat to the Constitution or to the rights of his or her fellow citizens, he or she would step forward - and be justified in doing so.
But pique over your presidential candidate's defeat or mere disagreement with a policy does not justify anyone - intelligence professional or political appointee - in passing classified information to a party not authorized to receive it.
This applies to White House staffers, too, no matter how senior. The law should take its course, in every case, from the briefing room to the newsroom. The Washington culture of leaks is a bipartisan disgrace - and a real-and-present danger to our security.
WE face savage enemies who obey no laws, honor no international conventions, treaties or compacts, and who believe they do the will of a vengeful god. Under the circumstances, we need to be able to keep an occasional secret.
So I would ask three questions of those journalists chasing prizes by printing our wartime secrets:
* Can you honestly claim to have done our nation any good?
* Did you weigh the harm your act might cause, including the loss of American lives?
* Is the honorable patriotism of Edward R. Murrow truly dead in American journalism?
If you draw a government (or contractor) paycheck and willfully compromise classified material, you should go to jail. If you are a journalist in receipt of classified information and you publish it to the benefit of our enemies, you should go to jail (you may, however, still accept your journalism prize, as long as the trophy has no sharp edges). And consider yourself fortunate: The penalty for treason used to be death.
When a journalist is given classified information, his or her first call shouldn't be to an editor. It should be to the FBI.


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Oily Interests
« Reply #224 on: May 04, 2006, 04:01:56 PM »
New Offshore Drilling = More Oil and Fish

by Humberto Fontova
Posted May 03, 2006

That clique of noisy, well-heeled and politically powerful south Florida voters is at it again. And as usual, Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Mel Martinez are pandering shamelessly. Never mind the national interest. This cantankerous group's archaic prejudices still prevail. Never mind simple logic. Their emotions still guide our national policy to the frustration of the rest of the nation, to the detriment of our economic well-being and to the bitter amusement of much of the world.

Never mind almost half a century of visible evidence against their moss-ridden bugaboos. Their zealotry, intransigence and apparently incurable block-headedness again prevail. This groveling by Republican politicians to a fringe group of highly emotional Florida voters is a national scandal by now. It's high time these hotheads in Florida got with the national program. They need to shed their petty obsessions with the past and start assessing the national interest soberly and in light of current developments, not stale policies enacted in the heat of hysteria almost half a century ago. Most outrageous of all, their policies hurt the very people they claim to help.

I refer, of course, to offshore oil drilling, currently banned off Florida because of rich pressure groups. That shock and awe at the gas pump might wake up a few people. There's something called the law of supply and demand. Rant and rave all you want, bellow and whine all you want, throw as many tantrums as you want, hold as many rain dances as you want, hold as many s?ances with ghosts as you want, sacrifice as many virgins as you want, burn as many witches as you want -- but no amount of legislation or wishful thinking will abolish it.

We need more oil and there are millions of barrels offshore, especially in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida. Soon Fidel Castro himself with the help of Spanish and Chinese oil companies (who are not subject to U.S. environmental rules) will be drilling for it barely 45 miles of the Florida coast. This raises the fascinating prospect of Florida beaches fouled by the very oil we'll later use to fuel the SUVs to transport us to those beaches -- all purchased from Communists who crave to blow us up.

Only politicians could create such a prospect.

Actually the fouling of beaches is a long shot. The environmental dangers of oil exploration and extraction rank right up with the marvels of Cuba's healthcare as modern man's most zealously cherished fables. It's the transportation of oil that accounts for the overwhelming number of oil spills. Recall the Valdez, the Cadiz, and the Argo Merchant. These were all tanker spills.

And even these (though hyped hysterically as environmental catastrophes) always play out as minor blips, those pictures of oil soaked seagulls notwithstanding. To the horror and anguish of professional greenies, Alaska's Prince William Sound recovered completely. More birds get fried by landing on power lines and smashed to pulp against picture windows in one week than perished from three decades of oil spills.

In fact, Florida's gorgeous and tourist-packed beaches have suffered from an ugly oil spill. It happened summer of 1976 off Panama City and Destin, by far the most beautiful beaches in America. That sugar white sand and those emerald waters were fouled from a tanker spill. The current drilling ban will make another such spill more likely. The ban not only puts us at the mercy of shaky sheikdoms and Hugo Chavez for oil, it also means we'll need to keep transporting that oil stateside -- typically to refineries in Louisiana and Texas. This path takes those tankers smack in front of Florida's beaches.

But there's another resource shortage that more drilling would solve. "Big-Fish Stocks Fall 90 Percent Since 1950," said a National Geographic headline a couple years ago. "Our demand for seafood appears to be insatiable. From giant blue marlin to mighty blue fin tuna, and from tropical groupers to Antarctic cod, industrial fishing has scoured the global ocean. There is no blue frontier left."

Then let's create a new fishing frontier, using offshore oil platforms and the explosion of marine life that always accompany their installation. It happened here in Louisiana. The observable evidence is overwhelming. The verdict is in. Of the 3,739 offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico nowadays, 3,203 lie off the Louisiana coast. We love offshore oil drilling, and not just for the loot (taxes) extorted from oil companies for the privilege.

"Environmentalists" wake up in the middle of the night sweating and whimpering about offshore oil platforms only because they've never seen what's under them. This proliferation of marine life around the platforms turned on its head every "expert" opinion of its day. The original plan, mandated by federal environmental "experts" back in the late '40s, was to remove the big, ugly, polluting, environmentally hazardous contraptions as soon as they stopped producing. Fine, said the oil companies.

About 15 years ago some wells played out off Louisiana and the oil companies tried to comply. Their ears are still ringing from the clamor fishermen put up. Turns out those platforms are going nowhere, and by popular demand of those with a bigger stake in the marine environment than any "environmentalist."

Every "environmental" superstition against these structures was turned on its head. Marine life had EXPLODED around these huge artificial reefs. Louisiana produces on third of America's seafood In fact a study by Louisiana State University shows that 85% of Louisiana offshore fishing trips involve fishing around these structures and that there's 50 times more marine life around an oil production platform than in the surrounding Gulf bottoms. Louisiana produces one-third of America's commercial fisheries -- because of, not in spite of, these platforms.

All of this and not one major oil spill in half a century -- not one. As more assurance, today's drilling technology compares to the one used only 20 years ago about like the Kitty Hawk compares to a jumbo jet. The one that gave us the Santa Barbara Oil Spill in 1969 compares to today's like a fossil.

Market forces, not meddlesome bureaucrats, account for cleaner, safer oil drilling. A deep-water drilling rig might cost $1 billion. This thing has to produce oil daily -- hourly(!) -- to recoup such a gargantuan investment. A blowout and spill would shut them down for weeks. No oil company could stay in business that way.

In 1986 Louisiana started the Rigs to Reef program, a cooperative effort by oil companies, the feds and the state. This program literally pays the oil companies to keep the platforms in the Gulf. Now they just cut them off at the bottom and topple them over as artificial reefs; more than 60 have been toppled thus far.

Louisiana wildlife and fisheries officials were recently invited to Australia to help them with a similar program. Think about it: here's the nation with the Great Barrier Reef, the world's biggest natural reef, the world's top dive destination, asking for help from Louisiana about developing exciting dive and fishing sites by using the very structures that epitomize (in greenie eyes) environmental disaster.

Mark Ferrulo, a Florida "environmental activist" who lobbies incessantly against offshore drilling called Louisiana's coastal waters "the nation's toilet."

Then Florida's fishing fleet must love fishing in toilets. And her restaurants must love serving what's in them. Many of the red snapper you eat in Florida restaurants are caught around Louisiana's oil platforms. We see the Florida-registered boats tied up to them constantly. Sometimes we can barely squeeze in.

It also turns out that Louisiana's natural reefs are much healthier than the much-protected and pampered Florida reefs. The Flower Garden coral reefs lie off the Louisiana-Texas border. Unlike any of the Florida Keys reefs, they're surrounded by dozens of offshore oil platforms that have been pumping away for the past 40 years. Yet according to G.P. Schmahl, a Federal biologist who worked for decades in both places, "The Flower Gardens are much healthier, more pristine than anything in the Florida Keys. It was a surprise to me, and I think it's a surprise to most people."

"A key measure of the health of a reef is the amount of area taken up by coral," according to a report by Steve Gittings, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's science coordinator for marine sanctuaries. "Louisiana's Flower Garden boasts nearly 50 percent coral cover ... in the Florida Keys ... it can run as little as 5 percent."

The panorama under an offshore oil platform staggers the most experienced divers. I've seen divers fresh from the Cayman's Wall surface from under an oil platform too wired on adrenaline to do anything but stutter and wipe spastically at the snot that trails to their chins. I've seen an experienced scuba-babe fresh from Belize climb out from under a platform gasping and shrieking at the sights and sensations, oblivious to the sights and sensations she was providing with her bikini top near her navel.


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The CIA and Search & Seizure
« Reply #225 on: May 10, 2006, 09:37:33 AM »
May 10, 2006, 6:19 a.m.
Unwarranted Criticism
General Hayden?s reading of the Fourth Amendment is correct, and his critics are mistaken.

By Adam White

General Michael Hayden has been nominated to direct the CIA, but his confirmation may have less to do with the CIA than with the formerly Hayden-led National Security Agency (NSA)?or, more specifically, with the NSA?s widely-publicized surveillance of communications between U.S. persons and suspected terrorist organizations. Already, critics point to Hayden?s January 2006 speech at the National Press Club, where his explanation of the rights afforded by the Fourth Amendment was received with great hostility.

Hayden was right and his critics were wrong. The next CIA director?s understanding of the Fourth Amendment entirely comports with the text of the amendment and with the Supreme Court?s interpretation of it.

In his January speech, Hayden was confronted by Knight-Ridder?s Jonathan Landay over the protections of the Fourth Amendment. The exchange, reprinted Monday on Editor & Publisher?s website, bears reprinting in full:

LANDAY: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use ?

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually ? the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

LANDAY: But the ?

GEN. HAYDEN: That's what it says.

LANDAY: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

LANDAY: But does it not say probable ?

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says ?

LANDAY: The court standard, the legal standard ?

GEN. HAYDEN: ? unreasonable search and seizure.

LANDAY: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause."

And so what many people believe ? and I'd like you to respond to this ? is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?

GEN. HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order.

Just to be very clear ? and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me ? and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one ? what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe ? I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.

Hayden?s critics unanimously sided with Landay; sharp (often mocking) denunciations quickly appeared on Media Matters, Daily Kos, Countdown with Keith Olbermann (?Well, maybe they have a different Constitution over there at the NSA?), and elsewhere.

This week, following Hayden?s nomination, Editor & Publisher republished the Hayden-Landay exchange under the headline, ?Hayden, Likely Choice for CIA Chief, Displayed Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment at Press Club.? And just yesterday, Fred Kaplan wrote an article for Slate in which he relates part of the exchange. He then comments, "This is startling. Elsewhere in the speech, Hayden said, 'If there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth.' And he doesn't know that it requires ?probable cause? as the criterion for ?reasonable? search? ... Hayden may have dug his own hole with this one.? The speech will probably be reprinted by many other critics in coming weeks, and an enterprising member of the Senate Intelligence Committee may very well quote the speech during Gen. Hayden?s confirmation hearing. But such critics would read the Fourth Amendment as poorly as Landay did.

As the Fourth Amendment provides (emphasis added),

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

On its face, the amendment only provides for protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, while it later provides that no warrant shall issue without ?probable cause.? Landay and Hayden?s critics mistakenly apply the ?probable cause? requirement to the ?searches and seizures? provision. That reading is erroneous on its face; to apply the amendment?s warrant requirements to the searches and seizures clause would also require that searches be supported ?by oath or affirmation,? with the objects of the search described in advance. Hayden?s reading?that searches must only be ?reasonable??is the better reading.

Hayden?s critics? mistaken reading of the Fourth Amendment is not even supported by the Supreme Court?s decisions. True, the Supreme Court, in interpreting and applying the searches and seizure provision, has in many cases equated ?probable cause? with ?reasonableness,? even in cases where a warrant is not required. But the Court has explicitly warned that the two terms are not equivalent in all circumstances. In the Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton (1995), for example, the Court roundly rejected Hayden?s critics? reading of the amendment (emphasis in original):

Warrants cannot be issued, of course, without the showing of probable cause required by the Warrant Clause. But a warrant is not required to establish the reasonableness of all government searches; and when a warrant is not required (and the Warrant Clause therefore not applicable), probable cause is not invariably required either. A search unsupported by probable cause can be constitutional, we have said, ?when special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable-cause requirement impracticable.?

Critics can argue whether the government?s surveillance program satisfies the ?special needs? requirement spelled out by the Supreme Court, but they can?t argue that the Fourth Amendment (either on its face or as interpreted by the Supreme Court) requires that all searches be supported by probable cause. Such criticism of Gen. Hayden would be both unwarranted and unreasonable.

?Adam J. White was recently a clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. His article on Justice Robert Jackson?s draft opinions in the Korean War-era Steel Seizure Cases will appear in the Albany Law Review later this year.

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On the Anvil
« Reply #226 on: May 11, 2006, 10:05:34 AM »
May 11, 2006, 6:10 a.m.
In Our Backyard
If only McCain and Kennedy lived on ranches in southern Arizona.

By Leo W. Banks

I know how to kill the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill and the illusions that inspire it. We need every citizen to spend a day at John and Pat King's Anvil Ranch in southern Arizona. The experience would create an overnight revolution in America's view of this domestic crisis.

The Kings live every day with barking dogs, vandalism, guns at their bedside, trash on their land, and most tragically, human remains. The bodies of seven illegals were found on the 50,000-acre Anvil last year.

?Can you imagine dying of heat prostration out there?? says Pat King, a 62-year-old former nurse. ?It has got to be the most awful thing. I wish the two countries would get together and stop this. In this whole 50-mile area, there is no law. It's a frontier.?

I visited the Anvil a week ago Sunday. The night before, the Minutemen had wrapped up a month-long watch at the ranch, and the nationwide demonstrations to demand rights for illegal immigrants would begin the next morning.

I've visited many Arizona ranches, and it always surprises me how quickly I can travel from Tucson to a combat zone. It takes 50 minutes to reach Anvil's headquarters in heavily-crossed Altar Valley, located to the southwest of the city. Even with that proximity, most people in Tucson?to say nothing of Maine or Washington, D.C.?live in blissful ignorance of the worsening situation here.

When Pat discusses the problem with friends, they say, ?Don't you think you're exaggerating?? No one would ask that if they saw the 40 bicycles stacked against one of the Anvil's out-buildings. They're the favored means of transportation for drug smugglers, who pack their cargo onto saddlebags and pedal across our border, then abandon the bikes.

As for vandalism, Pat describes what they experience today as ?wanton,??water troughs filled with garbage, pipes cut, valves hammered to pieces. She jokes that they're thinking of putting a tetherball by the troughs to occupy the illegals so they aren't so destructive.

?You have to understand, we're under siege here,? she says. ?Every day my son and husband check water and fences and redo the damage they've done. Not to get on with our work, but to undo the damage. Every. Day.?

Micaela McGibbon, Pat's daughter, took me on a ranch tour, and in one mile we crossed 30 smuggling trails. In a wash, we inspected sophisticated brush huts in which illegals rest during trips north.

But this nightmare comes right to the Kings' doorstep. Imagine living under permanent stakeout. The Kings do. They removed mesquite trees from around their house because illegals would hide underneath them and wait for the house to empty.

For nine years, the family has been unable to leave home unless someone stays to guard against burglars. They celebrate Christmas in shifts. On Christmas Eve, Pat's son and daughter-in-law go to Tucson to visit family, and when they return John and Pat go on Christmas morning.

Micaela can no longer do chores unless accompanied by her father or a brother, and taking her 4-year-old daughter out on horseback is forbidden. ?We can't go anywhere without an escort,? Micaela says.

The Kings have complained to politicians and law enforcement for years. ?They talk this rule of law stuff, but it doesn't mean a thing,? Pat says. ?When you realize nothing's going to happen, you have to do self-protection.?

During their April watch, Minutemen spotted 1,501 illegals on the Anvil, and of these the Border Patrol arrested 500. But it turned into a circus. ACLU volunteers showed up every day to monitor and harass the Minutemen, at times sounding car horns and flashing lights to alert the illegals that the Border Patrol was coming.

This is the border crisis in microcosm?confused Americans rush to defend lawbreakers while ignoring, even demonizing, law-abiding citizens who suffer daily affronts to basic liberties on land their family has tended for 115 years.

The Anvil's location, 38 miles north of the border, means that by the time illegals arrive there, they've been walking for days and are sometimes in desperate shape.

Between May and August last year, cowboy Jason Cathcart found four sets of human remains. He came to dread spotting what looked like little white balls in the distance. Those ?balls? turned out to be human skulls.

In March, a man arrived at the Anvil's front gate so distraught that he ran into the yard and tried to impale himself on a pitchfork. Later he took up a bale hook and used the pointed end to slash his throat.

?This is what life is like in the Altar Valley,? says Pat.

Certainly the McCain-Kennedy bill will do nothing to change life here. Pat likens the bill, with its plan for amnesty, a guest-worker program, and negligible enforcement, to swatting flies in your house with the doors and windows wide open.

Ask yourself: Would the Altar Valley be a war zone if McCain lived here? If Kennedy's Hyannis Port compound were magically transplanted to southern Arizona, how long do you think it'd be before he rewrote his bill? The first time Kennedy saw 30 illegals dashing across his property, he'd trip over his Guatemalan lawn guy rushing to the Senate floor to demand enforcement.

That's one of the American tragedies at play here, the abandonment of ordinary citizens by our country's elites, and most strikingly, the abandonment of the very laws they themselves have written.

The resulting invasion has driven legal Arizona residents from their land, including John King's aunt. She lived south of the Anvil for more than 40 years, but sold out rather than keep fighting a battle the federal government has no intention of winning.

Pat thinks the street demonstrators?she calls them cowards?need to show their bravery by returning to Mexico and changing that country, not ours.

?We did that with the Boston Tea Party,? she says. ?We were taxed without representation and we rose up and changed it. I think the students in the streets and these young ACLU individuals here are being used. When you talk to them you realize it's all emotion. There's no logic. They don't have a clue.?

When it comes to what's really happening on our southern border, neither does the rest of the country. But that would change if every American spent a day at the Anvil.

?Leo W. Banks is a writer in Tucson.

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Missed Connections
« Reply #227 on: May 15, 2006, 04:17:53 PM »
To connect the dots, you have to see the dots

May 14, 2006


Here are two news stories from the end of last week. The first one you may have heard about. As "The Today Show's" Matt Lauer put it:

"Does the government have your number? This morning a shocking new report that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans."

The second story comes from the United Kingdom and what with Lauer's hyperventilating you may have missed it. It was the official report into the July 7 bus and Tube bombings. As The Times of London summarized the conclusions:

"Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the bomb cell, had come to the attention of MI5 [Britain's domestic intelligence agency] on five occasions but had never been pursued as a serious suspect . . .

"A lack of communication between police Special Branch units, MI5 and other agencies had hampered the intelligence-gathering operation;

"There was a lack of co-operation with foreign intelligence services and inadequate intelligence coverage in . . ."

Etc., etc., ad nauseam.

So there are now two basic templates in terrorism media coverage:

Template A (note to editors: to be used after every terrorist atrocity): "Angry family members, experts and opposition politicians demand to know why complacent government didn't connect the dots."

Template B (note to editors: to be used in the run-up to the next terrorist atrocity): "Shocking new report leaked to New York Times for Pulitzer Prize Leak Of The Year Award nomination reveals that paranoid government officials are trying to connect the dots! See pages 3,4,6,7,8, 13-37."

How do you connect the dots? To take one example of what we're up against, two days before 9/11, a very brave man, the anti-Taliban resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, was assassinated in Afghanistan by killers posing as journalists. His murderers were Algerians traveling on Belgian passports who'd arrived in that part of the world on visas issued by the Pakistani High Commission in the United Kingdom. That's three more countries than many Americans have visited. The jihadists are not "primitives". They're part of a sophisticated network: They travel the world, see interesting places, meet interesting people -- and kill them. They're as globalized as McDonald's -- but, on the whole, they fill in less paperwork. They're very good at compartmentalizing operations: They don't leave footprints, just a toeprint in Country A in Time Zone B and another toe in Country E in Time Zone K. You have to sift through millions of dots to discern two that might be worth connecting.

I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. "Look at this headline," huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?"

No. But next time he's flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?

Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let's scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government's snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab." In a country whose Transportation Security Administration personnel recently pulled Daniel Brown off the plane as a security threat because he had traces of gunpowder on his boots -- he was a uniformed U.S. Marine on his way home from Iraq -- in such a culture any security measure will involve "tens of millions of Americans": again by definition, if one can't profile on the basis of religion or national origin or any other identifying mark with identity-group grievance potential, every program will have to be at least nominally universal.

Last week, apropos the Moussaoui case, I remarked on the absurdity of victims of the London Blitz demanding the German perpetrators be brought before a British court. Melanie Phillips, a columnist with the Daily Mail in London and author of the alarming new book Londonistan, responded dryly, "Ah, but if we were fighting World War Two now, we'd lose."

She may be right. It's certainly hard to imagine Pat Leahy as FDR or Harry Truman or any other warmongering Democrat of yore. To be sure, most of Pat's Vermont voters would say there is no war; it's just a lot of fearmongering got up by Bush and Cheney to distract from the chads they stole in Florida or whatever. And they're right -- if, by "war," you mean tank battles in the North African desert and air forces bombing English cities night after night. But today no country in the world can fight that kind of war with America. If that's all "war" is, then (once more by definition) there can be no war. If you seek to weaken, demoralize and bleed to death the United States and its allies, you can only do it asymmetrically -- by killing thousands of people and then demanding a criminal trial, by liaising with terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and then demanding the government cease inspecting your phone records.

I yield to no one in my antipathy to government, but not everyone who's on the federal payroll is a boob, a time-server, a politically motivated malcontent or principal leak supplier to the New York Times. Suppose you're a savvy mid-level guy in Washington, you've just noticed a pattern, you think there might be something in it. But it requires enormous will to talk your bosses into agreeing to investigate further, and everyone up the chain is thinking, gee, if this gets out, will Pat Leahy haul me before the Senate and kill my promotion prospects? There was a lot of that before 9/11, and thousands died.


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« Reply #228 on: May 19, 2006, 11:06:46 AM »
May 19, 2006, 6:26 a.m.
Dealing with the crazy world after Iraq.

By Victor Davis Hanson

How does the United States deal with a corrupt world in which we are blamed even for the good we do, while others are praised when they do wrong or remain indifferent to suffering?

We are accused of unilateral and preemptory bullying of the madman Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose reactors that will be used to ?wipe out? the ?one-bomb? state of Israel were supplied by Swiss, German, and Russian profit-minded businessmen. No one thinks to chastise those who sold Iran the capability of destroying Israel.

Here in the United States we worry whether we are tough enough with the Gulf sheikdoms in promoting human rights and democratic reform. Meanwhile China simply offers them cash for oil, no questions asked. Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez pose as anti-Western zealots to Western naifs. The one has never held an election; the other tries his best to end the democracy that brought him to power. Meanwhile our fretting elites, back from Europe or South America, write ever more books on why George Bush and the Americans are not liked.

Hamas screams that we are mean for our logical suggestion that free American taxpayers will not subsidize such killers and terrorists. Those in the Middle East whine about Islamophobia, but keep silent that there is not allowed a Sunni mosque in Iran or a Christian church in Saudi Arabia. An entire book could be written about the imams and theocrats?in Iran, Egypt, the West Bank, Pakistan, and the Gulf States?who in safety issue fatwas and death pronouncements against Americans in Iraq and any who deal with the ?infidel,? and yet send their spoiled children to private schools in Britain and the United States, paid for by their own blackmail money from corrupt governments.

You get the overall roundup: the Europeans have simply absorbed as their own the key elements of ossified French foreign policy?utopian rhetoric and anti-Americanism can pretty much give you a global pass to sell anything you wish to anyone at anytime.

China is more savvy. It discards every disastrous economic policy Mao ever enacted, but keeps two cornerstones of Maoist dogma: imply force to bully, and keep the veneer of revolutionary egalitarianism to mask cutthroat capitalism and diplomacy, from copyright theft and intellectual piracy to smiling at rogue clients like North Korea and disputing the territorial claims of almost every neighbor in sight.

Oil cuts a lot of idealism in the Middle East. The cynicism is summed up simply as ?Those who sell lecture, and those who buy listen.? American efforts in Iraq?the largest aid program since the Marshall Plan, where American blood and treasure go to birth democracy?are libeled as ?no blood for oil.? Yet a profiteering Saudi Arabia or Kuwait does more to impoverish poor oil-importing African and Asian nations than any regime on earth. But this sick, corrupt world keeps mum.

And why not ask Saudi Arabia about its now lionized and well-off al-Ghamdi clan? Aside from the various Ghamdi terrorists and bin-Laden hangers-on, remember young Ahmad, the 20-year-old medical student who packed his suicide vest with ball bearings and headed for Mosul, where he blew up 18 Americans? Or how about dear Ahmad and Hamza, the Ghamdis who helped crash Flight 175 into the South Tower on September 11? And please do not forget either the Saudi icon Said Ghamdi, who, had he not met Todd Beamer and Co. on Flight 93, would have incinerated the White House or the Capitol.

So we know the symptoms of this one-sided anti-Americanism and its strange combination of hatred, envy, and yearning?but, so far, not its remedy. In the meantime, the global caricature of the United States, in the aftermath of Iraq, is proving near fatal to the Bush administration, whose idealism and sharp break with past cynical realpolitik have earned it outright disdain. Indeed, the more al Qaeda is scattered, and the more Iraq looks like it will eventually emerge as a constitutional government, the angrier the world seems to become at the United States. American success, it seems, is even worse than failure.

Some of the criticism is inevitable. America is in an unpopular reconstruction of Iraq that has cost lives and treasure. Observers looked only at the explosions, never what the sacrifice was for?especially when it is rare for an Afghan or Iraqi ever to visit the United States to express thanks for giving their peoples a reprieve from the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

We should also accept that the United States, as the world?s policeman, always suffers the easy hatred of the cops, who are as ankle-bitten when things are calm as they are desperately sought when danger looms. America is the genitor and largest donor to the United Nations. Its military is the ultimate guarantor of free commerce by land and sea, and its wide-open market proves the catalyst of international trade. More immigrants seek its shores than all other designations combined?especially from countries of Latin America, whose criticism of the United States is the loudest.

Nevertheless, while we cannot stop anti-Americanism, here (a consequence, in part, of a deep-seeded, irrational sense of inferiority) and abroad, we can adopt a wiser stance that puts the onus of responsibility more on our critics.

We have a window of 1 to 3 years in Iran before it deploys nuclear weapons. Let Ahmadinejad talk and write?the loonier and longer, the better, as we smile and ignore him and his monstrous ilk.

Let also the Europeans and Arabs come to us to ask our help, as sphinx-like we express ?concern? for their security needs. Meanwhile we should continue to try to appeal to Iranian dissidents, stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, and resolve that at the eleventh hour this nut with his head in a well will not obtain the methods to destroy what we once knew as the West.

Ditto with Hamas. Don?t demonize it?just don?t give it any money. Praise democracy, but not what was elected.

We should curtail money to Mr. Mubarak as well. No need for any more sermons on democracy?been there, done that. Now we should accept with quiet resignation that if an aggregate $50 billion in give-aways have earned us the most anti-American voices in the Middle East, then a big fat zero for Egypt might be an improvement. After all, there must be something wrong with a country that gave us both Mohammad Atta and Dr. Zawahiri.

The international Left loves to champion humanitarian causes that do not involve the immediate security needs of the United States, damning us for inaction even as they are the first to slander us for being military interventionists. We know the script of Haiti, Mogadishu, and the Balkans, where Americans are invited in, and then harped at both for using and not using force. Where successful, the credit goes elsewhere; failure is always ours alone. Still, we should organize multinational efforts to save those in Darfur?but only after privately insisting that every American soldier must be matched by a European, Chinese, and Russian peacekeeper.

There are other ways to curb our exposure to irrational hatred that seems so to demoralize the American public. First, we should cease our Olympian indifference to hypocrisy, instead pointing out politely inconsistencies in European, Middle Eastern, and Chinese morality. Why not express more concern about the inexplicable death of Balkan kingpin prisoners at The Hague or European sales of nuclear technology to madmen or institutionalized Chinese theft of intellectual property?

We need to reexamine the nature of our overseas American bases, elevating the political to the strategic, which, it turns out, are inseparable after all. To take one small example: When Greeks pour out on their streets to rage at a visiting American secretary of State, we should ask ourselves, do we really need a base in Crete that is so costly in rent and yet ensures Greeks security without responsibility or maturity? Surely once we leave, those brave opportunistic souls in the streets of Athens can talk peace with the newly Islamist Turkish government, solve Cyprus on their own, or fend off terrorists from across the Mediterranean.

The point is not to be gratuitously punitive or devolve into isolationism, but to continue to apply to Europe the model that was so successful in the Philippines and now South Korea?ongoing redeployment of Americans to where we can still strike in emergencies, but without empowering hypocritical hosts in time of peace.

We must also sound in international fora as friendly and cooperative as possible with the Russians, Chinese, and the lunatic Latin American populists?even as we firm up our contingency plans and strengthen military ties of convenience with concerned states like Australia, Japan, India, and Brazil.

The United States must control our borders, for reasons that transcend even terrorism and national security. One way to cool the populist hatred emanating from Latin America is to ensure that it becomes a privilege, not a birthright, to enter the United States. In traveling the Middle East, I notice the greatest private complaint is not Israel or even Iraq, but the inability to enter the United States as freely as in the past. And that, oddly, is not necessarily a bad thing, as those who damn us are slowly learning that their cheap hatred has had real consequences.

Then there is, of course, oil. It is the great distorter, one that punishes the hard-working poor states who need fuel to power their reforming economies while rewarding failed regimes for their mischief, by the simple accident that someone else discovered it, developed it, and then must purchase it from under their dictatorial feet. We must drill, conserve, invent, and substitute our way out of this crisis to ensure the integrity of our foreign policy, to stop the subsidy of crazies like Chavez and Ahmadinejad, and to lower the world price of petroleum that taxes those who can least afford it. There is a reason, after all, why the al-Ghamdis are popular icons in Saudi Arabia rather than on the receiving end of a cruise missile.

So we need more firm explanation, less loud assertion, more quiet with our enemies, more lectures to neutrals and friends?and always the very subtle message that cheap anti-Americanism will eventually have consequences.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

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Presidential Fortitude
« Reply #229 on: May 23, 2006, 09:52:50 AM »
May 23, 2006, 6:08 a.m.
The Bravest President
This guy is good.

By Michael Novak

Now when he is at his lowest point yet in the polls is the time for those who love and admire President Bush to say so. Depending on the final success of his already successful campaign to bring the rudiments of democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq, George W. Bush, #43, may go down as a truly great president, who against fierce odds turned the entire Middle East in a new, more democratic, and more creative direction.
But I do not want to argue here the question of his greatness (I have heard voices call him the worst ever) because the question of ranking is above my pay grade and my foresight.

What I do want to argue is that, after Washington and Lincoln, Bush is the bravest of our presidents. He has faced the most intense fire, hatred, contempt, heavily moneyed and bitterly acidic partisan opposition, underhandedness, betrayal, of any president in the last hundred years. He has faced hostility over a longer time, in possibly the most dangerous period of international warfare in our national history. He has remained constant, firm, decided, and generous (to a fault) with his opponents.

He has faced almost unbroken contempt from the academy, from the mainstream press, from Democratic elites, from Moveon and all the other holders of the Democratic-party purse strings, from the Democratic Congress, from his treacherous (if not treasonous) Central Intelligence Agency, and from many levels of the permanent State Department. Almost every day, he has been pummeled and undermined by powerful forces of American power. Still, he has stayed firm, with clear arguments, and an even clearer vision.

On the number-one issue facing the nation?the war declared upon us by fascists who pretend to be religious?he has not wavered, he has not bent, he has stayed on course and true.

In Iraq, civil society, nearly comatose under Saddam Hussein, is today alive and full of vitality. Newspapers and television and magazines are full of diversity and energy, political parties multiply, private associations are functioning by the thousands, most of the country is more secure than some American cities. Iraqi exiles from around the world, far from fleeing, are coming back in droves.

In Paris, France, more cars may have been set on fire this past year than car bombings in Baghdad. In the decade of the Algerian war some time ago there may have been more bombings in France per week than there are now in Iraq. A tiny band of extremists, led by a crafty but crazed Jordanian, are still capable of impressive resourcefulness and ruthless killing, especially within camera reach of the hotels in Baghdad, where the American press is bunkered down. But they represent only a small fringe of Iraqi voters?and of course they loathe democracy with all their writhing intestines.

Despite the depredations, beheadings, and homicide bombings aimed at American public opinion, and especially elite opinion, President Bush has bravely kept his focus on eliminating one by one the dwindling band of terrorists, on the reconstruction of Iraqi civil society, and on the ability of Iraqi parties to broker and bargain and argue themselves into consensus in a political manner.

Whatever American voters may say of him to opinion pollsters?and his polls are now very low indeed?the survival of democracy in Iraq will in the future count as an enormous achievement. Moreover, the exchange in Arab minds of the "big idea" of democracy for the grand illusions of the past (Arab nationalism, Arab socialism, Baathist dictatorship, pan-Arabism), may a generation from now confer on President Bush the unmistakable honor of having been one of those presidents who actually changed the course of history. A president who changed the course of history, yes?and also one who did so against unprecedented opposition at home, bitter and hysterical opposition, even from those who were formerly of the party of democracy, human rights, and international outreach.

It takes more bravery to continue walking calmly through immense hostility at home, than to face down a foreign foe, with a united nation at one's back. This, as I say, is a very brave president.

It may also turn out that, despite currently swirling furies, the president's stout refusal to be merely partisan or to throw red meat to some of his best supporters (he knew as well as anybody what they most wanted now), alongside the five interlinked courses of action he proposed, will have empowered a much more thorough immigration reform than seemed possible even four weeks earlier.

Despite a normal diet of failures and setbacks, common to all presidents, it is also worth counting up his steady, always surprising successes in cutting taxes, in reshaping the Supreme Court, in getting personal Social Security accounts and personal medical accounts on the agenda of public discussion (the first president since Roosevelt to touch the third rail and live to tell of it), and in presiding over the most amazing economy in the world during the past six years.

Polls may be fickle. Notable accomplishments endure, as rock-solid facts. The full record of this president may yet turn out to be as highly ranked as his bravery is bound to be.

If you were in his shoes, would you not prefer the fame of 30 years from now to popularity in your own time? Being popular is neither within one's own control nor, in the larger scheme, a goal worth pursuing. Doing the right thing steadily, as best one can, is.

I like this guy. And I admire his guts, and his decency.

? Michael Novak is the winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize for progress in religion and the George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Novak's own website is

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VDH on Iraq and Memorial Day
« Reply #230 on: May 26, 2006, 09:33:41 AM »
May 26, 2006, 7:19 a.m.
Looking Back at Iraq
A war to be proud of.

By Victor Davis Hanson

There may be a lot to regret about the past policy of the United States in the Middle East, but the removal of Saddam Hussein and the effort to birth democracy in his place is surely not one of them. And we should remember that this Memorial Day.

Whatever our righteous anger at Khomeinist Iran, it was wrong, well aside from the arms-for-hostages scandal, to provide even a modicum of aid to Saddam Hussein, the great butcher of his own, during the Iran-Iraq war.

Inviting the fascist Baathist government of Syria into the allied coalition of the first Gulf War meant that we more or less legitimized the Assad regime?s take-over of Lebanon, with disastrous results for its people.

It may have been strategically in error not to have taken out Saddam in 1991, but it was morally wrong to have then encouraged Shiites and Kurds to rise up?while watching idly as Saddam?s reprieved planes and helicopters slaughtered them in the thousands.

A decade of appeasement of Islamic terrorism, with retaliations after the serial attacks?from the first World Trade Center bombing to Khobar Towers and the USS Cole?never exceeding the occasional cruise missile or stern televised lecture, made September 11 inevitable.

A decade was wasted in subsidizing Yasser Arafat on the pretense that he was something other than a mendacious thug.

I cite these few examples of the now nostalgic past, because it is common to see Iraq written off by the architects of these past failures as the ?worst? policy decision in our history, a ?quagmire? and a ?disaster.? Realists, more worried about Iran and the ongoing cost in our blood and treasure in Iraq, insist that toppling Saddam was a terrible waste of resources. Leftists see the Iraq war as part of an amoral imperialism; often their talking points weirdly end up rehashed in bin Laden?s communiqu?s and Dr. Zawahiri?s rants.

But what did 2,400 brave and now deceased Americans really sacrifice for in Iraq, along with thousands more who were wounded? And what were billions in treasure spent on? And what about the hundreds of collective years of service offered by our soldiers? What exactly did intrepid officers in the news like a Gen. Petreus, or Col. McMaster, or Lt. Col Kurilla fight for?

First, there is no longer a mass murderer atop one of the oil-richest states in the world. Imagine what Iraq would now look like with $70 a barrel oil, a $50 billion unchecked and ongoing Oil-for-Food U.N. scandal, the 15th year of no-fly zones, a punitative U.N. embargo on the Iraqi people?all perverted by Russian arms sales, European oil concessions, and frenzied Chinese efforts to get energy contracts from Saddam.

The Kurds would remain in perpetual danger. The Shiites would simply be harvested yearly, in quiet, by Saddam?s police state. The Marsh Arabs would by now have been forgotten in their toxic dust-blown desert. Perhaps Saddam would have upped his cash pay-outs for homicide bombers on the West Bank.

Muammar Khaddafi would be starting up his centrifuges and adding to his chemical weapons depots. Syria would still be in Lebanon. Washington would probably have ceased pressuring Egypt and the Gulf States to enact reform. Dr. Khan?s nuclear mail-order house would be in high gear. We would still be hearing of a ?militant wing? of Hamas, rather than watching a democratically elected terrorist clique reveal its true creed to the world.

But just as importantly, what did these rare Americans not fight for? Oil, for one thing. The price skyrocketed after they went in. The secret deals with Russia and France ended. The U.N. petroleum perfidy stopped. The Iraqis, and the Iraqis alone?not Saddam, the French, the Russians, or the U.N.?now adjudicate how much of their natural resources they will sell, and to whom.

Our soldiers fought for the chance of a democracy; that fact is uncontestable. Before they came to Iraq, there was a fascist dictatorship. Now, after three elections, there is an indigenous democratic government for the first time in the history of the Middle East. True, thousands of Iraqis have died publicly in the resulting sectarian mess; but thousands were dying silently each year under Saddam?with no hope that their sacrifice would ever result in the first steps that we have already long passed.

Our soldiers also removed a great threat to the United States. Again, the crisis brewing over Iran reminds us of what Iraq would have reemerged as. Like Iran, Saddam reaped petroprofits, sponsored terror, and sought weapons of mass destruction. But unlike Iran, he had already attacked four of his neighbors, gassed thousands of his own, and violated every agreement he had ever signed. There would have been no nascent new democracy in Iran that might some day have undermined Saddam, and, again unlike Iran, no internal dissident movement that might have come to power through a revolution or peaceful evolution.

No, Saddam?s police state was wounded, but would have recovered, given high oil prices, Chinese and Russian perfidy, and Western exhaustion with enforcement of U.N. sanctions. Moreover, the American military took the war against radical Islam right to its heart in the ancient caliphate. It has not only killed thousands of jihadists, but dismantled the hierarchy of al Qaeda and its networks, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Critics say that we ?took our eye off the ball? by going to Iraq and purportedly leaving bin Laden alone in the Hindu Kush. But more likely, al Qaeda took its eye off the American homeland as the promised theater of operations once American ground troops began dealing with Islamic terrorists in Iraq. As we near five years after September 11, note how less common becomes the expression ?not if, but when? concerning the next anticipated terror attack in the U.S.

Some believe that the odyssey of jihadists to Iraq means we created terrorists, but again, it is far more likely, as al Qaeda communiqu?s attest, that we drew those with such propensities into Iraq. Once there, they have finally shown the world that they hate democracy, but love to kill and behead?and that has brought a great deal of moral clarity to the struggle. After Iraq, the reputation of bin Laden and radical Islam has not been enhanced as alleged, but has plummeted. For all the propaganda on al Jazeera, the chattering classes in the Arab coffeehouses still watch Americans fighting to give Arabs the vote, and radical Islamists in turn beheading men and women to stop it.

If many in the Middle East once thought it was cute that 19 killers could burn a 20-acre hole in Manhattan, I am not sure what they think of Americans now in their backyard not living to die, but willing to die so that other Arabs might live freely.

All of our achievements are hard to see right now. The Iraqis are torn by sectarianism, and are not yet willing to show gratitude to America for saving them from Saddam and pledging its youth and billions to give them something better. We are nearing the third national election of the war, and Iraq has become so politicized that our efforts are now beyond caricature. An archivist is needed to remind the American people of the record of all the loud politicians and the national pundits who once were on record in support of the war.

Europeans have demonized our efforts?but not so much lately, as pacifist Europe sits on its simmering volcano of Islamic fundamentalism and unassimilated Muslim immigrants. Our own Left has tossed out ?no blood for oil??that is, until the sky-rocketing prices, the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, and a new autonomous Iraqi oil ministry cooled that rhetoric. Halliburton is also now not so commonly alleged as the real casus belli, when few contractors of any sort wish to rush into Iraq to profit.

?Bush lied, thousands died? grows stale when the WMD threat was reiterated by Arabs, the U.N., and the Europeans. The ?too few troops? debate is not the sort that characterizes imperialism, especially when no American proconsul argues that we must permanently stay in large numbers in Iraq. The new Iraqi-elected president, not Donald Rumsfeld, is more likely to be seen on television, insisting that Americans remain longer.

A geography more uninviting for our soldiers than Iraq cannot be imagined?7,000 miles away, surrounded by Baathist Syria, Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, and theocratic Iran. The harsh landscape rivals the worst of past battlefields?blazing temperatures, wind, and dust. The host culture that our soldiers faced was Orwellian?a society terrorized by a mass murderer for 30 years, who ruled by alternately promising Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish collaborationists that cooperation meant only that fewer of their own would die.

The timing was equally awful?in an era of easy anti-Americanism in Europe, and endemic ingratitude in the Muslim world that asks nothing of itself, everything of us, and blissfully forgets the thousands of Muslims saved by Americans in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Somalia, and the billions more lavished on Jordanians, Palestinians, and Egyptians.

And here at home? There are few Ernie Pyles in Iraq to record the heroism of our soldiers; no John Fords to film their valor?but legions to write ad nauseam of Abu Ghraib, and to make up stories of flushed Korans and Americans terrorizing Iraqi women and children.

Yet here we are with an elected government in place, an Iraqi security force growing, and an autocratic Middle East dealing with the aftershocks of the democratic concussion unleashed by American soldiers in Iraq.

Reading about Gettysburg, Okinawa, Choisun, Hue, and Mogadishu is often to wonder how such soldiers did what they did. Yet never has America asked its youth to fight under such a cultural, political, and tactical paradox as in Iraq, as bizarre a mission as it is lethal. And never has the American military?especially the U.S. Army and Marines?in this, the supposedly most cynical and affluent age of our nation, performed so well.

We should remember the achievement this Memorial Day of those in the field who alone crushed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, stayed on to offer a new alternative other than autocracy and theocracy, and kept a targeted United States safe from attack for over four years.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

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The Protecting Incumbents from Accountability Act
« Reply #231 on: June 01, 2006, 10:10:27 AM »
Blacking Out Speech
McCain-Feingold?s assault on freedom.

By Newt Gingrich

In the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson became president and swept his party into power due, in part, to the country?s overwhelming opposition to the Sedition Act of 1798. This act was a deliberate attempt by the Federalists in power to silence their political opponents.

The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law enacted in 2002 is an equally dangerous modern-day assault on the First Amendment. It could more accurately be called the McCain-Feingold censorship law because it stifles political speech, protects incumbent politicians and consolidates power in Washington. This law is of the Congress, by the Congress, and for the Congress, because it protects members of Congress by silencing opposing points of view.

McCain-Feingold explicitly rejects James Madison?s warning in Federalist 10 that the destruction of liberty in pursuit of ?curing the mischief of factions? is worse than the disease itself.

Madison and Thomas Jefferson were very sensitive to limitations on free speech because they lived through the Federalist efforts to criminalize political speech that was critical of the government. In response to the Sedition Act, Madison helped author the Virginia legislature?s resolution that declared the act unconstitutional and stated that the law ?ought to produce universal alarm, because it is leveled against that right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed, the only effectual guardian of every other right.?

Jefferson helped write Kentucky?s resolution, which called the Sedition Act a momentous regulation that wounds ?the best rights of the citizen? and stated that ?it would consider a silent acquiescence [to it] as highly criminal.?

Today we are seeing the most systematic effort to censor and repress political speech by those in power since the Federalist overreach of the 18th century.

This is no exaggeration. The ongoing litigation between Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is a clear example of this.

WRTL attempted to air several issue ads in Wisconsin in the summer of 2004 calling on citizens to urge both of Wisconsin?s U.S. Senators to oppose the filibustering of federal judicial appointments. McCain-Feingold however, which Wisconsin Senator Feingold cosponsored, contains a free speech ?blackout period? before elections in which radio and television ads mentioning a candidate are deemed ?electioneering communications? and are thus illegal. Therefore, since Senator Feingold was up for reelection in 60 days, this Wisconsin grassroots organization could not exercise their First Amendment rights and hold their elected representative accountable.

In Maine, we are now seeing the same thing happen again. The Christian Civic League of Maine (CCL) wants to broadcast a grassroots lobbying advertisement calling on Maine?s senators?by name?to support the federal Marriage Protection Amendment before the Senate votes on it next week. The FEC objected and argued in federal district court that the Maine Christian Civic League can?t use the Senators names in the ad because it would fall within the McCain-Feingold free speech blackout period before Maine?s June 13 primary election. The FEC won and this case is now on appeal to the Supreme Court, although with each passing day CCL is prohibited from running its grassroots advocacy ad.

This is horribly wrong. What would the Founding Fathers have thought of such free speech ?blackout periods?? The days leading up to an election ought to be filled with debate. Free speech and activism, by informing and organizing the public, empower average citizens to promote a cause they believe in and to demand honest and responsive representation. Instead, the incumbent politicians that supported McCain-Feingold prefer to keep us quiet and prevent us from making noise about their records as Election Day gets closer.

A great travesty of the law is that it makes it harder for candidates of middle-class means to run for office at all. Instead, we have the example of how one candidate spent $100 million personally to buy a Senate seat, then a governorship, but while in the Senate voted for McCain-Feingold to limit every middle-class citizen to $2,500 in donations per election campaign. These rules move us dangerously closer to a plutocracy where the highest bidder can buy a seat.

In 1994, the Contract with America was a commitment to restore the bond of trust between individuals and their elected officials, putting the interests of the American people above all else. By limiting the ability of individuals or a collective group of individuals to participate and voice their opinion Congress is breaking this bond.

We must repeal McCain-Feingold as the necessary first step towards reaffirming a bond of trust between the American people and their elected representatives.

A truly functioning campaign system would take power out of Washington and return it to its owners?the American people. Such a system would allow individuals to make unlimited contributions to candidates for Congress in their district, so long as it is reported immediately on the Internet and is transparent and accessible.

Once the American people come to understand the nature of McCain-Feingold?s assault on liberty, there is no doubt that the final outcome will be the same today as it was for the Sedition Act: repeal. Those skeptical of seeking this reform should consider the words of Ronald Reagan: ?If you're afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.?

?Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America.

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The Global Warming Sky isn't Falling
« Reply #232 on: June 05, 2006, 04:17:58 PM »
david harsanyi | staff columnist
Chill out over global warming
By David Harsanyi
Denver Post Staff Columnist

You'll often hear the left lecture about the importance of dissent in a free society.

Why not give it a whirl?

Start by challenging global warming hysteria next time you're at a LoDo cocktail party and see what happens.

Admittedly, I possess virtually no expertise in science. That puts me in exactly the same position as most dogmatic environmentalists who want to craft public policy around global warming fears.

The only inconvenient truth about global warming, contends Colorado State University's Bill Gray, is that a genuine debate has never actually taken place. Hundreds of scientists, many of them prominent in the field, agree.

Gray is perhaps the world's foremost hurricane expert. His Tropical Storm Forecast sets the standard. Yet, his criticism of the global warming "hoax" makes him an outcast.

"They've been brainwashing us for 20 years," Gray says. "Starting with the nuclear winter and now with the global warming. This scare will also run its course. In 15-20 years, we'll look back and see what a hoax this was."

Gray directs me to a 1975 Newsweek article that whipped up a different fear: a coming ice age.

"Climatologists," reads the piece, "are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change. ... The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality."

Thank God they did nothing. Imagine how warm we'd be?

Another highly respected climatologist, Roger Pielke Sr. at the University of Colorado, is also skeptical.

Pielke contends there isn't enough intellectual diversity in the debate. He claims a few vocal individuals are quoted "over and over" again, when in fact there are a variety of opinions.

I ask him: How do we fix the public perception that the debate is over?

"Quite frankly," says Pielke, who runs the Climate Science Weblog (, "I think the media is in the ideal position to do that. If the media honestly presented the views out there, which they rarely do, things would change. There aren't just two sides here. There are a range of opinions on this issue. A lot of scientists out there that are very capable of presenting other views are not being heard."

Al Gore (not a scientist) has definitely been heard - and heard and heard. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," is so important, in fact, that Gore crisscrosses the nation destroying the atmosphere just to tell us about it.

"Let's just say a crowd of baby boomers and yuppies have hijacked this thing," Gray says. "It's about politics. Very few people have experience with some real data. I think that there is so much general lack of knowledge on this. I've been at this over 50 years down in the trenches working, thinking and teaching."

Gray acknowledges that we've had some warming the past 30 years. "I don't question that," he explains. "And humans might have caused a very slight amount of this warming. Very slight. But this warming trend is not going to keep on going. My belief is that three, four years from now, the globe will start to cool again, as it did from the middle '40s to the middle '70s."

Both Gray and Pielke say there are many younger scientists who voice their concerns about global warming hysteria privately but would never jeopardize their careers by speaking up.

"Plenty of young people tell me they don't believe it," he says. "But they won't touch this at all. If they're smart, they'll say: 'I'm going to let this run its course.' It's a sort of mild McCarthyism. I just believe in telling the truth the best I can. I was brought up that way."

So next time you're with some progressive friends, dissent. Tell 'em you're not sold on this global warming stuff.

Back away slowly. You'll probably be called a fascist.

Don't worry, you're not. A true fascist is anyone who wants to take away my air conditioning or force me to ride a bike.


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« Reply #233 on: June 06, 2006, 11:06:55 AM »
Swift Boating the Planet

A brief segment in "An Inconvenient Truth" shows Senator Al Gore questioning James Hansen, a climatologist at NASA, during a 1989 hearing. But the movie doesn't give you much context, or tell you what happened to Dr. Hansen later.

And that's a story worth telling, for two reasons. It's a good illustration of the way interest groups can create the appearance of doubt even when the facts are clear and cloud the reputations of people who should be regarded as heroes. And it's a warning for Mr. Gore and others who hope to turn global warming into a real political issue: you're going to have to get tougher, because the other side doesn't play by any known rules.

Dr. Hansen was one of the first climate scientists to say publicly that global warming was under way. In 1988, he made headlines with Senate testimony in which he declared that "the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now." When he testified again the following year, officials in the first Bush administration altered his prepared statement to downplay the threat. Mr. Gore's movie shows the moment when the administration's tampering was revealed.

In 1988, Dr. Hansen was well out in front of his scientific colleagues, but over the years that followed he was vindicated by a growing body of evidence. By rights, Dr. Hansen should have been universally acclaimed for both his prescience and his courage.

But soon after Dr. Hansen's 1988 testimony, energy companies began a campaign to create doubt about global warming, in spite of the increasingly overwhelming evidence. And in the late 1990's, climate skeptics began a smear campaign against Dr. Hansen himself.

Leading the charge was Patrick Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia who has received substantial financial support from the energy industry. In Senate testimony, and then in numerous presentations, Dr. Michaels claimed that the actual pace of global warming was falling far short of Dr. Hansen's predictions. As evidence, he presented a chart supposedly taken from a 1988 paper written by Dr. Hansen and others, which showed a curve of rising temperatures considerably steeper than the trend that has actually taken place.

In fact, the chart Dr. Michaels showed was a fraud ? that is, it wasn't what Dr. Hansen actually predicted. The original paper showed a range of possibilities, and the actual rise in temperature has fallen squarely in the middle of that range. So how did Dr. Michaels make it seem as if Dr. Hansen's prediction was wildly off? Why, he erased all the lower curves, leaving only the curve that the original paper described as being "on the high side of reality."

The experts at, the go-to site for climate science, suggest that the smears against Dr. Hansen "might be viewed by some as a positive sign, indicative of just how intellectually bankrupt the contrarian movement has become." But I think they're misreading the situation. In fact, the smears have been around for a long time, and Dr. Hansen has been trying to correct the record for years. Yet the claim that Dr. Hansen vastly overpredicted global warming has remained in circulation, and has become a staple of climate change skeptics, from Michael Crichton to Robert Novak.

There's a concise way to describe what happened to Dr. Hansen: he was Swift-boated.

John Kerry, a genuine war hero, didn't realize that he could successfully be portrayed as a coward. And it seems to me that Dr. Hansen, whose predictions about global warming have proved remarkably accurate, didn't believe that he could successfully be portrayed as an unreliable exaggerator. His first response to Dr. Michaels, in January 1999, was astonishingly diffident. He pointed out that Dr. Michaels misrepresented his work, but rather than denouncing the fraud involved, he offered a rather plaintive appeal for better behavior.

Even now, Dr. Hansen seems reluctant to say the obvious. "Is this treading close to scientific fraud?" he recently asked about Dr. Michaels's smear. The answer is no: it isn't "treading close," it's fraud pure and simple.

Now, Dr. Hansen isn't running for office. But Mr. Gore might be, and even if he isn't, he hopes to promote global warming as a political issue. And if he wants to do that, he and those on his side will have to learn to call liars what they are.


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Inconvenient Complexities
« Reply #234 on: June 06, 2006, 05:08:33 PM »
Jeepers, that darn global warming sounds every bit as scary as that awful nuclear winter many of these same folks were wringing their hands about 20 years back. Clearly an activist government needs to intervene with a massive pogrom of spending and regulation.

I work with an adjunct professor who is also a NASA publicist at Goddard, where James Hansen is seen as a grandstanding short-timer looking to make a splash on the way out. Alas, you don't get into the papers if you make moderate statements about climate change. Vast Republican coverups of of crucial data always get their share of ink, though.

As for Mister Doctor Professor Krugman, the Krugman Truth Squad ( does a great job or revealing just how inane Krugman consistently is. An econ expert who makes as many econ gaffs as Krugman--gaffs he resists correcting with a legendary obstinacy--hardly recommends him as a climatoligist, or janitor, for that matter.

Not sure there's much point to deconstructing John Kerry and the Swift Boaters, though there was a great article published about the topic yesterday ( As that may be, somehow the energy spent ballyhooing Bush's forged National Guard records evaporates when the topic of Christmas in Cambodia or Kerry's lucky CIA hat comes up. I think the record clearly indicates Kerry is a JFK wannabe who spent an inordinate amount of time trying to replicate Kennedy's career trajectory. Perhaps he should note that the original JFK was nowhere near as whiny, pompous, and shrill.

Nor am I inclined to give the topic of global warming the treatment it's due. I note that straightforward two or three variable science experiments can have widely divergent outcomes, as such it astounds me that people can bring an almost religious fervor and conviction to an event as multivariable as climate change. I note further that 75 percent of the planet is water, 90 percent of which is unexplored and hence supporting a huge, unmeasured, biomass, one variable among many for which there simply is no data. But gross ignorance never keeps the prophets of doom from demanding drastic change.


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Gore's Gaseous Emmissions
« Reply #235 on: June 09, 2006, 05:24:04 PM »
Al Gore's Force of Nature

"We [humans] are the most powerful force in nature."  Al Gore

Chances are, you're way too cool for global warming.

As the reader of a hip, indie-rock, alt-lifestyle mag like this one, I'm guessing the whole "climate change crisis" thing just doesn't do it for you. Well, don't feel bad, because you're right:

This really IS your father's global warming crisis.

Without baby boomers, there is no global warming. Not because boomers are uniquely gaseous, but because they are uniquely egotistical. The notion that, as Al Gore put it on my radio station last week, humans are "baking the planet to death" can only be swallowed whole by those whose appetite for self-importance has reached global proportions.

For boomers like Al Gore, nothing ever happened in the world until it happened to them. The first president ever assassinated was JFK; no war had ever been protested or opposed before Vietnam; government corruption was invented by Nixon and Bill Clinton proved the boomers could all still get laid.

And nobody knew how to read a thermometer until 1975. Oops, I better make that "1985," because in '75 baby boomers were still reading the Newsweek cover story about a coming ice age and how we would all freeze to death unless "political leaders ? take positive action to compensate for climate change."

Fortunately for all concerned, the boomers weren't in power yet and we did not take drastic action. And, just in case Mr. Gore hasn't noticed, we also didn't freeze to death.

And now it's time to take drastic action to save us all from global warming because, well, because Al Gore and his "save the [insert favorite mammal here]" pals are going to save the planet, dammit! Whether we need it or not.

I could fill this column with statistics and studies from prominent scientific journals poking holes in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. The world is not baking to death. Even the whack jobs pushing the Kyoto treaty are only talking about a global temperature increase of 0.6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. (We're doomed!) That will likely go up another degree or so in the next century, assuming we don't spend $400 billion a year implementing Kyoto. If we do spend the money, that increase goes down by a whopping 0.17 degrees. (We're saved!)

And Gore is wrong about the angry Earth Mother sending unusually powerful hurricanes to kill us in her anger over the 2000 election scandal. Hurricane experts Max Mayfield and Bill Grey continue to explain (and Al continues to ignore) that hurricane activity is related to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, a steady pattern of warming and cooling waters in the Atlantic.

And no, the polar ice caps are not about to melt away and no, global flooding isn't about to turn Tennessee into beachfront property. In fact, most of the Antarctic ice sheet got colder from 1966 to 2000, and while both poles have been losing some ice in the past five years on their edges, their interior ice and snow masses have been increasing. The net result? According to a study published in the Journal of Glaciology last year, if current trends hold the oceans will rise 0.05 millimeters a year. That means 1,000 years from now, the seas will have risen ? two inches! Head for the hills!

And on, and on, and on ?

Nobody is denying that the earth's temperature is changing. It's always changing. Why, the "Little Ice Age" drove humans out of parts of northern Europe in the 17th century. And if Al Gore had been around, he'd have no doubt roamed the land predicting global catastrophe if we didn't abandon our ox carts and stop burning charcoal.

What rational people reject isn't climate change, but rather the baby boomer fantasy that, this time, climate change is somehow different and special. That's the fantasy of someone who believes "we're the most powerful force in nature!"

Ponder that arrogance for a moment. We puny humans are, in Gore's imagination, more important to the Earth's ecosystem than volcanoes or tsunamis. We SUV drivers and backyard grillers are a greater force than the lunar tides or even gravity. Why, we're more powerful than the sun!

If this were ancient Egypt, we'd all be worshipping ourselves!

Which is what Al Gore's gaseous emissions are really all about.


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« Reply #236 on: July 15, 2006, 11:36:23 AM »
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July 10, 2006
The Israel Enigma
by Victor Davis Hanson
Tribune Media Services

What explains most of the world's dislike of Israel ?

Since Israeli settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Palestinian terrorists have replied by consistently shooting homemade Qassam rockets at civilian targets inside Israel . Just recently, they've kidnapped a soldier and a hitchhiker (who has been killed) ? and promised to do the same to others.

You'd expect these terrorist attacks on Israel to be viewed by responsible nations as similar to the jihadist violence we read about daily around the world ? radical Islamists beheading Russian diplomats over Chechnya , plotting to do the same to the Canadian prime minister or threatening murder over insensitive Danish cartoons.

But that isn't the case at all. Israel is always seen as a special exception that somehow deserves what it gets.

Other states can retaliate with impunity, brutally killing thousands of Muslim terrorists, while Israel is condemned when it takes out a few dozen.

When in late 1999 Russians stormed Grozny , thousands of Chechnya Muslims died. Yet the press was mostly silent. Baathist Syria went after the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982, wiping out much of the city of Hama and killing perhaps more than 10,000. Not many U.N. resolutions or international refugee efforts there.

To this day, no one knows the horrific body count from the Islamic insurrection in Algeria . Darfur finally earns occasional airtime, but only after tens of thousands have perished.

But Israel 's 2002 "siege" of the West Bank town Jenin, where less than 80 died on both sides, was evoked as "genocide" by those in the Middle East who often deny the real one that took 6 million Jewish lives. When Israel retaliates by air to terrorism, it is dubbed a "blitz" by the press ? as if it were akin to the Nazis carpet-bombing London .

Israel 's border fence is referred to as a "Berlin Wall," but you never hear Egypt 's nearby massive concrete barrier to keep Palestinians in Gaza described that way.

Then there is the open sore of the West Bank "occupation." Even if you forget that a series of offensive wars to destroy Israel in part originated from Palestine, or that Israel has given up land acquired by war in its perennial hope for "land for peace," what is so unique about the West Bank that drowns out all other crises over contested ground (from islands like Cyprus and the Falklands to entire countries like Tibet)? Why has tiny Israel alone earned more U.N. resolutions of condemnation than all those offered against all other nations of the world combined?

It is not as if Israel is a rogue state. For over a half-century, it's been the only liberal democracy in the Middle East . Israeli scientists have given the world everything from innovative computer software to drip-irrigation technology.

Oil explains some of the weird discrepancy in how the world views certain countries. It warps policymaking. Take away Iranian and Arab petroleum ? and thus the risk of another oil embargo or rigged price hike ? and Western fears of Middle East oil states would diminish. Naked self-interest determines the foreign policy of most nations.

The size of Israel factors in here as well. Israel has a population of not much more than 6 million and is surrounded by nearly 350 million Muslim Arabs. Most of the world counts heads ? and adjusts attitudes accordingly.

The old anti-Semitism is, of course, another ingredient that accounts for the animus shown Israel . Even sensitive, multicultural Westerners care little that Arab "allies" often portray Jews as "pigs" and "apes" in their state-run media. Odious tracts like "Mein Kampf" still sell briskly in Palestine , and Iranian and Gulf money subsidizes a mini-industry of holocaust denial.

Finally, as we know from our own southern border, anytime a successful Westernized nation is adjacent to a poorer Third World country, primordial emotions like honor and envy cloud reason. Rather than concede that Western-style democracy, capitalism, personal freedom and the rule of law explain why a prosperous, stable Israel arose from scrub and rock, Palestinians fixate on "Zionism," "colonialism" and "racism."

No wonder they do. Otherwise they would have to grapple with intractable and indigenous tribalism, gender apartheid, militias and religious fundamentalism, while building an open society based on the rule of law.

 In some ways, Israel 's values and success most resemble the United States .

And that raises a final question: Is Israel hated by the world for supporting us ? or are we hated for supporting it? Or is it both?


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« Reply #237 on: July 20, 2006, 05:03:02 PM »
July 20, 2006
Patience is Wearing Thin

By Victor Davis Hanson

The conventional wisdom is that the United States is so tied down that it can't do much about the rocket attacks on Israel, the blatant sponsorship of terrorists by Iran and Syria, or the Iranian nuclear program.
Oil prices are already sky-high. Any unilateral American action might disrupt tight global supplies. That would derail the economies of our Western allies and only further enrich enemies with windfall profits.
Trying to win hearts and minds for the fragile democracy in Iraq also means we can't afford to offend Arab sensitivities elsewhere. And a lame-duck George Bush, low in the polls and facing uncertain congressional elections this fall, certainly doesn't want to involve the American taxpayer with more costly commitments abroad.

But despite that sound conventional wisdom, an exasperated West is running out of choices in the Middle East.
For years, the Arab world clamored for the Israel "problem" to be solved. Then peace and security would at last supposedly reshape the Middle East. The Western nations understood the "problem" as being Israeli retention of lands it had captured in Sinai, the West Bank, Gaza, Syria and Lebanon after defeating a series of Arab forces bent on destroying the Jewish state.
But after the Israeli departure from Sinai, Gaza and Lebanon, and billions of dollars in American aid to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians, there is still not much progress toward peace. Past Israeli magnanimity was seen as weakness. Now Israel's reasoned diplomacy has earned it another round of kidnapping, ransom and rocket attacks.
Finally, the world is accepting that the Middle East problem was never about so-called occupied land -- but only about the existence of Israel itself. Hezbollah and Hamas, and those in their midst who tolerate them (or vote for them), didn't so much want Israel out of Lebanon and Gaza as pushed into the Mediterranean altogether. And since there will be no second Holocaust, the Israelis may well soon transform a perennial terrorist war that they can't easily win into a conventional aerial one against a terrorist-sponsoring Syria that they can.
For its part, the United States has spent thousands of lives and billions in treasure trying to birth democracy in Iraq. We wished to end our old cynical support for Middle East dictators that earned us such scorn and instead give liberated Iraqis a choice other than either theocracy or autocracy.
In multilateral fashion, America has also welcomed the help of the European Union, the United Nations, China and Russia in convincing the Iranians of the folly of producing nuclear weapons. But like Hezbollah and Hamas, Iran does not wish to parley -- just as the beheaders and kidnappers in Iraq don't, either.
The two most liberal societies in Europe -- Denmark and the Netherlands -- welcomed almost anyone to their shores from the Middle East. Their multicultural hospitality was supposed to have led to a utopian "diverse" nation of various races, nationalities and religions.
Instead, such liberality has earned both small nations pariah status in the Muslim world for the supposed indiscretions of a few freewheeling filmmakers and cartoonists.
Yet for all their threats, what the Islamists -- from Hezbollah in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley to the Iranian government in Tehran to the jihadists in Iraq's Sunni Triangle -- don't understand is that they are slowly pushing tired Westerners into a corner. If diplomacy, or aid, or support for democracy, or multiculturalism, or withdrawal from contested lands, does not satisfy radical Islamists, what would?
Perhaps nothing.
What then would be the new Western approach to terrorism? Hard and quick retaliation -- but without our past concern for nation-building, or offering a democratic alternative to theocracy and autocracy, or even worrying about whether other Muslims are unfairly lumped in with Islamists who operate freely in their midst.
Any new policy of retaliation -- in light both of Sept. 11 and the messy efforts to birth democracies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the West Bank -- would be something of an exasperated return to the old cruise-missile payback. Yet in the new world of Iranian nukes and Hezbollah missiles, the West would hit back with something far greater than a cruise missile.
If they are not careful, a Syria or Iran really will earn a conventional war -- not more futile diplomacy or limited responses to terrorism. And history shows that massive attacks from the air are something that the West does well.
So in the meantime, let us hope that democracy prevails in Iraq, that our massive aid is actually appreciated by the Middle East, that diplomacy ultimately works with Iran, that Syria quits supporting terrorists, and that Hamas and Hezbollah cease their rocket attacks against Israel -- more for all their sakes than ours.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War." You can reach him by e-mailing
©2006 Tribune Media Services

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« Reply #238 on: July 22, 2006, 05:35:28 AM »
An Appropriate Response
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Published: July 22, 2006

ISRAEL must see the current fighting through to a conclusion that is unambiguously a defeat for Hezbollah and Hamas.

The world?s diplomats, always generous with advice for the Israelis, cheered when Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. They pretended not to notice as Hezbollah poured Iranian-supplied rockets into Lebanon: first a hundred, then a thousand, then ten thousand and even more. None of the world?s foreign ministries described Israel?s failure to respond to Hezbollah?s arming as a disproportionate response to an obvious menace.

The word ?disproportionate? re-emerged in recent days as a criticism of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert?s epiphany: Israel is a country that two terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, are dedicated to destroying, and following the advice of diplomats to respond ?proportionately? would leave those terrorists free to pursue that goal.

Israel must now deal a blow of such magnitude to those who would destroy it as to leave no doubt that its earlier policy of acquiescence is over. This means precise military action against Hezbollah and its infrastructure in Lebanon and Syria, for as long as it takes and without regard to mindless diplomatic blather about proportionality. For what appears to some to be a disproportionate response to small incursions and kidnappings is, in fact, an entirely appropriate response to the existential struggle in which Israel is now engaged. ? RICHARD PERLE, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Assistant Secretary of Defense from 1981 to 1987.


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« Reply #239 on: July 22, 2006, 08:29:04 PM »
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July 21, 2006
A Strange War
Israel is at last being given an opportunity to unload on jihadists.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

Sum up the declarations of Hezbollah?s leaders, Syrian diplomats, Iranian nuts, West Bank terrorists, and Arab commentators ? and this latest Middle East war seems one of the strangest in a long history of strange conflicts. For example, have we ever witnessed a conflict in which one of the belligerents ? Iran ? that shipped thousands of rockets into Lebanon, and promises that it will soon destroy Israel, vehemently denies that its own missile technicians are on the ground in the Bekka Valley. Wouldn?t it wish to brag of such solidarity?

Or why, after boasting of the new targets that his lethal missiles will hit in Israel , does Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (?We are ready for it ? war, war on every level?) now harp that Israel is hitting too deep into Lebanon ? Don?t enemies expect one another to hit deep? Isn?t that what ?war on every level? is all about?

Meanwhile, why do the G-8 or the United Nations even talk of putting more peacekeeping troops into southern Lebanon, when in the past such rent-a-cops and uniformed bystanders have never stopped hostilities? Does anyone remember that it was Hezbollah who blew up French and American troops who last tried to provide ?stability? between the warring parties?

Why do not Iran and Syria ? or for that matter other Arab states ? now attack Israel to join the terrorists that they have armed? Surely the two-front attack by Hamas and Hezbollah could be helped by at least one conventional Islamic military. After promising us all year that he was going to ?wipe out? Israel , is not this the moment for Mr. Ahmadinejad to strike?

And why ? when Hezbollah rockets are hidden in apartment basements, then brought out of private homes to target civilians in Israel ? would terrorists who exist to murder noncombatants complain that some ?civilians? have been hit? Would not they prefer to lionize ?martyrs? who helped to store their arms?

We can answer these absurdities by summing up the war very briefly. Iran and Syria feel the noose tightening around their necks ? especially the ring of democracies in nearby Afghanistan , Iraq , Turkey , and perhaps Lebanon . Even the toothless U.N. finally is forced to focus on Iranian nukes and Syrian murder plots. And neither Syria can overturn the Lebanese government nor can Iran the Iraqi democracy. Instead, both are afraid that their rhetoric may soon earn some hard bombing, since their ?air defenses? are hardly defenses at all.

So they tell Hamas and Hezbollah to tap their missile caches, kidnap a few soldiers, and generally try to turn the world?s attention to the collateral damage inflicted on ?refugees? by a stirred-up Zionist enemy.

For their part, the terrorist killers hope to kidnap, ransom, and send off missiles, and then, when caught and hit, play the usual victim card of racism, colonialism, Zionism, and about every other -ism that they think will win a bailout from some guilt-ridden, terrorist-frightened, Jew-hating, or otherwise oil-hungry Western nation.

The only difference from the usual scripted Middle East war is that this time, privately at least, most of the West, and perhaps some in the Arab world as well, want Israel to wipe out Hezbollah, and perhaps hit Syria or Iran . The terrorists and their sponsors know this, and rage accordingly when their military impotence is revealed to a global audience ? especially after no reprieve is forthcoming to save their ?pride? and ?honor.?

After all, for every one Israeli Hezbollah kills, they lose ten. You are not winning when ?victory? is assessed in terms of a single hit on an Israeli warship. Their ace-in-the-hole strategy ? emblematic of the entire pathetic Islamist way of war ? is that they can disrupt the good Western life of their enemies that they are both attracted to and thus also hate. But, as Israel has shown, a Western public can be quite willing to endure shelling if it knows that such strikes will lead to a devastating counter-response.

What should the United States do? If it really cares about human life and future peace, then we should talk ad nauseam about ?restraint? and ?proportionality? while privately assuring Israel the leeway to smash both Hamas and Hezbollah ? and humiliate Syria and Iran, who may well come off very poorly from their longed-for but bizarre war.

Only then will Israel restore some semblance of deterrence and strengthen nascent democratic movements in both Lebanon and even the West Bank . This is the truth that everyone from London to Cairo knows, but dares not speak. So for now, let us pray that the brave pilots and ground commanders of the IDF can teach these primordial tribesmen a lesson that they will not soon forget ? and thus do civilization?s dirty work on the other side of the proverbial Rhine.

In this regard, it is time to stop the silly slurs that American policy in the Middle East is either in shambles or culpable for the present war. In fact, if we keep our cool, the Bush doctrine is working. Both Afghans and Iraqis each day fight and kill Islamist terrorists; neither was doing so before 9/11. Syria and Iran have never been more isolated; neither was isolated when Bill Clinton praised the ?democracy? in Tehran or when an American secretary of State sat on the tarmac in Damascus for hours to pay homage to Syria ?s gangsters. Israel is at last being given an opportunity to unload on jihadists; that was impossible during the Arafat fraud that grew out of the Oslo debacle. Europe is waking up to the dangers of radical Islamism; in the past, it bragged of its aid and arms sales to terrorist governments from the West Bank to Baghdad .

Some final observations on Hezbollah and Hamas. There is no longer a Soviet deterrent to bail out a failed Arab offensive. There is no longer empathy for poor Islamist ?freedom fighters.? The truth is that it is an open question as to which regime ? Iran or Syria ? is the greater international pariah. After a recent trip to the Middle East, I noticed that the unfortunate prejudicial stares given to a passenger with an Iranian passport were surpassed only by those accorded another on his way to Damascus .

So after 9/11, the London bombings, the Madrid murders, the French riots, the Beslan atrocities, the killings in India, the Danish cartoon debacle, Theo Van Gogh, and the daily arrests of Islamic terrorists trying to blow up, behead, or shoot innocent people around the globe, the world is sick of the jihadist ilk. And for all the efforts of the BBC, Reuters, Western academics, and the horde of appeasers and apologists that usually bail these terrorist killers out when their rhetoric finally outruns their muscle, this time they can?t.

Instead, a disgusted world secretly wants these terrorists to get what they deserve. And who knows: This time they just might.

?2006 Victor Davis Hanson


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« Reply #240 on: August 04, 2006, 07:56:14 AM »

July 25, 2006 -- WHAT if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point
where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a
level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed
pursuit of their own national interests?

What if the universalist idea of liberal democracy - the idea that all
people are created equal - has sunk in so deeply that we no longer assign
special value to the lives and interests of our own people as opposed to
those in other countries?

What if this triumph of universalism is demonstrated by the Left's
insistence that American and Israeli military actions marked by an
extraordinary concern for preventing civilian casualties are in fact
unacceptably brutal? And is also apparent in the Right's claim that a war
against a country has nothing to do with the people but only with that
country's leaders?

Can any war be won when this is the nature of the discussion in the
countries fighting the war? Can any war be won when one of the combatants
voluntarily limits itself in this manner?

Could World War II have been won by Britain and the United States if the two
countries did not have it in them to firebomb Dresden and nuke Hiroshima and

Didn't the willingness of their leaders to inflict mass casualties on
civilians indicate a cold-eyed singleness of purpose that helped break the
will and the back of their enemies? Didn't that singleness of purpose extend
down to the populations in those countries in those days, who would have and
did support almost any action at any time that would lead to the deaths of
Germans and Japanese?

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough
Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us
they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between
the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause
of the sectarian violence now?

If you can't imagine George W. Bush issuing such an order, is there any
American leader you could imagine doing so?

And if America can't do it, can Israel? Could Israel - even hardy, strong,
universally conscripted Israel - possibly stomach the bloodshed that would
accompany the total destruction of Hezbollah?

If Lebanon's 300-plus civilian casualties are already rocking the world,
what if it would take 10,000 civilian casualties to finish off Hezbollah?
Could Israel inflict that kind of damage on Lebanon - not because of world
opinion, but because of its own modern sensibilities and its understanding
of the value of every human life?

Where do these questions lead us?

What if Israel's caution about casualties among its own soldiers and
Lebanese civilians has demonstrated to Hezbollah and Hamas that as long as
they can duck and cover when the missiles fly and the bombs fall, they can
survive and possibly even thrive?

What if Israel has every capability of achieving its aim, but cannot unleash
itself against a foe more dangerous, more unscrupulous, more unprincipled
and more barbaric than even the monstrous leaders of the Intifada it managed
to quell after years of suicide attacks?

And as for the United States, what if we have every tool at our disposal to
win a war - every weapons system we could want manned by the most superbly
trained military in history - except the ability to match or exceed our
antagonists in ruthlessness?

Is this the horrifying paradox of 21st century warfare? If Israel and the
United States cannot be defeated militarily in any conventional sense, have
our foes discovered a new way to win? Are they seeking victory through
demoralization alone - by daring us to match them in barbarity and knowing
we will fail?

Are we becoming unwitting participants in their victory and our defeat? Can
it be that the moral greatness of our civilization - its astonishing focus
on the value of the individual above all - is endangering the future of our
civilization as well?


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Neville Chamberlain Please Phone Home
« Reply #241 on: August 05, 2006, 12:08:48 AM »
The Brink of Madness
A familiar place.

By Victor Davis Hanson

When I used to read about the 1930s ? the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China ? I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.

Of course, the trauma of the Great War was all too fresh, and the utopian hopes for the League of Nations were not yet dashed. The Great Depression made the thought of rearmament seem absurd. The connivances of Stalin with Hitler ? both satanic, yet sometimes in alliance, sometimes not ? could confuse political judgments.

But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (?Their [the Jews?] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government?) or Father Coughlin (?Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most ? the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.?) ? and baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Not any longer.

Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.

It is now nearly five years since jihadists from the Arab world left a crater in Manhattan and ignited the Pentagon. Apart from the frontline in Iraq, the United States and NATO have troops battling the Islamic fascists in Afghanistan. European police scramble daily to avoid another London or Madrid train bombing. The French, Dutch, and Danish governments are worried that a sizable number of Muslim immigrants inside their countries are not assimilating, and, more worrisome, are starting to demand that their hosts alter their liberal values to accommodate radical Islam. It is apparently not safe for Australians in Bali, and a Jew alone in any Arab nation would have to be discreet ? and perhaps now in France or Sweden as well. Canadians? past opposition to the Iraq war, and their empathy for the Palestinians, earned no reprieve, if we can believe that Islamists were caught plotting to behead their prime minister. Russians have been blown up by Muslim Chechnyans from Moscow to Beslan. India is routinely attacked by Islamic terrorists. An elected Lebanese minister must keep in mind that a Hezbollah or Syrian terrorist ? not an Israeli bomb ? might kill him if he utters a wrong word. The only mystery here in the United States is which target the jihadists want to destroy first: the Holland Tunnel in New York or the Sears Tower in Chicago.

In nearly all these cases there is a certain sameness: The Koran is quoted as the moral authority of the perpetrators; terrorism is the preferred method of violence; Jews are usually blamed; dozens of rambling complaints are aired, and killers are often considered stateless, at least in the sense that the countries in which they seek shelter or conduct business or find support do not accept culpability for their actions.

Yet the present Western apology to all this is often to deal piecemeal with these perceived Muslim grievances: India, after all, is in Kashmir; Russia is in Chechnya; America is in Iraq, Canada is in Afghanistan; Spain was in Iraq (or rather, still is in Al Andalus); or Israel was in Gaza and Lebanon. Therefore we are to believe that ?freedom fighters? commit terror for political purposes of ?liberation.? At the most extreme, some think there is absolutely no pattern to global terrorism, and the mere suggestion that there is constitutes ?Islamaphobia.?

Here at home, yet another Islamic fanatic conducts an act of al Qaedism in Seattle, and the police worry immediately about the safety of the mosques from which such hatred has in the past often emanated ? as if the problem of a Jew being murdered at the Los Angeles airport or a Seattle civic center arises from not protecting mosques, rather than protecting us from what sometimes goes on in mosques.

But then the world is awash with a vicious hatred that we have not seen in our generation: the most lavish film in Turkish history, ?Valley of the Wolves,? depicts a Jewish-American harvesting organs at Abu Ghraib in order to sell them; the Palestinian state press regularly denigrates the race and appearance of the American Secretary of State; the U.N. secretary general calls a mistaken Israeli strike on a U.N. post ?deliberate,? without a word that his own Blue Helmets have for years watched Hezbollah arm rockets in violation of U.N. resolutions, and Hezbollah?s terrorists routinely hide behind U.N. peacekeepers to ensure impunity while launching missiles.

If you think I exaggerate the bankruptcy of the West or only refer to the serial ravings on the Middle East of Pat Buchanan or Jimmy Carter, consider some of the most recent comments from Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah about Israel: ?When the people of this temporary country lose their confidence in their legendary army, the end of this entity will begin [emphasis added].? Then compare Nasrallah?s remarks about the U.S: ?To President Bush, Prime Minister Olmert and every other tyrannical aggressor. I want to invite you to do what you want, practice your hostilities. By God, you will not succeed in erasing our memory, our presence or eradicating our strong belief. Your masses will soon waste away, and your days are numbered [emphasis added].?

And finally examine here at home reaction to Hezbollah ? which has butchered Americans in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia ? from a prominent Democratic Congressman, John Dingell: ?I don?t take sides for or against Hezbollah.? And isn?t that the point, after all: the amoral Westerner cannot exercise moral judgment because he no longer has any?

An Arab rights group, between denunciations of Israel and America, is suing its alma mater the United States for not evacuating Arab-Americans quickly enough from Lebanon, despite government warnings of the dangers of going there, and the explicit tactics of Hezbollah, in the manner of Saddam Hussein, of using civilians as human shields in the war it started against Israel.

Demonstrators on behalf of Hezbollah inside the United States ? does anyone remember our 241 Marines slaughtered by these cowardly terrorists? ? routinely carry placards with the Star of David juxtaposed with Swastikas, as voices praise terrorist killers. Few Arab-American groups these past few days have publicly explained that the sort of violence, tyranny, and lawlessness of the Middle East that drove them to the shores of a compassionate and successful America is best epitomized by the primordial creed of Hezbollah.

There is no need to mention Europe, an entire continent now returning to the cowardice of the 1930s. Its cartoonists are terrified of offending Muslim sensibilities, so they now portray the Jews as Nazis, secure that no offended Israeli terrorist might chop off their heads. The French foreign minister meets with the Iranians to show solidarity with the terrorists who promise to wipe Israel off the map (?In the region there is of course a country such as Iran ? a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region?) ? and manages to outdo Chamberlain at Munich. One wonders only whether the prime catalyst for such French debasement is worry over oil, terrorists, nukes, unassimilated Arab minorities at home, or the old Gallic Jew-hatred.

It is now a clich? to rant about the spread of postmodernism, cultural relativism, utopian pacifism, and moral equivalence among the affluent and leisured societies of the West. But we are seeing the insidious wages of such pernicious theories as they filter down from our media, universities, and government ? and never more so than in the general public?s nonchalance since Hezbollah attacked Israel.

These past few days the inability of millions of Westerners, both here and in Europe, to condemn fascist terrorists who start wars, spread racial hatred, and despise Western democracies is the real story, not the ?quarter-ton? Israeli bombs that inadvertently hit civilians in Lebanon who live among rocket launchers that send missiles into Israeli cities and suburbs.

Yes, perhaps Israel should have hit more quickly, harder, and on the ground; yes, it has run an inept public relations campaign; yes, to these criticisms and more. But what is lost sight of is the central moral issue of our times: a humane democracy mired in an asymmetrical war is trying to protect itself against terrorists from the 7th century, while under the scrutiny of a corrupt world that needs oil, is largely anti-Semitic and deathly afraid of Islamic terrorists, and finds psychic enjoyment in seeing successful Western societies under duress.

In short, if we wish to learn what was going on in Europe in 1938, just look around.

? Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.

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"World Opinion" is an @$$
« Reply #242 on: August 06, 2006, 07:49:34 AM »
"World opinion" is worthless
By Dennis Prager
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
If you are ever morally confused about a major world issue, here is a rule that is almost never violated: Whenever you hear that "world opinion" holds a view, assume it is morally wrong.

And here is a related rule if your religious or national or ethnic group ever suffers horrific persecution: "World opinion" will never do a thing for you. Never.

"World opinion" has little or nothing to say about the world's greatest evils and regularly condemns those who fight evil.

The history of "world opinion" regarding the greatest mass murders and cruelties on the planet is one of relentless apathy.

Ask the 1.5 million Armenians massacred by the Ottoman Turks;

or the 6 million Ukrainians slaughtered by Stalin;

or the tens of millions of other Soviet citizens killed by Stalin's Soviet Union;

or the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their helpers throughout Europe;

or the 60 million Chinese butchered by Mao;

or the 2 million Cambodians murdered by Pol Pot;

or the millions killed and enslaved in Sudan;

or the Tutsis murdered in Rwanda's genocide;

or the millions starved to death and enslaved in North Korea;

or the million Tibetans killed by the Chinese;

or the million-plus Afghans put to death by Brezhnev's Soviet Union.

Ask any of these poor souls, or the hundreds of millions of others slaughtered, tortured, raped and enslaved in the last 100 years, if "world opinion" did anything for them.

On the other hand, we learn that "world opinion" is quite exercised over Israel's unintentional killing of a few hundred Lebanese civilians behind whom hides Hezbollah -- a terror group that intentionally sends missiles at Israeli cities and whose announced goals are the annihilation of Israel and the Islamicization of Lebanon. And, of course, "world opinion" was just livid at American abuses of some Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. In fact, "world opinion" is constantly upset with America and Israel, two of the most decent countries on earth, yet silent about the world's cruelest countries.

Why is this?

Here are four reasons:

First, television news.

It is difficult to overstate the damage done to the world by television news. Even when not driven by political bias -- an exceedingly rare occurrence globally -- television news presents a thoroughly distorted picture of the world. Because it is almost entirely dependent upon pictures, TV news is only capable of showing human suffering in, or caused by, free countries. So even if the BBC or CNN were interested in showing the suffering of millions of Sudanese blacks or North Koreans -- and they are not interested in so doing -- they cannot do it because reporters cannot visit Sudan or North Korea and video freely. Likewise, China's decimation and annexation of Tibet, one of the world's oldest ongoing civilizations, never made it to television.

Second, "world opinion" is shaped by the same lack of courage that shapes most individual human beings' behavior. This is another aspect of the problem of the distorted way news is presented. It takes courage to report the evil of evil regimes; it takes no courage to report on the flaws of decent societies. Reporters who went into Afghanistan without the Soviet Union's permission were killed. Reporters would risk their lives to get critical stories out of Tibet, North Korea and other areas where vicious regimes rule. But to report on America's bad deeds in Iraq (not to mention at home) or Israel's is relatively effortless, and you surely won't get killed. Indeed, you may well win a Pulitzer Prize.

Third, "world opinion" bends toward power. To cite the Israel example, "world opinion" far more fears alienating the largest producers of oil and 1 billion Muslims than it fears alienating tiny Israel and the world's 13 million Jews. And not only because of oil and numbers. When you offend Muslims, you risk getting a fatwa, having your editorial offices burned down or receiving death threats. Jews don't burn down their critics' offices, issue fatwas or send death threats, let alone act on such threats.

Fourth, those who don't fight evil condemn those who do. "World opinion" doesn't confront real evils, but it has a particular animus toward those who do -- most notably today America and Israel.

The moment one recognizes "world opinion" for what it is -- a statement of moral cowardice, one is longer enthralled by the term. That "world opinion" at this moment allegedly loathes America and Israel is a badge of honor to be worn proudly by those countries. It is when "world opinion" and its news media start liking you that you should wonder if you've lost your way.


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Punishing Honesty and Rewarding Duplicity
« Reply #243 on: August 07, 2006, 11:25:06 AM »
The Last Honest Man
By Robert Kagan
Sunday, August 6, 2006; Page B07

Twenty-nine Democratic senators voted in the fall of 2002 to authorize the invasion of Iraq. There isn't enough room on this page to list the Democratic foreign policy experts and former officials, including those from the top ranks of the Clinton administration, who supported the war publicly and privately -- some of whom even signed letters calling for the removal of Saddam Hussein. Nor is there any need to list the many liberal, and conservative, columnists on this and other editorial pages around the country who supported the war, or the many prominent journalists who provided the reporting that helped convince so many that the war was necessary.

The question of the day is, what makes Joe Lieberman different? What makes him now anathema to a Democratic Party and to liberal columnists who once supported both him and the war? Why is there now a chance he will lose the Democratic primary in Connecticut after so many years of faithfully serving that state and his own party?

It will not be because he is a bad Democrat. As others have pointed out, on the broadest range of social, economic and even foreign policy issues he has been a stalwart member of his party. Indeed, the questioning of his Democratic credentials is absurd given that he was, after all, the party's candidate for vice president in 2000.

It will not be because he is a hawk. Lest anyone forget, Lieberman was put on the 2000 ticket partly because he was a foreign policy and defense hawk, and most emphatically on the question of Iraq. In the 1990s he was the leading sponsor of a Senate resolution, which eventually passed with 98 votes, to provide money to Iraqis for the express purpose of overthrowing Hussein. This was what made him attractive to Democrats in 2000. It made him a fitting companion to that other hawk on the ticket, Al Gore. For remember, Gore, too, had gained the nomination as a relative hard-liner on foreign policy, including policy on Iraq.

If Lieberman loses, it will not even be because he supported the war. Almost every leading Democratic politician and foreign policymaker, and many a liberal columnist, supported the war. Nor will he lose because he opposes withdrawing troops from Iraq this year. Most top Democratic policymakers agree that early withdrawal would be a mistake. Nor, finally, is it because he has been too chummy with President Bush. Lieberman has offered his share of criticism of the administration's handling of the Iraq war and of many other administration policies.

No, Lieberman's sin is of a different order. Lieberman stands condemned today because he didn't recant. He didn't say he was wrong. He didn't turn on his former allies and condemn them. He didn't claim to be the victim of a hoax. He didn't try to pretend that he never supported the war in the first place. He didn't claim to be led into support for the war by a group of writers and intellectuals whom he can now denounce. He didn't go through a public show of agonizing and phony soul-baring and apologizing in the hopes of resuscitating his reputation, as have some noted "public intellectuals."

These have been the chosen tactics of self-preservation ever since events in Iraq started to go badly and the war became unpopular. Prominent intellectuals, both liberal and conservative, have turned on their friends and allies in an effort to avoid opprobrium for a war they publicly supported. Journalists have turned on their fellow journalists in an effort to make them scapegoats for the whole profession. Politicians have twisted themselves into pretzels to explain away their support for the war or, better still, to blame someone else for persuading them to support it.

Al Gore, the one-time Clinton administration hawk, airbrushed that history from his record. He turned on all those with whom he once agreed about Iraq and about many other foreign policy questions. And for this astonishing reversal he has been applauded by his fellow Democrats and may even get the party's nomination.

Apparently, amazingly, dispiritingly, it all works. At least in the short run, dishonesty pays. Dissembling pays. Forgetting your past writings and statements pays. Condemning those with whom you once agreed pays. Phony self-flagellation followed by self-righteous self-congratulation pays. The only thing that doesn't pay is honesty. If Joe Lieberman loses, it will not be because he supported the war or even because he still supports it. It will be because he refused to choose one of the many dishonorable paths open to him to salvage his political career.

He is the last honest man, and he may pay the price for it. At least he will be able to sleep at night. And he can take some solace in knowing that history, at least an honest history, will be kinder to him than was his own party.

Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, writes a monthly column for The Post.


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"An Inability to Recognize and Confront Evil"
« Reply #244 on: August 08, 2006, 11:50:13 AM »
August 08, 2006

The Left's Inability to Confront Evil

By Dennis Prager

On July 28, 2006, a Muslim entered the building of the Seattle Jewish Federation and shot every Jew he saw, murdering one woman and wounding five others.

On the same day, Mel Gibson was arrested on DUI charges and while intoxicated let loose with anti-Semitic invective at the Jewish police officer who arrested him.

Question: Which story has most troubled the Left?

The answer is known to any American who can hear or read.

So, the real question is: Why? Why has the shooting and murder of Jews elicited less angst from the Left than the anti-Semitic statements made by Mel Gibson when drunk?

The answers are very troubling. As Time magazine said about global warming (but never about Islamic terror), "Be worried, very worried."

We should be worried about this: The liberal world fears -- and much of it loathes -- fundamentalist Christians considerably more than it does fundamentalist Muslims.

This is as true of most Jewish liberals -- even though conservative Christians are Israel's and the Jews' most loyal supporters and even though Nazi-like anti-Semitism permeates much of the Muslim world -- as it is of most other liberals, certainly including the mainstream media.

That is why Jewish writer Zev Chafets wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "On the same day Gibson got into trouble in Malibu, a fellow named Naveed Afzal Haq brought a pistol to the Jewish Federation office in Seattle and shot six women, killing one. Two days later, this personal jihad -- one of the most gory anti-Jewish crimes in American history -- got second billing on the ADL website, under "Mel Gibson's Apology for Tirade 'Insufficient.' " (For the record, the ADL later announced it had accepted Mel Gibson's apology.)

This is one more example of the greatest flaw of contemporary liberalism -- its inability to recognize and confront the greatest evils. Since the 1960s, when liberalism became indistinguishable from the Left -- e.g., when New York Times positions became indistinguishable from those of The Nation -- liberals tended to attack opponents of evil far more than those who actually committed evil. The Left (around the world) was far more antagonistic to Ronald Reagan than to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, and far more disturbed by anti-Communism than by Communism.

So, too, today. For example, with few exceptions (the liberal columnist Thomas Friedman being one of the most notable) one only hears conservatives use the term "Islamo-fascism." Nearly the entire academic world that discusses the issue is far more concerned with the threat of "Islamophobia" than of Islamo-fascism. Liberal and left-wing anger is largely reserved for conservatives and especially conservative Christians, while analogous antipathy about Islamic groups with genocidal designs on Israel or America is largely to be found on the Right.

The liberal doctrine on fundamentalist American Christians is that they are the moral equivalent of fundamentalist Muslims and constitute a similar threat to our republic. As bestselling author Karen Armstrong said to Bill Moyers on PBS, "Fundamentalists are not friends of democracy. And that includes your fundamentalists in the United States."

Regarded by the liberal media as perhaps the greatest living historian and commentator on religion, Karen Armstrong does not even see the Muslim fundamentalist support for murder of innocents as a distinguishing feature. According to Armstrong, "Christian fundamentalists in the United States have committed fewer acts of terror than the others for two main reasons: they live in a more peaceful society . . . [and they] believe that the democratic federal government of the United States will collapse without their needing to take action: God will see to it" [].

The antipathy toward Christian fundamentalists and conservatives is why Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic statements trouble the Left more than Naveed Haq and the genocidal anti-Semitism permeating the Muslim world. And what is it about those Christians that most disturbs the Left? That they talk in terms of good and evil and believe the former must fight the latter, precisely the area of the Left's greatest weakness.


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More Semanitc Foolishness
« Reply #245 on: August 08, 2006, 12:37:00 PM »
Terrorism? What's That?
The U.N. has a deeply dangerous definitional problem.

By Claudia Rosett

Among the many reasons to beware the United Nations as a vehicle for peace in Israel, Lebanon, or any other part of the globe now threatened by Islamic terrorists, there is one item so obvious that in the current debate over ?ceasefires? and Security Council resolutions it has almost entirely escaped notice. Quite simply, while terrorism may be the defining security threat of our time, the U.N. has failed ? literally ? to define it.

If that sounds like a minor semantic lapse, far removed from the bloody conflict in Israel and Lebanon, it is anything but. The free world faces a war in which victory ? if one may be allowed such a blunt word these days ? starts with understanding the real nature and tactics of our enemies. So, with top U.N. officials calling for instant peace that would effectively equate ?both sides? in the war launched out of Lebanon last month by Hezbollah against Israel, I e-mailed the U.N. Secretary-General?s office recently to ask: Does the U.N. consider Hezbollah a terrorist group?

Back from one of Kofi Annan?s spokesmen came the answer: ?The designation of ?terrorist? would require a definition of what terrorism entails.?

Let us note that in the case of Hezbollah, the group has entailed enough atrocities to have earned it the nickname, ?the A-Team of Terrorism,? even before Hezbollah on July 12 launched its killing-kidnapping-and- rocket-firing assault on Israel. Hezbollah?s prior record entails well over two decades of kidnappings, hijackings, suicide bombings, massacres, and collateral carnage worldwide, in countries including Lebanon, Israel, Spain, Denmark, Germany, France, and Argentina. Created by the totalitarian ayatollahs of Iran just after their 1979 Islamic revolution; trained and bankrolled by Iran; supported by Syria; seasoned in extortion and smuggling operations reaching as far as South America, Canada, and the U.S.; open to alliances with other terrorist groups; peddling terrorist propaganda internationally on its Al-Manar TV station; dedicated to the destruction of Israel and seeking ultimately to supplant the workings of free societies with its Iran-spawned creed and practice of terror? Hezbollah among its butcheries to date has murdered more Americans than any other terrorist group except al Qaeda.

But because the United Nations has not defined ?terrorism,? the U.N. does not regard Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

The U.N. does, of course, have a stack of ?counter-terrorism? resolutions, and bestrides a dozen or so ?international counter-terrorism conventions.? But without a clear definition of what terrorism entails, U.N. member states ? including the liveliest terror sponsors ? pay no penalty for interpreting these measures in any warped way they might choose, or effectively ignoring them altogether. The result is that even the U.N. resolutions passed a few years ago sanctioning a highly abbreviated list of a few hundred Taliban and al Qaeda affiliates worldwide have been at best erratically enforced. Back in late 2003, a group of terrorism experts employed by the U.N. to monitor member-states? compliance with these sanctions became bold enough to report publicly and in detail some of the gross delinquencies of specific nations. The U.N. dissolved the group of experts, and replaced it with one more easily muffled.

A former member of the now-defunct, outspoken U.N. counterterrorism-monitoring group, Victor Comras, explained to me in a phone interview last week that achieving a serious international definition of terrorism is a ?huge issue.? Once an objective criterion for terrorism exists, said Comras, ?At least you have the foundation for asking that concrete actions be taken.?

Without that definition, as Comras wrote this past March, ?countries remain free to define for themselves which groups are terrorists and which are ?freedom fighters.?? Comras observed that ?Saudi Arabia uses this distinction, for example, to get away with funding Hamas, while Iran and Syria use it to provide funds and support to Hezbollah.? Beyond that, he noted, ?Many other countries have also used it to avoid taking steps to freeze funds or take other civil or criminal action against those individuals or groups which they support.?

The U.N. failure on this score is no accident. It is a direct result of what the U.N. is, and how it works ? a collective, saddled with procedures that tend to favor despots over democrats. In the matter of coming up with a global definition of terrorism, the job falls to the General Assembly?s legal committee ? the so-called Sixth Committee? which includes all 192 member states, and operates in practice by consensus. In that setting, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) ? whose 57 members include such terror-linked states as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran ? has for years insisted that any definition of terrorism exempt the OIC?s pet terrorists. These the OIC would prefer to define ? notes Comras ? as ?engaged in so-called ?struggles against colonial domination and foreign occupation.??

At the same time, the OIC and assorted ?unaligned? states have been demanding that regular armed forces of sovereign states, already subject to other international rules of engagement, be subject to U.N. rules concerning terrorism. That would clear the way to officially invert reality to the extent that by U.N. lights, Islamic terrorists would qualify as liberators, and democratic states trying to defend themselves could be treated as terrorists.

Wisely, the U.S. and some of our allies have refused to sign on to this Big Brother universe (though on some issues, such as the affable view of Palestinian terrorism, and chronic condemnations of democratic Israel, the U.N. seems to dwell there already). Under pressure from the U.S. last year, Kofi Annan departed from U.N. habit long enough to propose a genuine definition of terrorism ? only to have it shot down by the U.N. committee-consensus process. And there the matter sits. While terrorism looms ever larger as an Islamic-fascist tactic and threat to the free world ? which the U.N. was originally meant to protect ? the task of defining terrorism remains bottled up in the U.N. legal committee.

This gridlock goes far to explain why Annan, apparently forgetting his reform pitch of last year, has been calling with the regularity of a cuckoo clock for an immediate ?ceasefire? in the current conflict. In doing so, he ignores the desperately lopsided setup of any deal in which Israel would be constrained by U.N. words on paper while the terrorists ? by definition, if only the U.N. had one ? can be reliably stopped only at gunpoint. That asymmetry is pretty much the arrangement that incubated this war in the first place. Israel complied with U.N. rules and withdrew six years ago from Lebanon. Hezbollah violated the rules, expanding its protection rackets and stockpiling illicit weapons under the terror-neutral gaze of U.N. ?peacekeepers,? until it was ready to strike.

The gap in the U.N. lexicon also helps explain why, when Annan?s deputy-secretary-general Mark Malloch Brown sat down for an interview last week with the Financial Times, he felt free to deliver the Orwellian line: ?It is not helpful to couch this war in the language of international terrorism.?

Wallowing instead in the jargon of peace in our time, Malloch Brown went on to suggest that for Israel?s attackers, Hezbollah, there must concessions, and eventually ?a settlement which addresses the political issues of their cause as well as the military ones.? These bland words mask the terrorist nitty-gritty that Hezbollah?s ?cause? includes the takeover of Lebanon and the extinction of Israel. Musing that Hezbollah does have its wayward aspects, and in its rocket assaults on Israel ?is making no effort to hit military targets; it?s just a broadside against civilian targets,? Malloch Brown arrived at the I?m-O.K.-You?re-O.K. conclusion that ?It?s all very challenging.?

And as the Bush administration has increasingly turned to the United Nations in this crisis, the U.N. fog has been seeping into America?s political discourse. Instead of talking about killing, capturing, and defeating the terrorists of Hezbollah, or moving immediately to hold to account Hezbollah?s backers in Baathist Damascus and nuclear-bomb-building Teheran, our own political leaders are now maneuvering via the U.N. for a ?cessation of hostilities.?

This has produced a peculiar delicacy of phrase even from President Bush. The U.S. government, with good reason, includes Hezbollah in its list of ?Foreign Terrorist Organizations.? But in a press conference Monday, Bush skirted this category, instead labeling Hezbollah ?a political party with a militia that is armed by foreign nations.? Sorry, but Hezbollah is not at core a political party. It is an Iranian-Syrian-backed terrorist militia with a Lebanese political front.

There is a deeply dangerous reluctance in the democratic world to face up to the extent of the war already declared and being waged against us ? manifest in terrorist attacks on New York, Madrid, London, Bali, Bombay, and beyond, and especially against Israel, which is fighting right now on the front lines. These terrorists, and their sponsors, watch and learn from each other. In the battles ahead, if the U.S. takes its cues from a U.N. unable even to define terrorism, let alone defy it, the result will be that terrorists ? protected by their patrons at the U.N. itself ? will continue in graphic and ruinous terms to define it for us.

? Claudia Rosett is a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Re: Political Rants
« Reply #246 on: August 11, 2006, 07:50:18 PM »
'Mass-Murder' Foiled
August 11, 2006; Page A12

Americans went to work yesterday to news of another astonishing terror plot against U.S. airlines, only this time the response was grateful relief. British authorities had busted the "very sophisticated" plan "to commit mass murder" and arrested 20-plus British-Pakistani suspects. As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11 without another major attack on U.S. soil, now is the right moment to consider the policies that have protected us -- and those in public life who have fought those policies nearly every step of the way.

It's not as if the "Islamic fascists" -- to borrow President Bush's description yesterday -- haven't been trying to hit us. They took more than 50 lives last year in London with the "7/7" subway bombings. There was the catastrophic attack in Madrid the year before that left nearly 200 dead. But there have also been successes. Some have been publicized, such as a foiled plot to poison Britain's food supply with ricin. But undoubtedly many have not, because authorities don't want to compromise sources and methods, or because the would-be terrorists have been captured or killed before they could carry out their plans.

In this case the diabolical scheme was to smuggle innocent-looking liquid explosive components and detonators onto planes. They could then be assembled onboard and exploded, perhaps over cities for maximum horror. Multiply the passenger load of a 747 by, say, 10 airliners, and this attack could have killed more people than 9/11. We don't yet know how the plot was foiled, but surely part of the explanation was crack surveillance work by British authorities.

* * *
"This wasn't supposed to happen today," a U.S. official told the Washington Post of the arrests and terror alert. "It was supposed to happen several days from now. We hear the British lost track of one or two guys. They had to move." Meanwhile, British antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke said at a news conference that the plot was foiled because "a large number of people" had been under surveillance, with police monitoring "spending, travel and communications."

Let's emphasize that again: The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications. Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.

And almost on political cue yesterday, Members of the Congressional Democratic leadership were using the occasion to suggest that the U.S. is actually more vulnerable today despite this antiterror success. Harry Reid, who's bidding to run the Senate as Majority Leader, saw it as one more opportunity to insist that "The Iraq war has diverted our focus and more than $300 billion in resources from the war on terrorism and has created a rallying cry for international terrorists."

Ted Kennedy chimed in that "it is clear that our misguided policies are making America more hated in the world and making the war on terrorism harder to win." Mr. Kennedy somehow overlooked that the foiled plan was nearly identical to the "Bojinka" plot led by Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to blow up airliners over the Pacific Ocean in 1995. Did the Clinton Administration's "misguided policies" invite that plot? And if the Iraq war is a diversion and provocation, just what policies would Senators Reid and Kennedy have us "focus" on?

Surveillance? Hmmm. Democrats and their media allies screamed bloody murder last year when it was leaked that the government was monitoring some communications outside the context of a law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA wasn't designed for, nor does it forbid, the timely exploitation of what are often anonymous phone numbers, and the calls monitored had at least one overseas connection. But Mr. Reid labelled such surveillance "illegal" and an "NSA domestic spying program." Other Democrats are still saying they will censure, or even impeach, Mr. Bush over the FISA program if they win control of Congress.

This year the attempt to paint Bush Administration policies as a clear and present danger to civil liberties continued when USA Today hyped a story on how some U.S. phone companies were keeping call logs. The obvious reason for such logs is that the government might need them to trace the communications of a captured terror suspect. And then there was the recent brouhaha when the New York Times decided news of a secret, successful and entirely legal program to monitor bank transfers between bad guys was somehow in the "public interest" to expose.

For that matter, we don't recall most advocates of a narrowly "focused" war on terror having many kind words for the Patriot Act, which broke down what in the 1990s was a crippling "wall" of separation between our own intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. Senator Reid was "focused" enough on this issue to brag, prematurely as it turned out, that he had "killed" its reauthorization.

And what about interrogating terror suspects when we capture them? It is elite conventional wisdom these days that techniques no worse than psychological pressure and stress positions constitute "torture." There is also continued angst about the detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, even as Senators and self-styled civil libertarians fight Bush Administration attempts to process them through military tribunals that won't compromise sources and methods.

In short, Democrats who claim to want "focus" on the war on terror have wanted it fought without the intelligence, interrogation and detention tools necessary to win it. And if they cite "cooperation" with our allies as some kind of magical answer, they should be reminded that the British and other European legal systems generally permit far more intrusive surveillance and detention policies than the Bush Administration has ever contemplated. Does anyone think that when the British interrogate those 20 or so suspects this week that they will recoil at harsh or stressful questioning?

Another issue that should be front and center again is ethnic profiling. We'd be shocked if such profiling wasn't a factor in the selection of surveillance targets that resulted in yesterday's arrests. Here in the U.S., the arrests should be a reminder of the dangers posed by a politically correct system of searching 80-year-old airplane passengers with the same vigor as screeners search young men of Muslim origin. There is no civil right to board an airplane without extra hassle, any more than drivers in high-risk demographics have a right to the same insurance rates as a soccer mom.

* * *
The real lesson of yesterday's antiterror success in Britain is that the threat remains potent, and that the U.S. government needs to be using every legal tool to defeat it. At home, that includes intelligence and surveillance and data-mining, and abroad it means all of those as well as an aggressive military plan to disrupt and kill terrorists where they live so they are constantly on defense rather than plotting to blow up U.S.-bound airliners.

As the time since 9/11 has passed, many of America's elites have begun to portray U.S. government policies as a greater threat than the terrorists themselves. George Soros and others have said this explicitly, and their political allies in Congress and the media have staged a relentless campaign against the very practices that saved innocent lives this week. We doubt that many Americans who will soon board an airplane agree.


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"Islamic Fascists," A Neologism in Context
« Reply #247 on: August 16, 2006, 11:42:19 AM »
What Is 'Islamofascism'?

By Stephen Schwartz

"Islamic fascists" -- used by President George W. Bush for the conspirators in the alleged trans-Atlantic airline bombing plot -- and references by other prominent figures to "Islamofascism," have been met by protests from Muslims who say the term is an insult to their religion. The meaning and origin of the concept, as well as the legitimacy of complaints about it, have become relevant -- perhaps urgently so.

I admit to a lack of modesty or neutrality about this discussion, since I was, as I will explain, the first Westerner to use the neologism in this context.

In my analysis, as originally put in print directly after the horror of September 11, 2001, Islamofascism refers to use of the faith of Islam as a cover for totalitarian ideology. This radical phenomenon is embodied among Sunni Muslims today by such fundamentalists as the Saudi-financed Wahhabis, the Pakistani jihadists known as Jama'atis, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In the ranks of Shia Muslims, it is exemplified by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the clique around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

Political typologies should make distinctions, rather than confusing them, and Islamofascism is neither a loose nor an improvised concept. It should be employed sparingly and precisely. The indicated movements should be treated as Islamofascist, first, because of their congruence with the defining characteristics of classic fascism, especially in its most historically-significant form -- German National Socialism.

Fascism is distinguished from the broader category of extreme right-wing politics by its willingness to defy public civility and openly violate the law. As such it represents a radical departure from the tradition of ultra-conservatism. The latter aims to preserve established social relations, through enforcement of law and reinforcement of authority. But the fascist organizations of Mussolini and Hitler, in their conquests of power, showed no reluctance to rupture peace and repudiate parliamentary and other institutions; the fascists employed terror against both the existing political structure and society at large. It is a common misconception of political science to believe, in the manner of amateur Marxists, that Italian fascists and Nazis sought maintenance of order, to protect the ruling classes. Both Mussolini and Hitler agitated against "the system" governing their countries. Their willingness to resort to street violence, assassinations, and coups set the Italian and German fascists apart from ordinary defenders of ruling elites, which they sought to replace. This is an important point that should never be forgotten. Fascism is not merely a harsh dictatorship or oppression by privilege.

Islamofascism similarly pursues its aims through the willful, arbitrary, and gratuitous disruption of global society, either by terrorist conspiracies or by violation of peace between states. Al-Qaida has recourse to the former weapon; Hezbollah, in assaulting northern Israel, used the latter. These are not acts of protest, but calculated strategies for political advantage through undiluted violence. Hezbollah showed fascist methods both in its kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and in initiating that action without any consideration for the Lebanese government of which it was a member. Indeed, Lebanese democracy is a greater enemy of Hezbollah than Israel.

Fascism rested, from the economic perspective, on resentful middle classes, frustrated in their aspirations and anxious about loss of their position. The Italian middle class was insecure in its social status; the German middle class was completely devastated by the defeat of the country in the First World War. Both became irrational with rage at their economic difficulties; this passionate and uncontrolled fury was channeled and exploited by the acolytes of Mussolini and Hitler. Al-Qaida is based in sections of the Saudi, Pakistani, and Egyptian middle classes fearful, in the Saudi case, of losing their unstable hold on prosperity -- in Pakistan and Egypt, they are angry at the many obstacles, in state and society, to their ambitions. The constituency of Hezbollah is similar: the growing Lebanese Shia middle class, which believes itself to be the victim of discrimination.

Fascism was imperialistic; it demanded expansion of the German and Italian spheres of influence. Islamofascism has similar ambitions; the Wahhabis and their Pakistani and Egyptian counterparts seek control over all Sunni Muslims in the world, while Hezbollah projects itself as an ally of Syria and Iran in establishing regional dominance.

Fascism was totalitarian; i.e. it fostered a totalistic world view -- a distinct social reality that separated its followers from normal society. Islamofascism parallels fascism by imposing a strict division between Muslims and alleged unbelievers. For Sunni radicals, the practice of takfir -- declaring all Muslims who do not adhere to the doctrines of the Wahhabis, Pakistani Jama'atis, and the Muslim Brotherhood to be outside the Islamic global community or ummah -- is one expression of Islamofascism. For Hezbollah, the posture of total rejectionism in Lebanese politics -- opposing all politicians who might favor any political negotiation with Israel -- serves the same purpose. Takfir, or "excommunication" of ordinary Muslims, as well as Hezbollah's Shia radicalism, are also important as indispensable, unifying psychological tools for the strengthening of such movements.

Fascism was paramilitary; indeed, the Italian and German military elites were reluctant to accept the fascist parties' ideological monopoly. Al-Qaida and Hezbollah are both paramilitary.

I do not believe these characteristics are intrinsic to any element of the faith of Islam. Islamofascism is a distortion of Islam, exactly as Italian and German fascism represented perversions of respectable patriotism in those countries. Nobody argues today that Nazism possessed historical legitimacy as an expression of German nationalism; only Nazis would make such claims, to defend themselves. Similarly, Wahhabis and their allies argue that their doctrines are "just Islam." But German culture existed for centuries, and exists today, without submitting to Nazi values; Islam created a world-spanning civilization, surviving in a healthy condition in many countries today, without Wahhabism or political Shiism, both of which are less than 500 years old.

But what of those primitive Muslims who declare that "Islamofascism" is a slur? The Washington Post of August 14 quoted a speaker at a pro-Hezbollah demonstration in Washington, as follows: "'Mr. Bush: Stop calling Islam "Islamic fascism,' said Esam Omesh, president of the Muslim American Society, prompting a massive roar from the crowd. He said there is no such thing, 'just as there is no such thing as Christian fascism.'"

These curious comments may be parsed in various ways. Since President Bush used the term "Islamic fascists" to refer to a terrorist conspiracy, did Mr. Omesh (whose Muslim American Society is controlled by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood) intend to accept the equation of Islam with said terrorism, merely rejecting the political terminology he dislikes? Probably not. But Mr. Omesh's claim that "there is no such thing as Christian fascism" is evidence of profound historical ignorance. Leading analysts of fascism saw its Italian and German forms as foreshadowed by the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. and the Russian counter-revolutionary mass movement known as the Black Hundreds. Both movements were based in Christian extremism, symbolized by burning crosses in America and pogroms against Jews under the tsars.

The fascist Iron Guard in Romania during the interwar period and in the second world war was explicitly Christian -- its official title was the "Legion of the Archangel Michael;" Christian fascism also exists in the form of Ulster Protestant terrorism, and was visible in the (Catholic) Blue Shirt movement active in the Irish Free State during the 1920s and 1930s. Both the Iron Guard and the Blue Shirts attracted noted intellectuals; the cultural theorist Mircea Eliade in the first case, the poet W.B Yeats in the second. Many similar cases could be cited. It is also significant that Mr. Omesh did not deny the existence of "Jewish fascism" -- doubtless because in his milieu, the term is commonly directed against Israel. Israel is not a fascist state, although some marginal, ultra-extremist Jewish groups could be so described.

I will conclude with a summary of a more obscure debate over the term, which is symptomatic of many forms of confusion in American life today. I noted at the beginning of this text that I am neither modest nor neutral on this topic. I developed the concept of Islamofascism after receiving an e-mail in June 2000 from a Bangladeshi Sufi Muslim living in America, titled "The Wahhabis: Fascism in Religious Garb!" I then resided in Kosovo. I put the term in print in The Spectator of London, on September 22, 2001. I was soon credited with it by Andrew Sullivan in his Daily Dish, and after it was attributed to Christopher Hitchens, the latter also acknowledged me as the earliest user of it. While working in Bosnia-Hercegovina more recently, I participated in a public discussion in which the Pakistani Muslim philosopher Fazlur Rahman (1919-88), who taught for years at the University of Chicago (not to be confused with the Pakistani radical Fazlur Rehman), was cited as referring to "Islamic fascists."

If such concerns seem absurdly self-interested, it is also interesting to observe how Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, dealt with the formulation of Islamofascism as an analytical tool. After a long and demeaning colloquy between me and a Wikipedian who commented negatively on an early book of mine while admitting that he had never even seen a copy of it, Wikipedia (referring to it collectively, as its members prefer) decided it to ascribe it to another historian of Islam, Malise Ruthven. But Ruthven, in 1990, used the term to refer to all authoritarian governments in Muslim countries, from Morocco to Pakistan.

I do not care much, these days, about Wikipedia and its misapprehensions, or obsess over acknowledgements of my work. But Malise Ruthven was and would remain wrong to believe that authoritarianism and fascism are the same. To emphasize, fascism is something different, and much worse, than simple dictatorship, however cruel the latter may be. That is a lesson that should have been learned 70 years ago, when German Nazism demonstrated that it was a feral and genocidal aberration in modern European history, not merely another form of oppressive rightist rule, or a particularly wild variety of colonialism.

Similarly, the violence wreaked by al-Qaida and Hezbollah, and by Saddam Hussein before them, has been different from other expressions of reactionary Arabism, simple Islamist ideology, or violent corruption in the post-colonial world. Between democracy, civilized values, and normal religion on one side, and Islamofascism on the other, there can be no compromise; as I have written before, it is a struggle to the death. President Bush is right to say "young democracies are fragile ... this may be [the Islamofascists'] last and best opportunity to stop freedom's advance." As with the Nazis, nothing short of a victory for democracy can assure the world's security.

Stephen Schwartz is Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism.


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Re: Political Rants
« Reply #248 on: August 24, 2006, 09:33:42 AM »
"Rockey I": If it sounds too good to be true...

The good news is that CNN seems to have finally stop obsessing over John Mark Karr. Instead, they've found a new soap opera to go ga-ga over, Katrina survivor Rockey Vaccarella who drove his FEMA trailer from his home in ravaged St. Bernard Parish to Washington with "the hope" of convincing President Bush to meet with him.

You can see why TV loves this story (the guy's named 'Rockey,' for cryin' out loud!), because to those who pay casual attention, i.e., the vast majority of viewers, the parallels to another news story are striking.

It was exactly one year ago that the headlines were all about Bush, on another lengthy vacation in Crawford, refusing to meet with an average American who was devastated by a tragedy -- Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq. It was a publicity bloodbath, and it rolled right into the horrors of Katrina and a seemingly indifferent White House, beginning the long slide in Bush's approval rating.

Now comes Rockey, a plain-talking character who lost it all in Katrina, who nearly died in the hurricane, forced to hang onto a rope for four hours (some of that was captured on film), and now wants to government to do more for Katrina victims. And what a difference a year makes -- not only did Bush, not in Crawford but hard at work in the White House, meet with this "average American," but check out the glowing praise our president received in return.

First, here's the way that the media spun the meeting: A triumph for the little guy:

CNN's RICK SANCHEZ: I don't know if you were watching a couple days ago, but you might remember that we talked to a man named Rockey Vaccarella. I got a lot of phone calls on this interview. He's a Katrina victim who was driving to the White House with a FEMA trailer. And he seemed to strike a nerve with people. He's there now. He's actually been invited inside. He wanted to go and met with the president. Well, guess what, the president has decided to meet with him. Last night he met with Donald Powell (ph), the government's point man for rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Told him just what he and his family went through during Katrina.

A minute later:
SANCHEZ: And amazing his persistence because he was originally told that the president was just busy. Look, he's not going to be able to meet with you._

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: He's like, that's all right. I'm still going._

SANCHEZ: I'm going to hang out there._

O'BRIEN: I've driven all this way._

SANCHEZ: He was confident when he told us that the president would come out and find a way to talk to him.

Here's so here's what Rockey told the nation just now on TV:

You know, it's really amazing when a small man like me from St. Bernard Parish can meet the President of the United States. The President is a people person. I knew that from the beginning. I was confident that I could meet President Bush.

And my mission was very simple. I wanted to thank President Bush for the millions of FEMA trailers that were brought down there. They gave roofs over people's head. People had the chance to have baths, air condition. We have TV, we have toiletry, we have things that are necessities that we can live upon.
But now, I wanted to remind the President that the job's not done, and he knows that. And I just don't want the government and President Bush to forget about us. And I just wish the President could have another term in Washington.

This guy is a symbol of the misery that so many people in Louisiana and Mississippi? If we didn't know any better, this couldn't have been more of home run for Bush if the whole thing had been set up by Karl Rove.


In fact, we had a hunch -- that maybe, just maybe, Rockey Vaccarella had a background himself in GOP politics.

And, whaddya know? Turns out that the earthy Vaccarella -- a highly successful businessman in the fast-food industry -- is indeed a Republican pol, having run unsuccessfully under the GOP banner for a seat on the St. Bernard Parish commission back in 1999. Here is part of his bio that ran in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Oct. 15, 1999:

ROCKEY VACCARELLA_PERSONAL_Republican_35. Born in New Orleans. Grew up in Arabi and Chalmette. Lived 11 years in_Meraux._Married, two children._Graduated from Chalmette High, 1982. Attended St. Bernard Community_College._Director of operations, Lundy Enterprises, as manager of 31 Pizza Hut_restaurants and 450 employees. Former general restaurant manager of Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits on East Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette.
And in fact, Vaccarella seemed very confident that he would be meeting with Bush when he left home, to the point where he had a date scheduled and everything:

Dinner with the President is planned for the evening of August 22nd.

As it turned out, dinner last night was with the White House aide running Katrina relief, and he met Bush at the White House today. Close enough. Before he left Louisiana earlier this month, Vaccarella made it clear that he's no Cindy Sheehan:

"We want to thank President Bush and the American people for everything they have done so far for south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region but, to remind everyone that the job is not complete and to please do whatever is possible to help clean-up and re-build so our people can return home."

Shouldn't the media be a tad more skeptical about events like these? And isn't the fact that Vaccarella was once a Republican candidate for office a relevant fact that should be mentioned, to help viewers place his effusive, nationally televised praise in context. With Vaccarella the "Katrina soundbite" of the day, TV is not reporting this (

The job of clearing debris left by the storm remains unfinished, and has been plagued by accusations of fraud and price gouging. Tens of thousands of families still live in trailers or mobile homes, with no indication of when or how they will be able to obtain permanent housing. Important decisions about rebuilding and improving flood defenses have been delayed. And little if anything has been done to ensure the welfare of the poor in a rebuilt New Orleans.

This is a White House that has pledged, as you recall, ?create our own reality? and they're doing it again. How many times we will in the media act as Charlie Brown, kicking with futility at the phony football that Rove and this White House hold out for us, again and again and again.


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Re: Political Rants
« Reply #249 on: August 26, 2006, 01:22:12 PM »
Ben Stein on commitment.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Looking for the Will Beyond the Battlefield - New York Times: "IT'S been a
bitter month or so."

Mighty Israel, the redeemer of faith in what free men and women can do with
arid desert if they are motivated, redeemer of faith that maybe there is a
place for the Jews as a sovereign people and technological superpower, has
been fought to a standstill by Hezbollah.

Can it possibly be that Hezbollah is better motivated, better led, better
dug in and better armed than the Israeli army, which is supposed to be the
best army, pound for pound, in the world? Can it be that Israel, which used
to beat whole armies of countries like Egypt and Syria, has been humbled by
a few thousand very well-motivated and well-armed men firing from between
apartment buildings?

Or could it be that what's different this time is the trumpet and,
specifically, its uncertain sound? Israel geared up for a huge offensive,
then called it off, then huffed and puffed, then called it off again, then
said, "Watch out, this time we're really going to blow your house down," and
then called it off again.

Now, Israel's very survival is on the line, and it is a tiny state, about
the size of New Jersey. If Israel cannot get it together to fight a serious
war against a group, Hezbollah, that the State Department identifies as a
terrorist organization, who will?

So, Israel, which was supposed to be the shining light of how peace is won,
is not shining as bright - despite President Bush's extreme support for a
good long time.

Terrorists are still hatching plots against the air traffic system of the
West, and this time bigger and worse than before.

Obviously, Al Qaeda is far from dead. We have much to fear from it still.
The fact that the suspects were almost all home-grown Britons makes the
situation that much more frightening and unpredictable. How long will it be
until American-born terrorists strike against American targets?

We are a big country and we have a lot of unhappy people. How long until
they organize themselves to kill? Not long, I am afraid.

While we're at it, yes, it's miraculous and wonderful that the plot was
foiled, if it was. But now the whole Western world will be seriously
inconvenienced in its travel for years, maybe decades. Isn't this already a
victory for our enemies? Isn't this already a blow against world business?
Might it be enough to push our already slowed growth into a recession?
But the worst is what is to come: I got a jolting hint of this when I read
the obituary for John L. Weinberg, who ran Goldman Sachs from 1976 to 1990.
Mr. Weinberg was 81 when he died this month in Greenwich, Conn., after a
lifetime of major achievement. I had the pleasure of dealing with him when
he and I were a lot younger and I was in law school, also studying finance,
at Yale.

My dear old father was a friend of his father, the venerable Sidney J.
Weinberg, who ran Goldman Sachs from 1930 to 1969. My dad wangled a job
interview for me with John Weinberg, an unprepossessing figure but obviously
a smart guy. After some talk, he offered me a job. I would start by spending
two years sitting at a desk until late at night going over spreadsheets.
"Really?" I asked. That did not seem to be so glamorous. "Yes, really," he
said. "That's how we all start."
I turned it down and became a poverty lawyer instead. But what I did not
know about John Weinberg was that even though he was rich and well
connected, as a young man he joined the Marines to fight the Japanese in the
Pacific, then fought again in Korea. That was America's ruling class then.

The scions of the rich went off to fight.

My longtime pal and idol, Peter M. Flanigan - a former high honcho of
Dillon, Read; a high aide to my ex-boss, Richard M. Nixon; and heir to a
large brewing fortune - was once a naval aviator. My father left a
comfortable job in Washington to join the Navy. The father of my pal Phil
DeMuth left a successful career to be an Army Air Corps pilot, flying
death-defying missions over Burma. Congressmen resigned to serve. Senators
resigned to serve. Professional athletes resigned to serve in the uniform.

Now, who's fighting for us in the fight of our lives? Brave, idealistic
Southerners. Hispanics from New Mexico. Rural men and women from upstate New
York. Small-town boys and girls from the Midwest. Do the children of the
powers on Wall Street resign to go off and fight? Fight for the system that
made them rich? Fight for the way of life that made them princes? Surely,
you jest.

And that's the essence. The other side considers it a privilege to fight and
die for its beliefs. Those on the other side cannot wait to line up to blow
themselves up for their vision of heaven. On our side, it's: "Let the other
poor sap do it. I've got to make money." How can we fight this fight with
the brightest and best educated rushing off and working night and day to do
private equity deals and derivatives trading? How can we fight this fight
with the ruling class absent by its own sweet leave?

I keep thinking, again, that if Israel, with its back to the sea, cannot
muster the will to fight in a big way, then the fat, faraway U.S.A. will
never be able to do it. I keep saying this and it terrifies me.

We're in a war with people who want to kill us all and wreck our
civilization. They're taking it very seriously. We, on the other hand, are
worrying about leveraged buyouts and special dividends and how much junk
debt the newly formed private entity can support before we sell it to the
ultimate sucker, the public shareholder.

We're worrying whether Hollywood will forgive Mel Gibson and what the next
move is for big homes in East Hampton. We're rearranging the deck chairs on
the Titanic. The terrorists are the iceberg.

WHAT stands between us and the iceberg are the miraculously brave men and
women of the armed forces.

They're heroes and saints as far as I'm concerned. But can they do it
without the rest of us? Can they do it while we're all working on our tans
and trying to have our taxes lowered again? How can we leave them out there
all alone to die for us when we treat the war to save civilization as
something we can just wish away?

If we don't win this war against the terrorists, there's not
going to be business as usual ever again. If the terrorists get to their
goal, there's not going to be a stock exchange or hedge funds or Bain
Capital or the Carlyle Group or even Goldman Sachs. If the terrorists get
their way - and so far, they're getting their way - there's not going to be
business, period.

Everyone with the really big money at stake is - again - bidding for the
best deck chairs as the iceberg looms, not so far, any longer, under the
surface, and very large and very cold and very solid.

Ben Stein is a lawyer, writer, actor and economist. E-mail: