31 August 2006

What would I have done?

Earlier this week, upon the release of Centanni & Wiig, I was going to post about their gunpoint "conversion" wondering what I would have done. I think I know.

But a post from David Warren Online gave me certainty.

You don’t necessarily have to be a Christian, to be Western. Two years ago, an heroic Italian captive, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, asked to make whimpering statements as part of the video of his execution in Iraq, ripped at his hood and instead declared, “This is how an Italian dies!” to his contemptible captors. He must have upset them: for they shot him instead of sawing off his head. In making his stand for human dignity, he also turned one of their propaganda videos, into one of ours.

But Quattrocchi had three friends, who all successfully begged for their lives. And the two Fox journalists, whom I will not stoop to name, begged for their lives even though, in retrospect, their lives probably weren’t in danger.

Later on he notes:

We don’t “overreact” in the West, the way we used to do -- we don’t like to put out little fires, we prefer to wait until they are big ones. And we prefer blaming ourselves to blaming the enemy, when the enemy lights the fire. We assume they only do it because we must have done something to annoy them.

Jean-François Revel: “Democratic civilization is the first in history to blame itself because another power is trying to destroy it.”

At the time Revel said this, the enemy power was Soviet Communism. The intellectuals, the smart journalists, the fashionable academics, the smug urbane of all descriptions, were hardly pro-Communist. They were more ironical than that, they were “anti-anti-Communist”. Today they are anti-anti-Islamo-fascist.

I commend the whole essay to you.

30 August 2006

The PERFECT STORM ... of Media Lies

I could hardly resist the most over used cliche (since "The mother of all battles") to describe the MSM treatment of the Katrina anniversary. Investor's Business Daily - and just because they are conservative and business oriented does not mean they are always wrong - offered the following wisdom about the MSM's blaming the government for "Katrina" the disaster, not the storm:

That's not surprising. For the media, Katrina always was more about politics and mythmaking than about reporting and telling the truth. Katrina became a part of a long story line spun relentlessly by the press, of White House ineptitude in the face of disaster and lack of concern for the poor.

As part of this, the media got caught up in telling some big fibs or exaggerating some events while ignoring others.

Take the idea that the federal response was "inadequate" or "incompetent." Granted, that might be said of some of FEMA's efforts, which were poor. But a big story that never got told was how heroically the National Guard (and Coast Guard) performed before, during and after the storm, saving tens of thousands of lives. The mainstream media basically ignored this.

Update: This article about bad government, victim-hood and entitlement, and more lies the media tells has a strong ring of truth to it. A Couple of examples:

What shocked us first was the response of the people of New Orleans themselves: the immediate looting, the collapse of the city government as demoralized local police walked off the job in the middle of an emergency, and the thousands of people wallowing in squalor while demanding that someone else come to help them. These are the facts that the mainstream media has downplayed or just plain ignored.

and again:

In the week after the disaster, a New York Times reporter profiled two New Orleans families and their different reactions to Katrina. The main difference was not money; neither family was well-off. But one was from the lower middle class--people who are used to working for a living and providing for themselves--whereas the other family fully represented the welfare state mentality. The first family pooled their efforts with their extended family to drive out of New Orleans before the storm hit and stay at an inexpensive hotel farther inland. The other family didn't leave New Orleans until the flood waters reached their own home--and along the way, they blew their "last $25 dollars to buy fish and shrimp from men grilling them on the street"--with apparently nary a thought for what they would live on after dinnertime.

The main difference between these two families was not money but responsibility. That is also the difference between the people in New Orleans who stockpiled necessities like food, gasoline, and bottled water before the storm hit, and those who waited until after the storm and looted whatever they needed--which apparently included televisions, jewelry, and DVDs--from the local Wal-Mart. Many of these looters, especially those who struck within hours after the storm passed, were not in any kind of desperate need. As one of them explained to a reporter, "People who have been repressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society."

and again:

This sense of victimhood and entitlement brings us to the other mainstream media claim about Katrina: that it unmasked America's institutionalized racism and showed, as one rapper proclaimed, that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." (It could be argued, incidentally, that "rap music" is itself the most insidious form of institutionalized racism today, peddling a debased view of blacks as thugs and whores that exceeds the wildest slanders of Ku Klux Klan propaganda.) [Emphasis added. I love that sentence.]

and finally:

Mayor Ray Nagin failed to devise or administer an evacuation plan--remember that famous photo of dozens of school buses that were left to be swamped by the flood waters instead of being used to evacuate flood victims?

Instead, Nagin spent the entire crisis complaining about what other people weren't doing to save his city. When asked where he was during the crucial moments of the disaster, Nagin snapped back, to the world at large, "Where were you?"--as if a random resident strolling the streets of Buffalo bears more responsibility for the plight of New Orleans than the city's own mayor.

That Ray Nagin is still mayor of New Orleans, one year later, is the worst possible indictment of the city's corrupt culture. In 1979, the people of Chicago voted out their mayor because he failed to ensure the timely plowing of the streets after a heavy snowstorm. Ray Nagin presided over an unprecedented collapse in city government, and the people of New Orleans re-elected him. A large number of New Orleans voters are still stuck in the fantasy of holding everyone responsible for their lives except themselves.

The fact that Nagin is still in office brings to mind the title of my earlier post: We deserve the government we choose.

Oh Al, what have you wrought?

It used to be that people who lost just took the loss and bettered themselves afterwords. Those who were so immature that an electoral loss was seen as a personal rejection just went away and moped, and no one paid them any attention.

Now, in our culture of victimhood, those that find defeat an impossible assault upon their egos simply cannot imagine that the voters have chosen other than them. This attitude may - though I doubt it - lead to revolution on our southern border.

Do you think anyone else will blame Mr Global Warming?

I do.

28 August 2006

Had not heard of this blog before, but the Powerline folks put me on to this post. (Which I reproduce completely here.)

NYT: Just Because You Were Forced at Gunpoint to Convert To Islam Doesn't Mean You Were Harmed In Any Way

We know we said we were done for today, but really, these people have just lost it:

Two journalists kidnapped in Gaza were released unharmed today after being forced at gunpoint to say on a videotape that they had converted to Islam. The two journalists from Fox News - Steve Centanni, 60, an American reporter based in Washington, and Olaf Wiig, 36, a freelance cameraman from New Zealand - were held for 13 days in an abandoned garage in the Gaza Strip as hostages of a previously unknown group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades.

You idiot! You total blistering idiot! Being forced to convert is a harm. It might be the oldest harm short of death - being forced to renounce your faith and your god. Millions of people - literally millions - have died rather than deign to utter words that would force them to give up their faith. No wonder liberal journalists are utterly baffled by fully half of the United States - they don't think having to give up your religion is harmful. We are beyond certain that if Muslim prisoners at Gitmo were forced to convert away from Islam as a condition of their release, the New York Times would not be putting the phrase "released unharmed" into their lede. Way beyond certain.
There's a deeper explanation for how paragraphs like this can get written. It's not really bias, as much as it is the blind spots imposed by any ideology. And within that dynamic are questions about the degree of myopia and the room for self-reflection that particular ideologies allow. But don't worry about that right now. Just bask in the beauty of the phrase "released unharmed... after being forced at gunpoint to say... that they had converted to Islam"

Not with a bang but a whimper

I have a family member who is a full-blown moonbat ... at least some of the time. She listens to Air America (I think she is their Chicago listener) and occasionally spouts off some of the drivel from that source that is so absurd that my 13 year old knows better.

Well, I was at her house the day Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted in the Valerie Plame “leak” and this person, and another relative were whooping and high-fiving each other over the fact that someone they had likely never heard of, but who worked for a vice president they dislike, had been indicted. “Rove & Cheney are next” they cheered.

Well, if you are reading this blog, dear relative, this post is for you.

David Corn, is the Washington editor of the liberal magazine the Nation, who has done much to make the Valerie Plame / Joseph Wilson kerfuffle into a media spectacle.

He writes:
Two days after the leak appeared, I wrote:

Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a US intelligence officer working
covertly in a field of vital importance to national security--and break the law
--in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?

And I stated,

Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the
nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score.

Corn has now co-authored a book with Michael Isikoff of Newsweek. The book seems to do its best to tarnish the administration, in the best tradition of Woodward-esqe journalism, but here is Corn’s analysis of the “leak” in a nutshell.

The Plame leak in Novak's column has long been cited by Bush administration critics as a deliberate act of payback, orchestrated to punish and/or discredit Joe Wilson after he charged that the Bush administration had misled the American public about the prewar intelligence. The Armitage news does not fit neatly into that framework.

James Taranto has summarized a few other fun facts from the Newsweek article Isikoff wrote.

Anybody want a high five?

The benefits of 24 hour cable news

Ever seen a circus where everybody - the trapeze artists, the MC, even the people in the stands - turned out to be clowns.

We deserve the leaders we choose

I have a longstanding interest in all things military, and so I try to keep abreast of the geopolitical milieu in which generals have to operate. As a college student, I also learned to have a healthy skepticism toward anyone who claimed to be an “expert.” Of late, I have added skepticism toward the MSM gatekeepers who declare who the experts are, either by naming them or by giving them face time or column inches.

Therefore, while I thoroughly enjoyed and even rooted for the conclusions of Amir Tereri in last week’s WSJ, I feared he - and therefore the WSJ - might be putting too hopeful a spin on what remains a potentially disastrous situation.

Then, last night, Hasran Nasrallah, the thug who heads up Hezbollah, appeared on Lebanese TV, though apparently not on Hezbollah’s in house tv station, which I think is still of the air. (Unfortunately, I missed Nasrallah’s appearance as it conflicted with the Emmys. But the timing may have been intentional; he may have wanted to bury this in a pop culture dominated news cycle.)

Today’s Jerusalem Post carries an article about the interview. Some paragraphs:

Regarding the killing of three soldiers and the capture of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev on July 12, which sparked the 34-day war, Nasrallah said, "We did not think, even one percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."

Nasrallah, during the interview with the Lebanese news station NTV, also said he did not believe there would be a second bout of fighting with Israel. "The current Israeli situation, and the available givens tell us that we are not heading to another round," he said.

His comments, according to one senior diplomatic official in Jerusalem, showed that Israel had regained its deterrence. "If he said that had he known what the consequences would have been, he wouldn't have kidnapped the soldiers, this indicates Israel has dissuaded him from doing it again," he said.

He attributed Nasrallah's comments, which at times sounded apologetic, to the internal debate taking place inside Lebanon and the harsh criticism of his actions by the non-Shi'ite population.

"He needs to explain why he did what he did," the official said. "And his message is that he did not intend these consequences, and that had he known what the consequences would be, he would not have done what he did."

So now the mighty Nasrallah reveals himself for what he is: a petulant 12 year old who threw a tantrum and, facing a trip to the political woodshed, wants to set it all aside with a “my bad.”

UPDATE: The Washington Times is not as enthusiastic.

26 August 2006

If you don't subscribe to Scrappleface.com ...

This is why you should. Scott Ott, btw, is the manager of a Christian camp in Pennsylvania.

Bush: B-2 Flights Over Tehran for ‘Peaceful Purposes’

(2006-08-26) — Just hours after Iran opened a new plant capable of making plutonium “for peaceful purposes”, U.S. President George Bush assured his Iranian counterpart that any B-2 bombers that appear over Tehran in the near future would also serve peaceful purposes.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut the ribbon on the new heavy-water nuclear plant Saturday as part of a month-long Iranian tribute to the effectiveness of the United Nations.

Mr. Bush hailed Iran’s “transparent diplomacy” and said, “I called President Ahmadinejad today to congratulate him, and I told him that if he happens to notice one of them Stealth bombers going over his town at about 600 miles per hour, he can be assured that the pilot has only the best intentions in his heart for world peace.”

“There’s nothing like the B-2 when it comes to giving peace a chance,” Mr. Bush added.

How many Muslims is enough?

Fox News reports this morning that Israel Encouraging Muslim Countries to Send Peacekeepers to Lebanon . Why? I mean they already have France! Isn't that a Muslim country?

I am actually somewhat serious about this. The notion that France is 83-88% Roman Catholic is a joke, unless being RC is just a matter of having one's name on a list. At this writing (and it may change before I am done with this post), Wikipedia cites a study by Froese from 2001 that says that 54% of the French are agnostic or atheist, while. (The same source says the CIA number is high, claiming 77% but is without a source.)

Let's take the CIA numbers "Roman Catholic 83%-88%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 5%-10%, unaffiliated 4%" and massage them with the Froese number. (And I know, you can do this a lot of ways ...) If you are going to claim to be a French protestant, Jew or Muslim, you are not an agnostic or atheist. Other sources claim that there are 4.5 million muslims in France. With a total population of 60 million, that represents 7.5 percent (the median of the CIA range.) So let's use the median of the CIA's RC range too: 85% RC. Assume that the Froese number includes the "unaffiliated 4%".

That leaves (85-50) 35% of the population claim to RC and the RCC claims them. For the number of actual practicing RC's, anecdotal evidence suggests that this is astonomically high. But let's assume that it is 1/3. That leaves the country 12% RC, and 7.5 % Muslim. It may not be there yet, but aren't we darn close to saying, "Isn't France a Muslim country? with no tongue in cheek at all.

Oh, and Bully to Israel for encouraging Muslims to join the UNIFIL 2. Good divide and conquer strategy to help prevent Shiite dominance. (Which this commentator says is not much of a danger anyway.)

25 August 2006

Mr Taxman, may we interpret the Bible this way?

Opinionjournal.com reports on something I have read about before. The fine theologians at the Internal Revenue Service are now policing churches to see if they have crossed the line into political advocacy for particular candidates.

Let the reader please understand that I believe that 1) you can be a Christian and be either a Democrat or a Republican; 2) both are guilty of selective readings of Scripture; 3) Jesus would find both political parties unacceptable; and 4) while we are a nation with a lot of Christians, we are not - and never have been - a Christian nation. In fact, I don't think it is possible to be a Christian nation anymore than it is possible to be a Christian rock or a Christian dog.

I see three issues at stake here.

First, while, under the Free Exercise clause (the second half of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."), it seems to me, churches ought to be able to preach as they please. However, one of the advantages churches hold is that they receive tax-exempt status. It is widely accepted that churches can lose their tax exempt status for political advocacy for candidates, and some now want that to extend to issue advocacy. I believe that at least the latter, and possibly the former, potentially run afoul of the Free Exercise and the Establishment clauses IMNTBH opinion. How? Well, as Chief Justice Marshall once famously opined (McCulloch v. Md., 4 Wheat. 431), “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” So if we destroy all the religions we don’t like, those who are left constitute a defacto establishment.

Certainly we want to prevent a political party from organizing itself around a pseudo-religious doctrine simply to enjoy tax benefits, but as the political debate in this country develops and changes, and that which was once taboo becomes the accepted norm at the behest of the Permissive ... oops ... I mean Progressive elements of society, the line here is not really between advocacy for candidates versus advocacy for issues. Rather the line becomes one between traditional expressions of morality (which civilizations have crossed at their peril) and permissive ... darn it ... I did it again ... I mean, progressive stances which set aside traditional morality. Since most traditional religions contain a moral behavior element to their teaching, those teachings are likely to run afoul of the political left. Yet these teachings are still a proper realm for religion.


Second, if this is a matter of constitutional principle, then it does not matter what the presenting issue is, or who the parties are. If the use of churches to advance a conservative agenda in 2006 is of concern to Barry Lynn, then he needs to repudiate the use of churches to rally support for the 1960's civil rights movement, and he ought to file a complaint every time a Democratic candidate is shown on the nightly news speaking from a church pulpit during election season.

But he won't because the Rev Lynn (does he still claim that title?) is about as honest a broker in the church/state debate as Pat Robertson.

Further, we have a little history in the Valerie Plame Kerfuffle of the Left pushing so hard that they end up cutting off their own noses to spite the Right. If any right-wing activists start playing Mr Lynn’s game, you may see the rights of both parties curtailed, just as the press’s claims of privilege were when the New Orc Times decided to push for a full investigation of the Plame leak; they not only got their own reporter jailed, they got their wrists slapped by the courts and the notion of a reporter's rights defined and restricted.


Third, I have noticed a tendency, reported largely on conservative blogs, of the bureaucracy to try and sabotage the Bush Administration. It has been noted in the State Dept, the CIA and elsewhere. Could it be that some mid-level Clinton appointees / hirelings at the IRS are now trying to use the tax code to change the course of the country, much as Ms Plame recommended her husband to travel to Niger to do just the same thing?


24 August 2006

And on the other other other hand ...

I have heard a couple commentators on radio and tv today who are all bent out of shape about race relations in America because some reality television show is going to divide up it's contestants, at least initially, into four 5- person teams; one team each of 5 individuals of Hispanic, Asian, European and African ancestry.

On the one hand, I think that Native American/Inuit/Alaskan Natives and Pacific Islanders ought to sue.

On the other hand, since 80% of the people who apply for the show are "white", yet they are getting only 25% of the slots, I expect Allen Bakke may file suit too.

On the other hand, Jeff Probst, the producer, has said that this is a "social experiment." Reality television as social science. Yeah, about as much as reality television is "reality".

And on yet still the other hand, this is not really racist or bigoted. It is ethnically specific. And, according to L A Times columnist Erin Aubrey Kaplan, "Being racially or ethnically specific, however, is not the same as being racist."

Yeah right.

BTW I'm still not going to watch the stupid show.


I don't care what "they" say!

I don't care what "they" say! It's been a planet all my life. Look at it! What else can you realistically call it?

So as far as I am concerned, there are still 9 of them.


Update: All in favor of naming the International Astronomical Union a "dwarf union" say Aye. The Aye's have it.

Too stupid to reproduce

It is probably just as well that he seems to be removed from the gene pool, at least temporarily (if not disqualified by reason of ... uh ... stature ... altogether.)

22 August 2006


Ok, I don't like this. I would not eat there. I do not endorse this. I do not know enough about Indian culture to say how offensive this is there, or not.

But the guys who did this do have stones.


Stolen idea #1

Saw a mention of Natalee Holloway in the coverage of the JonBenet Ramsey suspect wall-to-wall coverage. Reminded me of what a friend once said about the case. While I feel badly for the family's loss, I agree with my friend:

"Why Aruba? Because they could drink. So if you are going to send your 18 year old kids off to party like grown ups, don't be shocked if some don't come back. ... Just like grown ups."



Hey little girl, want some music?

My bride and I enjoy karaoke. Have for years. We went to a local lodge (read: campground eatery & bar) last weekend to try it out here. Since families were camping there, a number of teens and younger were in the place, which is fine.

First, a trio of a 10 year old boy, his dad and a family friend got up and sang a couple Johnny Cash songs. Then some solo acts. A group of girls, mostly aged 11-14, I would guess, got up to sing, along with a little sister who was perhaps 8, and what seemed to the the mom to the 8 y.o. and one of the older girls.s I did not recognize the songs, but I had heard of them.

I had never actually heard the Pussycat Dolls hit song Don't Cha (chorus lyrics: Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?Don't cha? Don't cha?Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?Don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me?) or the song Hollabackgirl before; I am certain that I am not richer for the experience. (I admit that I had seen the Best Week Ever crew make fun of the Hollabackgirl. Reveal: I do enjoy that show.)

Then there was some confusion as the DJ tried to play a second song for the same group of girls, because she did not realize the song they were asking for was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Californication.

The mom, who looked maybe 35, was so proud of her daughters and their friends. Considering the music she encourages them to be listening to and the results of this study, I hope the mom is ready to be a grandmother. Soon.


21 August 2006

Mr Mayor, may we interpret the Bible this way?

Church Says Women Shouldn't Teach Sunday School Classes To Men, Cites Bible
Monday, August 21, 2006

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday School teacher after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible says a woman can perform any job — outside of the church.

The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.

The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

The Rev. Timothy LaBouf, who also serves on the Watertown City Council, issued a statement saying his stance against women teaching men in Sunday school would not affect his decisions as a city leader in Watertown, where all five members of the council are men but the city manager who runs the city's day-to-day operations is a woman.

"I believe that a woman can perform any job and fulfill any responsibility that she desires to" outside of the church, LaBouf wrote Saturday.

Mayor Jeffrey Graham, however, was bothered by the reasons given Lambert's dismissal.

"If what's said in that letter reflects the councilman's views, those are disturbing remarks in this day and age," Graham said. "Maybe they wouldn't have been disturbing 500 years ago, but they are now."

Lambert has publicly criticized the decision, but the church did not publicly address the matter until Saturday, a day after its board met.

In a statement, the board said other issues were behind Lambert's dismissal, but it did not say what they were.

I happen to think that this church and it's pastor are wrong, but what is MOST disturbing about this is the town's mayor making comments on how a particular church interprets Scripture.

This starts down the road to violation of the Free Exercise clause.


Apparently it is just me but ..

Why is everyone so upset with the terrorist surveillance program for warrant-less wiretapping by the NSA. These were calls between a party in the USA and a party outside the USA.

I have known since high school that communications within the US were privileged and needed a warrant but that communications across national borders - including mail and telegrams and so forth - the government was free to monitor.

Was I the only one paying attention in civics class?

"a culture steeped in bitterness and nihilism"

I highly recommend Juan Williams' piece in the Washington Post, discussing the greatest challenges facing Black Americans today.

Just War

(This is a piece I wrote for the Chinook Observer, my then local paper, in April 2003. It was written in response to a guest column that asked "Is this War Just" but then rambled on endlessly without ever addressing the question.

The editor found that my column was also long enough that it might qualify as rambling on, and so was unable to put it in the paper in a timely manner, so I withdrew it.

I will, at a later date, come back and give my thoughts on the war today.)

In a “Guest Column”, Gwen Brake asks, is this war just? Since she does not attempt to answer the question, I thought that I might take a stab at it.

“Just War Theory” comes from Augustine of Hippo, augmented by Thomas Aquinas, secularized by Hugo Grotius and adapted over the years by various international bodies. There are seven generally agreed on principals to determine if a war is just. Let us consider these conditions as they apply to the situation in Iraq today.

(1) To be just, a war must have a just cause such as self-defense or restoring rights. The current action in Iraq is being conducted under UN Resolutions which required Iraq to disarm of its weapons of mass destruction and comply with international mandates as a result of Iraq’s invasion, rape and subsequent ouster from Kuwait 13 years ago. Removing those weapons from the hands of a regime that has to used them in the past is considered by many to be a key to the security of this and other countries, including coalition ally Kuwait, who knows all too well how brutal Saddam Hussein can be.

It is alleged that Saddam might give such weapons to terrorists who will do harm to the U.S. This is the primary reason given by the Bush administration for the conduct of this war.

One need not speculate about what Saddam ‘might’ do in order to make a terror connection to this situation. We have troops and equipment near Iraq in order to “contain” it, to protect the people of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States from Iraq’s aggression. Stationing our troops - “infidels” - in the “holy land of Arabia” is one of Osama Bin Laden’s primary reasons for attacking the U.S. on 9/11. “Containment” of Iraq is a primary cause of 3000 American deaths.

(We are also there to protect the flow of oil; a couple billion people around the world are dependent on that oil for their quality of life. Whether that is good or bad is a separate issue. Cutting off the flow of gulf oil would cause suffering around the world.)

I hold that there are two other reasons to prosecute this war which have a higher moral imperative. First, other nations in the Persian Gulf region fear Saddam Hussein and his weapons, and history gives them good reason to. Defending them is a moral imperative. Second, there are 23 million Iraqis who are oppressed by their own government. Amnesty International lists Iraq as one of the worst human rights violators in the world. As many as a million Iraqis have been killed by their own government in the last 30 years. Liberating those people is also, in my opinion, a moral imperative.

It has troubled me deeply that many on the “left” said nothing about the armed defense of Kosovo, yet have resisted the liberation of Kuwait (‘91) or the overthrow of Saddam (‘03). I, for one, do not think white skinned Kosovars are any more worthy of liberation than brown skinned Arabs.

(2) To be just, a war must be waged by a legitimate authority. Some argue that only the U.N. can wage a just war, but according to the theory, any nation is competent. I would suggest that the nation Saddam surrendered to in 1991 and agreed to obey regarding certain restrictions would certainly be competent. That would be the U.S.

It is truthfully stated that we are partly responsible for enhancing Saddam’s power over the years. It is then suggested that we should not, therefore, remove Saddam since he is our mess. This suggestion has it backwards: we have a greater responsibility to remove him. My mother always said I should clean up my own messes, not leave them for someone else.

(3) To be just, a war must be formally declared. This means no sneak attacks. Done.

(4) To be just, a war must be fought to restore a just peace. Peace is more than a cessation of gunfire. What would a just peace look like in the gulf region? American troops could go home. Kuwaitis, Saudis, Jordanians, Turks and Iranians could live without fear from one of the most militant, well armed nations on earth. Kurds and Shiites would be free from attack by their own government.

Will it work? No one knows, but if that stops us from trying, we will never try or accomplish anything. Besides, almost any outcome would is better than Saddam has been.

(5) To be just, a war must be a last resort. What alternatives are were to war? First is do nothing. This puts every nation in the Mid-East in danger, based on Saddam’s past behavior. Second is containment, with or without inspections. This requires vast numbers of U.S. troops to be in the region. (Remember, Bin Laden just hates that.) And given the carnage he has inflicted on his own people and neighboring nations, can anyone who claims to care about the Iraqi people seriously propose these?

(6) To be just, a war must have a reasonable expectation of success. As I write this on Monday April 7, this is looking pretty good.

(7) To be just, a war must be proportional in means and ends; it shouldn't make matters worse. Everyone is concerned about civilian casualties, from the White House to the street protesters. At this writing, the website Iraqbodycount,net reports a maximum number of reported civilian casualites at 1072, after 19 days of war. The figure is certainly higher, perhaps twice that.

But compare that to the exploits of General Ali Hassan al-Majeed. “Chemical Ali” as he was known, managed to kill 6800 Kurds in Halabja in one day in March 1988. British ITV news says he was also responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Kurds and 300,000 Shiites over the last 12 years. How does one justify leaving this man and his cousin in power and claim to be a humanitarian?

Through the use of technology, training and extremely high ethics - perhaps the highest ethics of any army ever - the coalition forces are using proportional means to remove an evil dictator from power, and to leave matters better than they were before.
A few closing thoughts. As one reads through the above, I have tried to distinguish between fact and opinion. I have tried to label my opinions as just that. I do not consider my opinions to be the only valid ones, and I do not seek to quash disagreement, dissent or discussion. I encourage it, as that is what I think America and our system of government is about.

However, if one is going to engage in such a discussion, it is helpful to get one’s facts and terms straight. I have read, for instance, on the internet and in these august pages, all sorts of wild assertions. Accusations that the US would carpet bomb Baghdad and kill 5 million Iraqis. Suggestions that bombs made of depleted uranium were dropped in 1991 and that those had irradiated all of Iraq with tragic consequences. A claim that what Iraqis fear most is a civil war. These are statements worthy of Iraq's "information minister," Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, a.k.a. Baghdad Bob, who still says the Iraqi army is winning the war.

Hello? Reality check! No one ever suggested carpet bombing, but precision bombing. Depleted uranium has no dangerous radiation; that’s why it is called “depleted”. The media is beginning to see evidence on the street of what the left of center press (e.g. Newsweek, Time) has been reporting for months: what Iraqi’s have feared most is Saddam and his Baath Party. (And to define the Baath Party, think Arab fascist.)

Ms Brake asks, “How smoothly do you think democracy will run in a nation of ethnic tribes.” Well, it runs pretty well in this nation, which is made up of various ethnic and regional alliances. What form of government would Ms Brake suggest for Iraq? Is it one she would be willing to live under herself? It sounds almost arrogant or callous to say that these people are somehow not capable of coping with freedom and democracy.

Democracy in Iraq, as in other “third world nations”, like Italy and Florida, will likely face certain tests. Some days it will be ugly. But why not offer them the opportunity for self-determination? Remember the old saw: democracy is the worst possible form of government, unless one counts all the others.

I do not desire war, nor do I wish to underplay the severity of each loss suffered by each family over every death on both sides. I so admire the soldiers of this country, the U.K., Australia and Poland who have put their lives on the line for the Iraqi people. I am grateful for a president and a British prime minister willing to risk political futures to do what they believe is right. (Though I, too, have been taken aback by the rhetoric coming from some in DC that seemed almost to hope for war.) I pray daily for peace, but a real and just peace for the Iraqi people.

The Wall Street Journal closed an editorial last week with these words: “As the war enters what appears to be the endgame, it's worth pointing out that everything President Bush promised about the way this war would be conducted has transpired. The bombing is precise and limited to military targets. Civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure are minimal. Humanitarian assistance is arriving. And coalition forces are providing medical attention for injured POWs and civilians. This sure isn't the usual face of war, which destroys innocent lives and leaves cities in rubble. The only way that will happen now is if Saddam or his successor use chemical weapons or impose some other terrible disaster on their own countrymen. Otherwise, this war is about to end in a highly untraditional way: with Iraq's cities standing and its people alive and liberated.”

Is this war just? In spite of the failures and the ugly nature of war, from this point, I think history will judge it so.

20 August 2006

NBC Nightly News: I am filing for divorce.

When I was a wee lad of 3, living outside Rosholt, SD, our old tv had a dial where the numbers had rubbed off. So my mom marked two channels with a magic marker so I could find them. One was where the Mickey Mouse Club was to be found, and the other was where I could find the Huntley Brinkley Report.

Chet & David ran a story on a local tragedy that winter, when four college students went driving on a lake before it was certified frozen over. Two died, including my older sister's best friend's brother.

I have been hooked on the NBC Nightly News ever since. Frank McGee. John Chancellor. Garrick Utley. Tom Brokaw.

(Reveal: Sadly, my parents always chose to eat at 5:30 central time. More sadly, they allowed me to rule the dinner table throughout my jr hi and hi school years with shouts of "quiet" and "I'm trying to hear this". Little of the important conversation of family and school life took place because my parents made three mistakes. (1) They always had dinner during the Nightly News. (2) They had a tv in the spacious kitchen where we ate. And (3) they allowed me to act like a pr**k shutting off family conversations.)

Yeah, I know, Brokaw was left of center in his editing, but he was a South Dakota prairie populist, and I grew up with parents of that stock, so he spoke to me.

Brian Williams ... well I dont know. The editorial quality has gone down hill. (And I know that John Siegenthaler is only the weekend guy, but I think that it is part and parcel of the ethos in the newsroom.)

I have seen lots of examples of this sloppiness and bias lately, but I only feel like posting 2.

Exhibit One: A few weeks ago, NBC NN ran a story on how Americans are getting bigger. (Reveal: I live overweight. If my wife and doctor had their way, I'd be on a diet for the rest of my life. And she - my wife, not my doctor - may win.) Part of their evidence for Americans being overweight was that some major mattress company had recently made available a larger matress for larger Americans. The problem: Unless you watched very carefully (I have tivo so I could) the matress was larger only because it was longer! If the point of the story was that our improved nutrition had made American taller, this might have been convincing. It was not, so it was not.

Exhibit Two: Tonight's news told of 13k extra US & Iraqi troops in Baghdad to make safe a Shiite holy day procession to a sacred mosque. (Even if I were nonchalant about Islam - Reveal: I am not - for my taste, Shiia Islam has way too many sacred mosques and way too many holy day processions.

As Gomer would say, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Sunni Muslims attacked the parade. NBC NN Headlined: "AMBUSH" and told the story of 20 killed and 300 injured by insurgents killing others from the rooftops in, what seemed to be - though was never exactly stated that way - a single attack that left hundreds shot! This in spite of the beefed up American military presence.

Later that night I went to Fox News. Turns out that 20 were killed and 300 injured in a series of attacks and most of those were injured in the stampede of folks running from the shooting. (So much for 'helping your neighbor' in Islam, eh?) Oh, and unmentioned in the NBCNN report: at least 7 suspects were detained in the series of shootings. Guess those extra troops weren't just sitting around sucking down Nehi's, eh?

Still, since 1000 people were killed in this same procession last year (note to Immam: re-consider procession!) this actually represents an improvement!

Not that NBCNN would mention that. At least not under the current newsroom leadership.


And just HOW did NBCNN completely miss this story on the last two broadcasts?

Here we go ...

I will tell about myself a little at a time, I suppose.
I have been reading blogs for several years now, and decided to finally jump in and make my thoughts on todays hot topics and my personal rants available on the vaunted Web.
Not that anyone is going to read this ...