Friday, December 30, 2005

The New York Times vs. America

Michelle Malkin: "2005 was a banner year for the nation's Idiotarian newspaper of record, The New York Times.

What's 'Idiotarian'? Popular warblogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs and Pajamas Media coined the useful term to describe stubborn blame-America ideologues hopelessly stuck in a pre-September 11 mindset. The Times crusaded tirelessly this year for the cut-and-run, troop-undermining, Bush-bashing, reality-denying cause. Let's review:"

and so forth. Read the whole thing and be informed of all the news that's fit to distort.

Hollywood's misunderstood terrorists - The Honolulu Advertiser

Man I love this guy:

VDH: "Take this fall's "Flightplan," in which the U.S. air marshal on board and a flight attendant turn out to be the true terrorists. Meanwhile, four Middle Eastern males are unfairly put under suspicion in the lynch-mob atmosphere on the plane.

The film warns us that the real threat after Sept. 11 is certainly not young Middle Eastern males on planes who might hijack or crash them into iconic American buildings. No, more dangerous in Hollywood's alternate universe are the flight officials themselves — who in reality on Sept. 11 battled terrorists only to have their throats cut before being blown up with all the passengers.

A slickly filmed "Syriana" is the worst of the recent releases. The film's problem is not just that it predictably presents the bad, ugly sheik as a puppet of American oil interests while the handsome and good independent crown price is assassinated for championing his oppressed people against Western hegemony. Or that the conniving corporate potentates have big bellies and Southern accents while the goodhearted, sloppily dressed George Clooney is double-crossed by his stylish, pampered CIA bosses safe in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

"Syriana" also perverts historical reality. Everything connected with the oil industry is portrayed as corrupt and exploitative, with no hint that petroleum fuels civilization. Hollywood producers might not see many oil rigs off the Malibu coast, but someone finds and delivers them gas each morning for their luxury cars.

And who are the really greedy? Do the simple arithmetic of pumping petroleum in the desert: After expenses of typically under $5 a barrel, rigged cartels in the Middle East — run by Iranian mullahs, Gulf royals or Libyan autocrats — sell it on the world market for between $50 to $60. They don't merely price-gouge Americans in their SUVs, but also Third World struggling economies in places like Africa and Latin America.

Plus, in the real world outside Hollywood, does the United States really assassinate Gulf royalty who wish to liberalize their economies and give women the right to vote?

Contrary to the premise of "Syriana," the gripe against contemporary American foreign policy is just the opposite. Realists, isolationists and leftists alike damn the United States as naive or foolish for obsessing over democratic reform in Afghanistan and Iraq, pressuring Saudi Arabia and Egypt to hold valid elections and insisting that the terrorist patron Syria leave the voters of Lebanon alone.

The price of gas skyrocketed after the American invasion of Iraq. And oil companies, especially French and Russian, were furious when Saddam Hussein's kleptocracy fell — and their sweetheart deals were nullified by a new democratic Iraqi government.

Moral equivalence is perhaps the most troubling of Hollywood's postmodern pathologies — or the notion that each side that resorts to violence is of the same ethical nature. Steven Spielberg best summed up the theme of his recently released film about the 1972 murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the subsequent Israeli hunt of the perpetrators: "A response to a response doesn't really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual-motion machine."

Spielberg's "Munich" assumes just such a false symmetry between the killers who murdered the innocent athletes and the Israeli agents who hunted them down — each in their own way victimized and caught in a cycle of "perpetual" violence.

Lost in this pop moralizing is the reality of 1972, when none of Israel's neighbors were willing to accept the existence of the Jewish state within even its original borders. Then there was no chance that Israeli agents would storm an Olympic event and murder athletes — but every probability that the Soviet bloc, Western Europeans and Middle East autocracies would never hunt down international terrorists who had done so to Israelis.

Actors, producers, screenwriters and directors of Southern California live in a bubble, where coast, climate and plentiful capital shield the film industry from the harsh world. In their good intentions, these tanned utopians can afford to dream away fascist killers and instead rail at Western bogeymen — even in the midst of a global war against Middle East jihadists who wish to trump what they wrought at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

If Hollywood wants to know why attendance is down, it is not just the misdemeanor sin of warping reality, but the artistic felony that it does so in such a predictable manner."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Here Come the Brides

The Weekly Standard: "ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2005, the 46-year-old Victor de Bruijn and his 31-year-old wife of eight years, Bianca, presented themselves to a notary public in the small Dutch border town of Roosendaal. And they brought a friend. Dressed in wedding clothes, Victor and Bianca de Bruijn were formally united with a bridally bedecked Mirjam Geven, a recently divorced 35-year-old whom they'd met several years previously through an Internet chatroom. As the notary validated a samenlevingscontract, or 'cohabitation contract,' the three exchanged rings, held a wedding feast, and departed for their honeymoon.

When Mirjam Geven first met Victor and Bianca de Bruijn, she was married. Yet after several meetings between Mirjam, her then-husband, and the De Bruijns, Mirjam left her spouse and moved in with Victor and Bianca. The threesome bought a bigger bed, while Mirjam and her husband divorced. Although neither Mirjam nor Bianca had had a prior relationship with a woman, each had believed for years that she was bisexual. Victor, who describes himself as '100 percent heterosexual,' attributes the trio's success to his wives' bisexuality, which he says has the effect of preventing jealousy."

Not that there's anything wrong with that, in some quarters. I guess this is good news for Utah. Apparently the federal government was wrong for pushing it's morality on those polygamist human rights crusaders from The Church of Latter Day Saints. You know, consenting adults and all that. Children are no match for personal freedom.

BTW I subscribed to The Weekly Standard last year after Time and Newsweek renewed their twice annual slander of Christianity and my wife asked for a news weekly to keep up with current events. The Standard is far superior. There's not as many pictures but that's not a bad thing if you are after facts. My wife reads it cover to cover.

Where The Boys Aren't

Melana Zyla Vickers: Here's a thought that's unlikely to occur to twelfth--grade girls as their college acceptances begin to trickle in: After they get to campus in the fall, one in four of them will be mathematically unable to find a male peer to go out with.

At colleges across the country, 58 women will enroll as freshmen for every 42 men. And as the class of 2010 proceeds toward graduation, the male numbers will dwindle. Because more men than women drop out, the ratio after four years will be 60--40, according to projections by the Department of Education.

The problem isn't new-women bachelor's degree--earners first outstripped men in 1982. But the gap, which remained modest for some time, is widening. More and more girls are graduating from high school and following through on their college ambitions, while boys are failing to keep pace and, by some measures, losing ground.

Underperformance in education is no longer a problem confined to black males, Hispanic males, or even poor whites. In 2004, the nation's middle--income, white undergraduate population was 57 percent female. Even among white undergraduates with family incomes of $70,000 and higher, the balance tipped in 2000 to 52 percent female. And white boys are the only demographic group whose high school dropout rate has risen since 2000. Maine, a predominantly white state, is at 60--40 in college enrollment and is quickly reaching beyond it. There are now more female master's degree--earners than male, and in 10 years there will be more new female Ph.D.s, according to government projections. American colleges from Brown to Berkeley face a man shortage, and there's no end in sight.

Hiding the sins of a Founding Father

Mary Katharine Ham:

My point being, 1966 is fairly close to, you know, NOW, to be the origin of a holiday that is supposed to reflect the ancient African roots of our African-American citizens. But no one ever told us about that part in school.

Later, I found out why. Revealing that Kwanzaa was created by Ron Karenga leads to revealing Ron Karenga, and that subject is hardly one that's fit for a second-grade classroom.

Why? Because at various times during his life, Karenga was head of a black nationalist group not known for its non-violent tactics; he was convicted and served time for torturing two women-- members of his own group-- by whipping them with electrical cords and burning their mouths and faces with a hot iron; he invented Kwanzaa as a way to "de-whitize" Christmas, as Al Sharpton once put it, expressly as a way to separate the races.

Here's a great Front Page Magazine article on all of Karenga's exploits.

Today, he is a professor at California State University, Long Beach. Basically, Karenga went Tookie Williams on us. Kwanzaa was his children's book, and it lifted him higher than Williams' was able to lift him (although, Kwanzaa actually came before Karenga's convictions, which makes the case for Kwanzaa-as-redemption weaker). In news coverage of Kwanzaa tonight, Karenga is referred to as an "African-American scholar," "Dr.", "a convicted felon who got out of prison and gave his life to academics," and a man with a commemorative postage stamp to his name. There is very little mention of his checkered past.

I found out about his past only because I was asked to do a story on a local Kwanzaa celebration when I worked at a newspaper a couple years ago. Between second grade and then, I had figured out that Kwanzaa was created about the same time as Nancy Sinatra's career. But I didn't know about Karenga until I started Googling.

Then I found the Front Page Magazine article linked above, written by Paul Mulshine, a columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger. After I clicked on it, I almost wished I hadn't.

I had planned to do the dutiful, fluffy Kwanzaa story. I had planned a sprinkling of history, some winning photos of 6-year-olds, and quotes lauding the act of gourd-painting as a path to cultural awareness. I had it planned.

Paul Mulshine threw off my plan, and I knew I was in trouble. In trouble because I couldn't, in good conscience, leave all the bad stuff about Karenga out of a story about the holiday he created. In trouble because I knew this would cause problems with my editors.

I called Mulshine, who was nice enough to do an interview with me and send me some of his sources, so that I could have some back-up when my editors asked me about it. I called Karenga and left a message on his machine, but never heard back from him.

I interviewed the teachers and students involved with the Kwanzaa celebration. I got all the gourd-painting quotes I needed, but I also asked what they knew about Karenga and his unsavory past. They knew nothing about it. I asked if they knew why Kwanzaa used Swahili terms when most American slaves came from thousands of miles away from anywhere Swahili was spoken. They didn't know. Many of them didn't know the holiday was created in California in 1966, just as I hadn't.

In the end, I compromised. I wrote 10 inches of fluffy holiday story. The childrens' Kwanzaa artwork was beautiful and deserved to be spotlighted, no matter what kind of man Karenga was. But I also wrote 10 inches on Karenga. Nothing too graphic. I didn't get into the specifics of the torture. I didn't list every one of his misdeeds. But I thought a little of that was important to the story, especially since it seemed no one knew anything about it.

The next day, I picked up the paper. My 20-inch story had become 10 inches long overnight. Can you guess which 10 inches they cut?

This paper never cut for space. It rarely edited a word I wrote. As a result, a 10-inch cut was conspicuous, to say the least. And indefensible. And in this case, expected.

My editor and I had a civil conversation about it, the conclusion of which was something along the lines of, "well, you just can't write stuff like that. Just just can't."

Just another mile-marker in my journey out of the newspaper business.

Now, I'm not trying to be the grinch who stole Kwanzaa here, but I think it's a sin that the rather radical, Marxist, black nationalist origins of the holiday are ignored every year-- ignored with the power of a thousand suns.

It is a shame that everyone acts as if Karenga's violent crimes are immaterial, despite the fact that he was convicted and sentenced for them several years after he invented Kwanzaa. It's not as if he reformed, then became the father of Kwanzaa.

These things are not the whole story of Kwanzaa, but they are part of it, and they should be told. They are not pleasant, but I don't ever remember being told about our Founding Fathers' accomplishments in school without also hearing about their failings.

Surely, Ron Karenga should be subject to at least the same scrutiny as George Washington in a public school setting.

I have a feeling that won't happen, though, because a lot of people feel like "you just can't write stuff like that. Just just can't."

At least you can't in newspapers, or public schools.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

War on Christmas?

Common Grounds Online: John Muether, Closed for Christmas: "D. G. Hart has keenly observed that the culture wars are curiously misaligned with the worship wars. Evangelicals are firmly entrenched on the right in the former. But in the latter, they are far to the left even of mainline Protestants, who have some remnant sensitivity to correct forms and worship propriety (and who will conduct worship on Christmas morning). In other words, conservative Protestants passionately battle relativism for six days of the week only after fervently practicing it on the first day.

This is the real story behind the Christmas closings of 2005. Evangelicals are politically conscious and liturgically indifferent, and so it becomes far more important to protest loudly in the public square to preserve their rights than actually to exercise them quietly in the sanctuary, on the day that the Lord has prescribed in his Word.

We sure don’t want to miss the opportunity to remind every Jew or Muslim or secularist that Jesus is the reason for the season. But when the Lord’s Day dawns on December 25, 2005, we will become the unchurched."

Monday, December 26, 2005

A Christmas Poem

From Eric Swanson:

...In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,So I slumbered, perhaps I started to
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,But I opened my eyes
when it tickled my ear.Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,Then the sure
sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled
to hear,And I crept to the door just to see who was near.Standing out in the
cold and the dark of the night,a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,Perhaps a Marine, huddled here
in the cold.Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,standing watch over me,
and my wife and my child...

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sophmore Jinx

Here's a video from ABC news that pretty closely parallels my story during the first two years of college.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Male Terror

Opinion Journal: At my university as at countless others, one of the very first official greeting to students is a rape seminar predicated on the intrinsic danger males carry with them.

Bigotry by any other name smells just as rank.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Hate, oppression and protest... in the Northeast.

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE - Conservative News, Views & Books: "In below-freezing temperatures more than 2,500 students packed into UConn’s Jorgenson Auditorium to hear Coulter’s long-awaited speech and have a chance to spar with the conservative movement’s No. 1 woman during the question and answer session. She began talking amid a standing ovation from hundreds of students. Unfortunately, about 15 minutes into her speech, the South Park song, “Kyle’s mom is a big fat b****,” blared over the sound system. Some enterprising young liberals had hijacked the sound equipment. Since this is considered a method of torture and violation of the Geneva Convention, I expect Amnesty International representatives to arrive any day now. I hope UConn students aren’t offended by Tandori chicken.

After guaranteeing their future as the Left’s up-and-coming leaders, Coulter gave liberals in the audience their “two minutes of hate” and announced that she was going straight to the Q&A. “I love to engage in repartee with people that are a lot stupider than I am,” she said to the audience. “We're having a question and answer right now with the little crybabies.”

Yet, the media chose to tell another story. WTIC-TV took huge liberties in its reporting when it claimed the event stopped 11 minutes into the speech. The station then cut to footage of students leaving the auditorium. The event didn't end until much later and most of the 2,500 students in attendance stayed for the entire lecture and Q&A. The FOX station also conducted its "man on the street" interviews with leaders of two liberal campus organizations, the Progressive Student Alliance and Students Against Hate, which protested against the event from the beginning. Their affiliation was only listed by WTIC-TV as "UConn Student." In the Associated Press' coverage, it's not a coincidence that AP chose to use a photo of Ann Coulter signing a book for an older man rather than for a student. The book signing was organized by the College Republicans and most of the 120 in attendance were students."

...and it happened in the Northeast.

Clarity... is such a lonely word.

I love VDH.

Clarity in a nutshell, for FREE!

No wonder newspapers are in trouble.

Victor Davis Hanson on Democrats and Iraq on National Review Online: "For some time, a large number of Americans have lived in an alternate universe where everything is supposedly going to hell. If you get up in the morning to read the New York Times or Washington Post, watch John Murtha or Howard Dean on the morning talk shows, listen to National Public Radio at noon, and go to bed reading Newsweek it surely seems that the administration is incommunicado (cf. “the bubble”), the war is lost (“unwinnable”), the Great Depression is back (“jobless recovery”), and America about as popular as Nazi Germany abroad (“alone and isolated”).

But in the real adult world, the economy is red-hot, not mired in joblessness or relegating millions to poverty. Unemployment is low, so are interest rates. Growth is high, as is consumer spending and confidence. Our Katrina was hardly as lethal as the Tsunami or Pakistani earthquake. Thousands of Arabs are not rioting in Dearborn. American elderly don’t roast and die in the thousands in their apartments as was true in France. Nor do American cities, like some in China, lose their entire water supply to a toxic spill. Americans did not just vote to reject their own Constitution as in some European countries.

The military isn’t broken. Unlike after Vietnam when the Russians, Iranians, Cambodians, and Nicaraguans all soon tried to press their luck at our expense, most of our adversaries don’t believe the U.S. military is losing in Iraq, much less that it is wise now to take it on. Instead, the general impression is that our veteran and battle-hardened forces are even more lethal than was true of the 1990s — and engaging successfully in an almost impossible war.

Nor are we creating new hordes of terrorists in Iraq — as if a young male Middle Eastern fundamentalist first hates the United States only on news that it is in Iraq crafting a new Marshall Plan of $87 billion and offering a long-oppressed people democracy after taking out Saddam Hussein. Even al Jazeera cannot turn truth into untruth forever.

Instead, the apprentice jihadist is trying to win his certification as master terrorist by trying his luck against the U.S. Marines abroad rather than on another World Trade Center at home — and failing quite unlike September 11.

Like it or not, wars are usually won or lost when one side feels its losses are too high to continue. We have suffered terribly in losing 2,100 dead in Iraq; a vastly smaller enemy in contrast may have experienced tens of thousands of terrorists killed, and is finding its safe havens and money drying up. Panic about Iraq abounds in both the American media and the periodic fatwas of Dr. Zawahiri — but not in the U. S. government or armed forces.

The world does not hate the United States. Of course, it envies us. Precisely because it is privately impressed by our unparalleled success, it judges America by a utopian measure in which anything less than perfection is written off as failure. We risk everything, our critics abroad almost nothing. So the hope for our failures naturally gives reinforcement to the bleak reality of their inaction.

The Europeans expect our protection. The Mexicans risk their lives to get here. Indians and Japanese want closer relations. The old commonwealth appreciates our strength in defense of the West. Even the hostile Iranians, North Koreans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Chinese, and radical Islamists — despite the saber-rattling rhetoric — wonder whether we are naïve and idealistic rather than cruel and calculating. All this we rarely consider when we read of anti-Americanism in our major newspapers or hear another angry (and usually well-off) professor or journalist recite our sins.

Al Zarqawi is in a classical paradox: He can’t defeat the American or Iraqi security forces or stop the elections. So he must dream up ever more macabre violence to gain notoriety — from beheading Americans on the television to mass murdering Shiites to blowing up third-party Jordanians. But such lashing out only further weakens his cause and makes the efforts of his enemies on the battlefield easier, as his Sunni base starts to see that this psychopath really can take his supporters all down with him.

The Palestine problem is not even worse off after Iraq. Actually, it is far better with the isolated and disgraced Arafat gone, the fence slowly inching ahead, the worst radical Islamic terrorists on the West Bank in paradise, Israel out of Gaza, and the world gradually accepting its diplomatic presence. The real hopeless mess was 1992-2000 when a well-meaning Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, and Dennis Ross still deluded themselves that a criminal gang leader like Yasser Arafat was a legitimate head of state or that you could start to end an endless war by giving his thugs thousands of M-16s.

The European way is not the answer, as we see from the farcical negotiations over Iran’s time bomb. Struggling with a small military, unsustainable entitlement promises, little real economic growth, high unemployment, falling birth rates, angry unassimilated minorities, and a suicidal policy of estrangement from its benefactor the United States, Europeans show already an 11th-hour change of heart as we see in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and soon in France.

Europe’s policy about Iran’s nuclear program can best be summed up as “Hurry up, sane and Western Israel, and take out this awful thing — so we can damn you Zionist aggressors for doing so in our morning papers.”

The administration did not prove nearly as inept in the Iraqi reconstruction as the rhetoric of its opposition was empty. The government’s chief lapse was not claiming the moral high ground for a necessary war against a fascist mass murderer — an inexplicable silence now largely addressed by George Bush’s new muscular public defense of the war. In contrast, we can sadly recall all the alternative advice of past critics across the spectrum: invade Iraq in 1998, but get out right now; trisect Iraq; attack Syria or Iran; retreat to the Shiite south; put in hundreds of thousands of more troops; or delay the elections.

Donald Rumsfeld’s supposed gaffe of evoking “Old Europe” is trumped tenfold and almost daily by slurs that depict Abu Ghraib as worse than Saddam, Guantanamo as the work of Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, Bush as the world’s greatest terrorist, the effort to democratize Iraq as unwinnable, and American troops terrorizing Iraqi women and children.

Most Americans may grumble after reading the latest demonization in the press of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, but they are hardly ready to turn over a complex Middle East to something like a President John Kerry, Vice President Barbara Boxer, Secretary of State Howard Dean, National Security Advisor Nancy Pelosi, and Secretary of Defense John Murtha — with a kitchen cabinet of Jimmy Carter and Sandy Berger.

So at year’s end, what then is happening at home and abroad?

For the last three years we have seen a carbuncle swell as the old Vietnam War opposition rematerialized, with Michael Moore, the Hollywood elite, and Cindy Sheehan scaring the daylights out of the Democratic establishment that either pandered to or triangulated around their crazy rhetoric. The size of the Islamicist/Baathist insurrection caught the United States for a time off guard, as was true also of the sudden vehement slurs from our erstwhile allies in Europe, Canada, and Asia. Few anticipated that the turmoil in Iraq would force the Syrians out of Lebanon, the Libyans to give up their WMDs, and the Egyptians to hold elections — and that all the killing, acrimony, and furor over these developments would begin to engulf the Middle East and threaten the old order."

Heil? -: "The McCain Amendment and Patriot Act renewal defeats -- which I'm not convinced are bad things in and of themselves -- are defeats for Bush, but even if you think they're bad on the merits, they're certainly proof that despite claims of impending fascism we actually live in a country where checks and balances work. The Administration (which won far too easily on the Patriot Act the first time around, in my opinion) can't be charged with running roughshod over its opponents, and only an idiot can claim that we live under the iron rule of the Bushitler regime. The system may or may not be producing the right answers, and that's often hard to tell until later anyway, but it's working as designed."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Best of the Web from the other day...

I've started to read BOTWT almost everyday because I figured out how to do gmail on my Treo 600.

This day was particularly juicy.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today:

Ho Hum, an Election
We were up late last night, and just after 1 a.m. EST we tuned in to CNN to see how the Iraqi election was going. Anderson Cooper was on the screen reporting from Iraq, and it looked a little like bad news; there was a caption that promised BREAKING NEWS and said something about a bomb in Ramadi.

But up in the corner of the screen we noted the word RECORDED and also the local Baghdad time was displayed: 7:07 a.m. Baghdad is eight hours ahead of New York, so we were watching "live" coverage that was two hours old. We tried switching to Fox News Channel, which had a rerun of "Your World With Neil Cavuto." We surmised that if news of the bomb in Ramadi was two hours old, it was a safe bet that things were going pretty well. A bloodbath would have merited live coverage for sure.

And, as it turned out, we were right. "Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time," the Washington Post reported late this morning:

Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time.

There were no boycotts this time and insurgents were providing security at some polling places. In Ramadi, for example, guerrillas of the Iraqi Islamic Army movement took up positions in some neighborhoods, promising to protect voters from any attacks by foreign fighters.

Reuters, believe it or not, has an astonishingly upbeat account:

There may not be the same sense of history this time round, but the joy and determination of Iraqi voters emerging from dictatorship is still evident.

Young and old, able-bodied and infirm, they streamed to polls for the third time in 11 months on Thursday, this time to elect a four-year parliament.

While not as novel as the first post-Saddam Hussein election in January, participation was more widespread. Sunni Arabs, who boycotted the earlier poll for an interim assembly, flocked to vote this time, determined not to miss out on power again.

"I'm delighted to be voting for the first time," said 21-year-old driver Jamal Mahmoud in Ramadi, a Sunni Arab city west of Baghdad that has been at the front line of the anti-American insurgency for the past two years.

For much more detailed on-the-ground reporting, see the Pajamas Media site.

There is an interesting disconnect in the U.S. media, and it goes beyond the usual complaints of pessimism or hostility to the American war effort. Go back and look at the transcript of NBC's "Meet the Press" for Nov. 27, which we noted the next day--and in particular the journalist roundtable, which features five senior Washington journalists, all of whom seem to agree that democracy in Iraq is a dead letter. The only mention of Iraq's then-forthcoming election was in a setup quote from the White House press secretary. To hear the journos talk, it was as if they hadn't even heard that Iraqis were going to the polls.

And yet the producers at CNN and Fox appear to have regarded a genuine election in Iraq as such a routine event that it didn't merit continuous live coverage. (Both stations did break into the recorded fare for occasional live updates.) It's quite a striking indication of just how out of touch with the outside world are those within the Beltway media bubble.

'They Can't Do It'
Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania is trash-talking American servicemen again, CNN reports:

"We've got nation building by the U.S. military, and that's not a mission for the U.S. military," Murtha said. "I've said this over and over again: They're not good at nation building. You've given them a mission which they cannot carry out. They do the best they can, but they can't do it."

But he supports the troops!

'God! I Didn't Know What to Say'
New York magazine features a piece on a group called Haven, which organizes volunteers who provide lodging in their homes to women and girls ("including a 10-year-old") who come to New York for late-term abortions:

Most Haven hosts are white, Jewish, well schooled, and political. Some are empty-nesters with beds to spare and memories of the sixties and seventies women's movement; many are young idealists with matchbox apartments and roommates who don't mind an extra body crashing in the living room. Meanwhile, most of the women helped by Haven are black and Latina, with GEDs or less, low literacy skills, and not much civic moxie. . . .

Katha Pollitt, the poet and Nation columnist, buys People magazine when she knows she's about to be called up for Haven duty. "But then I worry: Maybe that's patronizing. Maybe they'd rather read The Nicomachean Ethics." . . .

Late-term abortion is serious, hard-core. At 24 weeks, a fetus is at the same stage of development as those gruesome images shown on pro-lifers' protest placards. "The last woman I hosted showed me her sonogram," says Jennifer, a 26-year-old host who lives in Carroll Gardens. "Then she pointed out that the fetus was a boy. God! I didn't know what to say."

Every once in a while, after hosting a guest, I have bad dreams about sick babies. I have to remind myself that my dreams are just dreams, and that they're less important than my guests' realities.

One Haven hostess tells author Debbie Nathan, "Being pro-choice is a morality that takes you morally out of the picture." This is supposed to be a puff piece rather than an exposé, which makes the Havenites' condescension and depraved moral indifference all the more breathtaking.

This column is moderately pro-abortion--which is to say, we do not think slaying a human embryo is tantamount to murder or that it should be against the law. But after reading this piece, we're a lot more sympathetic to the antiabortion side of the debate.

Pro Choice in Schools

PJM News - More Black Families Home Schooling (6637668/AP): "Home-school advocates say the apparent increase in black families opting to educate their children at home reflects a wider desire among families of all races to guide their children's moral upbringing, along with growing concerns about issues such as sub-par school conditions and preserving cultural heritage."

I guess school choice can't be stopped by "Big Education".

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Prager: Death Penalty Blood :: Dennis Prager: "They are right. I, for one, readily acknowledge that as a proponent of the death penalty, my advocacy could result in the killing of an innocent person.

I have never, however, encountered any opponents of the death penalty who acknowledge that they have the blood of innocent men and women on their hands.

Yet they certainly do. Whereas the shedding of innocent blood that proponents of capital punishment are responsible for is thus far, thankfully, only theoretical, the shedding of innocent blood for which opponents of capital punishment are responsible is not theoretical at all. Thanks to their opposition to the death penalty, innocent men and women have been murdered by killers who would otherwise have been put to death."

For example, read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Don't be a bigot.

Cathy's World: "Narnia is sexist. "Girls always come second to boys,"” Alison Lurie wrote last week in the Guardian. "“They have fewer adventures." Actually, Lewis typically makes his main protagonists in each story one boy and one girl, and the girl is usually more sympathetic. The English child who discovers Narnia in the first book is a girl, the brave and virtuous Lucy, who also has the closest relationship to Aslan. "
This idea the Christianity is somehow anti-woman is fortunately an illusion that can stand up to facts.

It reminds me of the absurd premise of Dan Brown's mega-hit book The Da Vinci Code. Namely that the Roman Catholic church is so anti-woman thatsuppressedssed portions of the "real" bible in favor of the "received" bible. Never mind the fact that many of the central (and most courageous) characters in the crucifixion/resurrection story are women and that women are featured throughout the New Testament. Those who dispute this claim compare the New Testament with modern standards of egalitarianism. Compare the New Testament to any contemporaneous work of literature and you'll find that it is a radical document of feminine dignity.

Of course facts don't matter to bigots. Don't be a bigot against Christianity.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Why am I not a Democrat?

I listen to what Democratic Leaders say.

But they support the troops! Yeah, and I support Democrats! I want them to lose and fail in their mission, but I support Democrats!

The Fully Funded Campus Bubble: Nice work if you can get it... "GEORGE WILL on law schools and the Solomon Amendment:

A striking alteration of America's political landscape since 1960 has been the marginalization -- actually, the self-marginalization -- of the professoriate. An inhospitable campus climate has prompted the growth of public policy think tanks and publications that sustain a conservative intelligentsia that helps elect and staff conservative administrations. And faculties have adopted increasingly adversarial stances toward an increasingly conservative public and its institutions.

Today's schools bristle with moral principles that they urge upon the -- so they think -- benighted society beyond their gates. But as Roberts blandly reminded the schools regarding their desire to bar military recruiters: 'You are perfectly free to do that, if you don't take the money.'

Somehow it makes me think of Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters:

Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything! You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*.

Too many people in academia don't seem to realize that the money has to come from somewhere. And you hear people talk about how academia needs to adopt an 'adversarial stance' toward the larger culture, without thinking much about why the larger culture would want to pay for that."
And this from a law professor. Hope remains.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Into the Wonder

Christianity Today Magazine: "In early April, he wrote to a friend who had reproached him for not replying promptly to a letter, 'Dog's stools and human vomit have made my day today: one of those days when you feel at 11 a.m. that it really must be 3 p.m.' Two months later, he collapsed at his home and had to be taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with strep throat, but his deeper complaint was simply exhaustion.

Such was C. S. Lewis's world the evening he had Roger Lancelyn Green to dinner. It's unlikely that Green had any idea how miserable his friend had been. Lewis was a charming host, and, as Green wrote in his diary, they had 'wonderful talk until midnight: He read me two chapters of a book for children he is writing—very good, indeed, though a trifle self-conscious.' The book would become The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first story about a world called Narnia"

Interesting backstory to Narnia.

Controlling Parents and their Religion of Hate

Cathy Seipp: "My sister has a new project that involves buying me various t-shirts she thinks express my bossy inner personality. Recently she got me one that says, 'Stupidity Is Not a Crime, So You're Free to Go.'

Now I don't normally wear t-shirts with slogans on them outside the house. Too corny, like putting emoticons or 'LOL' in email. But this shirt is nicely cut and since I hate shopping, lately I've been running out of clothes. So not long ago I threw it on when I dashed out for a quick lunch and a movie.

There I was, eating a hotdog in the sunshine at an outdoor L.A. mall, when a mother passing by with a small child smiled, hesitated for a moment, and then volunteered: 'I'd like to send that shirt to our president!'

'Well,' I said pleasantly, 'I wouldn't, I guess, since I voted for him.' (I wish I'd thought to add perkily, 'I'd like to send it to Cindy Sheehan, though!' but my mind was in a hotdog-induced funk.)

'Oh...' she said, flabbergasted.

'That's OK,' I added. 'But you should know that not everyone is on the same side politically.'

At this point, her son, about four years old, began a pantomime of stomping on ants as he yelled, 'Stomp Bush! Stomp Bush! Stomp Bush!' Evidently he'd been trained to do this, like an organ grinder's monkey, whenever the word 'president' is mentioned."

So, I guess it's ok to force your religion on your children. Seipp goes on to express her fear that respect for the Presidency is going the way of respect for elders.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ivy League Christianity

Here's a video about Christianity on campus in the Ivy League.

Reviews: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Christianity Today Movies: "At last, the Pevensies have reached the silver screen. What a joy to see Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy (—the four siblings of C. S. Lewis's beloved The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) —brought to life so vividly. After all of the rumors, the fretting about literary fidelity, and the angst about religious agendas, we can praise director Andrew Adamson and his fine young actors for developing these 'Sons of Adam' and 'Daughters of Eve' into three-dimensional, engaging characters."

That's what I'm sayin'.

The quibbles about Aslan in the review are justified but I think their saving his splendor for future films.

But dont' read the full review if you don't want to spoil some surprises for yourself.

Thanksgiving McPictures

I've got new Thanksgiving pictures up at McPictures.

News about Iran?

Top News Article | "Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday expressed doubt that the Holocaust occurred and suggested Israel be moved to Europe."

A time of giving...

Marvin Olasky: " This is the time of year when many college alumni respond to their nagging alma mater by sending a contributions check made out to the institution's general fund. Here's one word of advice: "Don't" (unless you want to support theological and political liberalism).

Oh, a few Christian colleges may be exceptions to that four-letter rule, but even then we should trust, but verify. Skepticism is even more important at major state or secular universities. For two decades I've seen and heard about the harassment that Christian and conservative professors and students often receive. Some students have stood their ground and some professors have carved out niches, but secular liberals contest every inch of ground.

What will happen? Gutsy conservatives like David Horowitz have declared war and are marshaling statistics. Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 30-1 among anthropologists and sociologists, according to the National Association of Scholars. Surveys of voter registration among humanities and social science professors at 20 universities including Cornell, Stanford, Brown, California-Berkeley, and Colorado showed left/right ratios of anywhere from 8-1 to 28-1. If the surveys were to examine theology rather than politics and ask about faith in Christ, the numbers would be even more skewed.

Will those stats prompt action to increase a diversity of ideas? Most universities are heavily dependent on government funding, and some Republicans are asking why they should continually subsidize their opponents. There'll be demands for fair hiring of ideological minorities (conservatives), but such requirements will be hard to pass or to enforce. The best move would be for state legislatures to create a level playing field in higher education by offering scholarships usable at any college—governmental, private, or religious. That would foster competition rather than conformity in higher education, but we're probably a generation away from such change.

So, for the time being, how can conservative Christians promote alternatives within the belly of the beast? Four suggestions, in rising order of wallet size.

First, instead of writing undesignated checks, direct funds to Christian groups on campus such as Reformed University Fellowship, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, or Campus Crusade for Christ. Crucial questions to ask: Is a group helping students to think Christianly about what arises in their courses? Does a group implicitly tell students not to make waves academically, or does it instruct and honor those who stand up against classroom propaganda?"

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Breaking the walls of tribalism

Yahoo! 360° - Rich Bledsoe's Blog - Entry for December 05, 2005 Our New Task: "After WW2 the movement had a chance to purchase a huge old resort hotel named Caux in Switzerland at a basement price, because it had been spoiled through troop quartering during the war. News was cabled to Buchman (the leader of the movement, who was in America all through the war) in early 1946 asking what he thought of the possible purchase. He cabled back immediately, "Buy". It was large enough for large, continuous conferences, and was in Switzerland, the only possible place in Europe that European wide reconciliations could take place (because of their neutral stance during the war). The place was purchased, and restored through much sacrifice and volunteerism.

A great conference was staged with people from "every" nation in shattered Europe. The conference began as a gala event. Buchman was on his way from America. Everyone anticipated his arrival with great joy, and anticipated his great pleasure in all that had been accomplished. The day arrived, and a great reception was planned. Everything was perfect. There was music with orchestra and brass. There were colorful folk dancers from every nation. Buchman walked in, looked around, and spoke the unspeakable. He said, "Where are the Germans?" Everyone was stunned and speechless. He said, "If you think you are going to rebuild Europe without the Germans, you are living in a dolt's daydream." And he went to his room.

He was assured that this was impossible. Germans were not allowed out of Germany at that time. And the far deeper truth was nobody wanted them there. Most of these people had lost family members both as war casualties and in prison and concentration camps. Buchman was adamant. The Germans must be there. The impossible must be done. A contingency of more than a hundred Germans came (the first Germans allowed to leave Germany). The group included Konrad Adenauer, who later became the Chancellor of West Germany. Impossible things happened that were extremely costly. Jesus Christ came alive. Supernaturally, reconciliations transpired, and this was the first place that the Germans were welcomed back into the family of the world's nations. Adenauer through these people met Frenchmen, including Robert Schuman, the Prime Minister of France, with whom he commenced to work to bring reconciliation between France and Germany. The story of this reconciliation that ultimately issued in the so called “Schuman Plan” is remarkable, and the foundations for it all came through what transpired at Caux. Not much later, the first contingency of people allowed to leave Japan also came to Caux, and in similar fashion, this was the first welcoming back into the family of nations on their part. That group included Nebusuke Kishi, who later became the only Christian Prime Minister that Japan has ever had, and similar reconciliations transpired with them as with the Germans.

Now we live in a supposedly "postmodern" world. If you will permit bluntness on my part, postmodernism is academic tribalism. It states that the only universal principle is that there are not universally recognized principles whereby people can discourse with one another. It is the complete death of the Enlightenment dream, which believed in objective principles of reason that were equally accessible to all."

Always interesting. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Interview with a Penitent - Anne Rice

Christianity Today Magazine: "'I couldn't believe in the principles I was brought up with when thousands of people I met who were not Catholics were very good people," Rice says. "They were reading what they wanted to read, studying what they wanted to study. … I wanted to find out what existentialism was, but that had been forbidden to me as a Catholic. I lost my faith in God."

After her freshman year, Anne moved to San Francisco to work. In 1961, she married former Texas high school classmate Stan Rice, a poet and Methodist turned adamant atheist. Anne went back to school, getting her degree in political science at San Francisco State (she would eventually earn a master's degree in English). In 1966, Anne gave birth to Michele, nicknamed "Mouse." When she was four, Michele began to tire easily. The diagnosis: leukemia. Michele died before her sixth birthday in 1972.

How do you cope with the death of a child? Anne says she and Stan became "heavy, heavy social drinkers," who drowned their grief in alcohol. Anne began writing through her pain, expanding an earlier short story she'd written about vampires.

Her questions about life poured into her novel. How do you go on living when you are in despair, in darkness? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? Do good and evil exist?

"I had a terrible sense of impotence over not saving my child. I was pouring out the pain of the loss of Michele and also the feelings of despair of a person who does not have faith in God," remembers Rice. "But I didn't know that this was what I was doing."

Her pain and questions became Interview with the Vampire, a dark book about immortal outsiders who can kill or give eternal life through blood. "A vampire is cast out in the darkness, but refuses to give up on meaning," Rice says. "I was groping through the darkness."

When she read Rice's manuscript, Victoria Wilson, then a new editor at Knopf, remembers "feeling my pulse quicken." "Anne was writing about good and evil," she says, "being on the outside and what that experience was like." Wilson bought the book, which enjoyed modest success.

Rice's next book, The Queen of the Damned (1988), brought her blockbuster status. Numerous books followed, many with themes from Rice's past. "Even though you may not know you are writing from your own life, you make certain choices," observes Wilson, now a vice president and senior editor at Knopf. "You can see what the writer is working out."

"I got my fears out in my books," Rice says.

In 1978, Anne and Stan gave birth to a son, Christopher. A year later, the couple quit drinking. In 1988, the family moved to New Orleans. Anne was now the toast of her hometown. She threw huge parties. Fans stood outside the gates of her Greek Revival townhouse waiting for autographs and pictures. Book sales soared. In a publicity stunt, Rice dressed as a bride and posed in a casket.

Now affluent, Anne added to an extensive collection of dolls and began new collections. Statues of the Catholic saints. Vestments. A library of Catholic books. Her former assistant, Amy Troxler, believes that Rice "still held a strong connection to her Catholic faith."

Public attention had its downside, and Rice admits she can be withdrawn. To complete her novels, Rice had to escape into her room, reading, thinking, writing, and meticulously researching.

In 1993, she says, she became interested in the first century and the Jewish people. Rice recounts, "I remember thinking, 'This doesn't make sense—how did the Jews survive? People don't survive these kinds of things! Their cities [were] smashed. What really happened at the beginning of Christianity?' "

She read obsessively: John A. T. Robinson, Augustine, D. A. Carson, Jacob Neusner, Luke Timothy Johnson, Craig L. Blomberg. Slowly, the historicity of the Resurrection became hard to deny. "Christianity achieved what it did," she says, "because Jesus rose from the dead."
Ok, then.

C. S. Lewis on the possibility of his movie...

C. S. Lewis: "But I am absolutely opposed - adamant isn'’t in it! - to a TV version. Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare. At least, with photography. Cartoons (if only Disney did not combine so much vulgarity with his genius!) wld. be another matter."

Thankfully technology has made it possible to credibly realize his vision. The shot at Disney is funny.

Walk the Line (2005)

Tonight my wife and I went to see Walk the Line on our date night.

Amazing performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. They can sing.

On the whole, the movie is like most biopics: Mostly depressing.

Cash is a mesmerizing figure though so this movie has more to offer than others of it's kind.

And the music is great. It's mainly a love story. I'd much prefer to see a love story like Cinderella Man but both have their place.

My Rating: Rentable

BTW, on the subject of Cinderella Man, Paul Giamatti is quickly becoming the Don Cheadle* of non-beautiful actors.

*Don Cheadle: good in everything he's in, in fact, if he's in it, it's probably good.

Toni Collete is the Don Cheadle of actresses.

Zathura (2005)

Saw Zathura last night with my 10 year old son.

It was ok. My son was a little scared by the creepy lizards with the long tongues.

I was a little stunned to hear one of the first lines in the PG movie be: "You're such a dick!"

This from an 8 year old character. Am I a prude?

The whole tone of the kids in the film was jaded and mean. They grow some and experience some redemption but it's hard to like these kids because they are more sass than sympathy.

Jumanji was way better.

My Rating: Rentable

Monday, December 05, 2005

Atheist group offers free porn in exchange for Bibles

Boing Boing: "Atheist Agenda, an atheist group at U Texas San Antonio, staged a 'Porno for Bibles' event, where they gave free pornography to people who traded in religious scripture."

At least it wasn't faculty. (via my friend Steve)

Disappearing Act: Boys will be Boys

This article begins by asking why there are fewer and fewer men on college campuses and here focuses on the innate differences betweeen Men and Women. These differences are not obvious in certain quarters. Take Harvard University for example.

The Washington Post:

Now, however, the boys who don't fit the classrooms are glaringly clear. Many families are barely involved in their children's education. Girls outperform boys in nearly every academic area. Many of the old principles of education are diminished. In a classroom of 30 kids, about five boys will begin to fail in the first few years of pre-school and elementary school. By fifth grade, they will be diagnosed as learning disabled, ADD/ADHD, behaviorally disordered or "unmotivated." They will no longer do their homework (though they may say they are doing it), they will disrupt class or withdraw from it, they will find a few islands of competence (like video games or computers) and overemphasize those.

Boys have a lot of Huck Finn in them -- they don't, on average, learn as well as girls by sitting still, concentrating, multitasking, listening to words. For 20 years, I have been taking brain research into homes and classrooms to show teachers, parents and others how differently boys and girls learn. Once a person sees a PET or SPECT scan of a boy's brain and a girl's brain, showing the different ways these brains learn, they understand. As one teacher put it to me, "Wow, no wonder we're having so many problems with boys."

Yet every decade the industrial classroom becomes more and more protective of the female learning style and harsher on the male, yielding statistics such as these:

The majority of National Merit scholarships, as well as college academic scholarships, go to girls and young women.

Boys and young men comprise the majority of high school dropouts, as high as 80 percent in many cities.

Boys and young men are 1 1/2 years behind girls and young women in reading ability (this gap does not even out in high school, as some have argued; a male reading/writing gap continues into college and the workplace)."

My friend Ken Miller says that any boy who can sit through hours of classroom instruction is clearly suffering from attention surplus disorder. Normal boys can't do it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

From the Horse's mouth...

In case you aren't sure if the President has a clue about Iraq, I wanted to highlight some things you might have missed.

President Commemorates Veterans Day, Discusses War on Terror:

The President: "In the four years since September the 11th, the evil that reached our shores has reappeared on other days, in other places -- in Mombasa and Casablanca and Riyadh and Jakarta and Istanbul and Madrid and Beslan and Taba and Netanya and Baghdad, and elsewhere. In the past few months, we have seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London and Sharm el-Sheikh, another deadly strike in Bali, and this week, a series of bombings in Amman, Jordan, that killed dozens of innocent Jordanians and their guests.

All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness -- innocent men and women and children who have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet, while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology -- a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews -- and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision.

Many militants are part of a global, borderless terrorist organization like al Qaeda -- which spreads propaganda, and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists, and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like the attacks of September the 11th. Other militants are found in regional groups, often associated with al Qaeda -- paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and Algeria. Still others spring up in local cells -- inspired by Islamic radicalism, but not centrally directed. Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives, fighting on scattered battlefields, share a similar ideology and vision for the world.

We know the vision of the radicals because they have openly stated it -- in videos and audiotapes and letters and declarations and on websites.

First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions. Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, their "resources, their sons and money to driving the infidels out of our lands." The tactics of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter of a century: They hit us, and expect us to run.

Last month, the world learned of a letter written by al Qaeda's number two leader, a guy named Zawahiri. And he wrote this letter to his chief deputy in Iraq -- the terrorist Zarqawi. In it, Zawahiri points to the Vietnam War as a model for al Qaeda. This is what he said: "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam -- and how they ran and left their agents -- is noteworthy." The terrorists witnessed a similar response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993. They believe that America can be made to run again -- only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country -- a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. And now they've set their sights on Iraq. In his recent letter, Zawahiri writes that al Qaeda views Iraq as, "the place for the greatest battle." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. We must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war against the terrorists. (Applause.)

Third, these militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. Zawahiri writes that the terrorists, "must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq." He goes on to say: "[T]he jihad ... requires several incremental goals. ... Expel the Americans from Iraq. ... Establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraqo Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq."

With the greater economic, military and political power they seek, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction; to destroy Israel; to intimidate Europe; to assault the American people; and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme -- but they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed, "We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life." (Applause.) And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously -- and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as pawns of terror. And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending far-away training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb or fire a rocket-propelled grenade -- and this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.

The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They've been sheltered by authoritarian regimes -- allies of convenience like Iran and Syria -- that share the goal of hurting America and modern Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West, on America, and on the Jews. This week the government of Syria took two disturbing steps. First, it arrested Dr. Kamal Labwani for serving as an advocate for democratic reform. Then President Assad delivered a strident speech that attacked both the Lebanese government and the integrity of the Mehlis investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister.

The government of Syria must do what the international community has demanded: cooperate fully with the Mehlis investigation and stop trying to intimidate and de-stabilize the Lebanese government. The government of Syria must stop exporting violence and start importing democracy. (Applause.)

The radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity. They are strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical, intolerant versions of Islam into unstable parts of the world. The militants are aided as well by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories, and speak of a so-called American "war on Islam" -- with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan and Bosnia and Somalia and Kosovo and Kuwait and Iraq; or our generous assistance to Muslims recovering from natural disasters in places like Indonesia and Pakistan. (Applause.)

Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions in Iraq -- claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. (Applause.) The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom -- and, yet, the militants killed more than 150 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.

Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of killers -- and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)

The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, "what is good for them and what is not." And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this road -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride. (Applause.)

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life. We have seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg and Margaret Hassan and many others. In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo Van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I don't feel your pain ... because I believe you're an infidel." And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.

Recently, in the town of Huwaydar, Iraq, a terrorist detonated a pickup truck parked along a busy street lined with restaurants and shops, just as residents were gathering to break the day-long fast observed during Ramadan. The explosion killed at least 25 people and wounded 34. When unsuspecting Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast are targeted for death, or 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, this is murder, pure and simple -- the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion. (Applause.)

These militants are not just the enemies of America or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and they are the enemies of humanity. And we have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before -- in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, the Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination -- and they wish to make everyone powerless, except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, to control every aspect of life, to rule the soul itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing a future of oppression and misery.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples -- claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, "the most cowardly of God's creatures." But let us be clear: It is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque.

It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people from tyranny. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of rising democracies. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that will once again destroy the enemies of freedom. (Applause.)

And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom -- by distrusting human creativity and punishing change and limiting the contributions of half a population -- this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible, and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past -- a declaration of war on the idea of progress itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt. Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation and decline and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future. (Applause.)

We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence, and with a comprehensive strategy. Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia and beyond. Working with these partners, we're disrupting militant conspiracies, we're destroying their ability to make war, and we're working to give millions in a troubled region a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.

First, we're determined to prevent attacks of the terrorist networks before they occur. We are reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We're reforming our intelligence agencies for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity -- based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources, both here and abroad. And we're acting, along with governments from other countries, to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leadership.

Together with our partners, we've disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th -- including several plots to attack inside the United States. Our coalition against terror has killed or captured nearly all those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks. We've captured or killed several of bin Laden's most serious deputies, al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda's operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the bombings in Jakarta and Bali; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner, who was planning attacks in Turkey; and many of their senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded -- but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders are held to account for their murder. (Applause.)

Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. (Applause.) The United States, working with Great Britain and Pakistan and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its long-range ballistic missiles.

And in the past year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than a dozen shipments of suspect weapons technology, including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program. This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but it has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them. And we're working urgently to keep the weapons of mass murder out of the hands of the fanatics.

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally guilty of murder. (Applause.)

Fourth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror. This mission has brought new and urgent responsibilities to our armed forces. American troops are fighting beside Afghan partners and against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. We're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. We're fighting the regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq. The terrorist goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East, and strike America and other free nations with increasing violence. Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power, so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq. (Applause.)

Our coalition, along with our Iraqi allies, is moving forward with a comprehensive plan. Our strategy is to clear, hold, and build. We're working to clear areas from terrorist control, to hold those areas securely, and to build lasting, democratic Iraqi institutions through an increasingly inclusive political process. In recent weeks, American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults to clear out enemy fighters in Baghdad, and parts of Iraq.

Two weeks ago, in Operation Clean Sweep, Iraq and coalition forces raided 350 houses south of Baghdad, capturing more than 40 of the terrorist killers. Acting on tips from local citizens, our forces have recently launched air strikes against terrorist safe houses in and around the towns of Ubaydi and Husaybah. We brought to justice two key senior al Qaeda terrorist leaders. And in Mosul, coalition forces killed an al Qaeda cell leader named Muslet, who was personally involved in at least three videotaped beheadings. We're on the hunt. We're keeping pressure on the enemy. (Applause.)

And thousands of Iraqi forces have been participating in these operations, and even more Iraqis are joining the fight. Last month, nearly 3,000 Iraqi police officers graduated from 10 weeks of basic training. They'll now take their places along other brave Iraqis who are taking the fight to the terrorists across their own country. Iraqi police and security forces are helping to clear terrorists from their strongholds, helping to hold onto areas that we've cleared; they're working to prevent the enemy from returning. Iraqi forces are using their local expertise to maintain security, and to build political and economic institutions that will help improve the lives of their fellow citizens.

At the same time, Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. Last month, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote, and they approved a new constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy. Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections, and the level of violence was lower.

Now, Iraqis are gearing up for December 15th elections, when they will go to the polls to choose a government under the new constitution. The new government will serve a four-year term, and it will represent all Iraqis. Even those who voted against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for the December elections. Multiple Sunni Arab parties have submitted a list of candidates, and several prominent Sunni politicians are running on other slates. With two successful elections completed, and a third coming up next month, the Iraqi people are proving their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence. (Applause.)

The work ahead involves great risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in this war on terror. Each of these men and women left grieving families and left loved ones at home. Each of these patriots left a legacy that will allow generations of fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. Each loss of life is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come. (Applause.)

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight.

Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing, with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters -- they're murderers at war with the Iraqi people themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny, to liberation, to national elections, to the ratification of a constitution -- in the space of two-and-a-half years. (Applause.)

I have said, as Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And with our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with each passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today, there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces. (Applause.) General David Petraeus says, "Iraqis are in the fight. They're fighting and dying for their country, and they're fighting increasingly well." This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny, or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war. When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. (Applause.) Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction. And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges. (Applause.) These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. (Applause.) Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. (Applause.) And our troops deserve to know that whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less than victory. (Applause.)

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East. This is difficult, and it's a long-term project, yet there is no alternative to it. Our future and the future of the region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentment of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger, in our generation and for the next.

If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and participation of free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end. By standing for hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

America is making this stand in practical ways. We're encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We're making our case through public diplomacy -- stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination, and the rule of law, and religious freedom, and equal rights for women -- beliefs that are right and true in every land and in every culture. (Applause.)

As we do our part to confront radicalism and to protect the United States, we know that a lot of vital work will be done within the Islamic world itself. And the work is beginning. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all humanity. (Applause.) After the attacks July -- on July 7th in London, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim, nor a religious person." The time has come for responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles a noble faith. (Applause.)

Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we've engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in this vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their country. These brave citizens know the stakes -- the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition -- and the United States of America is proud to stand beside them. (Applause.)

With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet this fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle -- between those who put their faith in dictators, and those who put their faith in the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision -- and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure -- until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent -- until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don't know the course of our own struggle will take, or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice, we do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history, and we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail. (Applause.)

Thank you for coming. May God bless our veterans, may God bless our troops in harm's way, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)"

You may not like GW Bush or agree with the hiss policies on Iraq, but to read this speech and many others like it and claim that Iraq is about oil or revenge is silly.

Part of the reason I post this lengthy section is that I am discouraged by the difference between what the President says, and what he is reported to have said. Whatever your position on Iraq, you have to at least the details from the guy who put us there before you can pass judgment.

I'd like to post a plan outline from Democrats on Iraq but I can't find one. Can you? If so please send it along for comparison.

Interesting Stuff