OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today:
"Responding to Rangel--IX
We were left with so many unpublished letters about the U.S. military that we thought we'd take the opportunity of the holiday-shortened Christmas week to publish some more of them. We begin with one from Robert Eleazer, who tells us about a bit of recent history of which we'd been unaware:
I spent 25 years in the U.S. Air Force from 1974 to 1999 (not counting 4 years of ROTC from 1970-74). Although my family could not afford to send me to college without financial aid, and although I did not get a military scholarship, I joined because I wanted to serve my country--and the urgency to do so seemed greater to me at a time when the military was unpopular in some circles.
We need to recall that we would know about the attitudes of some leaders towards the quality of people who serve in the military even if the Vietnam War had never occurred, and if we did not have Kerrys and Rangles to remind us.
Robert Strange McNamara's attitude toward the U.S. military was well illustrated by an experiment he imposed on the armed services in the 1960s. Project 100,000 was a plan to place 100,000 retarded people and other mental cases in the military. Presumably, McNamara thought that these people had mental abilities compatible with military service.
Some of the senior officers I served under had the misfortune of having to deal with McNamara's experiment. A decade later they still shook their heads in dismay.
This sounded too crazy to be true, but sure enough, we found a February op-ed piece by Kelly Greenhill of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government that describes the program:
Four decades ago, during the Vietnam War, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara created Project 100,000, a program intended to help the approximately 300,000 men who annually failed the Armed Forces Qualification Test for reasons of aptitude. The idea behind Mr. McNamara's scheme was that the military would annually absorb 100,000 of the country's "subterranean poor"--people who would otherwise be rejected.
Using a variety of "educational and medical techniques," the Pentagon would "salvage" these Category IV recruits first for military careers and later for more productive roles in society. Project 100,000 recruits--known as New Standards Men--would then return to civilian life with new skills and aptitudes that would allow them to "reverse the downward spiral of human decay."
Mr. McNamara further concluded that the best way to demonstrate that the induction of New Standards Men would prove beneficial was to keep their status hidden from their commanders. In other words, Project 100,000 was a blind experiment run on the military amid the escalation of hostilities in Southeast Asia.
Some 150,000 NSM were inducted by 1968. The experiment proved not just foolish but deadly:
A Project 100,000 recruit who entered the Marine Corps in 1968 was two and a half times more likely to die in combat than his higher-aptitude compatriots. After all, they tended to be the ones in the line of fire.
But Project 100,000 recruits fared poorly outside combat as well. . . . Research conducted in the late 1980's revealed that across the services Project 100,000 recruits were reassigned at rates up to 11 times greater than their peers. Likewise, 9 percent to 22 percent of these men required remedial training, as compared to only one to three percent of their higher-category counterparts in the Army, Air Force and Navy.
So the false Rangel-Kerry description of the current volunteer military as a provider of dead-end jobs to losers was, at least in part, an accurate description of the draft-era military--and by design. It's particularly perverse that Rangel calls for instituting the draft (albeit he votes against it) as a way of "solving" this problem, which in fact has not existed for 35 years."
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Exclusive: Videographer of Saddam Execution - Newsweek: World News - MSNBC.com: "Ali Al Massedy was 3 feet away from Saddam Hussein when he died. The 38 year old, normally Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's official videographer, was the man responsible for filming the late dictator's execution at dawn on Saturday. 'I saw fear, he was afraid,' Ali told NEWSWEEK minutes after returning from the execution."
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The Dennis Prager Show:I agree with Prager.
"DP: And take, for example, Korea.
DP: I believe that we fought in Korea in order to enable at least half of that benighted peninsula to live in relative freedom and prosperity, and the half that we did not liberate is living in the nightmare—almost Nazi-like condition—of the North Korean government.
HZ: Yeah, well....
DP: Why don’t you see that as a great good that Americans did?
HZ: Well, I think that it’s....your description of the North Korean government is accurate. It’s sort of a monstrous government. But when we went to war in Korea the result of that war was the deaths of several million people. And I question, you know, whether the deaths of those several million people—Koreans; of course maybe 55,000 Americans—was worth the result. Because the immediate result was to leave the dictatorship in place in North Korea and to leave a dictatorship in place in South Korea. Remember, at that time, South Korea was not a democracy. South Korea was a dictatorship just as North Korea was. And we had gone through three years of war with all these people dying, and at the end of it, we were back where we started. Now, there are brutal regimes around the world, like the North Korean regime. But what I’m saying is I don’t think the answer to these brutal regimes is wars which kill large numbers of people. I think we have to find ways of undermining brutal regimes over a period of time, letting people themselves build up their own resistance. This is what’s happened in the Soviet Union. We didn’t destroy Stalinism by going to war....
DP: Well, alright. Let’s stick....forgive me....Professor, let me just stick to Korea for a moment.
DP: Do you....this is why I mean....I just want to understand where we differ. Do you believe if America had never intervened, do we both agree that Kim Il-sung—the psychopathic dictator of North Korea—would have ruled over the entire Korean peninsula?
HZ: Um....probably. I think that’s probably true.
DP: Okay. Do you believe that that would be a net moral or immoral result for the Korean people and the world?
HZ: Well, there were two immoral results. That would have been an immoral result, but the result of the war itself was also immoral—and I’m talking about the killing of several million people. And what I’m suggesting is that the answer to tyranny—the tyranny of North Korea, whether it existed just there or it moved to South Korea—the answer to tyrannies like that is not war, which in our time always involves the massive killing of innocent people. I mean, that’s what war is. And I think we have to find ways other than war to get rid of dictatorships and tyrannies.
DP: Well, I would love that. But this is where we often consider people on the Left, at best, to be naïve. There aren’t peaceful ways to get rid of a Kim Jong-il or a Kim Il-sung."
Pill that tricks you into losing weight | the Daily Mail: "An obesity pill which can help women drop two dress sizes in a year has been hailed by scientists after stunning test results.
The drug fools the body's metabolism into staying active, cutting weight by 12 per cent in under a year."
Ohh, thank the Lord, just in time. I'm going to turn 40 in 2008 and I'm enjoying a delicious cherry pie as I blog right now.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Hugh Hewitt: "Rarely have we ever had such a clear demonstration of the hard-left nature of a modern MSM paper than in the side-by-side comparison of the Globe's Kerry/Romney coverage.
What the paper's staff doesn't seem to understand is the incredible lift they are giving the Romney campaign. There is no surer signal to the GOP base of a candidate's conservative principles, competence and electability than an early and sustained attempt to damage him by the MSM. One of the reasons that Senator McCain is viewed with such distrust by the Republican base is the fawning coverage he receives from the Beltway-Manahattan media elites. One of the reasons Rudy Giuliani has credibility with base despite his views on abortions rights etc is that the MSM clearly fears him. Negative MSM coverage of Republican candidates is like a divining stick pointing towards those Republicans the Democratic Party fears the most."
Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels: Is Belief in God Bad for the World?: "We don’t do these things because we’re morally superior people. We believe Jesus is right: only God is good. We do them because we’re forgiven people who want to love and serve others as Christ has loved and served us. We do them because we’re grateful to God. And we do them because we want to be authentic Christians, imperfect but forgiven people who roll up our sleeves and love the world God loves.
Maybe if some of today’s angry atheists spent one month in the worship services and service activities of the average Christian church around the corner, they might not change their minds about God, but at least they’d see that faith in God isn’t a bad thing."
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I went to see Happy Feet with my kids today. It had plenty of sexual lyrics, gestures and positions but no skin, at least not human skin. Plenty of penguin skin though. Naked penguins everywhere, looking for action. To be fair, this was lost on my kids because their young minds have not yet apprehended the symbolism of the birds and the bees. As a film, it was visually spectacular, musically inventive but morally confused. Typical of much of modern children's fables it is an amalgam of worldviews. Much like Dinosaur this movie is mostly a materialist tale of nature's evolutionary politics with a dash of humanism to make it gibe with Western politics. So it shouldn't be surprising to see sexuality for the young in a film such as this. Its natural isn't it. Yes, and so is flatulence. When humans are cut off from the image of God, limits, taboos, boundaries or what is otherwise known as "sin" is no longer an issue. Just do what comes naturally. Real animals care nothing for the humanism that humanizes these cute animal "kids" films. They are consistent materialists. Real humans blanch at the impolitic cruelty and unbridled sexuality of the natural order, so much so that some question the existence of God. Ironically it is the Christmas story, God with us, word become flesh, which elevates from materialism, and underwrites humanism. If God has not made us, then of course we should act like animals.
Merry Christmas. God save us, every one.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I'm on the train into Boston right now. The new version of Word (2007) has removed some of the mental barriers of tedium that keep me from blogging.
The train has become my time. I've got more to do than I have time for and I realized recently that I was crowding out personal health and development in favor of chipping away at my to do list. I decided that the train to and from Boston each day would by my 30 minute mental vacation from my usual grind.
This has been very good for me. I realized recently that perhaps more than any other thing, I enjoy learning. The train is my time to learn. Usually that means reading. I'm currently reading Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work by Eugene Peterson. But I forgot my book at the office the other day so this morning I'm blogging.
I need to change the blurb on my blog because the reality is that I don't blog about life and God and all that other stuff. I used to do movie reviews but since moving to Boston my schedule has been so crammed that I can't justify the time to do those any more. And since it's rude to take a laptop into the theatre…
In reality I link to news stories that I find interesting or significant. Usually the stories are political, moral or cultural. Since the war in Iraq is the central moral, cultural and political issue of the day, I spend most of my blog time on Iraq and its implications.
I may put on my headphones and "read" my other book. I'm listening to the audio version of Mayflower. It's really good, especially now that I live in New England.
OK, gotta go to work.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
BREITBART.COM - Blizzard Warning in Colo., N.M. Digs Out: "Heavy snow blew across Colorado on Wednesday, canceling hundreds of airline flights and shutting down a major highway, as a major storm plowed onto the Plains after pummeling New Mexico.I thought I would get a white Christmas by moving to Boston! Not a flake of snow is due any time soon. I should have stayed in CO where the winter is harsh and bleak.
The National Weather Service posted blizzard warnings for most of eastern Colorado and adjoining sections of Nebraska and Kansas."
2. Carol Of The Bells - Mannheim Steamroller
3. O Little Town Of Bethlehem - Sarah McLachlan
4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - James Taylor
5. The First Noel - Bing Crosby
6. Skating - Vince Guaraldi
7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay
8. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - Glad
9. Stille Nacht - Mannheim Steamroller
10. The Christmas Song - Vince Guaraldi
11. Gabriel's Message - Sting
12. The Coventry Carol - Alison Moyet
13. Some Children See Him - Andy Williams
14. Christmas Is Coming - Vince Guaraldi
15. I Wonder As I Wander - Julie Andrews
16. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) - Mel Torme
17. Joy - George Winston
18. (It Must've Been Ol') Santa Claus (with Joseph 'Zigaboo' Modeliste) - Harry Connick, Jr.
19. Christmas Island (Single Version) - The Andrews Sisters
20. Christmastime Is Here (Alternate Vocal Take 5) - Vince Guaraldi
21. Welcome Christmas - Dr. Seuss
22. Little Town - Amy Grant
23. Christmas Day - Dido
24. O Tannenbaum - Wiener Sangerknaben
25. J.S. Bach: 10. Choral: 'Jesus bleibet meine Freude' [Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, Cantata BWV 147] - English Baroque Soloists
26. O Tannenbaum - Vince Guaraldi
27. Mele Kalikimaka - Bing Crosby
28. Christmastime Is Here (Vnce Gauraldi Trio"
And so forth.
Monday, December 18, 2006
OpinionJournal - Best
of the Web Today: "Here are links to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh installments."
The links above contain the passionate response of members of our military to Senator John Kerry and Representative Charles Rangel who made comments disparaging the intelligence of those who serve.
Read them. Read them all. Read them and measure your soul in their span.
BREITBART.COM - Runner Fails Gender Test, Loses Medal: "An Indian runner who won a silver medal in the women's 800 meters at the Asian Games failed a gender test and was stripped of the medal.
Shanti Sounderajan, 25, took the gender test in Doha, Qatar, after placing second."
Monday, December 11, 2006
I just downloaded the trial version of the new MS Office 2007. It's pretty cool. The trial is free and Word now comes with this auto publish blog feature so that you have all the word processing power of Word and seamless blog publishing right from the new document menu. Maybe I'll start blogging more.
Don't hold your breath.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: "Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the outgoing Chairman of Environment & Public Works Committee, is pleased to announce the public release of the Senate Committee published booklet entitled “A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism. Hot & Cold Media Spin Cycle: A Challenge To Journalists who Cover Global Warming.”"
It will be interesting to see how well this holds up.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
AccessNorthGA.com: "A longtime aide to Jimmy Carter has resigned from the Carter Center think tank, calling the former president's new book on Israel and the Arabs one-sided and filled with errors.
Kenneth Stein, the Carter Center's first executive director and founder of its Middle East program, sent a letter that bluntly criticized the book to Carter and others.
Stein wrote that the book, 'Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid,' was replete with factual errors, material copied from other sources and 'simply invented segments,' according to an excerpt of the letter published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution."
Saturday, December 02, 2006
New York Daily News - News & Views - Wild sex 101: "New York's Smartest still dream of winning a Nobel Prize. And bookworms still pull all-nighters in the Butler Library. But the 2 million-volume monument to the mind, which stays open 24 hours a day, doubles as a temple of earthier desires.
'Having sex in the stacks of Butler Library is one of the ultimate Columbia experiences,' said Miriam Datskovsky, the sex columnist for The Spectator, the student newspaper.
'There's very little dating. It's predominately a hookup scene,' said the 21-year-old, a senior from an Orthodox Jewish background who writes the 'Sexplorations' column.
'Everything is so much easier and so much quicker - you go to dinner and then have sex,' she added.
Consider the party scene. But it's no reason to get dressed up. In fact, there's no reason to get dressed at all: The merrymakers of Morningside Heights host naked parties, lingerie-only parties - and the more bourgeois 'clothing-optional parties with naked rooms.'
And taxpayers indirectly foot a chunk of the tab because bond offerings and loans from the state Dormitory Authority and federal Department of Education partially fund the renovation of dorms where naked frolickers muster."
Friday, December 01, 2006
Power Line: Spelling Optional: "At first glance, you might think this is a Photoshop job, but if you follow the link, you'll see it is straight from AFP. So I guess you can be an absolute moral authority without being an absolute spelling authority."
Best of the Web Today:
"Responding to Rangel
'The National Commander of The American Legion called on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to apologize for suggesting that American troops would not choose to fight in Iraq if they had other employment options,' says a press release from the legion:
'Our military is the most skilled, best-trained all-volunteer force on the planet,'
said National Commander Paul A. Morin. 'Like that recently espoused by Sen. John
Kerry, Congressman Rangel's view of our troops couldn't be further from the
truth and is possibly skewed by his political opposition to the war in Iraq.' . . .
'These brave men and women lay it on the line every day for each and
every one of us, for which I am very grateful,' Morin said. 'Their selfless
commitment for the betterment of our world from radical extremists is beyond
commendable. It's time for members of Congress to stop insulting our troops. . . .'
Some of our readers, responding to our item yesterday, took Rangel's disparagement personally. Here is Brian Bartlett:
I have a message for Mr. Rangel; I will not use the term Honorable
with him. At age 17, I had already had seven years of college and university
education for which I had received 3 1/2 years' credit due to the vagaries
of our educational system and I was teaching at the university for those
3 1/2 years as well as working as a professional consultant starting at $40
per hour, a rather princely sum in 1974.
Following family tradition--my mother, father, grandfathers and beyond had all served--I entered the United States Navy nine days after my 17th birthday. There followed an education second to none in various fields of engineering including nuclear. The training was intense, essentially cramming years of engineering into six months, and not very many were left at the end of the school even in my section, the best and brightest. The civilian world has no equivalent; graduate school is a joke by
comparison, and I should know, having been through both.
Despite my disabilities that resulted in my discharge after over 13 years of service, I am subject to recall to this day, and should they call, I will answer willingly.
Unlike, apparently, Mr. Rangel, I know what is happening on the ground over
there, as I have kin there to this day. I have been to the Middle East several
times, and my sister served in Saudi Arabia and Iraq for the First Gulf War. In
my family we serve, peace or war, because that is what we are and what we do.
It's not for money, it's not for the educational benefits after the service,
which in my case were laughable. He can go peddle his contempt elsewhere.
Patti Sayer adds:
I am the mother of a fine young man, an American soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve, who risked his life in Iraq for 14 of the longest months of his and my life . By the way, he just re-enlisted for another eight years. I also happen to be the Air Force brat daughter of a Vietnam vet. I grew up in Europe while my father defended that ungrateful continent from attack by the Soviet Union.
My father's brother served on the USS Louisville in World War II, and his turret was struck by a kamikaze during the Battle of Surigao Strait. He was grievously wounded. Another uncle spent a miserable year of service in Korea in 1951. I guess you could say that my family has sacrificed a lot for this nation. So when I hear Rep. Rangel imply, in essence, that my son, father and uncles served only because they had no other economic choices or were too stupid to know what they were doing, I get angry.
As for the issue of the Iraq war, how dare Mr. Rangel denigrate my son and his fellow soldiers as nothing but a bunch of uneducated, patsy, losers, being manipulated by an evil George Bush? He makes their sacrifice appear to be that born of ignorance and poor upbringing, and I am deeply resentful of his attitude. My son is not stupid, and there are plenty of economic opportunities where we live. It is
apparent that Mr. Rangel perceives himself as smarter than my poor dumb son, who voluntarily joined the military and who is honored to serve our nation in spite
of Mr. Rangel's contempt.
And here is Ben Kohlmann:
I think the comments attributed to Rep. Rangel reveal not only the mindset of liberal policy makers in relation to the military, but also their view of what I like to call "duty to the self." Those that achieve the greatest academic achievement usually tend to be the most self-centered, imagining their indispensability to the world as a
whole. Why should someone give up four years (or more!) of comfort and high
earning potential to be subjected to months away from family, cramped living
conditions, and the legally binding orders of others? In our modern, liberated,
self-centered mind, such a thought is inconceivable.
Much of this is fostered in the academic environment they are indoctrinated into. This view, in and of itself, is at odds with the underlying selflessness that must be present for an effective member of the armed forces. So I don't so much take it as
insulting as revealing a gross negligence in comprehending the true nature of
I am a young naval officer, and for the record, I graduated with
both Latin and departmental honors from a top 10 university. I was named "Greek
Man of the Year" and held numerous leadership positions throughout campus. One
of my good friends, who happens to be a Marine just back from Iraq, won the
freshman writing award at the same institution, and also graduated with honors.
My peers in our squadron's ready room have masters degrees from MIT and Ivies.
My best friend earned a graduate degree from Stanford before his current service
in Afghanistan. My roommate's wife, a Marine signals-intelligence officer,
recently finished up work at Cambridge in chemistry stemming from a Gates
We are all under 26, and had we so chosen, certainly could have
had the "option of having a decent career" apart from the military. I cite these
things not to egotistically promote our individual accomplishments, but only to
show that I personally know the representative is wrong.
He scoffed at our true willingness to fight. Ironically, as an aside, since the beginning of the Iraq war, my only desire has been to get over there and fight, but to no avail,
as my current military obligations have me training elsewhere. Anyway, we fight
because we recognize that the best years of our lives are better spent serving
something bigger than ourselves than serving selfish ends. We fight knowing that
for all the hardship and tears shed over being away from loved ones, the defense
of our Republic, and even the giving of our lives, is far more worthy than going
through life focused on wealth and pleasure.
It is undoubtedly true that to the last, we all would like nothing better than to settle down, have a family, and raise them in peace, being there for every birthday and anniversary. We, too, would like to pursue jobs that pay tens of thousands more per year than we currently receive. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at my friends in law school and other prestigious professions in envy at the "opportunities" they have while I "endure" months of boredom.
But it is also true that there are men and ideologies in the world that would like nothing better than to rip those things away from many in our population who enjoy such blessings. We will not stand idly by and allow that to happen. Our educational and academic accomplishments make us more duty bound to serve the country that enabled us, better than any other, to realize our full potential. These past few years of service have encompassed the greatest struggles and most trying times of my
entire life, but ultimately, that is the cost of defending an ideology of
freedom. Indeed, it is that cost itself that brings true value to freedom.
The San Francisco Chronicle profiles someone with a similar attitude:
If Dr. Martin Holland had his way, he'd be in Iraq right now. In
Fallujah or Ramadi or Baghdad. Up to his elbows in blood and brain matter,
operating on Marines and soldiers with severe head injuries.
As it happens, it's unlikely the doctor will find himself hovering over a battlefield operating table. But he has a strong desire to serve -- to do something for the troops
suffering severe combat injuries. Instead of teaching residents and interns how
to stop intracranial bleeding in San Francisco, Holland is wearing Navy whites
and operating on sailors and Marines in San Diego.
Holland is not an 18-year-old who joins the Marines fresh out of high school. He's 44, and he quit a prestigious job as director of neurotrauma at UC San Francisco. But there are similarities: Both put aside personal lives to enlist in the military.
They also serve who stand and operate.
"When I was a kid, I loved stories about knights in shining armor," he said. "There was something very appealing about the ideals of honor, courage and all that kind of stuff.
"The only thing I saw in the modern world that was even close to that code of chivalry was, one, the military, and two, was medicine with the Hippocratic oath."
It's noteworthy that few if any of Rangel's fellow Democrats have stepped forward to defend his bigoted statements. Further, when John Kerry* said something similar last month, he didn't even have the courage to stand by it and instead claimed to have been talking about something else entirely.
On the other hand, we haven't noticed many Democratic politicians or liberal
commentators repudiating what Rangel said--in sharp contrast to the way
Republicans and conservatives responded to Trent Lott's infamous comments about
Strom Thurmond four years ago. "
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Women talk three times as much as men, says study | the Daily Mail: "It is something one half of the population has long suspected - and the other half always vocally denied. Women really do talk more than men.
In fact, women talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day - 13,000 more than the average man.
Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat - and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests.
The book - written by a female psychiatrist - says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men."
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Independent Online Edition > Science & Technology: "Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of mankind.
The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome - the genetic recipe of man. Until now it was believed the variation between people was due largely to differences in the sequences of the individual 'letters' of the genome.
It now appears much of the variation is explained instead by people having multiple copies of some key genes that make up the human genome.
Until now it was assumed that the human genome, or 'book of life', is largely the same for everyone, save for a few spelling differences in some of the words. Instead, the findings suggest that the book contains entire sentences, paragraphs or even whole pages that are repeated any number of times.
The findings mean that instead of humanity being 99.9 per cent identical, as previously believed, we are at least 10 times more different between one another than once thought - which could explain why some people are prone to serious diseases."
No word yet on how much more different humanity is from apes and dolphins.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Iraq is a 'disaster' admits Blair | the Daily Mail: "The Prime Minister went on: 'You see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq? It's not difficult because of some accident in planning, it's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy - al Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other - to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war.'
Despite the violence engulfing Baghdad and British-controlled Basra, Mr Blair insisted that British troops were not ready to pull out.
'We are not walking away from Iraq,' he said. 'We will stay for as long as the government needs us to stay.
'And the reason for that is that what is happening in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, as elsewhere in parts of the Middle East, is a struggle between the decent majority of people, who want to live in peace together, and those who have an extreme and perverted and warped view of Islam, who want to create war.
'In those circumstances, our task has got to be to stand up for the moderates and the democrats against the extremists and the sectarians. They are testing our will at the moment, and our will has not to be found wanting.'"
Many believe that all disasters, even natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, are purely the fault of George W. Bush. It will come as quite a shock to some that disasters, natural and human will still occur frequently long after Messrs. Blair and Bush have left office. On the contrary, it has been the leadership of Blair and Bush, with little serious alternative, that have contained the disaster of Militant Islamic Fundamentalism to a battlefield that is far from Britain and the US.
It has arrived in France. It is knocking on the door in Britain. Imagine what cut and run would accomplish.
Friday, November 17, 2006
The Volokh Conspiracy - -: "The student alleged -- and it appears that the university president called the allegations in the complaint 'pretty much accurate' -- that a professor had tried to require that students sign a letter to the legislature promoting equal treatment for homosexuals in foster parenting and adoption. I think that's a violation of the student's academic freedom rights and First Amendment rights.
But isn't it also dishonest?"
Actually, yes. Of course.
Edwards acknowledges staff asked Wal-Mart for Playstation 3 | TimesDaily.com | Times Daily | Florence, AL: "Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards acknowledged Thursday that amid his criticism of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a volunteer member of his staff asked the world's largest retailer for help obtaining a hot new Sony Playstation 3 for Edwards' family."
Thursday, November 16, 2006
CNN.com: "NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Air pollution may be just the thing to fight global warming, some scientists say.
Prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a 'shade' from the sun's rays and help cool the planet.
Reaction to the proposal here at the annual U.N. conference on climate change is a mix of caution, curiosity and some resignation to such 'massive and drastic' operations, as the chief U.N. climatologist describes them."
Friday, November 10, 2006
USATODAY.com: "Wal-Mart will put 'Christmas' back into the holidays this year, the retailer plans to announce Thursday.
A year after religious and other groups boycotted retailers, including Wal-Mart (WMT), for downplaying Christmas, the world's largest retail chain will have an in-your-face Christmas theme this year.
'We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year,' says Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley. 'We're not afraid to use the term 'Merry Christmas.' We'll use it early, and we'll use it often.'"
Los Angeles Times: "Hankwitz said that he is not bothered when people assume he is straight and that being gay is seldom an issue on the campaign trail. Of the hundreds of e-mails he has received, he said just four have been hate mail.
'The only ones who bring it up are gay Democrats who have a problem with the fact that I'm a Republican,' he said, adding that those writers have accused him of being the equivalent of a black KKK member or a Jewish Nazi.
Hankwitz said he likes to introduce himself to groups as a gay candidate.
'I want to make sure that there's never an appearance I'm hiding anything, so people know who they're dealing with,' he said. 'It's a matter of fact, and it's information of interest to some people.'
Outside the deli, Hankwitz approached a man who described himself as a communist and said President Bush and the Republican Party were 'butchers' for their roles in the Iraq war. 'I advise you to get out of the Republican Party,' the man told him. 'At least become a Democrat.'
Hankwitz nodded and thanked him for sharing. Then he turned and rolled his eyes.
In fact, Hankwitz used to be a Democrat but switched parties in the late 1990s after listening to conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager.
'It was something he said,' Hankwitz said. 'I don't remember exactly what it was, but for the first time I thought, 'Now I understand what Republicans really are about, that they care and they're inclusive.' I was so proud to have gotten it.'"
Students at Calif. College ban Pledge of Allegiance | US News | Reuters.com: "LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Student leaders at a California college have touched off a furor by banning the Pledge of Allegiance at their meetings, saying they see no reason to publicly swear loyalty to God and the U.S. government.
The move by Orange Coast College student trustees, the latest clash over patriotism and religion in American schools, has infuriated some of their classmates -- prompting one young woman to loudly recite the pledge in front of the board on Wednesday night in defiance of the rule.
'America is the one thing I'm passionate about and I can't let them take that away from me,' 18-year-old political science major Christine Zoldos told Reuters."
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Haggard bares his soul in note to congregation - Los Angeles Times: "A male prostitute in Denver came forward last week claiming that Haggard had visited his apartment almost monthly over the last three years for sex and drugs. Haggard at first denied it. Then he said he bought meth from the man, but threw it away. On Sunday, he said this: 'The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry.'
Having resigned the presidency of the National Assn. of Evangelicals and been dismissed as senior pastor of New Life, Haggard said he and his wife, Gayle, 'need to be gone for a while.' He pledged to put himself under the guidance of several pastors who will help him work toward restoration.
'Please forgive me,' he wrote. 'I am so embarrassed and ashamed…. I am a sinner. I have fallen.'
Then the Rev. Larry Stockstill, a Louisiana pastor, read aloud a short letter from Gayle Haggard. She said her heart was broken, but she promised to stand by her husband.
'For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case,' she wrote, evoking a ripple of laughter. 'My test has begun; watch me. I will try to prove myself faithful.'
The congregation rose as one. For a long minute, they stood, applauding, sniffling. Interim senior pastor Ross Parsley bounded to the podium. 'Listen,' he said, 'we all feel worse than we did a week ago. But we were worse off a week ago. Today, we all are more obedient, more repentant, more transparent than we've been in a long time.'"
US university president poses with 'suicide bomber' | Jerusalem Post: "The president of one of the leading universities in the United States last week posed for photographs with a student dressed as a suicide bomber, The Jerusalem Post has learned.Click the link to see the picture!
In copies of photos obtained by the Post, University of Pennsylvania president Dr. Amy Gutmann is seen standing with engineering student Saad Saadi at the annual Halloween costume party held at the president's home.
Saadi is seen with a keffiyeh around his head, a toy Kalashnikov rifle in hand and six plastic sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest. Gutmann beams alongside him, dressed as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, a character from L. Frank Baum's novel The Wizard of Oz.
Gutmann, who is herself Jewish, was inaugurated as university president in 2004. Her father, Kurt, fled Nazi Germany with his family in 1934.
In other photos taken at Gutmann's party that evening, Saadi can be seen carrying out a series of mock hostage executions, evoking images reminiscent of the series of abductions and murders of Westerners in Iraq in 2004.
In one instance, Saadi stands over a fellow student crouched on the ground, and points a gun at her head while reciting verses from the Koran.
In another image, Saadi poses with an unidentified child as he points Saadi's toy gun at the camera.
The day after the party, Saadi was quoted in the Daily Pennsylvanian, the campus newspaper, as saying that he attended Gutmann's affair dressed as a 'freedom martyr.'"
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Works and Days: War, Punditry, and Farming: "Watching and reading the recent Washington punditry, whether in print or on television, is a depressing spectacle. Almost all—Charles Krauthammer is the most notable exception—have somehow triangulated on the war, not mentioning why and how in the B.C. days they sort of, kinda, not really called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. For some the Road to Damascus was the looting or Abu Ghraib, for others the increasing violence. Still more now say the absence of WMD did the trick.
But almost none of the firebrands of 2003 speaks the truth behind the facade: They supported the war when it looked like few casualties and a quick reconstruction and thus confirmation of their own muscular humanitarianism—and then bailed along the way when they realized that wasn’t going to happen and the unpopular war might instead brand them as “war mongers”, “chicken-hawks” or just fools.
Instead of that honest admission, we get instead either cardboard cut-out villains of the “my perfect three-week war, your screwed-up three-year occupation” type—a Douglas Feith, Gen. Sanchez, or Paul Bremmer—or all sorts of unappreciated and untapped brilliance: from trisecting the country to “redeploying” to Kurdistan, or Kuwait, or Okinawa?
Apparently pundits think that the entire country has gone crazy and lost its memory that almost every cable news talking head, Time magazine pundit, Washington Post insider, and syndicated columnist—other than those at the Nation and the American Conservative—at the beginning supported the present war."
Saturday, November 04, 2006
OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "This is from an American there who asks not to be named:I have not posted much criticism of the war in Iraq. So why start now? The criticism above is very unique in this sense: it offers a concrete suggestion of how to improve the current strategy. What really bothers me about most Iraq criticism is that it offers no alternative choice other than leaving Iraq which is far worse than the current situation.
There's been a lot of discussion back home about the course of the war, the righteousness of our involvement, the clarity of our execution, and what to do about the predicament in which we currently find ourselves. I just wanted to send you my firsthand account of what's happening here.
First, a little bit about me: I'm stationed slightly northwest of Baghdad in a mixed Sunni/Shia area. I'm a sergeant in the U.S. Army on a human intelligence collection team. I interact with Iraqis on a daily basis and I help put together the intel picture for our area of operations. I have contacts with friends, who are also in my job, in every area of operations in the Fourth Infantry Division footprint, and through our crosstalk I'd say I have a pretty damn good idea of what's going on in and around Baghdad on a micro and intermediary level.
I wrote heavily in favor of this war before I enlisted myself, and I still maintain that going into Iraq was not only the necessary thing to do, but the right thing to do as well.
There have been distinct failures of policy in Iraq. The vast majority of them fall under the category "failure to adapt." Basically U.S. policies have been several steps behind the changing conditions ever since we came into the country. I believe this is (in part) due to our plainly obvious desire to extricate ourselves from Iraq. I know President Bush is preaching "stay the course," but we came over here with a goal of handing over our battlespace to the Iraqis by the end of our tour here.
This breakneck pace with which we're trying to push the responsibility for governing and securing Iraq is irresponsible and suicidal. It's like throwing a brick on a house of cards and hoping it holds up. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)--a joint term referring to Iraqi army and Iraqi police--are so rife with corruption, insurgent sympathies and Shia militia members that they have zero effectiveness. Two Iraqi police brigades in Baghdad have been disbanded recently, and the general sentiment in our field is "Why stop there?" I can't tell you how many roadside bombs have been detonated against American forces within sight of ISF checkpoints. Faith in the Iraqi army is only slightly more justified than faith in the police--but even there, the problems of tribal loyalties, desertion, insufficient training, low morale and a failure to properly indoctrinate their soldiers results in a substandard, ineffective military. A lot of the problems are directly related to Arab culture, which traditionally doesn't see nepotism and graft as serious sins. Changing that is going to require a lot more than "benchmarks."
In Shia areas, the militias hold the real control of the city. They have infiltrated, co-opted or intimidated into submission the local police. They are expanding their territories, restricting freedom of movement for Sunnis, forcing mass migrations, spiking ethnic tensions, not to mention the murderous checkpoints, all while U.S. forces do . . . nothing.
For the first six months I was in country, sectarian violence was classified as an "Iraqi on Iraqi" crime. Division didn't want to hear about it. And, in a sense I can understand why. Because division realized that which the Iraqi people have come to realize: The American forces cannot protect them. We are too few in number and our mission is "stability and support." The problem is that there's nothing to give stability and support to. We hollowed out the Baathist regime, and we hastily set up this provisional government, thrusting political responsibility on a host of unknowns, each with his own political agenda, most funded by Iran, and we're seeing the results.
In Germany after World War II, we controlled our sector with approximately 500,000 troops, directly administering the area for 10 years while we rebuilt the country and rebuilt the social and political infrastructure needed to run it. In Iraq, we've got one-third that number of troops dealing with three times the population on a much faster timetable, and we're attempting to unify three distinct ethnic groups with no national interest and at least three outside influences (Saudi Arabian Wahhabists, Iranian mullahs and Syrian Baathists) each eagerly funding various groups in an attempt to see us fail. And we are.
If we continue on as is in Iraq, we will leave here (sooner or later) with a fractured state, a Rwanda-waiting-to-happen. "Stay the course" and refusing to admit that we're screwing things up is already killing a lot of people needlessly. Following through with such inane nonstrategy is going to be the death knell for hundreds of thousands of Sunnis.
We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we're backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we're going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population.
If these three things are done, you can actually start the Iraqi economy again. Once people have a sense of security, they'll be able to leave their houses to go to work. Tell your American commanders that it's OK to pass up bad news--because part of the problem is that these issues are not reaching above the battalion or brigade level due to the can-do, make-it-happen culture indoctrinated into our U.S. officers. While the attitude is admirable, it also creates barriers to recognizing and dealing with on-the-ground realities.
James, there's a lot more to this than I've written here. The short of it is, the situation is salvageable, but not with "stay the course" and certainly not with cut and run. However, the commitment required to save it is something I doubt the American public is willing to swallow. I just don't see the current administration with the political capital remaining in order to properly motivate and convince the American public (or the West in general) of the necessity of these actions.
At the same time, failure in Iraq would be worse than a dozen Somalias, and would render us as impotent and emasculated as we were in the days after Vietnam. There is a global cultural-ideological struggle being waged, and abdication from Iraq is tantamount to concession."
Any idea can be ridiculed if it is done in isolation. When ideas are compared with possible alternatives, what seemed foolish can often appear to be the best option among the alternatives. If you don't believe me ask yourself why a doctor would ever willingly amputate a human limb, and not be guilty of mutilation.
Episcopal 'U2-charist' uses songs in service - USATODAY.com: "It may not qualify as a mini-Reformation, but a Communion service driven by the music of singer Bono and his U2 bandmates is catching on at Episcopal churches across the country.I'm not buggin ya am I. I don't mean ta bug ya.
The U2 Eucharist is not some kind of youth service held in the church basement but is a traditional Episcopal liturgy that uses U2's best-selling songs as hymns.
'It makes you, like, warm inside,' says Bridgette Roberts, 15, who is a Roman Catholic and attended a recent U2 Eucharist at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. 'Usually at church, you love Jesus and everything. But this way you can express how you feel.'
Says her friend, Natalie Williams, 17: 'I love Bono, and you can rock out to the music. But in church, you hear it in a different way. It's like new.'"
Friday, November 03, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
BREITBART.COM: "A human rights group campaigning for gypsies has filed a complaint against British comic Sacha Baron Cohen over his 'Borat' film featuring a spoof Kazakh journalist who calls himself a former 'gypsy catcher,' German prosecutors said.
The state prosecutor's office in the northern city of Hamburg said the European Center for Antiziganism Research had brought the complaint accusing Cohen of slander, inciting violence against the Sinti and Roma gypsy groups and violating Germany's anti-discrimination law."
Monday, October 30, 2006
POST BEATS NEWS By ANDY SOLTIS - New York Post Online Edition: Seven:
Here are the top 25 daily newspapers in the U.S. by circulation (with percent change) for the six-month period ending September 2006.
"1. USA Today: 2,269509, (-1.3%)
2. The Wall Street Journal: 2,043235, (-1.9%)
3. The New York Times: 1,086,798, (-3.5%)
4. Los Angeles Times: 775,766, (-8.0%)
5. The New York Post: 704,011, 5.1%
6. Daily News: 693,382, 1.0%
7. The Washington Post: 656,297, (-3.3%)
8. Chicago Tribune: 576,132, (-1.7%)
9. Houston Chronicle: 508,097, (-3.6%)
10. Newsday: 413,579, (-4.9%)
11. The Arizona Republic, Phoenix: 397,294, (-2.5%)
12. The Boston Globe: 386,415, (-6.7%)"
Saturday, October 28, 2006
TCS Daily - The Straw That Broke the Multi-Culti Camel's Back: "The third incident that has shaken the wafer-thin facade of multiculturalism was the case of a Christian worker at a British Airways' check-in counter. She wore a small cross, barely the size of her thumbnail, to work and was sent home for refusing to remove it. British Airways cited their rule of no jewelry and no religious symbolism except if it is hidden under the uniform. Ms Nadia Eweida claims that the BA rule clearly means 'no Christian symbolism' as Sikh male employees are allowed to wear their much larger steel bangles with their livery, unhidden. Indeed, they are allowed to wear their turbans to work if they wish. And Muslim women can wear headscarves."
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Instapundit.com: "At the end of this process, the Republicans have managed to leave every segment of the base unhappy, mostly over things that weren't even all that important. It's as if they had some sort of bizarre death wish. Looks like the wish will come true . . . .This post has a nice run down of the missteps of the Republican congress and Bush Administration. Pretty depressing. And then you think of the alternative. I'm guessing I know which way Al Qaeda, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China hope the election will go.
As I've said before, the Republicans deserve to lose, though alas the Democrats don't really deserve to win, either."
Speaking of death wishes...
Althouse: "'Our real enemies'? Oh, yes, feminism has gotten rolled up into the conventional left-right of American politics. Ever since feminists chose to subordinate themselves to the interests of the Democratic party to help Bill Clinton with his problems, the feminist discourse in this country has been lame. It's a means to a political end, and so you always know who your 'enemies' are. Fifteen years ago, feminists critiquing each other was an important part of feminism. Now, doggedly serving liberal partisan politics squelches everything that could become vital."
This is the flip side of churches who ally themselves to closely with Republican politics.
Principle or politics? Sooner or later, you have to choose.
Friday, October 13, 2006
OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan: "Students, stars, media movers, academics: They are always saying they want debate, but they don't. They want their vision imposed. They want to win. And if the win doesn't come quickly, they'll rush the stage, curse you out, attempt to intimidate.
And they don't always recognize themselves to be bullying. So full of their righteousness are they that they have lost the ability to judge themselves and their manner.
And all this continues to come more from the left than the right in America.
Which is, at least in terms of timing, strange. The left in America--Democrats, liberals, Bush haters, skeptics of many sorts--seems to be poised for a significant electoral victory. Do they understand that if it comes it will be not because of Columbia, Streisand, O'Donnell, et al., but in spite of them?
What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace--of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together. The Democratic Party hasn't had enough of this kind of thing since Bobby Kennedy died. What also seems missing is the courage to ask a question. Conservatives these days are asking themselves very many questions, but I wonder if the left could tolerate asking itself even a few. Such as: Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies? And dim dullard ones, at that."
To be fair conservatives, particularly religious conservatives, can be just as chilling to free speech. It's just that in this country they don't have near as much institutional power as the secular left so they have far less opportunity to stifle dissent. And the left often portray themselves as the defenders of free speech in modern America, which is why it is so ironic, sad, and instructive to read the examples in the article linked above from Rosie, the Washington Post and Barbara.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Works and Days:
Most genres don’t require footnotes—the memoir, the essay, the journalistic dispatch. I’ve written histories that had too many footnotes—The Other Greeks had citations to ancient sources in the text, explanations with asterisks at the bottom of the page, and formal endnotes at the back of the book—and memoirs like Fields Without Dreams and Mexifornia with no citations.
But when you write history, and especially history of a contentious nature about Iraq, in which so much is at stake, it is incumbent to identify primary sources. The last three books about the supposed mess in Iraq—Cobra II, Fiasco, and now State of Denial—violate every canon of intellectual courtesy. Check who said what in Cobra II and you find the following: “Interview, former senior military officer”, “Interview, former senior officer”, “Interview, former Centcom planner,” Interview, Pentagon Officials,” “Interview, U.S. State Department Official,” or “notes of a participant.”
When the readers encounter the most controversial and damning of verbatim quotes in Fiasco, they are presented with “said a Bush administration official” or “recalled one officer.” Woodward is ever more derelict, in imagining not just the conversations, but even the thoughts of characters. And lest one think I am unduly critical in questioning the veracity of these unnamed sources—whose authenticity can never be checked by anyone other than the journalists who now write out popular histories—examine the recent record of journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post, and more recent stories such as the Koran flushing at Guantanamo or the photshopped pictures from Lebanon. But even more specifically, Ricks himself in the course of promoting Fiasco, repeated rumors from unidentified (“some”) sources that the Israelis deliberately exposed their civilians to rocket attacks from Lebanon to gain sympathy from the world community: “According to some U.S. military analysts … Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they’re being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.” He was immediately called to substantiate those unproven charges. After considerable damage done to the reputation of the Israeli Dense Force had been done, Ricks backed down and apologized for his unsupported allegations with a weak mea culpa about his revelations “Ugh. I wish I hadn’t.”
Every source in Cobra II, Fiasco, or State of Denial, may be accurate, but we will never know that, because for a variety of reasons the authors who claim they worked from notes and recordings, chose not to identify the most inflammatory sources by name. It would be as if I wrote a history of the Peloponnesian War and, to support my most controversial points, added footnotes that stated “A manuscript in the Vatican,” or “Private letter to author from anonymous Greek shepherd attesting a stone altar in his field”
Finally, note the silence from the numerous critics of the “Path to 9/11” who objected to the film’s adaptation of the 9/11 report. But that docu-drama clearly identified itself as a fictionalized rendition of a document, and made no claims as history. In contrast, this new genre of journalistic exposé purports to give us the real story of Iraq, but denies us the very tools of determining whether what we are reading is true, half-true, or simply made up.
Everything that needs to be said about Iraq has. Long gone is any surprise that most current critics of the war were its one-time boosters, much less that it matters much.
Still, a book will be written about the public fickleness of prominent columnists, pundits, politicians, and TV talking heads and hosts, who now damn our efforts, but once were gung-ho in their support of removing Saddam—and crowed as much when the statue fell.
My rule of thumb is that almost every current, know-it-all critic, whether a Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chris Matthews (“we are all neo-cons now”), Francis Fukuyama, etc., at one time or another voiced support for removing Saddam and bringing war to Iraq.
One constant in their various escape hatches is that a particular lapse, a certain mistake alone explains their abandonment of earlier zeal—too few troops, disbanding the Iraqi army, not trisecting the country, the tenure of Donald Rumsfeld, etc.
In contrast, the simple truth is too bitter to confess: their support follows the pulse of the battlefield. When the statue fell and approval for the war hovered near 80%, few wanted to be on the wrong side of history. But fast forward three years plus: after well over 2,000 battle deaths, and chaos in Iraq, most not only don’t wish to be associated with the stasis, but contort to assure that they never supported the war in the beginning (hard to do with footprints on the internet), or were supposedly betrayed by the incompetence of others.
I admit to being somewhat jaded: 80% of most people have no ideology or widely-held views, but simply reflect perceptions of failure or success. Those who praised Lincoln to the skies when Sherman reached Savannah in December 1864, just months earlier had hated him during the awful prior summer. Those who later sang Churchill’s praises after El Alamein and Normandy Beach surely did not earlier after the string of disasters at Dunkirk, Singapore, and Tobruk. Those who wrote in praise of massive B-17 raids deep into Germany in early 1945, escorted by hundreds of lethal P-51 Mustangs, had written off daylight unescorted bombing in 1942 as an aerial holocaust. The point, again, is that in the middle of a war, savvy is apparently defined as changing positions and views to keep pace with the upside-downside battlefield, rather than looking at the long-term conduct of the war.
My own views remain the same. While I didn’t support removing Saddam prior to September 11, I am glad we did afterwards. While there were plenty of errors committed—no American should ever have appeared on Iraqi television; Tommy Franks should not have abruptly abandoned the theater; instant ad-hoc solutions were preferable to long-term utopian efforts at perfection—none of these lapses were as serious as those in the past in the hedgerows, in the skies above Germany in 1942, on Iwo Jima, or during the days before the Bulge, and none cannot be corrected and learned from.
Iraq is 7,000 miles away, in the heart of the ancient caliphate, surrounded by a hostile Sunni Saudi Arabia, Shiite Iran, and treacherous Jordan and Syria. The war was conducted through three national elections, and became the focus of a hostile global media — much of it predisposed to be critical of the US government and military.
Nevertheless, that we now have a consensual government fighting for its life against terrorists is nothing short of remarkable. Everything and everyone now hinge on the outcome.
The safety of millions of brave Iraqi reformers, the prestige of the United States and its military, the policy of fostering democratic reform in the Middle East, the end to the nexus between failed autocracies and scapegoating the West through terrorists; success of the Bush Administration; the effectiveness of the Democratic opposition; the divide between Europe and America; the attitude toward the United States of the Middle East autocracies; the reputation of the Islamic terrorists — all that will be adjudicated by the verdict in Iraq. Rarely have so many ideologies, so much politics, so many reputations been predicated on just a few thousand American combat soldiers and their Iraq allies.
I also confess, at this point I have a very reductionist, very Jacksonian view now of Americans in Iraq: America went in for the right purposes, conducted itself with honor and humanity, was still good when it was not perfect; and can leave something far better than what it found—if it will make the necessary adjustments, as in all of its past wars, and persevere. 130,000 took us at our word and are in harm’s way as a result. So I don’t care much to refight the argument over who was smart and who stupid—only how best to support out troops and ensure they win at the least possible cost.
A final note. At some point all these retired generals need to simply quiet down and think. In World War II, Nimitz or Eisenhower never blamed the Secretary of War or FDR for the mistakes on Iwo Jima or the Kasserine Pass. Instead, they called in their top brass, drew up a plan, followed it, and then presented a successful fait accompli to their civilian overseers. In other words, our four-stars need to summon their colonels and majors in the field, draw up a military strategy that ensures our political aims of seeing a stable consensual Iraq, and then win. Blaming Bush, or faulting Rumsfeld is a waste of time; figuring out as military officers how to achieve victory over a canny enemy is all that matters."
Townhall.com::So easy a caveman can do it::By Chuck Colson: "That’s because the biggest challenge to the materialist orthodoxy of the kind on display in the Boston Globe article is its inability to satisfactorily account for those things — like music, ethics, and altruism — that are most distinctly human."
Monday, October 09, 2006
OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "Et Tu, Kos?
Markos 'Kos' Moulitsas has what some would consider happy news:
My wife and I just got back from the 12-week ultrasound, and seeing that everything looks healthy and normal, I think it's safe to announce that yes, we're about six months away from having our second child.
The due date is early April. And while it's been a rough pregnancy thus far (just like the first), it was great seeing our very active 3-inch baby on a monitor.
Congratulations to the proud parents-to-be. But what, what is this about a 3-inch, 12-week 'baby'? Has there ever been a more blatant attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade? It seems the antichoice fanatics have even infiltrated the progressive netroots."
Sunday, October 08, 2006
History (from coffee) -- Encyclopædia Britannica: "One of many legends about the discovery of coffee is that of Kaldi, an Arab goatherd, who was puzzled by the queer antics of his flock. About AD 850, Kaldi supposedly sampled the berries of the evergreen bush on which the goats were feeding and, on experiencing a sense of exhilaration, proclaimed his discovery to the world."Blessed are you Kaldi, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but the Father in heaven.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
An emailer to Instapundit.com -: "We're not losing momentum in Iraq. The Pentagon strategy is a very deliberate form of tough love that is forcing the Iraqis to defend their own country.
Arabs are culturally the most passive, fence-sitting people on the planet. By their own admission they follow the strongest leader out there. If we had sent 500,000 troops to Iraq and fought a Soviet-style counterinsurgency, the end result would have been an Iraq with no incentive to do the very hard work of creating viable fighting forces from scratch. We would've been their new masters in perpetuity.
We also can't attack Iran and Syria right now because the Iranians would then activate their Iraqi militias and send a million Basij into Iraq. Syria would do a Saddam and start firing WMD-tipped missiles at Israel. The entire region could go up in flames.
Don't let the media convince you that things are going badly in Iraq. The Anbar tribes are now fighting al Qaeda on their own initiative, and the Shi'ite-dominated government is slowly dismantling al Sadr's Mahdi Army. 'Experts' predicted that neither of these things would ever happen because of secular loyalties, but they are happening, and only because we're forcing the Iraqis to stand up and fight for their country.
Finally, take a look at what happened when the French, Soviets, and Russians fought Muslim insurgencies with the kind of aggressive, 'proactive' approach so many Americans claim to want.
The French lost 18,000 in Algeria, a KIA rate three and a half times ours. The Soviets lost 14,000 in Afghanistan, a KIA rate twice ours. The Russians officially lost 5500 in the First Chechen War of 1994-96, but Soldiers' Mothers of Russia puts the actual number at 14,000, a KIA rate ten times ours. Nobody knows how many Russian troops have died in the Second Chechen War, but Soldiers' Mothers of Russia had the number at 11,000 by 2003.
Our strategy in Iraq is sound. It's keeping our own casualties down, and it's forcing the Iraqis to defend themselves.
Don't despair. We're winning."
And it's undermining al Qaeda's ability to bring terror to the US (5 years and counting). It's interesting to me that many assume that George Bush and all who agree with him, on Iraq specifically, are incompetent idiots when brilliant arguments can be made to understand the Iraq strategy. You may not agree with the rationale outlined above and it may not work but it's not the work of an idiot. And it seems to be working better than other possible historical alternatives.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Someone who came of age when civil rights and the women's movement helped define the generation will have a very different take on life than someone who grew up a decade later listening to Madonna and watching MTV. Those even younger who have never known life without computers, video games or cellphones have yet another perspective."
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Variety.com - Lucas: Let's get small: "'We don't want to make movies. We're about to get into television. As far as Lucasfilm is concerned, we've moved away from the feature film thing, because it's too expensive and it's too risky."Here's to you Jar-Jar, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
The Right Coast: "I remember being in Germany in the 1980s, when Irish kids would go there to try to get jobs. Now the travel goes in the opposite direction. Every Democrat (and many Republicans including President Bush) should be asked about the Irish miracle and how their own policies compare with these."
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Back Talk: Distinguishing the Insurgency from Sectarian Violence in Iraq: "A shocking fact the administration has kept secret? Please. As I noted, information about the number of attacks on American troops -- including this particular statistic of one attack every 15 minutes -- is not secret. Instead, it is very publicly available in the form of a big graph on page 22 of the Iraq Index (published by the Brookings Institution). In fact, that's probably where Woodward himself got the information. Some secret. The Iraq Index has been publishing attack statistics for a long, long time for anyone who is interested. I cannot remember how long the exact graph that Woodward apparently refers to has been there, but graphs just like it have been there for months on end. Therefore, the claim that this is top secret information is simply false (to put it as mildly as possible)."Bob Woodward is coming to Cambridge to sell his new book. The post above demonstrates why I won't be going. I can learn more about Bob and his views on blogs like this than I ever could by listening to him in person. It seems that he could learn a few things too.
Bob is the last dinosaur of the end of the Watergate era. He has no idea where the meteor came from or what it will mean, and that's not going to stop him from doing what he has been doing since Watergate, when there was no Back Talk.
You've got to hand it to him though. He knows that he has an audience in Cambridge, and Boulder, and Eugene, and Madison, and Austin, and... hmm? What do all of these towns have in common?
Saturday, September 30, 2006
OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today: "A pair of USA Today articles look at the 'marriage gap' and the 'fertility gap' in American politics--that is, the tendency of places with high rates of connubiality and parturition to vote Republican. Among the findings:
Republicans control 49 of the 50 [congressional] districts with the highest rates of married people.
Democrats represent all 50 districts that have the highest rates of adults who have never married.
GOP Congress members represent 39.2 million children younger than 18, about 7 million more than Democrats. Republicans average 7,000 more children per district. . . .
Democrats represent 30 districts in which less than half of children live with married parents. Republicans represent none.
USA Today doesn't make much effort to explain this; about the closest it comes is this evenhanded quote from Prof. Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University: 'Both sides are very pro-kids. They just express it in different ways. Republicans are congenial to traditional families, which is clearly the best way for kids to grow up. But there are some kids who don't have that advantage, and Democrats are very concerned with helping those kids.'
Neither article, though, ever mentions the Democratic Party's status as champion of abortion, which seems to us to have great explanatory power. Obviously there is the Roe effect: Pro-abortion women, who are more likely to be Democrats, are more likely to abort their children, which gives Republicans a demographic advantage.
Abortion is related to the marriage gap too. Abortion is a "single" issue in more ways than one: Every poll we've seen shows that unwed people of both sexes are far more pro-abortion than the espoused. This makes perfect sense: Singles, with their slapdash sex lives, are both unlikely to want kids and less likely than married couples to have reliable birth-control rituals. Thus they feel much more acutely the need for abortion as a last resort should they become or make someone pregnant. If you live in a place like New York, you'll find lots of young adults who say they vote Democratic only because of abortion.
Of course, many of these people eventually get hitched and move to the suburbs, where some become Republicans, either because their views on abortion change or because it recedes in importance to them. (Relatedly, Republicans do better among wealthier voters; and wealth, like marriage, is a status to which many people who do not enjoy it aspire.)
Republicans, then, are outbreeding Democrats and doing better among voters whose personal lives are the most successful. All in all, the party of abortion is an unfruitful thing for the Democrats to be."
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
SPIEGEL ONLINE - News: "And now the Deutsche Oper in Berlin has taken Mozart's opera 'Idomeneo' off its schedule after a 'risk analysis' produced by Germany's Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA) concluded that 'the possibility of performances being disrupted cannot be ruled out.' The opera is more than 200 years old. This performance was to be directed by Hans Neuenfels, and it featured Idomeneo, the King of Crete, stepping onto the stage with a bloody sack containing the severed heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad. "And whatever you do, don't say radical Islamists are violent, or else.
Monday, September 25, 2006
OpinionJournal - Extra: "Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.
But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."
Looks like Big Tobacco has competition from Big Green. Read the whole thing.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Christianity Today Magazine: "Not all of these youth know Piper's theological particulars. But plenty do, and Piper, more than anyone else, has contributed to a resurgence of Reformed theology among young people. You can't miss the trend at some of the leading evangelical seminaries, like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, which reports a significant Reformed uptick among students over the past 20 years. "
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
New York Times forecasts lower quarterly earnings | Business News | Reuters.com: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times Co. (NYT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Thursday forecast sharply lower third-quarter earnings because of a 'challenging' print advertising market, sending shares down nearly 5 percent in after-hours trading."I'm shocked, shocked.
The company has been in talks with numerous media groups, including Yahoo, Microsoft and Viacom.
Media executives said most media companies had taken a look but so far there was no appetite to pay the $1bn being sought by Facebook's backers.
YouTube, a video sharing site founded less than two years ago and also run by founders in their 20s, has become one of the top destinations for video content.
Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer of News Corporation, acquired MySpace, the world's most popular social networking site, last year for $580m.
Since then, Mr Murdoch has struck a deal with Google that guarantees income from search-word advertising of $700m over the next four years."
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I was surprised to get a note back—and then another. After a few months I printed our emails. They came to over 100 pages.
Very little of the written conversation between Greg and me concerns the music of Bad Religion. He gets enough fan mail. Instead, we discussed what my students would call the 'big questions.' What is life for? What are people for? Why do people think God exists? If you listen to Bad Religion's lyrics, you know that these kinds of questions are important to Greg, who is an atheist."
Friday, September 08, 2006
'Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able,' the 42-year-old actor reveals in Esquire magazine's October issue, on newsstands Sept. 19."