Saturday, September 17, 2005

An Interview with Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas

Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas used to be the editor of Our Sunday Visitor -a publication for which I have written articles for in the past at the prompting of my ever-persistent friend Pete Vere. Since spring of 2004, Fr. Stravinskas has been working on a new project called The Catholic Response. I am not familiar with this project; however I am sure that with Fr. Peter at the helm, it is well worth reading. For that reason, I will give a very rare "blind approval" if you will of that project.

Oh, in conclusing these brief notes, I would be remiss in not noting that it is nice to see that with his new venture that Fr. Stravinskas has redeemed the TCR moniker...rumour also has it that he is blogging now. Anyone with information on the accuracy of the rumour, please email me on the subject.

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Friday, September 16, 2005

"JunkYard BLOG" Dept.
(The Mother of All Rerum Novarum JYB Updates)

This thread was originally going to be completed and posted about two weeks ago over three weeks ago but various other circumstances (in cyberspace as well as real life) intervened to make that not possible. As a result of that, I have added over two extra weeks to the timespan which the parts of this thread will cover to compensate for such inevitable tardiness in posting this thread. And as I am too lazy to tally the number of parts to this thread, I will subtitle it in classic Hussein-speak and leave it at that. It is definitely without question the largest JYB update thread in Rerum Novarum history in terms of subjects covered. Unlike the former Iraqi dictator, I will try to live up to that billing with what you are about to read. But with enough ado, let us get on with it...

WHAT DO THE JIHADIS WANT?

They want either our conversions to their twisted notion of monotheism or our deaths. Another way of saying it is that they want us either wearing headscarves or headless.

They used to take hostages and make demands. Now they just kill. On a bicycle in Amsterdam, they kill. On trains in London and Madrid, they kill. On airplanes and office buildings in the US, they kill. In markets and schools in Iraq, they kill. In coffee shops in Thailand, they kill. In pizza shops in Israel, they kill. Why? We don't need some super-secret decoder ring to figure it out. All we have to do is listen to what they say:

In nearly all cases, the jihadi terrorists have a patently self-evident ambition: to establish a world dominated by Muslims, Islam, and Islamic law, the Shari'a. Or, again to cite the Daily Telegraph, their "real project is the extension of the Islamic territory across the globe, and the establishment of a worldwide ‘caliphate' founded on Shari'a law." Terrorists openly declare this goal. The Islamists who assassinated Anwar el-Sadat in 1981 decorated their holding cages with banners proclaiming the "caliphate or death." A biography of one of the most influential Islamist thinkers of recent times and an influence on Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam declares that his life "revolved around a single goal, namely the establishment of Allah's Rule on earth" and restoring the caliphate.

Bin Laden himself spoke of ensuring that "the pious caliphate will start from Afghanistan." His chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also dreamed of re-establishing the caliphate, for then, he wrote, "history would make a new turn, God willing, in the opposite direction against the empire of the United States and the world's Jewish government." Another Al-Qaeda leader, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, publishes a magazine that has declared "Due to the blessings of jihad, America's countdown has begun. It will declare defeat soon," to be followed by the creation of a caliphate.

Or, as Mohammed Bouyeri wrote in the note he attached to the corpse of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker he had just assassinated, "Islam will be victorious through the blood of martyrs who spread its light in every dark corner of this earth."

Interestingly, van Gogh's murderer was frustrated by the mistaken motives attributed to him, insisting at his trial: "I did what I did purely out of my beliefs. I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted."

Although terrorists state their jihadi motives loudly and clearly, Westerners and Muslims alike too often fail to hear them. Islamic organizations, Canadian author Irshad Manji observes, pretend that "Islam is an innocent bystander in today's terrorism."

What the terrorists want is abundantly clear. It requires monumental denial not to acknowledge it, but we Westerners have risen to the challenge.

Indeed we have.[LINK]

Those who wonder why I do not, never have, and never will entertain the illogical and hyperemotionalist drivel of pseudo-"peacemakers" it is for this reason: they have an intrinsic deathwish and I want no part of it. But that is not all we have on this subject to cover in the post you are reading...


GETTING IT

Who said the following:

"Muslims worldwide must have the courage to reject terrorism... Just as bin Laden and his group describe moderate Muslims as followers of the West and as unbelievers, it is time for the Muslim leaders to proclaim bin Laden himself to be an unbeliever...

"Further, it is time to strip the title of 'mosque' from a place where firebombs are made...moderate Muslims can boycott such mosques, because they do not have the courage necessary to wrest them from the extremists. When a mosque becomes a place where firebombs are made, it ceases to be a mosque, and should be treated as the scene of a crime..."

---

"Only two things can stop terrorism:...issuing fatwa s removing bin Laden and his supporters from the fold of Islam, and the West ceasing to be naïve about 'moderate Islamists.' There is no such thing as 'moderate Islamists.' There are ordinary Muslims who lead ordinary lives, and there are terrorists and people who are likely to become terrorists in the future."

The part about issuing anti-Osama fatwas makes some sense, and goes along with my thought about how we should treat the Gitmo detainees as prisoners with no, zero, access to anything Islamic and we should portray no, zero, sensitivity to their culture. They have separated themselves from their beliefs and culture, or so the thinking and message goes, and we shouldn't do anything that normalizes them.

So the above is encouraging. So who said this?

"The time has come for those who turn a blind eye to notice that the enemies of freedom have, unfortunately, exploited the atmosphere of freedom provided by the European countries, to destroy the foundations of freedom and to strangle any possibility that freedom would be born as a concept, and subsequently as a reality, in Arab and Muslim countries.

"They have used [European] freedom to spread religious fanaticism everywhere. People who disseminate the ideological and political platform of bin Laden …are the greatest enemies of the freedom that the European countries defend…

"Fundamentalist terrorism knows no borders. Whoever thinks he can be comfortable near a wolf and can turn him into a domestic puppy will be astounded when one day it falls upon his flock. A wolf is a wolf, and can be nothing other than itself…"

Who said the above, and other similar things? In both cases, Arab intellectuals are the authors.

In the wake of the London bombings, some of them are getting it. Finally. Some of them are calling on ordinary Muslims to stand up and deal with the caliphascists in their midst. Finally. [LINK]

Whatever one wants to say about Islam, its true nature and aims, etc., it cannot be denied that there is far too much of a Muslim presence in terror networks around the world. Or as I noted in a private email to someone back in July:

There are about twenty military conflicts around the world at the moment and all but one of them consist of Muslims who cannot live peacefully with their neighbours. If you [think] this serious disproportion of Muslim vs. Muslim conflicts --in light of the population of Muslims worldwide compared to other religious groups-- is simply a coincidence, then I would recommend reassessing this position because it is naive. [Excerpt from an Email Correspondence (circa July 30, 2005)]

It will be necessary to have Muslims on our side in opposing the Islamofascist element if there is ultimately to be a success in defeating them. Period. And for that reason, I am pleased that there are Arab scholars who are willing to align with us against those who would murder and maim in the name of "God."

Moving from war on terror subjects to Clinton administration former officials, we have this gem on Sandy Burgler Berger...

AND THEY SAY IRONY IS DEAD

Sandy Stickfingers Berger disses the Bush administration on security. Berger is most recently famous for stealing irreplacable documents from the National Archives and destroying them.

For my comments on this incident circa a year ago, please see this thread.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean says President Bush and "his right-wing Supreme Court think it is 'okay' to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is." Two problems with that statement. First, no one currently on the Supreme Court was put there by President Bush, and the Democrats are gearing up for an all-out fight against the very normal and very qualified John Roberts. Second, the Kelo case to which Dean refers had the court's liberal-left majority going against individual property rights. Therefore, it's not the right-wing that's razing homes--it's the left-wing. What Dean said is in fact a mirror image of the truth--backward from reality in its entirety.

For as long as I can remember, it has been my general modus opperandi to presume the exact opposite of what the MSM says is the truth to be true. While obviously this approach is not a one-size-fits-all approach to discerning the truth or lack thereof of the MSM, you will be right more than you are wrong with just that approach being taken. And with Howard Dean, your accuracy rating with that approach would be darn near 100% so keep that in mind. I shudder to think of the Bizarro World sorts to whom Howard Dean's babblings are considered "enlightened" or "informative" but that is neither here nor there.

Both of these stories are ironic, but there's more to them than just that. Both demonstrate the brazen disregard for truth and right-versus-wrong that characterizes and typifies the Democrat Party nowadays. Berger just laughs off his destruction of classified material, then feels no shame in lambasting the Bush administration on security. He does have a point in there--if the Bushies cared more about security, Berger would be disgraced and in jail. I don't think that's the point Berger wanted to make, though. Meanwhile Dean knows he's lying through his teeth about the SCOTUS Kelo decision, but he doesn't care and doesn't respect his audience enough to think they'll know or care that he's lying. And the sad fact is, most of his audience either didn't know (meaning they're ignorant) or they didn't care (meaning they hold the truth in just as low a regard as Dean does).

See my previous comments.

And don't even get me started on how the Democrats continue to laud Joe Wilson more than a year after the uninamous Senate Intelligence Committee's report concluded that he's a brazen liar.

Aah yes, Joe Wilson...amazing how the Dems will praise a man who was exposed as a lying fraud in light of those whom they so regularly demonize but I digress.

IGNORANCE OR DISHONESTY? YOU DECIDE. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-the Moonbat Cave) thinks the Constitution includes something called a "privacy clause." The privacy clause is so private, apparently, that the Constitution's authors didn't even write it into the actual Constitution.

And people wonder why I have such a low view of liberals. The so-called "privacy clause" was a fabrication of the Supreme Court in 1965. Maybe we should mandate basic tests in Constitutional knowledge for those who want to be in government and reject those who cannot pass them. That would clear out at least half the legislature and at least three justices on the Supreme Court...hmmmmmmm, can you say "Constitutional Amendment" perhaps??? :)

I'LL TAKE "DISHONESTY" FOR 200, ALEX: Wizbang reads Kos so you don't have to and came to the unsurprising conclusion that several of the leftists posting comments there have no problem with lying if it helps the Democrats gain power. Ergo, they support HoDean's indefensible SCOTUS comment.

I am not surprised.

I'LL TAKE "DISHONESTY" FOR 400, ALEX: Sen. Dick Durbin lied to Jonathan Turley about a conversation he claimed to have had with SCOTUS nominee John Roberts. His excuse: Turley didn't identify himself as a journalist. Therefore, according to Dick, it's Turley's fault that Dick lied. And this is the same Dick, you'll recall, who smeared US troops as behaving on the same level as the Nazis, the Soviets and Khmer Rouge, and then blamed YOU for misunderstanding HIM.

And other than his given name being "Richard," that's why they call him Dick. [LINK]

Frankly, Turban-Durban should have been forced to resign from the Senate in disgrace. There is an obvious double standard here -something I noted in my last weblog update when adding a Trent Lott thread in my archives circa late 2002:

In light of Senator Dick Durban getting off scott free rather than being forced to either resign from the Senate or being (at the very least) stripped of any ranking position in the Senate, it seemed appropriate to go into the archives at Rerum Novarum and add in this update what your host wrote in December of 2002 on Senator Trent Lott.

The aforementioned inclusion will hopefully illustrate a bit clearer a common (and blatant) double standard present in the media whereby those so-called "progressivists" who make far more egregious statements in official capacity (such as Sen. Durban's comments made on the floor of the US Senate) get off scott free and those who are called "conservatives" who make much more benign statements in an unofficial capacity (such as Sen. Lott's comments at Strom Thurmond's birthday party in late 2002) who do not. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 12, 2005)]

But enough on Turban-Durban and onto some John Bolton vs. the UN news...

BOLTON TO THE U.N.

Good. If the Democrats want to play hardball and do everything they can to delegitmize a twice elected president, that president should do what he can within the law to remind them that he beat their guy twice. So John Bolton goes to the UN on a recess appointment over the heads of the Democrats who have been filibustering him for months. Good. Very good.

As I noted back in June, this would be an important step forward.{1} If memory serves (and I do not have time to check this out), I also mentioned this approach in an April 23, 2005 audioposting to Rerum Novarum. I am glad that the President was actually listening to me on this subject... ;-)


MORE: The WaPo makes some sense on Bolton:

Under the Constitution, the president has the power to appoint officers during congressional recesses without seeking Senate confirmation and to have those officers serve through the end of the Congress -- which in this case means until January 2007. Using that power to circumvent the normal advice-and-consent process is politically provocative and should be quite rare. But having thwarted the usual process under which the Senate gets to vote on a president's nominee, it takes a bit of chutzpah for Democrats now to cry foul at Mr. Bush's decision to exercise his other option.

---

An ambassador who lacks the explicit support of Congress speaks less securely for the nation than one who enters the U.N. Security Council with the Senate's blessing. But, again, whose fault is that? Democrats had every chance to muster the votes to defeat the nomination; they couldn't do it. If Mr. Bolton is now heading to New York without the Senate's imprimatur but with a figurative asterisk beside his name, that's only because, having failed to defeat him, a minority refused to lose gracefully.

Indeed. The above is so well said and logical that I have a hard time envisioning how it got past the editors...

Today's Democrats don't do anything gracefully, win, lose or draw. They have become the Ugly Party.[LINK]

I prefer Evil Party but Ugly party will work in a pinch too... Moving onto more Bolton stuff, we have the following...

BOLTON TO THE U.N., TAKE TWO

Something about the recess appointment of John Bolton to be US ambassador to the UN today really bothered me. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I just knew the story had to be a layer or two deeper that the way the media was reporting it. These things always are. The Democrats were just taking it too well--Sen. Kennedy only called it "devious," and never once alleged that Bolton's recess appointment had been concocted on a ranch in Texas for political reasons. Even though we all know it was! Edward M. seems to be losing his edge or else even he's too shocked by the brazen but utterly constitutional appointment to know how to respond. Same here. But after curling up in a fetal position while listening to The Purpose-Driven Life narrated by Chris Tucker on my iPod, I've figured it out! It's all a distraction from the real issue, which Jonathan Chait exposed so eloquently a couple of weeks back. To wit, President Bush waited until today to do the recess appointment to distract us all from his unspeakably bizarre fixation on physical fitness and Bush's true, horrible ambition.

Think about it. Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro got suspended by MLB today for violating the league's steriods policy. Today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not even a week from last Monday. Oh wait, it is a week from last Monday. Never mind. Anyway, the point is, Palmeiro got suspended today.

And Bolton got recess appointed today. The very same day.

Horror of horrors...

It also came out--today--jeepers, this is getting scarier the more I think about it--that President Bush is incredibly fit for a man his age. Heck, he's incredibly fit for a man my age, and I'm a lot younger than W. A lot younger. Bush is, in fact, the most fit president in American history! Even more fit than Calvin Coolidge, if you can believe that. And he makes that twig Abraham Lincoln look like a lazy cow. Jonathan Chait first alerted us to this latest Bushitler horror, and the world owes him a debt of gratitude. Chait, not Bush.

So here's what I'm thinking. Before he was president, Bush was the owner of a baseball team. That's the same sport that Rafael Palmeiro plays. But it gets worse. Before he was playing for the hapless, collapsing Orioles, Palmeiro played for the hapless, perennially collapsing Texas Rangers. Bush is from Texas. And he used to own the Texas Rangers. That's the same team Palmeiro played for, people. The same team. And Bush owned the team at the same time Palmeiro played for it. That's no coincidence, people. Bush and Palmeiro were associated with the same baseball team at the same time. Thus, they had the opportunity to meet. And they did. And their association didn't end either of the times Palmeiro left Texas for the Orioles. Not the first time. Not the second time.

And it gets worse. Just two weeks ago, Bush actually congratulated Mr. Palmeiro for his "accomplishments" in "baseball," specifically for getting his 3,000th "hit." He congratulated Palmeiro by phone. Or so both he and Palmeiro now say. But what if Bush and Palmeiro weren't using the commonly understood meaning of "hit," which in baseball means striking the ball with a bat and thereby attaining temporary residence on one of three (four if you count the "plate") places of safety on a baseball diamond? What if by "hits," Bush and Palmeiro were using some sort of code-speak for something outside of baseball? Something that may in fact be illegal? For instance, drug users use "hit" as a term to indicate a dosage of controlled substances, like drugs. And steriods are performance-enhancing drugs. They make athletes stronger or faster, etc. And people who do illegal things often use code words among miscreants of their own kind.

By now it should be clear what was really going on in that "congratulatory" phone call. President Bush was either ordering steroids from Palmeiro, or he was possibly reminding Palmeiro to order more "hits" from their mutual source, John Bolton. Bush and Palmeiro must have both started using steriods during their days together in the Lone Star State, Palmeiro to keep hitting like a man in his mid-20s long past the point when he needed Viagra for, well, you know, and Bush so that he could pass Indira Ghandi on his way to matching or even surpassing Ghengis Khan as the most fit world leader ever. Khan is one tough competitor to catch, so Bush knew he'd need a little extra help, and he and Palmeiro both found the help they needed. A long-term friendship of mutual drug dependency was born. But now Palmeiro has gone and got himself caught using steriods, threatening to blow the lid on their whole scheme, which began back when Bush owned the Texas Rangers and Palmeiro played for the Rangers.

So Bush got Bolton that job destroying the UN he'd always wanted and which the Democrats had denied him on the same day that Palmeiro got suspended. The UN job was basically a bone to Bolton to keep him quiet about the whole steriods thing, too. Think about it. Really, I question the timing--it's clear that the recess appointment has nothing to do with fairness or a president's prerogative in appointing the members of his own administration. Bush did it today--today, people--to create headlines that would distract everyone from Palmeiro's troubles and keep the media from snooping around the Rangers clubhouse trolling for stories about Bush's long string of "hits" with Rafael. But this blog is just too smart for them. We're on to them. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean.

You heard it here first, people.



Call the Trilateral Commission, we have another conspiracy on our hands!!! Maybe Gary Allen should write another book on the matter. After all, it was predicted in his book that by 1972 the end would be near for the US as a nation if memory serves and we all know how right he was about that

UPDATE: So here I am, doing my best to parody lame leftwing conspiracy theories and mainstream Democrats who fear a physically fit president, and the Democrats themselves come up with a gem of a press release that's too stupid to be parodied. The Ugly Party can't respond to one single solitary thing with anything even approaching maturity, can it? [LINK]

Four words describe where this all comes from Bryan: Puffing the Magic Dragon. And I am not talking about the song by Peter, Paul, and Mary...

Moving on from moonbats to outright pathological liars, we have Joey Wilson...

WHY DID WILSON LIE?

We all know that Joseph Wilson lied to the media and to the nation when he claimed that his wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame, played no role in his trip to Niger. We know, in fact, that Plame not only played a role in that trip, but that she suggested Wilson for the trip.

Yes, we know all of that.

So why did Wilson lie about it? What was the point?

Cliff Kincaid speculates on Wilson's motive and, to my mind, comes up with some reasonable conclusions:

Herbert Romerstein, a former professional staff member of the House Intelligence Committee, says there is another reason. And that is that her involvement in sending her husband on a CIA mission to Africa meant that when Wilson went public about it, foreign intelligence services would investigate all of his family members for possible CIA connections. Those intelligence services would not simply assume that he went on the mission because he was a former diplomat. They would investigate his wife. And that would inevitably lead to unraveling the facts about Valerie Wilson, or Valerie Plame, and her involvement with the CIA.

As Romerstein put it in an article for Human Events, when answering the question about who really exposed Wilson's wife, "The culprit was Joe Wilson…with some help from his wife."

He wrote, "When Wilson wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in July [2003] and revealed that he had gone to Niger on a CIA assignment, he called attention to his wife. CIA people who are really undercover are very careful about not identifying themselves or their families with the agency. They wait until their children are old enough to keep their mouths shut before revealing, even to them, that they are CIA officers. Wilson listed his wife's maiden name in the biography he put on the web site of the Middle East Institute."

All true. Further:

Romerstein, who had a hand in drafting the bill, explained, "When a CIA officer under deep cover is assigned to a hostile country, he knows that the enemy counter-intelligence service will do a background check. Any involvement of a relative with the CIA will endanger the officer's cover." Those facts mean that Plame was not under deep cover and that there must have been no plan to send her abroad under deep cover. She was certainly not deployed overseas at the time that her identification with the agency was disclosed. Furthermore, Romerstein says that "Mrs. Joe Wilson also helped shred her cover when she made a contribution to the Al Gore for President campaign and listed her cover company in the Federal Election Commission filing. If she were ever posted overseas under cover, that would provide the hostiles with a lead to unravel her CIA connection."

When Wilson went public with his column in the New York Times, he had to know that such an article would lead to scrutiny of his wife. Equally significant, it might lead to scrutiny of her role in arranging his trip, in violation of federal nepotism laws. Therefore, he had to try to get his wife off the hook. That's why he absolved her of any role in arranging his mission in his book. The media initially accepted what he had to say with no questions asked. Eventually, however, his cover-up fell apart when the Senate Intelligence Committee uncovered evidence that Plame had a role in her husband's mission.

We know from Plame's own story that she wasn't at all careful with her CIA cover, telling Wilson about her career on their third date after a make-out session. That kind of behavior might be fine for James Bond, but real deep cover CIA agents are more protective of their identities than Hollywood heroes. Or at least, they should be. If they're really working in deep cover. And how many real secret agents use their front company's name when making political donations that will eventually show up on Opensecrets?

Bottom line: Plame wasn't under the kind of deep cover that the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was created to maintain. And if she was, she was an incompetent officer whose own nepotistic actions led to her exposure.

That is a most interesting theory Bryan...

Kincaid offers this as well:

In retrospect, it's clear the Plame and Wilson pulled off a monumental deception, with the help of the media. The facts suggest that Plame and her husband were determined to undermine the Administration's Iraq policy and were prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to accomplish that. Together with their media allies, they created such a firestorm over the naming of Plame that the White House panicked into seeking a special prosecutor.

When Bush official Karl Rove warned Matt Cooper of Time away from the story, on the ground that Plame had arranged the trip by her husband, he was on to the hard truth about this case. But the media were not really interested and the White House did not pursue this line of inquiry to its logical conclusion-a full-fledged investigation into the Plame-Wilson plot and who else in the CIA was behind it. Perhaps the White House was fearful of starting a war with the CIA.


The White House soon discovered that like or not, such a war was already underway, and it had to either engage the enemy or retreat. No less than success in the war formerly known as the War on Terrorism was at stake. Soon enough, DCI Tenet was gone and replaced with Bush's choice, Porter Goss, who has found himself dealing with the monster of hostile and highly trained intel and counterintel officers living inside the unassailable fortress of the civil service with all of its employee protections. Even Superman himself can't break down the walls of Washington bureaucracy.

(thanks to Chris) [LINK]

Certainly the actions of Wilson and Plame in seeking to undermine the Administration as they did were just cause for outing them.{2} I realize that those who would lionize persons such as Deep Throat would find such a position apalling but then again I have already explained why those who view the Deep Throat situation (and by logical extension the Wilson-Plame situation) as "noble causes" of sorts are seriously askew in their operative viewpoints on these matters.{3} Ergo, no no more needs to be noted on it at this time.

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Someone in the CIA is using the WaPo to float his or her own ideas about Iran's nuclear ambitions, which the CIA (through anonymous sources claiming to quote the National Intelligence Estimate, a collection of everything the intel community knows and suspects about various national security issues) says are some ten years from full fruition. This undoubtedly is designed to give the doves the upper hand in any discussions relating to US approaches to the mullahs and their nuclear programs. It gives the mediacrats a cudgel to bash the administration with for a while. The CIA, or more properly elements within the CIA, is thus injecting itself into the midst of policy deliberations, again.

This is the same CIA that utterly failed to predict the fall of the USSR.

This is the same CIA that missed all of the signs leading up to 9-11.

This is the same CIA that sent an unqualified ambassador to Niger to do an investigator's work, then supported him in lying about that junket to the press and the public. And it's the same CIA that doesn't seem to care about the nepotism involved in allowing an agent to send her spouse, without either White House or even top-level CIA approval, on such a mission.

This is the same CIA that has been at war with the White House over the war in Iraq for more than two years. This CIA has done its best to undermine administration policies for quite a while now.

I cannot see how what the CIA is doing does not fit the criteria for seditionous behaviour.

All I'm saying is that this story about the NIE should be understood against that factual background. And the factual background should include this relevant bit--there's not a single on the record source addressing the NIE in the entire article. Not one.

Surely Bryan, you do not think that people have to actually cite sources which are relevant in support of expressed opinions do you???

We have "top policymakers." We have the unbelievable "U.S. source," which could be anybody who happens to be in the US at the moment. We have "sources." You have to wade halfway into the article's second page to get anyone on the record, and he turns out to be "Gordon Oehler, who ran the CIA's nonproliferation center and served as deputy director of the presidential commission on weapons of mass destruction." Um-hum. Isn't the nonproliferation center the same outfit that employs one Valerie Plame Wilson? Would that be the same center that sent Lyin' Joe Wilson to Niger and helped him trump up all that noise against the adminstration that echoes to this day? Yes, and yes. Well then. He's a fine source.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for ideologues of a particular viewpoint to cite sources without concern either for proper context or for the credibility of said sources.

But if you read carefully, he doesn't even claim to have seen the latest NIE. He's just talking in generalities about how the Iranian weapons programs might be run. He doesn't really add much to the story.

In other words, another round of normative (read: subjective) argumentation. I am not surprised.

The story finishes with a flourish meant to deceive. It quotes John Bolton's successor at State, Robert G. Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control, saying, "I don't know quite how to answer that because we don't have perfect information or perfect understanding. But the Iranian record, plus what the Iranian leaders have said . . . lead us to conclude that we have to be highly skeptical." Here's the full WaPo paragraph:

Asked in June, after the NIE was done, whether Iran had a nuclear effort underway, Bolton's successor, Robert G. Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control, said: "I don't know quite how to answer that because we don't have perfect information or perfect understanding. But the Iranian record, plus what the Iranian leaders have said . . . lead us to conclude that we have to be highly skeptical."

I'm looking for the full quote--the WaPo doesn't help out by providing any context other than a general timeframe for it. But as rendered, it appears as though Joseph is skeptical that Iran has a nuclear program at all. If that's the case, he probably shouldn't hold the job he now holds, which is to counter nuclear proliferation. What he is probably talking about, and what the material deleted by use of ellipses probably adds to, is skepticism of the statements made by Iranian leaders regarding their nuclear program, not skepticism on the existence of Iran's entire program. Joseph and Bolton developed the oft-neglected (in the MSM) Proliferation Security Initiative and its sister Caspian Guard, the latter of which is specifically aimed at Iran's nuclear program and nuclear technology proliferation. So there's reason to doubt that he is skeptical whether or not Iran has a nuclear program. If he was actually expressing skepticism of the mullahs' public pronouncements, the WaPo has committed the sin of taking a quote so badly out of context as to change its fundamental meaning. The blogosphere should deliver them a major smackdown for it.

The problem with ellipses when quoting a source is that they can often be used to modify a statement and make it appear to say something it does not say. If what was being quoted was accessible from other sources, it would be easier to assess if the quoting was legitimate and if the ellipses intended to reduce length of citation rather than modify said citation. Unfortunately, all the sources I could find in a random Google search that use the quote all have the ellipses in it which means that they probably got it from the same source: in this case WaPo. I do not know about you my friends but when the chief source for a statement is one of the MSM, I am highly skeptical of the accuracy of the report to put it mildly.

And while we're at it, the WaPo deserves a major smackdown for printing a story entirely devoid of on-the-record sources about its principal subject, as it has done here. The overuse of anonymous sources by the MSM over the past couple of years has gotten entirely out of hand. Readers have no way to fairly evaluate the motivations and roles played by any of the sources so used, nor can readers assess an anonymous source's qualification to even opine on the subject at hand. "U.S. sources" could be DCI Porter Goss (unlikely), it could be yet another anti-Bush CIA leftist (somewhat more likely), or it could be a burger-flipper in Des Moines (unlikely, but given the way the story was written, possible). Why is the source anonymous? We don't know, but it's a fair bet that it's not out of modesty. There is an axe to grind, or the unnamed wouldn't even be talking to anyone in the press.

Well said Bryan!!! Another problem is the uncritical citing of either unnamed sources or third hand quotes from sources of questionable repute. Unfortunately, the latter is par for the course these days in so-called "news reporting" or pretentions at "substantive argumentation" on complex issues not admitting of easy "black and white" solutions thereof.{4}

This story is one of the more irresponsible uses of anonymous sources in the past couple of years, all the more so because its subject, the NIE, and the public's carefully shaped opinion of it will play a significant role shaping our nation's war strategy for the next year or two.

Agreed Bryan. But that is what happens with ideologues unfortunately{5} and the Libertarian are certainly not immune in that area themselves.

MORE: Roger Simon has similar thoughts.

Which are IMHO worth reading also...

UPDATE: Here's some cogent commentary on the NIE from Raymond Tanter, former member of the Reagan administration:

The link has disappeared and I do not have time to track it down at the moment. Nonetheless, Bryan's trackrecord for accurate source citation will be given the benefit of any doubt from here on in this subject matter...

The intelligence estimate is contradictory-reflecting disagreement within the community. On one hand, the estimate is reassuring: Iran is alleged to be about ten years away from getting the bomb. On the other hand, the estimate is worrisome: "It is the judgment of the intelligence community that, left to its own devices, Iran is determined to build nuclear weapons," according to the Washington Post article.

The intelligence estimate has been overtaken by events: "The estimate fails to take into account the June 2005 Iranian elections," according to Professor Raymond Tanter, co chair of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington-based think tank. "Elections in Iran produced a consolidation of power under the Supreme Leader Khamenei and should accelerate the nuclear weapons pace by Tehran," according to Tanter.

The intelligence estimate is puzzling. Tanter said that, "It is puzzling how an intelligence estimate can conclude it will be another decade before Iran is capable of building a bomb when there is evidence of clandestine enrichment cascades at Iranian secret military sites and an ability of the regime to divert natural uranium gas to centrifuges, both of which should shorten not lengthen the time to produce bomb-making fuel."

Rtwt.[LINK]

It seems as if the ten year proposed window is a way of arguing that this issue is not as serious as many would presume it is: after all, stuff that is ten years off presumably could be put on the back burner. In light of the problems we have had with intelligence estimates in recent years -not a few of which are noted by Bryan above- all I will say on the matter is that I am not confident in the intelligence estimates of "ten years" before Iran has a nuclear bomb or three of their own.

Moving from Iranian nukes to libertarian fear, we have the following...

WHAT ARE YOU SO-CALLED LIBERTARIANS AFRAID OF?

We have two political parties.

We have Pepsi and Coke.

We have Mac and PC.

We have Chevy and Ford. And Honda and Toyota.

We have lots of choices. And you libertarians seem to think that that's a good thing.

Except for the fact that liberatarianism is at its essence capitalism separated from morality{6} of course...

Or not. President Bush today said something about teaching intelligent design in public schools. And the libertarians react with a ferocity they generally reserve for caliphascists and Jimmy Carter-scale idiotarians.

I wonder--do they realize that they're acting like totalitarians? Do they even care? Nah. They just want to ridicule anything with even a whiff of Christianity about it.

I have noted on more than one occasion that those who often pretend to be "tolerant" or "open-minded" are among the most intolerant and dogmatic sorts of people out there. That the liberarians are playing to this on script viz. the subject of creation is no surprise really...

Here is what President Bush actually said:

Q I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?

THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor -- both you and Herman are doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past. (Laughter.) Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.

Q Both sides should be properly taught?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about.

Q So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.

He is talking about the competition of ideas, something libertarians normally favor. But not in this context. I wonder, why?

The fact is, Darwinian evolution has some weaknesses, the best known and researched of these being something called "irreducible complexity." Some systems in nature have to have all their various parts in order to function, a lack of function leads to death for the organism that uses them, and therefore Darwin doesn't adequately address how they might have formed. It's a real question, one that stumps those top men who are always looking into these things. I know I just lost a whole bunch of you by saying that, and I figure the two or three libertarians who still read this site are buckling over from laughter, but that doesn't change anything. ID is in large part an expression of Darwinian thinking's weaknesses--expressions which for quite a while now haven't been allowed into scientific debates because totalitarians have shut down most discussions of anything that might lead to skepticism. It's rule by fear, more or less--fear that the creaking crate that Darwin has become might finally fall apart, and inspiring fear by cutting off funding for any research that might lead any scientist or anyone else off the reservation.

The fact is, though, no matter which side of this particular debate you're on, the libertarians are in fact shouting for the suppression of ideas. They are shouting, in their ignorance of what the president actually said, for the closing of minds.

And they're proud of their chest-thumping. And here I was thinking that individual freedom to explore any idea was what jazzed libertarians up. I was so naive. They're all about naked exercises of power just like everyone else.

It's one more reason I am not a libertarian, actually. They're hypocrites. They're often little more than a bunch of knee-jerking yard apes all too eager to express their utter and complete contempt for anything with any flavor of faith about it, and all too eager to show how cool they are by intellectually bullying anyone who doesn't toe their very narrow line.

Frankly, those who are truly as "open minded" and "tolerant" as these sorts of people claim to be would welcome this proposal. But by not being so welcoming, they reveal their true colours to be different than what they say on the matter.

TELL YA WHAT: I'd be more than happy to meet the libertarians more than halfway on this. I'm not a young earther, so teach astronomy as is, Big Bang and all. Do work in a mention of Einstein's reaction upon first hearing evidence that the universe is expanding (he didn't like and started fudging his work to counter it). Teach that stars form from great clouds of gas and dust in a process that takes millions of years--because they do, and the process actually takes that long. Teach that the Earth is about 5 billion years old, because it is. Teach that our Sun is probably a second generation star, formed after the first generation of massive stars blew up and seeded the universe with the metals and elements needed to become planets and living things, because all of that is true. Etc etc. When it comes to biology, don't mention ID. At all. Don't mention it. Just mention two other things, only one of which has anything to do with ID. That would be irredicuble complexity. Explain it, even if in doing so you mandate in your textbooks that you scoff at it. Trot out a couple of examples of it. Michael Behe will be happy to supply you with a couple dozen. Also, mention punctuated equilibrium. Explain it. Give one or two examples of why biologists have come up with the term and what it's supposed to explain.

That's it. Inquisitive young minds will do the rest.

Sounds good to me.

THE POINT IS that science is a human pursuit. As such, it is subject to the same foibles, nobility, factionalism, dishonesty and even heroism as any other human pursuit. And established science often turns out to be entirely wrong.

Indeed.

A case in point is the debate over the Big Bang. When Edwin Hubble first discovered that the universe is expanding, the implication was clear: It must be expanding away from something, and it would therefore be theoretically possible to extrapolate the expansion back to a point at which the universe began. The idea was monstrously offensive to the entire astronomical community, which held to a steady state view of the universe, steady state theory being that the universe was eternal, infinite and unchanging. Politically steady state was attractive to the more godless among astronomers, and it happened to fit the available facts. For more than 30 years after Hubble's discovery, debate raged, and wasn't really settled in favor of the expansion model until maybe the late 60s or early 70s. But during that debate, establishment scientists fought the idea as much as they could, making up derogatory names for it like "Big Bang," a British slang for orgasm, and folks like Einstein adding numbers to his equations to make them hold up a steady state universe (Einstein later turned out to be right in adding his cosmological constant, but for the wrong reason). Established science--steady state universe--turned out to be wrong on every level.

True. And for those who are somehow unaware of it, the Catholic Church -that supposed "enemy of science"- accepted the Big Bang theory as compatible with the Bible over fifty years ago. In light of the tendencies towards historical revisionism out there, it seems appropriate to note that briefly before moving on in this thread; ergo that is what I just did.

Here's a second example that should hit a little closer to home: global warming. Global warming theory is probably the most politicized bit of science in human history. Bjorn Lumborg knows all too well how politicized it is. He's the skeptical environmentalist, and while he agrees with the basic premise of global warming--that it's happening, and that man's activity may have something to do with it--he has been pilloried by his fellow scientists for asking even modest questions about it and suggesting that government approaches to "solving" it may be unnecessary. He has been called a crank and worse, and liberals outside science basically write him off as a Republican operative. Scientists themselves are quite divided on global warming, and for the layman one's political beliefs are a pretty good predictor of where one stands on the issue. And it is an issue--a political issue--both within and outside of the scientific community.

When people say "science says x" and "religion says y" they hardly ever know what they're talking about. "Science" isn't some monolithic group of savants who reveal to us approved knowledge and protect us from forbidden foolishness. "Science" is a collection of smart, ambitious people out to prove something or disprove something else. Egos clash. Arguments ensue. Ideas compete to the death.

This is par for the course in any exchange of ideas and that it happens in science too should not be surprising. But for some reason, there are those who believe that science is somehow purely objective when indeed there are plenty of ideologues in the scientific community. This is why one must remember the sage advice of Arthur Jones that "ninety-five percent of what is published on all subjects is hogwash" and remember to read anything with a critical eye lest they be taken in by ideological agendas masquerading as "science", "philosophy", "sociology", "economics", "theology", or any other field of study.

That is science--the constant competition of, refinement of, discarding of and creation of ideas. The libertarians' collective reaction to President Bush's very modest statement indicates to me that they aren't much interested in science as science. They don't want to countenance any thought that a theory they support for all sorts of reasons might have weaknesses that should be addressed. To them, it's settled science, so why even entertain questions? But the thing about science is, it's never settled. If it's settled, why continue it? And why teach it?

Indeed.

In general, that is probably the biggest mistake we make with respect to teaching science in schools. We teach it as though it's already a done deal and we already know everything, when the reality is we barely know anything. We should present science for what it is, an ongoing debate between humans based on our observations and ideas about how the world works. Very little science is actually settled. Our own physical origins is a burgeoning field with a bright future--because we hardly know anything about it.

Yes.

Lots of people hate Intelligent Design for all sorts of reasons (some of them good reasons, actually), but one thing ID has done is expose one of evolution's glaring weaknesses via discussion of natural systems that are irreducibly complex. IC has produced lots of handwaving from its critics, but so far few have attempted to explain how such systems could have arisen in purely evolutionary fashion. But they will eventually try if they're honest scientists, and the result will either be a strengthening of evolution or at some level a refutation of it. Students should be taught that these mighty struggles are going on, now, every day, and they can be a part of it all. I think in the long run we'll attract more bright people to help us solve mysteries than to keep pounding sand on the same "proven" knowledge their whole lives.

And meanwhile the beat will go on, whether you libertarians keep trying to shout everyone else down or not. [Continued...]

It is simple really Bryan: to argue against Intelligent Design is to inexorably argue for the proposition that something can be produced out of nothing if we simply give it enough time. Or as I have noted in past discussions on the subject matter:

We know of the existence of many poisonous gases as a result of science and our technology which enable us to locate them. But did they merely come into being with our technology or were they there all along??? And if they were there all along even though they could not (in many cases) be tasted, seen, smelled, etc, why is it so difficult to conceive of Infinite Intelligence???

God is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question. And atheism is essentially two things:

1) It is the notion that nothing can come from something if we simply factor enough time into the equation.

2) It is the person stopping at some arbitrary point of their choosing and refusing to ask further questions.

Those points outline atheism in a nutshell and the rest is just commentary. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa December 22, 2003)]

In the words of that great western philosopher "Stone Cold" Steve Austin "and that is the bottom line." Moving on we come to the wonderful tool that is Google...

BEHOLD THE POWER OF GOOGLE

Yesterday a good friend of mine sent me the following trivia question:

It's the late 1820's and the Great Granddaughter of Martha Washington is being courted by two future famous Generals. At the time one of these fellows is more well known and a seemingly more appropriate choice. But Mary chooses the unknown Second Lieutenant to marry. Name the two future Generals.

I'm a history buff and I like a challenge, but I'm no fool. I Google it, starting with the search string "Washington great-granddaughter." The very first link Google turns up is this one, which gives me both the lady's name and the name of the man she married. Her name is Mary Anna Randolph Custis, and she married 2LT Robert E. Lee around 1830 or 1831.

So I have one of the two future generals' names, Robert E. Lee. I need one more.

I Google the woman's name, Mary Anna Randolph Custis. The first link goes to this site, and the first paragraph gives me my answer:

Mary Anna Randolph Custis was born on October 1, 1808, the only surviving child of George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis. As a young girl, the diminutive and vivacious Mary played with Robert E. Lee when he and his family visited Arlington House and the two became very close. As a teenager, Mary had her fair share of suitors, including a young congressman from Tennessee named Sam Houston. But, her heart was set on Robert E. Lee. When Lee proposed to her in the summer of 1830, Mary accepted.

Sam Houston was elected governor of Tennessee in 1827. He moved to Texas in 1832 and eventually became a general in and then commander-in-chief of the Texas army, and led Texas forces in the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. He was eventually elected president of the Republic of Texas, then governor of the State of Texas, and resigned after failing to keep Texas in the Union at the onset of the Civil War. In 1830, Tennessee Governor Sam Houston was definitely more well-known than 2LT Bobby Lee.

It took me all of a minute to go from a standing start with little idea of who the generals would turn out to be (especially Houston), to having answered the question completely, all thanks to Google. That's amazing if you stop and think about it.

I tell you this tale so that your mind might be further blown by this fact: The CIA's own search tools, the ones they use to manage data and so forth, are far inferior to Google.

But the CIA and others, burdened by security concerns, have been very slow to embrace the Internet and commercial research tools that have become standard for just about every other professional enterprise. (Another example: Intelligence officials say that Google is a much more powerful search technology than anything available to intelligence analysts for searching top-secret cables.)

Really, would we be losing much if we just shut that hapless agency down and divied up its responsibilities between NSA and the military? We'd be losing the joint that still employs Valerie Plame, but what else? Seriously? [LINK]

It is true that Google is very helpful as a research tool; however, it is very easy to abuse this feature and essentially post stuff from which context is not verified and the reliability of the sources is not considered. Those who act in this fashion are sometimes derisively referred to as involving themselves in "Google scholarship": essentially an abuse of the great tool that Google is capable of being. But enough on that subject and onto the recent death of a journalist in Iraq who was a credit to his oft-maligned profession...

STEVEN VINCENT, R.I.P.

Horrible news from Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An American freelance journalist was found shot to death in the Iraqi city of Basra early Wednesday, officials said.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman confirmed Steven Vincent's body was found, and that his family has been notified.

A Western official said Vincent suffered multiple gunshot wounds. He had been abducted earlier by unknown gunmen.

A Basra police official said Vincent and his female interpreter, Nuriya Tiays, were abducted about 12:30 a.m. (4:30 p.m. Tuesday) in the Ashar area of central Basra.

Vincent's body was found about a 10-minute drive from where the abduction took place, the official said. Tiays suffered a gunshot wound to the chest and was being treated in a hospital.

Vincent was in Basra writing a book about the history of the city. He also maintained a Web blog about life in Iraq, and most recently had an op-ed piece in The New York Times on Sunday.

This hits a little close to home for me because I had become acquainted with Steven through his book, In the Red Zone, which I reviewed last year. During the course of reading and reviewing the book, Steven and I emailed several times. He was without a doubt one of the nicest, most sincere and talented people I've come across as a result of blogging. His writing is passionate and elegant, and his book puts you right in the middle of the turmoil in Iraq.

That's because he wrote it after making two trips there, trips during which he never stayed in the green zone. He always ventured forth to try and understand what he could about the cross-currents at work shaping the new Iraq. And he understood it well. He narrowly escaped abduction several times. And he came back to write a book for us that's among the best expositions on Iraq written yet.

After reviewing the book, I asked him to stop going to Iraq. Not because what he was doing wasn't important--it was vitally important--but because he often took too many risks. He had already written a fine book that stood as a serious look at why it has been so difficult to move Iraq from tyranny to democracy. He didn't need to further risk his life.

He obviously saw things differently. The bastards who killed him robbed us of a very patriotic, very brave and very talented man.

Rest in peace, Steven. [Continued...]

More could be quoted but that last line of Bryan's summarizes it well in my mind. I recommend though that readers peruse the entire thread above where several pieces of Mr. Vincent's work can be found including his last blog entry which is interesting to say the very least. To break form from this thread for a moment, the reader can review other remembrances of this heroic man at Michelle Malkin's weblog where she has collected a string of tributes from the blogosphere. Rest in peace Stephen Vincent and may you be well-rewarded for laying down your life for the cause of freedom from Islamofascist tyranny.

Moving on from the death of a heroic man to to attempts to turn back another form of tyranny (judicial tyranny), we have the following bit on KELO...

CRUSHING KELO

Nancy Pelosi's god is encountering resistance:

Deo Gratias!!!

States across the country are rushing to pass laws to counter the potential impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that allows state and local governments to seize homes for private development.

In Alabama Wednesday, Gov. Bob Riley will sign a law that prohibits the state, cities and counties from taking private property for retail, office, commercial, industrial or residential development. "We don't like anybody messing with our dogs, our guns, our hunting rights or trying to take property from us," says state Sen. Jack Biddle, a sponsor of the law.

---

The issue has spawned an unusual alliance among conservatives opposed to the principle of government seizing private property and liberals worried that poor people would be the most likely victims.

Good. And both the conservative and liberal points of view on this are probably dead on. If Kelo demonstrates anything other than SCOTUS' arrogance, it shows that the leftward justices are out of touch with American tradition and mainstream popular opinion.

(via InstaPundit) [LINK]

As this very subject touches on the importance of sound judicial appointments, it seems appropriate to note briefly that I covered in a recent thread of musings some threads where I have discussed the Supreme Court appointments in recent months. Also worth reiterating from that recent thread is my position on what we need in a justice for the Supreme Court and how we can ascertain if the person so recommended is likely to be a good justice. To wit:

I use a simple acid test. To me, the key variable is how they view the proper function of law in a just society. Any candidate that endorses a differentiation between the laws of the individual and the laws of society at large is one who inexorably endorses the plunder of one class of citizens to enrich another class is not a real conservative. And sadly, almost all who run for office under the conservative banner support legal plunder in some form or another. It then becomes a case of ascertaining whether or not their support of legal plunder is based on ignorance of what they are actually supporting or whether they are intentionally in support of it. That is admittedly not easy to determine but a safe norm to follow is to see how much they favour federal involvement or intervention. For the greater they favour those factors, the more they inexorably endorse legal plunder.[...] And no just society can countenance such an abomination and expect to avoid dissolving as a nation at some point or another - either through military conquest or revolution. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 24, 2004)]

The same principles above apply to appointed justices to any court particularly the Supreme Court. And from what I can discern thus far, Justice Roberts will be a good fit for the court based on the criteria outlined above. Moving on from KELO to Hiroshima, we have the following thread which is of no small degree of interest...

REMARKABLE PERSPECTIVE AND UNDERSTANDING

60 years on after the US obliterated most of Hiroshima, many Americans still debate the morality of Truman's decision. But there is no debate, according to one woman who was there:

LAGRANGEVILLE, N.Y. - Sixty years later, Tomiko Morimoto West still remembers the low drone of the B-29 that flew over Hiroshima and changed her life forever.

She was just 13. The horrific atomic blast on Aug. 6, 1945, all but wiped out her hometown in an instant. Her widowed mother was killed, and her grandparents would die later in agony.

"They left me all by myself," she said.

All alone, she suffered the effects of radiation sickness, which may have contributed to her inability to have children. But she is not bitter.

West, now 73 and a retired Vassar College lecturer, believes the atomic bomb that robbed her of her family and her innocence saved countless lives - Japanese and American.

"If it was not for the atomic bomb, we [Japanese] were in such a mental state, we would have fought until the last person," said West, who was taught as a little girl how to fight with a sharpened bamboo stick in the event of an invasion.

That last paragraph is absolutely true. The mental and moral climate in Japan at that time approached the level of death cult. The bomb not only saved countless American lives, it saved Japan itself. The bomb in fact saved Japan from itself.

We Americans like to navel gaze and second guess and play games of what if as though we can with God-like knowledge assess every facet and every nuance of every event. We like to say this or that about historic figures and the choices they faced as though, as beneficiaries or victims of those choices six decades later, we can possibly really understand what those who were there at the time were thinking, feeling, intuiting and understanding. We think we can place ourselves in their shoes to a relevant extent. We can't.

I think in the end such revisionism is destructive. It gives grievance mongers license that they don't deserve. We're fighting an enemy right now that nurses its defeats in wars and ideological struggles going back centuries. They should get over it, but they won't. And we aren't helping matters by constantly fretting over things like Hiroshima, justified acts of self-defense... [Continued...]

Those who read carefully my August 17, 2005 thread posting titled On Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications know that I linked to the above thread in a footnote. But rather than comment on a subject that I have recently written pages of stuff on, I will simply footnote the text and put the various links there for those who are interested.{7} From there, we move onto the following thread on so-called "peacemakers"...

WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE...

In the words of that great western philosopher Billy Joel: "we did not light it but we tried to fight it..."

For those who buy into the schtick of the people who claim to be "peacemakers" by undermining our efforts in Iraq, the above thread will (hopefully) be a sobering read for you. However, neither it nor anything like it will move the true solipsists among us unfortunately...they will only learn after they have gone the way of Nick Berg and Paul Johnson. But I digress...

CASTRO'S MINI-ME

Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is using the oldest tyrant trick in the book to keep power: whip up fear of outside invasion. But who the heck wants to invade Venezuela?

Rafael Cabrices does not know whether the attack will come by sea, by land, or even from within Venezuela.

But he is sure that US President George W Bush is plotting to oust leftist President Hugo Chavez - and Mr Cabrices is preparing his people to fight.

"That crazy man wants the petroleum," Mr Cabrices, 60, says in his office decorated with posters of Che Guevara, Simon Bolivar and President Chavez.

If we're intent on invading Venezuela, it's the best-kept secret in Washington. But our lack of interest in expanding the empire to the south isn't stopping Chavez from playing dangerous make-believe:

In the empty parking lot outside, civilian "corporals" bark commands at groups of adults and teenagers in white shirts and black caps and pants. They are marching around, training for battle.

Over recent months, the populist president has warned that the US may invade Venezuela or try to assassinate him. He has called for Venezuelans to join a new civil reserve defence force, which, it is claimed, numbers two million members.

During a recent commemoration of a revolutionary war battle, Mr Chavez called for preparation for an "asymmetric war" against the world's most powerful nation.

"Asymmetric war" sounds an awful lot like terrorism...[Continued...]

Yes, it does sound like terrorism. But I see no reason to worry at this time about Venezuela. Instead, our focus should be on Iraq and finishing up there. There is also the question of whether we should go for the hat trick and invade Syria too but I do not want to discuss that subject at this time except to say that I have been mulling that idea over in the past year plus in private musings and occasionally in assorted correspondence. Moving on from "mouses that roar" to bigots, we find the following disgraceful but sadly typical drivel from those who claim to be "progressivists"...

BIGOTS

...permeate and dominate the lefty blogosphere. Read this post, then follow up by reading this post.

There is no excuse for the blurb about Michelle Malkin, and less of an excuse for others to praise that post uncritically. Yet there is a blogswarm on the left doing just that. And then piling on taking personal shots at everything about her.

There may still be members of the left who haven't shed their humanity and decency. If there are, none of them have blogs or comment on blogs...[Continued...]

I am not surprised. I have heard Michelle speak live and I am impressed with her knowledge of more intricate subject matters viz. the Second World War. As I noted the evening after I heard her speak in August of 2004 (due to length I will be heavily ellipsing this passage):

Michelle Malkin gave an overview of her new book on the Japanese internment at a reasonably packed church hall last night Friday evening. (A meeting which was attended by yours truly.) It was a very informative book overview lasting about ninety munutes -part of which included a question and answer period from the audience...

As longtime readers of this weblog know, I have a certain affinity for originality in thought.[...] However, this cannot be originality for its own sake as uncritical change for change's sake creates a climate in which logic and reason cannot fruitfully flourish. No my friends, genuine originality must consist mainly in the re-presentation of timeless truths or principles in ways that will make them easier for the modern mind to assimulate and be able to put into action...

I recommend highly that you go see her live if you can and also, buy this book. It will hopefully be the spearhead of a debate subject that needs to be waged in the public arena. As I noted earlier in the week, someone such as myself would be in very hot water to discuss the subject she has written on most recently. But that is not to say that Michelle is going to miss a media lynching of her own.[...] No, what she will go through is par for the course when you dare to challenge the "established orthodoxy" on any issue. That is when those who whine about being "tolerant" and how we all should be "tolerant" of others become amazingly intolerant themselves.

Michelle also displays the kind of integrity that goes with a genuine thinker on issues. I say this because a thinker when presented with evidences that require a paradigm shift in their outlook (at least in part) is faithful to their conscience even at the risk of public disparagement on issues not viewed as "politically correct." In Michelle's case, she went from opposing the internment concept (as recently as the year 2000) to supporting the concept (if not all of the particulars) after studying the issue with (one would presume) reasonable depth and (without a doubt) reflection upon the multiple nuances that go into this position.

It is much harder to actually think for oneself and much easier to simply accept what so-called "conventional wisdom" says on whatever the subject is... [Excerpts from Rerum Novarum (circa August 9, 2004)]

I also took the occasion of the attacks made on her at the time by those who acted in the fashion I denounced above to set out a comprehensive (albeit not exhaustive) defense of her theory on internment during WWII. And while I still have not read her book on the subject, the above thread suffices to show that those who attempt to refute a work (or a proposed theory) which they have not carefully read up on are bound to make rookie mistakes which are easily confutable by someone moderately versed in such things as reason and logic.{8} Moving on from a defense of Michelle Malkin to the subject of the defenseless (the unborn) we have this entry.

FANTASIES OF MURDER, INC.

What does Planned Parenthood dream about when it believes no one who isn't in lockstep with them is watching? Decapitating and blowing up pro-lifers. Really. And they like the fantasy so much they made an 8-minute cartoon about it.

Now ask yourself, why would Planned Parenthood make a cartoon glorifying abortion and pushing violence against pro-lifers? What's the market they hope this cartoon about an aborting, condom-slinging superheroine reaches?

Children. Of course.

Planned Parenthood is one of a handful of groups holding the keys to everything the Democrats say and do--others include People for the American Way, NARAL and the ACLU. And they're marketing a murder fantasy video to kids--the ones who escape Planned Parenthood's original revenue-generating plans for them, anyway.

Sickening. [LINK]

Indeed. It is yet another exposure of the face of evil -something that we need to be reminded of from time to time does exist despite the attempts of society to assert in various and sundry ways otherwise. Indeed, to continue along the thread of evil, that brings us to the ACLU and this tidbit about evil and corruption...

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT FUNDS THE ACLU?

Stop the ACLU! blog has what looks to be a bombshell--the Florida Supreme Court is using funds from a foundation set up to assist the poor to fund the state's ACLU:

Between 1990 and 1997, the Florida Bar Foundation (FBF), a creation of the Florida Supreme Court, provided more than $600,000 to help pay the salary of the ACLU of Florida’s legal director.

---

This is no bigger a conflict of interest than President Clinton appointing former ACLU lead counsel Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the US Supreme Court. As much as the Democrats have tried to make hay of the "advise and consent" clause of the Constitution, it was originally intended to prevent nominees such as Ginsberg from being appointed to courts -particularly the Supreme Court. But that is a subject for another time perhaps and it is not as if I have been remiss in discussing it on this weblog before.{9}


In 1981, in an effort to increase the level of funding for the Foundation, the Florida High Court adopted the nation’s first IOTA (interest on trust account) program. Under the IOTA program, all monies that change hands via an attorney (i.e. home purchases, lawsuit awards, probate accounts, divorce settlements, etc.) are to be temporarily deposited in a pooled interest-bearing account. Chances are: If you settled a lawsuit, inherited money, or bought a home during the 1990’s, you probably helped to fund the radical agenda of the ACLU of Florida.

I would be interested in someone explaining to me how this is any different than the so-called "protection" that Guido and his associates offer to sell business owners in certain locales if you know what I mean...

More here.

MORE: Here's another example of liberals stealing from the less rich to keep their own rich swimming in cash. Kos, the Florida ACLU, Air Scam-erica...all taking things that don't belong to them. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

Of course, liberals never mind taking things that don't belong to them in the form of confiscatory taxes and redistributionist policies, so I probably shouldn't be too surprised to see it happening on smaller scales.

(via Michelle Malkin) [LINK]

And of course those are the same people and groups who whine incessantly against "corporate welfare." A word comes to mind to describe them....oh yes....hypocrites!!! Moving from annoying liberals to sports, we have the following thread to consider...

THE MOST ANNOYING SPORTS

An interesting take on sports in general...and while I could take issue with some of what Bryan says on certain sports, for the time being, I will simply move onto the next installment...

…I'VE BEEN LIVING AWAY FROM THE BLOGS TODAY, but this post at Michelle Malkin's is sad if true--Cindy Sheehan's husband may be filing for divorce. That Cindy Sheehan has been used as what amounts to a prop in a political theatre road show to the extent she has--whether or not the divorce story pans out--is tragic. Yet it fits the leftist pattern.

Michelle updated that thread and posted an AP confirmation on the matter. Oh and for those who want to claim I am a month behind with some of this stuff, I remind you that this post was originally going to be put up on or around August 20th but due to certain situations absorbing virtually all of my available freetime at the time and for a while afterwards (see footnote seven), this posting was a few weeks late being posted. For that reason, I have extended the thread past 8/20 to make the update more complete.

Like it or not, August is a great month to stage the kind of nonsensical, over the top protest that Sheehan has wrapped herself in. She may not realize it, but her new friends certainly do. Recall that it was a year ago this month that double amputee Max Cleland rolled up to the ranch in Crawford demanding to present President Bush with a letter about the Swiftvets. The letter asked the president to slam the Swifties for exposing Kerry for the fraud he is, but it made great political theatre because you had this wounded vet trying to arrange a meeting with a wartime president about that earlier war, the one the president didn't fight in. In Sheehan's case you have the obviously distraught, possibly now mentally ill, mother of a slain soldier in the war so many on the left believe Bush started for some shadowy reason trying to arrange a meeting with the president about that war and why her son died in it. Never mind she already met with him, and never mind she has changed her story about that meeting. It all makes great theatre.

Well, we will have the confirmation hearings soon have the confirmation hearings now which fill in the lacuna that happened (and is par for the course) in the dog days of August.

I don't blame her for quite a bit of what's going on around her. These people who have surrounded her are I'm sure treating her like a queen, like every word she says carries some special weight, whether she actually makes any sense at all or not. But they're not doing it because they care about her. They're doing it because she's useful, and with every incendiary charge she generates a headline, and these people don't care that each new charge also makes her look like a raving loon. She's useful just like Max Cleland was useful. Once they're done with Sheehan they'll toss her out just like they did Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe, all those years ago. [Preceded and Continued…]

I noted a similar view of the situation in a weblog posting from last month so I need not repeat it here. Moving from Sheehan to Able Danger we have the following tidbit...

THE ABLE DANGER ENABLERS

I was all set to write a big post outlining what this weekend's shifts in the Able Danger story mean, and what they don't mean, but I made the mistake of going over to The Corner. There, Andy McCarthy has written the perfect rebuttal to the 9-11 commission's rebuttal. I can't add much to it, so I'm just going to link it.

One thing I can add is that the commission's story re Able Danger has changed several times, and that needs to be accounted for. At first, commissioners denied ever hearing about Able Danger. Then, when that denial fell apart, they said it wasn't historically significant and they gave us a reason for it--that their Atta timeline didn't match the Able Danger Atta timeline, so they dismissed it. Now the story is that Able Danger may not have mentioned Atta all. Does this make sense to you? If Atta wasn't mentioned at all, then how did the commission know the timelines didn't match up? And why the initial denial? There's still something very odd about the commission's behavior. And it's entirely inappropriate for them to have essentially buried Able Danger by omitting even footnoting AD's existence and work and then simply archiving whatever it was that the AD briefers delivered to the commission staff. That did a disservice to future investigators in that it sealed off what might some day (soon?) prove to be a promising pre-9-11 lead in understanding why the dots weren't connected--an understanding which, if I recall correctly, was part of the commission's original mandate. Not going on Crossfire. Not touring the country to promote their report. Not publishing op-eds in the middle of the commission's investigation, as Gorelick did, to rebut the testimony of witnesses delivered under oath. They were supposed to find out why the dots weren't connected, and in omitting Able Danger, they probably made that basic task impossible to perform completely. The basic question remains relevant--Why? [Continued...]

I surmize that it is because the existence of Able Danger and its coverup will prove to be a huge black mark on the previous administration. And in light of Hillary's longtime designs on the presidency, Able Danger would not be a benefit to her cause to put it mildly. Meanwhile, we have yet more chemical weapons stashes being found in Iraq so let us touch on that next...

CHEM WEAPONS STASH FOUND IN IRAQ

The terrorists apparently planned to use it commit yet another atrocity:

BAGHDAD, Aug. 13 -- U.S. troops raiding a warehouse in the northern city of Mosul uncovered a suspected chemical weapons factory containing 1,500 gallons of chemicals believed destined for attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces and civilians, military officials said Saturday.

Monday's early morning raid found 11 precursor agents, "some of them quite dangerous by themselves," a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, said in Baghdad.

Materials found in a warehouse in Mosul could yield an agent capable of "lingering hazards" for those exposed to it, according to a U.S. military spokesman. He said the lab was relatively new, dating from some time after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. (Photos By Department Of Defense)

Combined, the chemicals would yield an agent capable of "lingering hazards" for those exposed to it, Boylan said. The likely targets would have been "coalition and Iraqi security forces, and Iraqi civilians," partly because the chemicals would be difficult to keep from spreading over a wide area, he said.

The lab was apparently built after the 2003 invasion, but it's fair to say that it took some WMD expertise to build it. So the question is, whose expertise? [LINK]

Well now!!! Readers who have followed this weblog for a long time are aware that I never in the entire subject of the war in Iraq -even from the earliest of the postings where I took an unequivocal position in favour of the utilization of the military option there to the more immediate post war period and beyond to the present time- placed any of my eggs in the WMD basket. For those who wondered about my reasons for this, you now have some of them. In light of how many commentators are tossed to and fro with whatever the immediate media zeitgeist happens to say, it does not hurt on occasion to point to the very solid trackrecord of your weblog host and how often he has avoided falling into those traps. But enough self-high-fives and onto yet another example of intolerance from the "more 'tolerant' than thou" brigade...

SO

I finally get around to reading this tripe, and all I can say is "John Cole, it was nice knowing you." Like many, many bloggers you have no understanding of the relevance of one fact to another, no mind to assemble facts into a coherent post and you often see fit to string together obscenities rather than thoughts and ideas.

Do you actually think Michelle Malkin deserves all of the racist and misogynistic garbage that's thrown her way every day by the left? You wrote that she deserves it--do you believe that? If not, do what you ordered Michelle to do--take down your post and apologize. Now. If you do believe it, you need help.

Do you actually think you've been fair to her, when half a dozen actual news outlets posted the same story she reported--the one about the Sheehan divorce that got you so hot and bothered? And do you see no relevance to the Sheehan saga, a saga based on family connections, when the family involved is dissolving because they don't agree on what is being done to Casey Sheehan posthumously? Does a grieving father have any less right than a grieving mother to make his opinion known? Does Mr. Sheehan have to stand by and watch his son's name and heroism turned into a prop for MoveOn, CodePink and other assorted leftwing nutjobs? Does he have to stand by silently while his wife figuratively hangs their precious son's body from a tree in Crawford?

Sheehan made her family life fair game when she made her family connection to a fallen soldier her calling card. She has become a media celebrity by flogging her dead son. Her husband evidently sees that, and disagrees with her behavior. That they're divorcing is sad, but that Cole thinks it's now fair to abuse a blogger for reporting the divorce is just unhinged.

COLE APOLOGIZES. Good for him. Lesson from this fiasco--think before pushing the "Publish" button. It'll save everyone a ton of grief and embarassment. [LINK]

Indeed, those who are hasty with the publish button on weblogs tend to find themselves in embarrassing predicaments with a frequency directly proportional to their propensity towards hastiness in public commenting.

WHAT A WASTE OF TIME

Victor Davis Hanson will debate U.S. Foreign Policy with Arianna Huffington. If that harpy stays true to form, the debate will go something like this:

HANSON: Now Mrs. Huffington, your friend Cindy Sheehan has called President Bush "the world's biggest terrorist" while also calling the insurgentst in Iraq, whose crimes include driving bombs into crowds of Iraqi children, "freedom fighters." Is that your position as well?

HUFFINGTON: Let me tell you, dahling, that as a mother Cindy has the absolutel moral authority to speak. She has the freedom to speak. And she must be heard.

HANSON: But again, if I may, do you agree with Sheehan's characterization of the insurgents as "freedom fighters?"

HUFFINGTON: This President's lies took us to war! It is about time we heard an authentic voice, grounded in real moral clarity, speak the truth to this criminal administration and its horrible policies.

HANSON: Could you just answer the question?

MODERATOR: I'm afraid your time is up, Dr. Hanson. Your question, Mrs. Huffington.

This is looking a lot like de ja vu all over to me...{10}

Ad nauseum. That's nearly a word-for-word exchange that took place on Hannity today--him trying in vain to get her to answer a simple question, her letting those questions pass between her ears as she lurched from one idiotic talking point to another. I kept urging Hannity to just hang up on her, ban her from his show for life, etc, but of course I was only talking to myself. And he kept her on the show and let her keep spouting enemy bullet points and nonsense.

That's pretty much how the Hanson debate will go too. And it's a shame, really, that a real scholar such as Hanson has to debate someone whose sole qualification to opine is the fact that she's rich beyond most people's wildest dreams. She has no actual qualifications, just opinions. And money.

Factoring out the issues of money and qualifications, what it boils down to is that Ms. Huffington reiterated unsubstantiated assertions over and over again as if that constituted a viable argument. Though it should be self-evident that this approach is fallacious to no small degree; unfortunately, many people fall for it -even at times those who should know better (See my previous comments for a footnoted example of this.)

The debate is September 14 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Blue state. No matter who says what, the audience will come away feeling that she won the dumb thing.

(via Ace) [LINK]

That is what happens when symbolism and style are considered more important than the substance of ideas defended by actual arguments. But I digress...

WELDON DONS POKER FACE: ALL IN

When the Able Danger saga is done, Curt Weldon will deserve one of two things: a Congressional Medal of Freedom for his courage, or a straight jacket for his lunacy. There really isn't a middle ground for a man who says what he is now saying:

Rep. Curt Weldon predicted yesterday that members of the 9/11 Commission would have "egg all over their face[s]" when the truth comes out about briefings they received on an elite group of military intelligence analysts code named Able Danger.

"The 9/11 Commission is trying to spin this because they're embarrassed at what's coming out," Weldon told the Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" morning show.

"In two weeks with two staffers, I've uncovered more in this regard than they did with 80 staffers and $15 million of taxpayers' money!"

The Pennsylvania Republican said the truth would come out in hearings planned for this fall:

"This information will ultimately end up in a hearing. Senator Specter is preparing a hearing in the judiciary committee. I talked to Speaker Hastert yesterday on the House side. We will bring people in under oath, and they will swear and they will answer the questions."

Weldon also blasted Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita for repeatedly claiming he can't find any evidence to back up claims from Able Danger team members that they had identified lead 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta two years before the attacks.

Weldon said he told Di Rita: "Larry, don't ever go on national TV again and say what you said, when I know that [Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence] Steve Cambone is right now going through four boxes of materials."

"There's something very sinister that's going on here that really troubles me," Weldon complained.

And Weldon seems to be promising more to come. He just keeps putting up when shutting up would be the wise thing to do, if he doesn't actually have a there there. In poker terms, he has pushed all of his chips into the center of the table and is awaiting the skeptics' call or fold. You only do that when have a sure winning hand--or when you're bluffing mightily hoping to intimidate your opponent into folding his superior hand. But if Weldon is bluffing, so are two high-ranking military officers. Their motive, if they're not telling the truth, remains a mystery. Mac tried smearing them a couple weeks ago, but that went nowhere.

And the Pentagon remains bland, as predicted here. Its poker face betrays no hint of what's in its hand--yet. [LINK]

As I have noted in private correspondence to a few individuals, what he has done (in writing a book about Able Danger and 9/11) and what he is saying (in promoting his book on the various media curcuits), Rep. Curt Weldon has taken quite a gamble here. Bryan is right about him essentially going "all in" with what he is doing (to use a Texas hold'em expression) in that if he is called and does not produce the cards, he will be finished politically. However, if he can deliver on what he says he can, then his prestige will increase. In fact, if the latter proves to be true, look for Rep. Weldon to become a Republican darkhorse candidate for the presidency in 2008 (whether he wants it or not). My money is on Weldon's gamble paying off because generally speaking people do not make public stances like this unless they can deliver. Moving from Able Danger to the Iraqi body count issue, we have the following from Bryan's associate Chris Regan...

IRAQ BODY COUNT FRAUD CONTINUES

It started here. But now it's another day, another anti-war canard from the left.

I am not surprised since chemical weapons contraband and weapons system material have been found before in Iraq. But then again, do not expect the MSM to move from their policy of ignoring this kind of data in order to continue the propaganda on the WMD issue. I remind you all of what they did to David Kay's report in early 2004 and how the Duelfer Report has been misunderstood to no small degree in certain circles.

The DailyKos and other left-wing bloggers are featuring the map below (from the invaluable website icasualties.org) in an attempt to make a point about the deaths of U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq. The point is not entirely clear, but Kos appears to be suggesting that areas that voted for John Kerry in the last election have suffered more deaths in the war than areas that voted for George W. Bush -- hence, the blue areas are more patriotic than the red.

IIt appears to be a wildly invalid point in many ways. To take just one example, the casualties map also resembles a map of the concentration of the U.S. population; it's no surprise they would be similar.

Btw, this is the same argumentation fallacy used by the liberals to posit that "states with higher IQ's voted for Kerry" in 2004. I have explained the fallacies in that presumption before and do not have time to reiterate them here. I will however note the latter points briefly here and those who want to try and call me on it can feel free to if they are so inclined.

I guess it's an attempt to assure us that Democrats in general now have the "absolute moral authority" to speak out in solidarity with Cindy Sheehan in favor of the "freedom fighters" who killed her son and against da Jooos, the Bush criminal syndicate and his secret nuclear genocide of civilians in Iraq. Because that's what being patriotic is all about, right?

Um, sure I suppose (not!!!)...

In response:

A reader has posted a chart of American servicemen and women deaths in Iraq ranked by deaths per 100,000 population by state. For what it is worth, eight of the ten states with the highest death rates are red (although the state with the greatest loss is very-blue Vermont). In general, and with some notable exceptions, red states tend to be in the top half of the list, with blue states nearer the bottom.

That does not surprise me but I am pleased nonetheless to see that someone is refusing to accept uncritically these kinds of misrepresentations. The are after all put forward by various sources who are desparate to appear "patriotic" in light of their pattern of seditious behaviour in recent years.

And for even more context on the MSM-left's Iraq death count fetish, Powerline has a great post:

We are conducting an experiment never before seen, as far as I know, in the history of the human race. We are trying to fight a war under the auspices of an establishment that is determined--to put the most charitable face on it--to emphasize American casualties over all other information about the war.

Without question. Some have even opined that we are essentially in a situation where we either fight the terrorist factions of extremist Islam or we as a civilization will be will be delenda est. I cannot say that I disagree with this position from at least a macro sense -something that has been outlined at this weblog several times before (albeit mostly in an audiopost format).{11} But that is neither here nor there.

...Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.

That's right: all through the years when hardly anyone was paying attention, soldiers, sailors and Marines were dying in accidents, training and otherwise, at nearly twice the rate of combat deaths in Iraq from the start of the war in 2003 to the present. Somehow, though, when there was no political hay to be made, I don't recall any great outcry, or gleeful reporting, or erecting of crosses in the President's home town. In fact, I'll offer a free six-pack to the first person who can find evidence that any liberal expressed concern--any concern--about the 18,006 American service members who died accidentally in service of their country from 1983 to 1996.

The point? Being a soldier is not safe, and never will be. Driving in my car this afternoon, I heard a mainstream media reporter say that around 2,000 service men and women have died in Afghanistan and Iraq "on President Bush's watch." As though the job of the Commander in Chief were to make the jobs of our soldiers safe. They're not safe, and they never will be safe, in peacetime, let alone wartime.

What is the President's responsibility? To expend our most precious resources only when necessary, in service of the national interest. We would all prefer that our soldiers never be required to fight. Everyone--most of all, every politician--much prefers peace to war. But when our enemies fly airplanes into our skyscrapers; attack the nerve center of our armed forces; bomb our embassies; scheme to blow up our commercial airliners; try to assassinate our former President; do their best to shoot down our military aircraft; murder our citizens; assassinate our diplomats overseas; and attack our naval vessels--well, then, the time has come to fight. And when the time comes to fight, our military personnel are ready. They don't ask to be preserved from all danger. They know their job is dangerous; they knew that when they signed up. They are prepared to face the risk, on our behalf. All they ask is to be allowed to win.

It is, I think, a reasonable request. It's the least that we--all Americans, including reporters and editors--can do.

But instead, these brave men and women are being nagged out of Iraq prematurely by the MSM-left's Nag-in-Chief and her gaggle of nagging supporters so the real torture and killing of civilians can safely take place once again. [Continued...]

Well said Chris!!!

MAJOR AL QAEDA FIGURE ARRESTED

The Turkish police have apprehended Luai Sakra, a Syrian who once headed up an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and is a close confidant of Zarqawi. He also gave logistical support to 9-11, and apparently knew about the London bombings beforehand:

The Turkish interrogators in Istanbul's high-security prison wanted to be polite; they wanted to show respect for Islam. They offered their prisoner, an Islamist named Luai Sakra, 31, a chance to pray during a pause in questioning.

They'd done the same thing with earlier suspects. The move was supposed to establish trust.

But this prisoner reacted a bit differently. "I don't pray," Sakra answered politely, "and I like alcohol." When the baffled officials didn't want to believe him, he elaborated: "Especially whiskey and wine."

Meanwhile, certain persons I will not name are probably mouthing the words "told'ja" when reading this (as some I have dialogued on these matters with have made arguments which the above example supports)...

It wasn't the only surprise the Syrian-born suspect presented to investigators. Turkish anti-terror officials held the suspected al-Qaida member for four days. Just after his arrest two weeks ago, Sakra admitted to planning strikes against Israeli cruise ships; he hoarded 750 kilograms of explosives for the purpose. When some of those explosives went up in flames in his Antalya apartment, he fled.

What Sakra told officials during his interrogation suggests a deep jihadist career. The Syrian, who knows weapons as well as he knows his whiskey and wine, has obviously played a far more important role in the terrorist underground than officials first suspected. According to his own testimony, he knew about the London bombings before they happened, and supported the pilots on 9/11.

"I was one of the people who knew the 9/11 perpetrators," Sakra reportedly said in passing during the interrogation, "and I knew the plans and times beforehand." He claims to have provided the pilots with passports and money.

These details, if true, close some gaps in the narrative of the worst terrorist assaults in history -- and they raise a question which German investigators have wrestled with in past week: Did Sakra -- who lived from September 2000 to July 2001 with his wife and two small children as an asylum-seeker in the southern town of Schramberg -- work with anyone else in Germany? Are there any unknown contacts still out there who know what he knows?

Western investigators accept Sakra's claims, by and large, since they coincide with known facts. On September 10, 2001, he tipped off the Syrian secret service -- which had chased him since 1999 for his role in a revolt in a Lebanon refugee camp -- that terrorist attacks were about to occur in the United States. The evidently well-informed al-Qaida insider even named buildings as targets, and airplanes as weapons. The Syrians passed on this information to the CIA -- but only after the attacks.

See my earlier comments on Syria...

Sakra has also apparently taken part in combat in Fallujah and caliphascist beheadings inside Iraq:

A video allegedly recorded in Fallujah played an important role for Turkish investigators: Sakra boasted to an Istanbul magistrate that he'd attended the execution of a kidnapped Turkish truck driver in Iraq.

The video shows the death of driver Murat Yüce in August 2004, at the hands of armed, masked fighters for Zarqawi. Sakra gave a running commentary with a slight smile and no remorse: "Look, now they'll cut off his head. Soon they'll take that pistol off the table, so the blood won't ruin it." And, like a ballistics expert: "Blood wrecks the insides of a pistol."

He was picked up by the Turkish MIT several times in 2000 and 2001, including once in August 2001. The story says that the CIA tried buying Sakra into becoming an informant within al Qaeda in 2000, but given his bloody history that wouldn't have sat well with the Clinton ethos of the time, which forbade our intel agencies from dealing with anyone with blood on their hands. [LINK]

Those who have forgotten why we are militarily in the Middle East currently, let us hope the above serves to put another face on the enemies we are fighting. But since I sense that there are still some very confused people on the war (as a result of MSM propaganda), let us dwell a bit more on the war with this bit from Christopher Hitchens (via Bryan Preston)...

A WAR TO BE PROUD OF

This may be the best column Christopher Hitchens has ever written. It makes the best case yet for the Iraq theater of the war, answers many questions and does much of the rhetorical spadework that the Bush administration seems incapable of doing for itself:

LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."

I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner? And where should one begin?

With a blast at Sen. Kennedy for saying that Abu Ghraib is simply Saddam's old torture chamber under new management? That would be a good place to start if you asked me.

The only speech by any statesman that can bear reprinting from that low, dishonest decade [the 1990s, pogroms and genocides of which by Hitchens chronicled in preceeding paragraphs] came from Tony Blair when he spoke in Chicago in 1999. Welcoming the defeat and overthrow of Milosevic after the Kosovo intervention, he warned against any self-satisfaction and drew attention to an inescapable confrontation that was coming with Saddam Hussein. So far from being an American "poodle," as his taunting and ignorant foes like to sneer, Blair had in fact leaned on Clinton over Kosovo and was insisting on the importance of Iraq while George Bush was still an isolationist governor of Texas.

He goes on to take on, one more time, the main anti-war canards:

Childishness is one thing--those of us who grew up on this wonderful Edwardian author were always happy to see the grown-ups and governesses discomfited. But puerility in adults is quite another thing, and considerably less charming. "You said there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam had friends in al Qaeda. . . . Blah, blah, pants on fire." I have had many opportunities to tire of this mantra. It takes ten seconds to intone the said mantra. It would take me, on my most eloquent C-SPAN day, at the very least five minutes to say that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center attack in 1993, subsequently sought and found refuge in Baghdad; that Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, Saddam's senior physicist, was able to lead American soldiers to nuclear centrifuge parts and a blueprint for a complete centrifuge (the crown jewel of nuclear physics) buried on the orders of Qusay Hussein; that Saddam's agents were in Damascus as late as February 2003, negotiating to purchase missiles off the shelf from North Korea; or that Rolf Ekeus, the great Swedish socialist who founded the inspection process in Iraq after 1991, has told me for the record that he was offered a $2 million bribe in a face-to-face meeting with Tariq Aziz. And these eye-catching examples would by no means exhaust my repertoire, or empty my quiver.

So why isn't the Bush administration making its case effectively?

I do in fact know the answer to this question. So deep and bitter is the split within official Washington, most especially between the Defense Department and the CIA, that any claim made by the former has been undermined by leaks from the latter. (The latter being those who maintained, with a combination of dogmatism and cowardice not seen since Lincoln had to fire General McClellan, that Saddam Hussein was both a "secular" actor and--this is the really rich bit--a rational and calculating one.)

Very, very true. And ironically, it's DoD that finds itself under scrutiny over Able Danger while the CIA dances away from responsibility once again.

Hitch finishes with a positive accounting of what the Iraq campaign has won us:

(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.

(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.

(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)

(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.

(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.

(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.

(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.

(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.

All true, and most are things leftwing human rights advocates should favor, if they actually favored human rights. But they and their grassroots toadies are apparently more interested in attacking Western values and elevating partisanship well above any affection they might have for their nations. They do this at the expense of the rest of us, and to the benefit of the terrorists. Whether that's their intent or not, declaring al Qaeda terrorists "Minutemen" and "freedom fighters" inevitably helps them and hurts our troops.

Read the whole column. It's Hitch at his best. [LINK]

Yes, once readers are through with the post from yours truly, I definitely recommend reading the above article in full. Hitchens is hit and miss as I have noted before{12} but on this one he is perhaps more on target than I can ever recall him being. His grasp of the complex vissitudes that go into the geopolitical landscape as noted in the article is quite excellent. And this is of no small factor when you consider something I have noted before viz. how complex and interwoven that geopolitical subject matter can often be. Let us consider a few more brief bits and then wrap up this "mother of all JYB update threads" starting with a revisiting of the Able Danger subject yet again...

ABLE DANGER ONE-STOP

N.Z. Bear has a cool one-stop for all things Able Danger.

Sweet!!!

I have a piece in the works reacting to the NY Post's article that suggested Able Danger was spiked because of its "spying" on Condi Rice, among others.

Suffice it to say that in scientific terms, pinging false positives was no reason by itself to kill Able Danger. Suffice it also to say that using public data to unearth possible connections and linkages isn't "spying," as the Post's headline declares. There are other activities that do fit the definition of domestic spying, and of which the Clinton administration was guilty, that suggest that that administration wasn't shy about looking into the lives of its political opponents.[LINK]

Moving from Able Danger to the 9/11 commission we have this tidbit...

SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL

Stephen Hayes is asking some tough questions of the 9-11 commission, such as "Why did the commission's final report omit the fact that a handful of Iraqis have been definitively tied to both the 1993 WTC attack and 9-11?" And "Since at least one of those Iraqis had known ties to Saddam's intelligence agency, weren't their ties to 9-11 relevant to assessing whether Saddam was involved in 9-11?" [LINK]

Hopefully, the oft-reiterated "no connection between Iraq and Al Queda" canard{13} will receive yet another nail in its coffin after this one.

WELDON ADDS ANOTHER WRINKLE TO ABLE DANGER

Hoo-boy:

Congressman Curt Weldon (R - Pennsylvania) gave another exclusive interview to Dom Giordano this evening (Monday) and broke the news that he will be giving a speech on September 8th (next Monday) during which he will present yet another 'Able Danger' witness. This new witness will attest (and will swear under oath when called) that he was "ordered to destroy records" relating to the 'Able Danger' program.

This is huge my friends!!! See what I noted earlier in this post about Rep. Weldon...I reiterate those words anew at this time...

This order to destroy the records occurred prior to 9-11-01. Weldon intimated that it happened during the Clinton Administration.

This could be the death knell for Hillary's presidential aspirations in 2008...

The witness, who Weldon did not name, says that he was ordered to destroy records and was threatened with jail if he failed to comply. Weldon said that he has the names of the people involved, including the person who gave the order, and HE WILL NAME THEM in his speech.

Weldon added that he's working with Sen. Arlen Spector, whose Judiciary Committee plans to conduct Able Danger hearings this fall.

(thanks to Chris) [LINK]

There is more to the article which I want to post here for the easier absorption for the readers:

Curt Weldon is like a pit bull on a steak. He expressed disgust with the "incompetence" of the 9-11 Commission and said that the victims of the 9-11 terror attacks deserve answers. Weldon is determined to see that they get them.

Weldon did express confidence in Tim Roehmer and John Lehman and speculated that perhaps the poor job done by the Commission was the result of an incompetent staff. Weldon sounded amazed and disappointed that so much important information was either glossed over or swept under the rug by the Commission.

Weldon will give his September 8th speech either to the National Press Club or to a "9-11 families" group which has asked him to speak. He apparently hasn't nailed down the exact venue yet.

It would seem that Hurricane Katrina has gotten in the way of that speech being delivered. Nonetheless, I hope it is delivered within the month.{14} Finally, we come to the New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina subject with the following thread...

LOCAL SCREWUP: BUS-TED! **lots of updates, scroll down

I found the following concluding paragraph to be particularly telling:

If you're keeping track, these boobs let 569 buses that could have carried 33,350 people out of New Orleans--in one trip--get ruined in the floods. Whatever plan these guys had, it was a dud. Or it probably would have been if they'd bothered to follow it.

You read that right folks: 569 buses which could have been used for evacuation could have made three trips apiece and evacuated over 100,000 people out of the city...particularly those who had no other means for getting out of New Orleans. Those who want to pin this on the federal government need to look further down on the governmental chain and start with local, city, county, and state governments. But then again, considering the party who has predominated in control of those governments for decades on end, there is a reason certain ideologues are trying to pin this on the Bush Administration. Which is not to say that President Bush handled himself properly in this catastrophe but those who want to gripe on the specks in his eyes need to get a hydraulic picker to remove the logs in their own eyes first.

And while I could say a lot more on that subject, this thread is long enough so I leave you with another thread from my friend Greg Mockeridge on the subject of subsidiarity. It highlights what the real problems in the disasterous reaction to Hurricane Katrina were and is well worth reading for more information on that subject matter.

Notes:

{1} I had a phone conversation on Sunday night with a friend who frequently reads this humble weblog. Within that conversation, the subject of the 2006 elections came up and I outlined a strategy for those elections which included a "recess appointment" for John Bolton. It is nice to see that the Bush Administration is actually considering this option because politically it is a very savvy move. For those who know their history, political savvy is going to be needed in much greater supply than normal in the next year and a half. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 21, 2005)]

{2} Briefly on the Karl Rove Situation (circa June 14, 2005)

{3} Things could have been different of course. For example, Felt could have quit his job in protest at the time and from that standpoint become an informant for Woodward and Bernstein. There would have been no moral ties binding him to secrecy in that situation and he would have actually been rightfully seen as a hero in that scenario. But he was no hero for what he decided to do because heroism requires sacrifices. And quitting the FBI when he was the number two man there -and in the aftermath of J. Edgar Hoover's death in May of 1972 which provided a possibility for career advancement- would have been quite the sacrifice to make. But Mr. Felt did not do this and instead chose the route of dishonour. And those who celebrate him today celebrate that dishonour. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa June 1, 2005)]

{4} [M]y friend, with all due respect, you are not engaging in dialogue on this subject yet. Instead, you are merely making assertions and stating names of people who agree with you. That is a fallacious approach to argumentation of no small import...

[P]osting names of people who disagree...and not considering the sitz im leben in the process- along with posting pictures to try and draw on the emotions of readers is not achieving that. In your other use of sources, you are heavily positing conclusions of others but conclusions and opinions are not what should be our concern here. It is the arguments advanced by said parties that is the issue.

I have put forth a theory[...] on this matter and it deserves interaction. Thus far, you have not done that in a fashion befitting a viable counter-theory...You have not put together cogent arguments yet but instead have merely quoted persons and opinions. I am afraid that will not do my friend...not by a long shot. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 28, 2005)]

{5} To note some examples from my weblog archives where the subject of the intolerance of so-called "tolerant" sorts were discussed, here are four brief examples starting with this one::

[T]hose who have discussed the Supreme Court issue with me privately -either by email or by phone- know that I laid out an elaborate strategery which would reveal the more extremist of the Democrats for the intolerant and closed-minded racists and demagogues that they really are. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa July 20, 2005)]

Then there is this one:

The applicable argumentation fallacy here is that of suppressed evidence. There is a reason why in a recent controversy this writer drew attention more than once to the issue of ideologues and Bill Moyer's statement that "Ideologues embrace a worldview that cannot be changed because they admit no evidence to the contrary." The reason should be obvious but in case it is not, the reason is that ideologues maintain their dogmatic assertions by suppressing or ignoring any evidences that countenance an opposing point of view.

It should also be self-evident that not all evidences are of equal weight but to make proper discernments requires usage of reason and logic: tools often ignored by those with ideology-driven agendas. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 17, 2005)]

And this one:

Obviously when such people claim this but by their statements manifest an ignorance of the deeper issues involved... then of course I am not going to meekly interact with their (often very dogmatic) assertions by any stretch. No, in such instances I will take the wrecking ball to them metaphorically speaking. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 21, 2004)]

And this one:

As I noted earlier in the week, someone such as myself would be in very hot water to discuss the subject she has written on most recently. But that is not to say that Michelle is going to miss a media lynching of her own.[...] No, what she will go through is par for the course when you dare to challenge the "established orthodoxy" on any issue. That is when those who whine about being "tolerant" and how we all should be "tolerant" of others become amazingly intolerant themselves. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 9, 2004)]

{6} For those who would defend Jeff's fundamental rights [to faculties and production] and ignore Terri's [right to life] (read: "Libertarians" and "Capitalists" respectively here) would undermine not only Terri's rights but also Jeff's rights.[...] This is why Libertarianism is so patently self-defeating and why Capitalism separated from morality also contains the seeds of its own destruction. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 25, 2004)]

{7} Here are all the threads on this subject matter from August 17th to September 12th of this year:

On Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications (circa August 17, 2005)

Some Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (From Dr. Art Sippo circa August 18, 2005)

More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (From Tim Tull circa August 19, 2005)

Points to Ponder --On the Atomic Bombs and Their Usage (By Dr. Art Sippo circa August 22, 2005)

And Yet More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (circa August 25, 2005)

And More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (circa August 26, 2005)

And Yet Still More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontifications" Thread (circa August 26, 2005)

Expanding Futher on the Subject of Double Effect Viz. the Atomic Bombings (circa August 26, 2005)

Clarifying Some Additional Points on the Atomic Bombing Subject With Dave Armstrong (circa August 28, 2005)

"Armstrong Illusions" Dept. --Part I of II (circa September 6, 2005)

"Armstrong Illusions" Dept. --Part II of II (circa September 6, 2005)

Points to Ponder --On Appealing to Authority in Argumentation (circa September 9, 2005)

Briefly on Making a Valid Argument and Avoiding Argumentation Fallacies (circa September 11, 2005)

"Exit Stage Left" Dept. (circa September 12, 2005)

{8} And if they have a good working knowledge of WWII in general (as in the case of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum), it is even easier to dispatch with such inanities from those who want to play the history revisionist card than it would be for those who only have reason and logic as their tools for that endeavour.

{9} [T]he primary reason the advise and consent rule was made was to prevent conflicts of interest in the president's nominations particularly political patronage and nepotism.[...] The framers saw that giving the Senate a broader authority than this in the process would infringe on the authority of the executive branch and create the kind of imbalance in government that the framers strove to avoid at every turn. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 24, 2005)]

{10} See footnote seven.

{11} There have been problems with audioblogger for about three or four months now. I tried to record three or four postings in that time period which have not posted for some reason; ergo the reason there have been no new audiopostings in that time span.

{12} I do not always agree with Christopher Hitchens -indeed often we disagree- but when he is on, he is right down Main Street. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa May 21, 2005)]

{13} While I have not spoken often on this canard, it has been raised on occasion when the circumstances warranted it. Here are the relevant threads from the archives:

Miscellaneous Musings on Al Queda, Spain, John Kerry, Etc. (circa March 15, 2004)

"JunkYard BLOG" Dept. (circa June 17, 2004)

Briefly on Hanoi John Kerry, the First Debate, and What President Bush Needs to Do in the Second Debate (circa October 8, 2004)

On the War and Those Who Try To Hide From Their Past (circa June 30, 2005)

{14} In visiting Rep. Weldon's webpage, there is posted on the frontpage the text of a letter he sent to the following persons:

The Honorable Thomas H. Kean, Chairman
The Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chairman

9/11 Public Discourse Project
One DuPont Circle, NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036


Dear Chairman Kean and Vice Chairman Hamilton:

From there he has a lot stuff to say that the reader should peruse carefully. Of particular interest to me is whom Rep. Weldon cc'ed on the letter:

Richard Ben-Veniste
Fred F. Fielding
Jamie S. Gorelick
Slade Gorton
Bob Kerrey
John F. Lehman
Timothy J. Roemer
James R. Thompson
Dennis Hastert
Peter Hoekstra
Frank Wolf
Pat Roberts
Richard Shelby


For those not seeing the connection, most of those names are members of the 9/11 Commission. Let us hope that we can get to the bottom of this particularly if members of the 9/11 Commission fudged on the evidences for the sake of advancing hidden agendas.

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