Date ►►► July 31, 2008
Obama Campaign Selects Final Campaign Song
According to the International Herald Tribune, the Barack H. Obama campaign has finally selected its campaign song for the post-convention final stretch* up through the election on November 4th.
The song is intended to highlight recent Obama campaign themes debuted during the Obama Presidential Victory Lap through Iraq, Jordan, Israel, the Italian Riviera, Monte Carlo, and the Tour de France, and at the recent Unity Conference 2008, where the candidate spoke eloquently on global warming and the art of auto maintenance.
The new song replaces "Ready to Believe," which Obama has been abusing since February. The campaign released a video of the new song to YouTube. (For some obscure reason, Big Lizards is actually first with this scoop... all the other blogs must be snoozin'!)
Anyway, here is the song, such as it is:
* Though we hear through the grapevine they may hold off on this one until Guy Fawkes Day.
Obama: Don't Know Much About History, Biology - or Evidently, U.S. Currency
In my entire lifetime (not that long, for heaven's sake!), I have not seen a presidential candidate who ran a campaign so dirty, so vapid... and so ignorant of the ordinary characteristics of contemporary American culture and middle-school level history as Barack H. Obama is now running.
E.g.: Yesterday, Obama blatantly accused John S. McCain of plotting a racist campaign against him; today, Obama's campaign coyly pretended that wasn't what their fellow meant at all, at all.
But in the process, they made yet another ludicrous mistake, this time about currency, folding money, dollar bills -- one of the most common manufactured items ordinary people encounter every day, unless they are so out of touch with normal life that they have "people" to handle such distasteful things for them.
Here is Obama's original accusation (actually, prediction of a future accusation) with its painfuly obvious implication:
Stumping in an economically challenged battleground state, Obama argued Wednesday that President Bush and McCain will resort to scare tactics to maintain their hold on the White House because they have little else to offer voters. [They haven't done it yet, but I'm sure they're gonna!]
"Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said. "You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
Although the McCain camp initially declined to respond to Obama's race baiting, evidently the Obama campaign started getting a little nervous about what its boss had just said, in what was probably yet another junior-moment off the teleprompter. That same day, they got out front, aggressively and pugnaciously saying the cold-blooded prediction of upcoming racism had nothing to do with race:
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the senator was not referring to race.
"What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn't get here after spending decades in Washington," Gibbs said Thursday. "There is nothing more to this than the fact that he was describing that he was new to the political scene. He was referring to the fact that he didn't come into the race with the history of others. It is not about race."
Ah... so Obama only meant that he didn't "look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills" who got to the White House "after spending decades in Washington." All right, gentle readers, let's all open our wallets and take a look at those bills...
$1 bill -- George Washington: Washington -- our first president, for the benefit of Obama supporters -- was a surveyer and soldier; he first became active in politics in 1758, when he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses; but this is not "Washington," or even the equivalent of that day (which would be New York or Philadelphia)... it was more like a state legislature, though Virginia was still a royal colony.
In 1774, Washington was selected to be a Virginia delegate at the First Continental Congress, his first national position. But less than a year later, he was chosen to be Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. The war (that would be the Revolutionary War, for you Democrats) lasted until 1781; Washington retired from the Continental Army in 1783.
In 1787, he was sent by Virginia to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, at which he was elected president of the convention. Two years later, he was elected the first President of the United States by a unanimous vote of the electoral college.
Total time served in "Washington" (which wasn't yet Washington, obviously) prior to his election: Less than three years, or a year less than Barack H. Obama.
$2 bill -- Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson was a busy fellow, the president whose federal service came closest to meeting the ironic claim of Robert Gibbs that Obama referred only to the "decades in Washington" that " all those other presidents on the dollar bills" boasted before their presidential elections.
Jefferson was chosen as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress (one year), the Congress of the Confederation (one year), served as Secretary of State under George Washington for four years, and served as John Adams' vice president for four years.
Total time served in "Washington" prior to his election: ten years. Still a bit shy of "decades," though.
$5 bill -- Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois General Assembly in 1832; two years later, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1846... but he served only a single term, choosing not to stand for reelection after a fiery speech that was not well received.
Lincoln was nominated for the United States Senate in 1858, but he lost the election to Democratic incumbent Stephen Douglas. In 1860, he successfully ran for President of the United States (shortly to become the untied states).
Total time served in Washington prior to his election: A single two-year term in the House.
$10 bill -- Alexander Hamilton: First of all, Hamilton served for less than one year in the Congress of the Confederation (1782-3); he was Secretary of the Treasury for six years, giving him less than seven years in federal service.
But second, as I'm sure Obama and all of his supporters are well aware, Alexander Hamilton was never President of the United States. He was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. So I reckon he doesn't count.
$20 bill -- Andrew Jackson: Another general who became president, Jackson served in the U.S. House of Representatives (from Tennessee) for one year and in the Senate for less than a year. He was again elected senator twenty-four years later, in 1822. He ran for president in the election of 1824, then resigned from the Senate in 1825, following the "corrupt bargain" that brought John Quincy Adams to the White House, despite Jackson having a plurality of the electoral-college vote. Jackson was decisively elected president in 1828.
Total time served in Washington prior to his election: five years, spread across nearly thirty (two at the beginning, three at the end).
$50 bill -- Ulysses S. Grant: General. Civil War. President. He was elected three years after the war ended.
Total time served in Washington prior to his election: Um... that would be zero.
$100 bill -- Benjamin Franklin: I'm really, really, really certain that all those screaming Obama fans, who see him as the next Paris Hilton, are well aware, from their deep knowledge of history, that Benjamin Franklin was also never President of the United States, having inconveniently died in the middle of George Washington's first term. He also never served a day in federal service in the country; his only national office was ambassador to France.
Total time served in "Washington": also zero.
And that exhausts the list of current United States currency in general circulation.
There are some goofy bills only used by banks and suchlike:
- The $500 bill has William McKinley, who spent no time in Washington prior to his election;
- The $1,000 bill has Grover Cleveland, who also served no time in Washington before his presidency -- McKinley and Cleveland were both former governors;
- The $5,000 bill has James Madison, who was Secretary of State under Jefferson for eight years before becoming our fourth president;
- The $10,000 bill has Salmon P. Chase -- who served for 19 years in Washington, but was never president;
- And the $100,000 bill -- yes, there was such a thing -- has Woodrow Wilson... who also went directly to the presidency from a governorship.
Sadly, it appears that Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs is a bit bewitched, bothered, or bewildered about American history (and currency): Not a single United States President on any denomination of our currency served "decades in Washington" prior to his election. Not one! Not on any of the circulating currency; not on any of the bank bills... and not even any of the three non-presidents who grace our currency or bank bills. (The closest non-president is Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, with his nineteen years.)
I'm afraid that I must reluctantly conclude either that Barack Obama is completely ignorant of American folding money and/or American history... or else that he really did deal a race card off the bottom of the deck, after all.
But there is something to salvage here; there is definitely a sense in which Obama is totally unlike "all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
They all had great accomplishments in their lives prior to running for the presidency. They won wars, or served as governors, or passed significant legislation during their brief tenures in Congress. Even Abraham Lincoln, arguably the president who was closest, among our greats, to being a dark horse, during the 1850s -- and particularly because of his debates with Stephen Douglas during the senatorial election of 1858 -- was considered the foremost and most respected opponent of slavery in the immediate pre-war period, a towering national figure even without having held major elective office.
Barack H. Obama has a couple of speeches under his belt.
So in that sense, indeed yes; he doesn't look much like the presidents on American currency. And indeed yes again... he does have a funny name.
Date ►►► July 30, 2008
Congressional Dems: Some Branches Are More Equal Than Others
For months now, Democratic congressional leaders, such as Rep. John Conyers (D-MI, 100%) and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT, 95%), have declared Karl Rove to be in contempt of Congress. Now, had they accused him of having contempt for Congress, they might have a case; but if that is the standard, they will have to refer 82.7% of adult Americans to the U.S. Attorney (USA) for prosecution.
Apart from the laughability of Congress demanding that a USA appointed by President George W. Bush prosecute the chief advisor to George W. Bush, merely because Mr. Rove tweaked the Democrats' beards (Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Haight-Ashbury, shaves hers off), there is actually a serious question here. According to our constitution, our government comprises three branches: the Legislature (Congress), the Executive (President of the United States), and the Judiciary (Supreme Court and all inferior federal courts).
As the Founders designed it, all branches are created equal. But since the 2006 elections, the Democrats -- mimicking the pigs in the George Orwell book Animal Farm (which bears just as striking a similarity to the Democratic Party as to the Communist Party) -- have appended the clause, "but some are more equal than others." Viz.:
The House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines, 20 to 14, to cite Mr. Rove for defying its subpoena to testify in an inquiry into improper political meddling in the department.
“Mr. Rove has left us no option,” said Representative John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the committee. Mr. Conyers expressed regret that the committee had been forced to use its subpoena power.
“Today’s vote was an important statement by this Committee that no person -- not even Karl Rove -- is above the law,” Mr. Conyers said.
But there is no "law" that says the president's most private counselors can be hauled into an open congressional hearing and forced to spill every bit of advice or counsel they gave the Chief Executive... anymore than la Casa Blanca can order the Secret Service to put the bag on John Conyers' top congressional aide, drag him into the antechamber off the Oval Office, and interrogate him, under oath, on what advice he has given his boss on, say, impeachment hearings.
If the legislative branch could do that to the others, backed by the power to throw people into jail if they don't testify when and how Congress wants to hear it -- perhaps even if they don't offer up the very testimony that Congress needs to make its political case -- then that branch would be the supreme branch, and the other two would simply be subordinate to it.
That, of course, is just how the Democrats see things... today. But a few short years ago, when they were in the White House and the GOP controlled both chambers on Capitol Hill, they had a very different idea: They believed that the Executive should be supreme, and the Legislature and Judiciary subservient. President Bill Clinton repeatedly invoked "executive privilege" to shield his administration and especially himself from congressional scrutiny.
The unbroken thread that connects these two positions is that Democrats believe they, as a party, should always command all power in the United States, while their "enemies" (the Republicans) should be utterly impotent. By contrast, Republicans have consistently argued that no branch should be superior to the others; that the Founders were right to make the branches coequal... and they should stay that way.
The elite media reckons this demonstrates moral parity between the two parties: Hey, some folks believe the Founders were right; some believe today's politicians should completely rewrite the Constitution to lock themselves permanently into power and nullify all future elections... it's he said, she said!
Perhaps the way Conyers and Leahy are acting is part of the Obamic "change" that Democrats, at least, can believe in; but I cannot imagine that Barack H. Obama would still believe in the supremacy of Congress if the worst happened, and he were actually elected president.
If that happens, the Fourth of July might start in January in the nation's capital.
As postscript, it's also striking how loony the Left sounds lately. For example, here is one of the questions that most vexes Conyers, and which he is dying to put to Rove under oath:
As part of its inquiry, the committee headed by Mr. Conyers wants to question Mr. Rove about his knowledge, if any, of the decision to prosecute former Gov. Donald E. Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat, who was convicted of bribery two years ago. Several Democrats have asserted that the charges were trumped up and politically motivated....
Mr. Rove has repeatedly stated -- tho7ugh [sic -- I th1nk] not before Congress and not under oath -- that he had no involvement in the Siegelman case, but Mr. Conyers said he is not convinced. “The questions about his role in the Siegelman case only continue to mount,” he said.
By saying questions "continue to mount," I assume he means that he, personally, keeps asking them -- perhaps in slightly different ways, so he can legitimately say they're distinct. Thus, "So, Rove, how did you manage to plant that evidence in Siegelman's home? And on another point, what method did you use to introduce fake evidence into the domicile in which Siegelman lived?"
If they managed to wrestle Rove into the chair in the hearing room and strapped him down, I have no doubt they would also interrogate him intently on who he hired to bring down the World Trade Centers via controlled demolition, and whether he was on the grassy knoll in Dallas or was the man with the umbrella.
I suppose the Democrats really don't know what jackasses they make of themselves virtually every time someone mistakenly gives them a chairmanship; I think they call it Gavel Fever. But the donkey party itself will be our secret weapon come November.
Midnight Plus Several Hours, Waiting to Get Home
Well, once more the California Highway Patrol has demonstrated its complete lack of interest in serving the humble motorist. As of Tuesday night State Hwy 76 near Valley Center where I work as a newspaper editor was closed again for interminable hours, as it always seems to be whenever a big rig crashes near the intersection of the highway and Rincon Ranch Road, which seems to happen a lot! That’s near the foot of Palomar Mountain, home of the famous observatory. It’s a road that sometimes winds like a sidewinder on mescaline.
Although traffic has increased dramatically on this rural highway in recent years due to the number of casinos that have sprung up, the state has yet to do anything to make the road more safe.
This night there was apparently a death, and a spill of fuel that required hours of cleanup by Haz-Mat.
So, like hundreds of other people, I'm waiting to get the word to be allowed to go home on the only way in or out that doesn't involve driving several hours out of the way. Finally, about 1:30 a.m. I call the CHP dispatch office and am told by a dispatcher that traffic is being allowed through one lane at a time. I drive from my office to the intersection of Valley Center Road and Hwy 76, where a bored looking, typically arrogant CHP officer tells me that no dispatcher ever told me that traffic was being allowed through. "I don't know who told you that, but it wasn't one of our dispatchers."
Strange, I tell him, but I'm pretty sure I dialed 1-858-637-3800. "I can understand your concern," he says, clearly not understanding my concern.
I return to my newspaper office and call the dispatch number and am told that well, the information was put up incorrectly and that they have to keep track of lots of information, sorry about that, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, I've driven about 15 miles out of my way based on their faulty information. With the price of gasoline the way it is these days, yeah, my cranial blood vessels are engorged with suppressed annoyance!
Oh well, par for the course when you're dealing with the CHP and CalTrans and other agencies who routinely shut down Hwy 76 and then don't bother to talk to each other, and don't give the slightest damn about residents who are inconvenienced by their total lack of communication.
Let me make it clear. I don't begrudge the CHP keeping a road closed to conduct a death investigation and to clean up a mess as long as necessary. What I do begrudge is the "public be damned" attitude of your typical CHP officer when dealing with the people who pay his salary.
I've seen this happen time and time again in San Diego County during the last year as a result of the wildfires and the resulting dangers posed by mudslides. The needs of residents who must use those roads to go to home and work are treated with a cavalier disregard bordering on contempt. It doesn't just happen to me.
It happens to hundreds of people almost every time there is an accident. This time it happened to me. Next time it'll happen to you -- and the attitude of the CHP will be, "We're overworked, so naturally we get our facts messed up sometimes. Get over it!"
Date ►►► July 29, 2008
DoJ Report: Argument from Selective Outrage
The scandal siren was in full scream yesterday, as an AP story reported, "DOJ: Former aide broke law in hiring scandal." The New York Times was a bit more subdued and circumspect in the header: "Report Faults Aides in Hiring at Justice Dept;" but the lede graf (that's newspaper newspeak for "the first paragraph in the story") was fully as damning as the AP headline:
Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions, picking less-qualified applicants for important nonpolitical positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility, an internal report concluded on Monday.
According to the Associated Press, Democrats were outraged. They were in a froth, a frenzy!
Democrats said the report affirms their charges of White House meddling in the hiring and firing of Justice Department employees.
"The cost to our nation of these apparent crimes was severe, as qualified individuals were rejected for key positions in the fight against terrorism and other critical department jobs for no reason other than political whim," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.
"The report also indicates that Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and Alberto Gonzales may have lied to the Congress about these matters," Conyers added. "I have directed my staff to closely review this matter and to consider whether a criminal referral for perjury is needed."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said "it is crystal clear that the law was broken" by the political hiring process.
"But since it is unlikely that Monica Goodling acted on her own," Schumer added, "the question is, how many others were involved."
(Alert aides to Sen. Schumer, D-NY, 95%, tackled and muffled him before he could spit out what he really wanted to demand: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of an organization devoted to the overthrow of the United States government -- such as the Republican Party?")
I come to bury Monica Goodling, not to praise her. I hope I don't disappoint. But if it makes you feel any better, the only fault I find in her is her clumsiness, not her purpose... for she is an honorable woman; so are they all, all honorable men and women.
At least they tried, for God's sake.
I am quite certain that the report is factually correct that Goodling and Kyle Sampson and the other condemned Justice aides used "political considerations" in deciding who to hire or retain for career positions; and I suspect many conservatives will simply stop right there, ever eager to throw them to the wolves (or to "throw the Jew down the well," to dip into fairly current pop culture).
These are the same Republicans who rushed to demand that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales be ousted the moment he was accused of the crime of politics -- and to demand the forced resignation of Michael Brown from FEMA following Hurricane Katrina the moment Democrats targeted him, the sacking of Donald Rumsfeld the instant Democrats accused him of being a serial torturer, the defenestration of Douglas Feith for "lying" about WMD, and even the slander of our own Marines anent the putative (now largely debunked) Haditha "massacre."
Republicans in general (and social conservatives in particular) have an unhealthy obsession with the appearance of impropriety: The moment an accusation is leveled, even by the enemies of everything the GOP stands for, these self-flagellators rush to agree with the accusers so as not to be seen as "part of the problem." These roundheels fall over backwards to confess the unique corruption and perfidy of Republicans... while failing to do the one thing that is most vital in such an ideological war: Defending our own guys from politically motivated and ultimately unfair accusations from the Left.
Democrats routinely engage in the most frustrating of all rhetorical tricks: the Argument from Selective Outrage. In this case, they experienced no discomfort whatsoever at the hysterical politicization of the career employees at the Departments of State, Justice, and Defense, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, or any other government bureaucracy; Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI, 100%) only shrugged when career employees engaged in rampant insubordination -- completely ignoring legal orders and mandates from both the White House and Congress; these "nonpartisan, nonpolitical" staffers even went so far as to leak highly classified documents to the press, blowing legal intelligence-gathering programs, simply because the career staffers disagreed with the policy.
But those same Democrats explode in indignation when political leaders in the White House attempt to weed out these ultra-political career activists -- using political tests.
The obvious analogy is the Democrat who seethes with rage at the violent tactics used by the late President of Chile Augusto Pinochet against Communist terrorists and revolutionaries -- whom the Democrat dubs "political opponents" -- but merely yawns at the horrific violence committed by those same Stalinist "opponents" to which Pinochet was responding in the first place: He condemns the response but shrugs off the provocation.
Where was the outrage when career staffers at the NSA leaked the al-Qaeda telephone-intercept program to the New York Times, or when some career government official leaked to the Times and the Washington Post details of the SWIFT surveillance program -- which even the elite media admitted was not even of questionable legality, but was clearly completely legal? Where was the Democratic indignation about the relentless stream of leaked CIA attacks on the White House, the president, and the policies of the Republican members of Congress?
Suddenly the Democrats are upset by the introduction of politics to hiterto apolitical bodies. As Pontius Pilate demands in the rock opera Jesus Christ Super Star (Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice), "What is this new respect for Caesar? Till now this has been noticibly lacking!"
It is clear to me, even if has escaped the notice of Republican roundheels, that any "politicization" of the Justice Department by Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, Susan Richmond, Jan Williams, and even Alberto Gonzales himself was in direct response to rampant politicization of the department by lefties in the "permanent government," who passionately supported the Clintonian policy of fighting terrorism with indictments and briefs, not invasions and bombs. And the GOP politicization pales by comparison.
Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Croupier: [Hands Renault a pile of money] Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much.
There is still plenty of time left for Republicans to turn the 2008 election cycle around, win the presidency, and even to do well (better than expected) in the congressional races. But this will only happen when the GOP starts fighting for what it claims it believes. Politicizing the career staff of federal bureaucracies is bad; but it's not nearly so bad as allowing recklessly blatant insubordination and criminal insurgency in those same departments, by those same career employees -- who thereby subvert the very core of American democracy: governance by the consent of the governed.
That is, voters have the right under our system of government to demand that policy be made by the officials they elect -- not by unaccountable bureaucrats in the "permanent government" who simply say "nyet," and continue marching lockstep towards the status quo ante.
Republicans could have avoided the debacle of 2006 by standing up and fighting for the very principles they were elected to embody: an aggressive, pre-emptive war against those who want to pull down all of Western civilization and institute a Dark-Ages theocracy instead; privatization of Social Security and Medicare; a permanent end to confiscatory taxation; the protection and veneration of core American values; elimination the legalized corruption of pork-barrel spending, earmarks, and hidden spending inserted during reconciliation-committee meetings.
Instead, they surrendered to the Left -- or in the case of corruption, succumbed to the temptation, which is many times worse -- on virtually every issue:
They retreated from the real reasons for war against Iraq -- the ongoing threat that Saddam Hussein posed to America and our allies -- and fell into the behavior pattern of apologizing for each and every minor misjudgment... especially those contained within a larger accurate and courageous judgment, which they consequently refused to defend as well.
E.g., they scourged themselves over the unfulfilled expectation that we would find "stockpiles of WMD," and thereby missed defending the correct prediction that we would find rampant WMD programs; they fell on their faces and abased themselves over the abuses at Abu Ghraib -- and thus refused to offer a principled defence of the treatment of the vast majority of captured terrorists and insurgents at all the other military and CIA prisons throughout Iraq; and so forth.
- Republicans and social conservatives repudiated President Bush's attempt to set up a limited privatization of Social Security, abandoning the president and those fiscal conservatives who sought to finally set up a system that would actually work (as it does in numerous other countries), the moment Democrats began their demagogy of the issue. The about-face was so sudden, it gave me vertigo.
During the 2006 elections, they refused to make an issue of the Democrats' desire to kill off the Bush tax cuts, institute same-sex marriage, criminalize "offensive" speech and reinstate the anti-liberty "fairness doctrine," kow-tow to terrorists and their apologists in America (such as CAIR), create "freedom from religion" as a new constitutional right, give Big Labor the power to enforce collectivization on workers willy nilly, whether they want it or not, sue American business to death -- and to do all of the above via judicial fiat, so the people would never even get a chance to vote on it.
Instead, Republicans devoted all their energies to pummeling Republican Rep. Mark Foley from Florida, accusing him of "child molestation," when he was actually only guilty of boorish behavior and crass stupidity. I'm sure Republicans thought they could innoculate themselves from blowback by being even more self-righteous than the Democrats; but you cannot win that game, and the obsession with self-flagellation doubtless worsened their electoral loss.
- Finally, rather than cleaning up the endemic corruption of the Democrats, top GOP officials themselves eagerly dove into the swimming pool of offal, lunging for hundred-dollar bills with hands, feet, dentures, and any other grabbing muscle they possessed. Those few who resisted this act of political suicide -- John McCain and Tom Coburn (R-OK, 100%), for example -- were scorned and shunned.
Gen. David Petraeus has decisively proven two major strategic doctrines in Iraq: First, you can't win if you don't fight; and second, more than half the victory is simply refusing to accept defeat. But consistently, over and over, Republicans embrace defeat the moment the Democrats offer it... and they subsequently refuse to fight, rolling over and playing dead instead.
(We see the same pattern today, as Republicans begin virtually every electoral comment with, "Of course we're going to be shellacked in the congressional elections -- hopefully just shy of a veto-proof Democratic majority -- but we might possibly be able to squeak out a razor-thin victory in the presidential election. If we're incredibly lucky.")
Oddly enough, that allows Democrats to win. By default, when they never could win by honest ideological struggle.
To date, I have not seen even one, single Republican, conservative, or loyal foot-soldier for America step forward and say, in response to this DoJ report, something like this:
Instead, I hear only crickets chirping, as the GOP runs for cover... leaving the field to such unbiased, nonpartisan voices of reason as Chuck Schumer and John Conyers.
How many times do we have to shoot ourselves in the head with a baseball bat before we figure out that self-scourging doesn't shield us from future Democratic political assault?
Date ►►► July 28, 2008
Fauxtonement: "Prayergate" Takes a Weird, New Turn
The bizarre "scandal" of Barack H. Obama's "stolen prayer" took a strange twist today, as the Jerusalem Post reported that the "Yeshiva student" (still no sign that there is any independent verification of his status) tearfully apologized on Israel's Channel 2 for "stealing" Obama's prayer from the Wailing Wall and returned it (to the TV station); but the putative thief was still not identified -- Channel 2 coyly revealed only his initial, Aleph, and "obscured" his face. And Mr. Aleph made a statement during his interview which makes it fairly clear that he is an Obama supporter, as Big Lizards predicted yesterday:
"I'm sorry. It was a kind of prank," Aleph said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead. "I hope he wasn't hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency."
So if we can take Mr. Aleph at his word, then instead of a militant, right-wing Jew violating Obama's right to have a "private communication between him and God," we have a still-anonymous person, still with no evidence that he is a yeshiva student, who certainly appears to support Obama for president, and who claims it was all a "prank."
A prank? Let's review the bidding:
- Apparently, Mr. Aleph stole Obama's Wailing Wall prayer -- unprecedented in Israel -- and handed it to at least two media outlets, one of which printed it.
- Our point that the Secret Service guarding Obama did not take Mr. Aleph to have hostile intent, or they wouldn't have allowed him to get close enough to see where Obama tucked the prayer, also appears to have been correct: Mr. Aleph is either a juvenile jokester or else in collaboration with the Obama campaign itself.
- Mr. Aleph hopes this didn't hurt Obama and believes, along with all his friends, that Obama will win the election.
- The media outlet that printed the prayer, Maariv, claims that the Obama campaign itself earlier released the text of the prayer.
- And I still cannot find a single news source who will either confirm or deny that the campaign released the text for publication -- though every reporter traveling with the presumptive nominee would of course know whether he, personally, had been given the text by the campaign.
But we should shortly find out more: Shahar Alon, a Jerusalem attorney, has demanded that the Attorney General of Israel investigate the incident with an eye towards criminal prosecution of Maariv -- and Alon has also initiated a boycott of the newspaper:
Attorney Shahar Alon asked attorney General Menachem Mazuz to launch an investigation against the editor of Israeli daily Ma'ariv, who published the content of the note last week....
"By making the note public," Alon wrote to Mazuz, "the newspaper violated the law protecting holy sites, several clauses in the penal code and also infringed upon the basic rights of a person's honor and freedom."
Alongside his petition, Alon also initiated a boycott of the newspaper. In a letter he published, Alon called on all those who felt that the newspaper offended them by desecrating the holiness of the Western Wall, or felt that Obama had been personally disrespected, to refrain from purchasing the newspaper or cancel their subscriptions.
Maariv will either have to defend itself or else plead guilty. Assuming they do the former, they will of course repeat the defense that the so-called "leak" was authorized even before Obama arrived at the wall.
But this time, as part of a criminal probe, the elite media will not be able to stand silent... at least not without cost, as such a brazen attempt to kill the story they started would severely damage their credibilty and make clear just what I personally believe they are trying to avoid making clear: That this entire event was orchestrated by the Obama campaign.
So let's keep our fingers crossed that Attorney General Mazuz does authorize an investigation; we need to know whether Barack Obama truly was victimized by an angry Jew (or juvenile jokester)... or whether the presumptive Democratic nominee is a cynical, manipulative, Chicago pol who has just done what no other American politician has ever dared do: Thuggishly politicize the holiest and most sacred site of world Jewry, the only surviving wall of the great temple in Jerusalem.
Jews especially, but Christians as well, need to know what Obama truly thinks is the purpose of religion: to make oneself into "an instrument of [God's] will," or to mold into a campaign commercial that plays on victimhood and implies a religiosity that evidence indicates the candidate does not actually attain.
Date ►►► July 27, 2008
Barack H. Obama visted Israel a few days ago; on Thursday, he went to the Western or Wailing Wall -- the last surviving wall of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans under Titus Caesar in A.D. 70 -- and placed a "prayer" in one of its cracks. Almost immediately, "a student at a Jewish seminary" purportedly removed the note and gave it to at least two Israeli newspapers, one of which (Maariv) published its contents.
Many visitors place such prayers in chinks of the wall, prayers of mourning for the loss of the Second Temple and confession of and atonement for their sins. The remains of the Second Temple is a site holy both to Jews, for obvious reasons, and for Christians, because that is where Jesus drove out the moneychangers and restored the temple to a house of prayer, not a den of thieves.
But what is rare, I suspect, is for visitors to fill a crack in that wall with a putative prayer that is as cynical, as manipulative, and as obviously intended for public consumption as Obama's was.
Having read the so-called prayer, I am completely convinced that Obama fully intended for it to be "intercepted" and published... and may even have arranged for it. The "prayer" is impersonal and vague, yet contains the perfect code phrase designed to help Obama with evangelicals; I do not entertain the slightest doubt that he wanted it to be published -- and published in a way that makes him out to be the "victim" of a spiteful invasion of his privacy. (In fact, Maariv says that the Obama campaign itself released the prayer to the media before the supposed theft.)
I'm agnostic, and it still infuriates me.
Here is the text as published in Maariv:
Lord -- Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.
Let's break it down...
The "theft" of the prayer
It's odd that we know so little about the "student at a Jewish seminary" who supposedly filtched the paper and handed it over to Maariv. I cannot even find out his name, let alone why he did what he did. I have looked at recent stories in Haaretz, the J-Post, CNN, and several other media sources; nobody has a single word about the so-called "seminary student" prayernapper.
So if nobody knows anything, how do they know he is a seminary student? How do they know he is not, say, a political operative?
Second, Maariv has an amazing defense against the charge of trafficking in stolen prayers; according to Haaretz:
Ma'ariv issued a response Sunday, saying that "Obama's note was published in Ma'ariv and other international publications following Obama's authorization to make the content of the note public. Obama submitted a copy of the note to media outlets when he left his hotel in Jerusalem [That would be before he placed the note in the wall]. Moreover, since Obama is not Jewish, there is no violation of privacy as there would be for a Jewish person who places a note in the Western Wall."
The second claim is simply a bigoted quirk of Israeli law as it relates to religious privacy (which, if it really is a defense, is abominable). But the first claim is substantive: If true -- and the Obama camp has not, so far at least, denied it -- then this was unquestionably a "prayer" intended for public consumption, hence political profit, because he released it himself. If this is true, it was not a heartfelt "private communication between [Obama] and God," as Obama told reporters.
I saw video of Obama placing his prayer; he appeared to take an extraordinarily long time to find a crack where he could put it... it took him at least three tries. But even so, there were several other prayer slips nearby; so the "seminary student" must have been standing very close and watching the operation like a hawk to make sure he got the right slip. (That is, unless he, too, was given a copy of the note, as Maariv claims "media outlets" were, and it was that copy that he submitted to the newspaper.) I admit skepticism that the Secret Service would allow a man who looked in any way hostile to stand to close behind the presumptive Democratic nominee -- in a region known for senseless political violence. They must have been very comfortable with the presence of that "seminary student."
Come to that, the Obama campaign -- now widely seen as a "victim" of some rights-violating (presumably right-wing) Israeli Jew -- is being unbearably coy about the note itself; according to CNN:
Obama's senior strategist Robert Gibbs told CNN, "We haven't confirmed nor denied" [sic] that the note is from the Illinois senator....
CNN's Sasha Johnson, who was a part of a pool of journalists who accompanied Obama to the wall, said when reporters asked Obama what he wrote, he declined to share the contents of his prayer.
Obama told the reporters it was a private conversation between him and God, Johnson said.
There's that phrase again: private conversation between Obama and God. So this is a good time to take a closer look at that "private conversation."
Text, context, and subtext
As a reminder, here is Obama's private conversation with God, which he may or may not have shared with the media before poking it into the Western Wall, depending on whether one believes Maariv or not:
Lord -- Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.
Well! I can certainly see why he would be anxious to protect the privacy of such a personal, sensitive, individual communication. One certainly wouldn't want something like that to leak out!
He asks God to "protect" his family and himself from unspecified harm; he asks forgiveness for sins he does not enumerate (does he even believe it's possible for a higher being like himself to commit sin?); he asks help to guard against pride and despair -- again, no specific examples offered, and he is evidently unafraid of falling into sloth, gluttony, avarice, and whatnot; then he asks for wisdom without mentioning any prior instance of folly. Finally, he uses a phrase guaranteed to turn a few Democratic evangelicals to his side: "Make me an instrument of your will."
Anent that last, can you imagine the furor and hoopla that would have erupted following the revelation of those words -- had they come from John S. McCain or George W. Bush? I suspect that in such a case, a Google search on "Bush theocracy hypocrite" would have produced 750,000 hits... instead of the mere 71,000 hits it produces today. ("Obama theocracy hypocrite" generates 65,200, and "McCain theocracy hypocrite" generates 62,800, so that's probably the base level for virtually any well-known politician.)
I expect to take a lot of heat for this post, delving as I am into the private (?) religiosity of Obama... but frankly, this seems exactly the prayer I would expect from a non-believer trying to ape Christianity for the consumption of the masses, all the while rolling his eyes at the hoops he must jump through in order to take his rightful place as Supreme Leader of the Western World (of which he is a citizen). It's Bill Clinton's Bible in miniature.
Forgive me my (unspecified) sins, but I cannot imagine anybody thinking this sort of prayer should constitute a "private conversation" with God. It reads for all the world like wearing one's irreligion on one's sleeve, hoping to befuddle the religious masses, who one imagines to be illiterate and easily bamboozled boobies.
Is Barack Obama religious? I don't believe he is. The church he frequented for two decades -- until it became politically non-viable (like Howard Dean, who quit his church over a bike path) -- preaches black liberation theology, which is to Christianity what Wahabbism is to Islam: an extremist cult that preaches hatred and separation, rather than love and assimilation. Since Obama does not preach hatred and separation and denies believing any such nonsense, I can only conclude that his presence at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago was purely for political theater... else he would have quit and joined one of the many other, more mainstream Christian denominations in that city.
I conclude that, while he may be a believer, he sure "doesn't work very hard at it," as the character Henry Drummond puts it in the 1955 Jerome Lawrence - Robert E. Lee play Inherit the Wind. And when a man who doesn't work very hard (or take very seriously) his supposed religion wants to be seen as a religious and righteous man, as in a presidential campaign, he often turns to exaggerated playacting of the trappings of religion, rather than faith itself. He carries around a gigantic Bible in a wheelbarrow, or he makes an elaborate ritual of writing a vacuous "prayer" on a piece of paper and invites two dozen journalists to come see him place it in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
And in the latter case, of course he wants the public to read his nondenominational call for continued guidance by the higher power he wants us to think he believes in... else what is the point? He could just stick a blank piece of paper in the crack, and nobody would be the wiser (well, no human, at least).
I've frequently been accused of being the most cynical and suspicious fellow in the building, when it comes to the motives and intentions of professional politicians; I quote my hero, Bill Clinton: "I plead guilty to that." But for God's sake, somebody has to at least raise the possibility that this entire incident -- which fits so perfectly into Barack H. Obama's political campaign -- is just a cynical ploy to gain sympathy and make a play for the "Jeebus Crispy" vote.
However, let me initiate a preemptive apology process: I hereby announce that I am very sorry if anybody is offended by anything I say. My enemies accuse me of caring too much, and I admit the charge. I apologize for all the bigoted actions and statements of my remote ancestors. And I want everybody to kneel down right here and now and join me in prayer... that the hate-filled hearts of those who disagree with me may be softened and filled with love, as mine is.
So having fulfilled my obligations in advance, I leave you with this final conundrum. Numerous newspapers and other media outlets reported that Maariv claims that "Obama submitted a copy of the note to media outlets when he left his hotel in Jerusalem," before visiting the wall. This is either true or false:
- If it's false, why didn't the reporting media who had reporters present with Obama in Israel say something like, "however, our reporter did not receive any copy of this prayer?" That would certainly have put the onus back on Maariv to prove their statement.
- Contrariwise, if it's true, then shouldn't the reporting media point that out in the story, thus putting the lie to the Obama campaign's claim that this was a terrible violation of the privacy of his divine conversations?
Yet instead of providing the evidence they clearly had, evidence that would either have supported Obama or Maariv, every last media source chose to stand silent.
Date ►►► July 25, 2008
Our Masters' Voice
Now there’s a roadside sign that I drive past occasionally that has emblazoned on it the details of the latest intrusion of our masters in Sacramento into our daily lives. “Hands free cell phone use: It’s the law!”
Oh sir, yes sir! Please pardon me for not snapping to salute quickly enough, sir!
One gets the definite impression that if some clown in the legislature passed a bill that required that we part our hair down the middle that it would soon appear on a billboard, followed by the the phrase that’s supposed to end all argument: “It’s the law!”
Americans have always had a fine tradition as scofflaws dating back to colonial times, so I’m confident that most people will ignore this law, except when CHP officers are around!
There’s an idiot in Sacramento, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine -- it goes without saying that he’s a Democrat and from Los Angeles -- whose bill has passed the Assembly and is headed to the Senate. When it goes into effect in 2010, it will require that grocery stores charge us consumers 25 cents for every plastic bag that we ask for to take out our groceries.
Of course, its purpose is to “change our behavior,” i.e., to force us to carry cloth bags. This will supposedly help the environment. Although I’m pretty sure that the money collected for those bags will probably go to the state’s general fund.
I’ve planned how to conduct my own guerrilla warfare against this law. Of course, I will carry a cloth bag, I mean who is going to pay $10 or $15 a month for plastic bags? But on the side of the bag will be a picture of Assemblyman Lloyd Levine and wording that will say: “I’m carrying this bag because of a jackass in Sacramento named Levine!” I’m prepared to manufacture thousands of these bags. See, I’m willing to do my part for the environment! I’ll start taking orders for the bags this week and start delivering them if the Senate approves the bill.
I do think it’s about time that we in California took back our state from the socialists and Marxists who are sucking out every ounce of freedom and liberty from its citizens in the name of “the environment” or to fight “global warming,” or because of “diversity.”
Here’s my idea: The Part-time Legislature Act. We should start hitting the streets to qualify an initiative to make the California legislature a part time again, for the first time in over 40 years.
Amazingly, I find that our usually terminally bad governator, Arnold, proposed this four years ago. The Golden State’s legislature is one of nine in the country that is full time, which means that lawmakers have time for cooking up things like requiring that all state offices be decorated according to the principle of feng shui.
A part-time legislature only meets a few months a year. Members are not paid full time either. They must have day jobs when not in the state capital. The people created the full-time legislature in 1966 and the people could tear it down just as easily.
It’s time that our masters in Sacramento heard our voices again! First a part-time legislature, next a part-time governor.
Jean le Kerry Redux: Obama Tops Among Americans Who Wish They Were Europeans Instead
From the "be careful what you wish for" department, we have this story that Barack H. Obama has found a group of Americans (?) who support him even more overwhelmingly than blacks -- Americans who choose to live in Europe:
Barack Obama's campaign has received roughly 10 times more money from declared U.S. donors living in Germany, France and Britain than his Republican rival, reflecting his popularity in Europe as he makes his first tour of the continent as the presumed Democratic nominee.
Federal Election Commission reports show Obama has raised at least $1 million from donors who identify themselves as Americans living in Great Britain, Germany and France, while John McCain has taken in at least $150,000.
It's not exactly surprising that Americans who have a European perspective and prefer to live outside the United States support the socialist-leaning Obama, who hangs out with America-bashing (and even bombing) pals like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright, against the America-loving John S. McCain, who has actually worn a uniform and fought for his country. But the cosmopolitan worldview may not precisely help the Obama campaign; it raises the specter of John F. Kerry sitting around the family mansion chatting amiably with his latest sugar-mama wife... in French.
That image of decadence, ultra-sophistication, and condescension devastated the Kerry campaign in 2004; and I suspect the more of the same disdain for America and American values we see from Obama, the more he will repel real Americans.
As a general rule, today's liberal leaders have transformed the Democratic party into the party of "Americans who wish they were Europeans." For decades, I have heard that Europe (and the UK in particular) believes that "the world" -- read "the United States of America" -- ought to look to Europe (read "Britain") for a lead; there are clearly millions of Americans in the US and in Europe who agree heartily, and they're all Democrats (except for a few who are Greens). Not all Democrats are Euro-wannabes (EWs); but virtually all EWs are Democrats... and they're the ruling chunk of the party; this explains virtually every anti-American, "old world" tendency found in the modern Democratic Party.
That segment of Democrats composes Obama's core constituency; he explicitly plays to the EWs, while he simultaneously sucks up to actual Europeans who wish America were a good and obedient member of the European Union (Obama himself is a Euro-wannabe):
The fecklessness of the UN shows how little it means to be a "citizen of the world." It means something, though, to be a citizen of the EU, and Obama espoused distinctly European views, pledging to move American policy in a European direction -- and to make the United States more European -- under a President Obama.
Scott "Big Johnson" Trunk goes on to list a number of examples of Obamasms that in fact play directly to a European audience (and to an EW one); then he concludes:
Josef Joffe noted in The New Republic, “If he ran in Germany, Obama would carry the country by a landslide, with 67 percent of the vote.” This comes as no surprise, as this is a speech about turning America into the European Union more than anything else.
If the number of Americans who wish they were sophisticated enough to be Europeans outweighs (or outpolls) the number of real Americans who believe in American exceptionalism and don't look to Europe for "a lead," then Obama will win. Otherwise, the next president will be John McCain.
Two great cultures divided by a common history
Naturally, the values of Europeans and American EWs on the one hand and real Americans on the other differ markedly:
- In general, Europeans don't believe in peace through strength but in peace through incessant prattling with each other.
- In general, Europeans have only a sketchy understanding of the connection between intelligence (in the spying sense, not the IQ sense) and military success; they find intelligence gathering repugnant, inaesthetic, and beneath their dignity.
- In general, Europeans don't support Capitalism; they reluctantly include it in their five-year economic plans, while holding their noses and mugging like they've just eaten something disagreeable.
- In general, Europeans have only a sketchy understanding of the connection between intelligence (in the IQ sense, not the spying sense) added to hard work, and economic results; so they tend to have bad work habits. These can be overcome, particularly in the Northern European cultures (the Teutonic countries, the low countries, and Scandanavia)... but it's a very intense and implicate disconnect in the Mediterranean countries and in the former Soviet-run countries.
- In general, Europeans are significantly more prone to believe wacky conspiracy theories, from the "Truther" idea that 9/11 was an inside job, to the insane idea that every scientist who disputes anthropogenic global climate change is in the pay of Big Carbon, to the "magic pill" conspiracy I discussed in an earlier post.
- In general, European culture is areligious, often militantly secular -- not just refraining from belief but showing overt hostility to it.
- In general, Europeans have no firm ideological beliefs... everything is up for grabs. (Even Leftism, which is simply the default condition... it can and has been modified into liberal fascism of the Wilsonian/Rooseveltian molds (they were both classic EWs), illiberal fascism of the Hitlerian mold, welfare-statism, and even what lefties who wanted to blame us for the Soviets used to call "state capitalism." But the constant is statism, about the only ideology that the typical European will fight for.)
- And in general, the only constant belief found in virtually every European of virtually every political, social, religious, or ideological bent, is belief in his own superiority to the rest of the world -- from the Hottentots in the "Non-Integrating Gap" of Thomas P.M. Barnett to the nouveau-riche barbarians in America. This sense of superiority usually translates into an almost unbearably frothy smugness and refusal to take seriously any American leader who does not kow-tow to the Euro-elites... that is, look to "the continent" for a lead.
The vision of the anointed
I believe this list also perfectly describes the vanguard of the Democratic Party in the United States, and particularly its current Savior and Light Bearer, Barack H. Obama: They take their votes from those who wish they were sophisticated, cultured Europeans -- and who thus try to ape them in everything they do. (Including, in extreme cases of Euro-worship among native-born Americans, speaking some European language at home -- usually French, the international language of snootiness -- rather than English.)
Note, for example, that when Obama (who speaks no foreign language) chastised Americans for not speaking foreign languages, all of the examples he cited came from one particular, tiny segment of the globe:
Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.
You know, it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], "Merci beaucoup." Right? [The mob of Democrats brays with derisive laughter at this point.]
He doesn't demand that we all learn Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Bahasa Indonesia, or Tagalog; he ridicules us for not teaching our kids Spanish, French, and German -- the languages of employability, according to Obama. I'm sure he would also include Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese, except he probably thinks they speak Spanish in Portugal (and Brazil). That is, he looks to Western Europe for a lead.
This trait is worrisome, but it's not particularly new; it's actually a reactionary throwback to the antebellum nineteenth century, when America still felt inferior to the old, established monarchies in the Old World. I think many Americans have the vague, uneasy feeling that every European is somehow related to royalty... and you now how Democrats go bananas over "the Royals."
We've seen such Euro-deference in John Kerry, of course, but also in Algore -- who still roams the continent (Europe, not North America) basking in the approval from his masters -- and even Bill Clinton, who was a Rhodes Scholar (though not a successful one) in his youth.
The men on the wall
It worries me, of course, because Euro-worship doesn't find any place for global guardians from evil; they do not see any reason why we need "men on the wall," as Jack Nicholson's character Col. Jessup calls them in a Few Good Men. They cannot even fathom these words -- though of course, their forebears would have had no difficulty:
We live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
In fact, Europe is the source of the Democratic fallacy that the gravest danger facing us today is not radical, militant Islamism and world terrorism -- but global warming and smoking. Global "health" substitues for global security or global liberty... i.e., "the Earth has a fever," or "good health is a human right." (To whom do I complain about the deprivation of my human rights due to my cat allergy?)
I cannot see Barack Obama responding to a future 9/11 in any forceful or effective way; but I can see him issuing an executive order banning trans-fats from the American diet and making the BMI scale, the Body Mass Index of weight to height, mandatory.
So you just have to ask yourself one question: Do you feel comfortable electing a "citizen of the world" to be President of the United States? Or do you want to elect someone who thinks that the United States has nothing for which to apologize to the rest of the world, and rather is unique in its willingness to defend the liberty even of those who would throw it away at the first rustle of an aggrieved party?
How you answer presages how you will vote on November 4th.
Date ►►► July 23, 2008
"Paranoia Strikes Deep..."
Whilst strolling the streets of Victoria, B.C. today, a revelation hammered me like Hephaestus with a hangover. I've long been croggled by the sheer insanity of the most extreme environmentalists, who seem to reject or deprecate every conceivable method of creating usable energy:
- We can't use any product associated with Big Oil; that includes oil drilled from ANWR, the OCS, the G. of M., international waters, or even existing (productive) wells in CONUS; we cannot use shale oil; we cannot import gasoline or deisel; we cannot use natural gas; and we cannot use oil made by liquifying coal, because fossil fuels send the deadly poison CO2 into the atmosphere with devastating, disastrous results.
- We cannot burn coal directly, because that, too, contributes to global warming. And besides, what about black-lung disease?
- We can't use nuclear for reasons that really ought to be obvious (that is, nuclear hysteria -- "¡Rabanos radiactivos!")
- We cannot use solar panels, because they disturb the fragile desert ecosystems.
- We can't use windmills, because birds might fly into them. (Noting that putting the windmills inside giant birdcages would keep the birds out seems to have no impact on the enviro-mentals.)
When one suggests that even if a country fully commits to switching to "green" energy (which in this case means both "environmentally friendly" and "new and untested"), we must generate energy somehow in the meanwhile seems to elicit rage and fury, as the 'mentals angrily deny that we need do any such thing. But surely they cannot imagine that we can live without any energy at all... so what are they thinking of to replace our current oil-based economy during the transition period?
And then it hit me on Government St., halfway between the Gray Line bus depot and the Bon Rouge boulangerie and bistro: These radicals don't believe there is going to be any lack of energy at all.
Sidebar: For decades now, I have been hearing of a very particular conspiracy theory -- that someone (usually described as a small, private inventor) has created a magic pill; you fill your car's gas tank with water from your garden hose, toss in this pill, and voila! you get a cool 50 miles per gallon (or 100, or 150, depending who's telling the story) from straight water plus the magic bullet.
But of course any conspiracy needs a villain; in this case, Big Carbon is frantic about this invention, because it would put them out of business. Even if they sold the pills, they wouldn't make the hundreds of billions of dollars they currently get from fossil fuels.
Therefore, goeth the conspiracy, the petrol producers have "suppressed" this invention. It's non existence on the shelves of Pep Boys and Kragen has nothing to do with the chemical impossibility of turning water into an inflammable substance -- and everything to do with wicked multinationals (Halliburton!) that have covered up the greatest invention since movable type.
All right, you're way ahead of me; but I'll say it anyway: The revelation suddenly consumed my brain that these extreme environmentalists must have fully bought into this conspiracy: They believe that by denying Big Carbon all the quick fixes and low-hanging fruit of the oil economy, the scoundrels will be forced to reveal this invention, just to keep their heads above Davy Jones' water.
They actually believe -- or I believe they believe -- that cutting off the oil supply will force the bad guys to fess up and reveal this marvelous artifice they have locked up somewhere in a gigantic warehouse, right next to the Ark of the Covenant... and then we'll have paradise on Earth. To very nearly quote Robert Browning:
2 And day's at the morn;
3 Morning's at seven;
4 The hill-side's dew-pearled;
5 The lark's on the wing;
6 The snail's on the thorn;
7 Gaea's on Her divan --
8 All's right with the world!
[Note that line 7 is edited to make all more politically and environmentally correct.]
We already see a deep nexus between leftish radicalism and conspiracy theory; for three uncontroversial examples, consider how many radicals passionately believe that we went to war with Iraq to steal its oil, that George W. Bush "stole" the 2000 and 2004 elections, and that the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon were brought down by "controlled demolition." While this doesn't prove environmentalists believe in the water-to-gasoline magic pill, it eliminates the best defense against swallowing such tommyrot: common sense.
(Of course, there really is a "magic bullet," or stream of such bullets, that would, once and for all, kill the dysfunctional energy-production gap; I believe it will eventuate over the next 50-60 years. But I'll talk about that in a later post.)
Again, this is not proof, but it's provacative: If you assume my supposition above to be true -- that the enviro-wackos believe Big Carbon is sitting on an invention that would get us through the "seven lean years," and that the oil barons will be forced to reveal the secret elixir that replaces gasoline and gives us limitless energy with no pollution and no hard work -- it's amazing how many other leftish, Earth-worshipping policy issues fall out easily, from "sustainable food," to the Kyoto Protocol, to "animal liberation," to the reforestation of the entire North American and European continents.
I think the Earth First (Humans Last) leaders especially would insist that B.O. -- Big Oil, not Barack Obama -- really has committed exactly that "intergenerational crime" "against humanity and nature"... but only if you got them drunk enough to forget their political inhibitions.
Just a wild, hippie-dippie speculation; take it for what it isn't worth, which is the paper it isn't printed on.
Date ►►► July 22, 2008
Bush Still the Straight-Talker... But Only Behind Closed Doors
Lately, many of President George W. Bush's public comments have been, well, rather "diplomatic" -- by which I mean cryptic, eliptical, and filled with so many multiple-entendres that it's hard to know what he really believes. A far cry from when he was first elected and when he ran for reelection, when we could rely on a candor rare in sitting or running presidents.
But it appears that you can still get the simple truth out of Bush... but only when he believes the cameras are not rolling:
Explaining the current economic downturn to a closed-door fundraiser last week, President Bush said, "Wall Street got drunk."
"There's no question about it," Bush said. "Wall Street got drunk, that's one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras. It got drunk and now it's got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments."
I sure wish he would return to saying such things when he knows America is watching, as he used to do. This is as good and succinct a description of our self-made economic woes as I've ever seen.
For some reason, the Briefing Room piece implies this is some terrible faux pas on the president's part that will hurt him (and McCain) somehow:
Last week, Bush indicated that he fears YouTube moments such as this making it to the web.
After asking a room of 400 supporters gathered for a fundraiser in Tucson, Arizona to turn off any recording devices, Bush said, "I don't know a lot about technology, but I do know about YouTube."
But I think real Americans will be as impressed by his honest assessment as we are. Now if only he would go back to doing the same in his public pronunciamentos.
In This Corner, the NYT: Even Worse Than We Thought!
The story about the New York Times refusing to run John McCain's op-ed responding to Obama's propaganda piece is "old news"... which wouldn't stop us ordinarily; we love to take on old news -- even ancient history -- if we can offer a unique, lizardly slant on things. But in this case, it had seemed kind of cut and dried, with everything obvious we could say having already been said by, e.g., Power Line and Patterico's Pontiff Vacation (Wolf Howling is on the same track as we).
But here is a rare piece of breaking news on Big Lizards... as in, breaking the facade of elite journalistic objectivity wide open. In a stunningly candid attempt to "defend" his position, the editor of the Times' editorial pages, David Shipley, has admitted that he spiked the McCain op-ed precisely because he doesn't agree with it... despite the fact that "op-ed" -- which literally means "opposite the editorial pages," in terms of its physical placement on the other side of the printed sheet -- has historically also indicated an opinion piece that differs from that of the editors... even at the august NYT:
In an e-mail to the campaign on Friday, David Shipley, an op-ed editor at the newspaper, said he could not accept the piece in its current form, but would look at another version. In the e-mail, released by McCain's campaign, Shipley wrote that McCain's article would "have to lay out a clear plan for achieving victory -- with troops levels, timetables and measures for compelling the Iraqis to cooperate. And it would need to describe the senator's Afghanistan strategy, spelling out how it meshes with his Iraq plan."
In other words, sure, we'll publish your opinion piece... when you adopt Barack H. Obama's position on a set timetable for withdrawal, no matter the facts on the ground.
While no legal rule requires a newspaper to be fair -- obviously, or the elite print media wouldn't even exist -- the Times and other top "news"-papers has certainly claimed for decades that they do not discriminate against those candidates they oppose, that they are unbiased in their willingness to allow both sides of contentious issues to be aired, that they are not simply partisan propaganda mills for liberal Democrats. But this brazen new fracas puts paid to that false preening. Shipley has as much as said that he won't publish McCain's response unless McCain relents and "admits" that Obama is right and McCain is wrong on the critical foreign-policy issue of this campaign.
As I've said before, the new motto of the New York Times should be, "all the news we see fit to print!"
Date ►►► July 20, 2008
Will Elite Media Ask Obama Whether Their Coverage of Him is Fair?
Well, we're not quite back yet; but we're out of the back country and rarin' to jump back into the political fray. So cowboy up and read on!
The elite media love to gaze upon Barack H. Obama... but if there is anything they love more, it's gazing upon their own navels. Thus, we're not at all surprised to note that the big story of the day is -- "What should the big story of the day be?" Or in this case, who should it be... and should it be Barack H. Obama all day, every day?
Television news' royalty will fly in to meet Barack Obama during this week's overseas trip: CBS chief anchor Katie Couric in Jordan on Tuesday, ABC's Charles Gibson in Israel on Wednesday and NBC's Brian Williams in Germany on Thursday.
The anchor blessing defines the trip as a Major Event and -- much like a "Saturday Night Live" skit in February that depicted a press corps fawning over Obama -- raises anew the issue of fairness in campaign coverage.
The news media have devoted significantly more attention to the Democrat since Hillary Rodham Clinton suspended her campaign and left a two-person contest for the presidency between Obama and Republican John McCain, according to research conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The media have two competing impulses here:
- One is the irresistable force of their desire to elect the "revolutionary" Obama, whose soap-bubble-thin image mirrors every radical longing these wannabe Weathermen wannasee crammed down the throat of real America... each desire highlighted in the prismatic, rainbow aura in which these "journalists" see themselves.
(I remember when I was about five and a half years old and in a funk about something bad that had happened, I would visualize myself standing tall, arms akimbo, atop a platform shaped like a giant, scintillant number six; I convinced myself that When I Was Six, all would be airy perfection and rushy success.
(I envison Charles Gibson and Brian Williams doing roughly the same thing; respected elder statesmen that they are, they're still but pre-schoolers in the emotional and spiritual sense.)
- The countervailing impulse is the immovable object of journalists' song of themselves: pristine, Ivory-Soap exemplars and Templars of absolute neutrality and unbiased, tell it like it is honesty.
Their desire to save the world careers headlong into their Gibraltaresque image of themselves as Murrow, Cronkite, and Rather tossed together and covered with Green Goddess dressing; they cover Obama obsessively, all the while questioning their own politicking with a primal, narcissistic scream of existential angst.
I fill to the brim with sardonicism.
A large part of my amusement flows from the inability of newsies even to recognize how biased they really are. For example, throughout this song of themselves, all actors assume that naturally, what Obama does is truly "newsworthy"... while McCain is just the same, boring old story:
News executives say there are reasons for the disparity, such as the continuing story about whether Clinton's and Obama's supporters can reconcile. [What about the "continuing story" about whether McCain and conservatives can reconcile?] They even partly blame McCain. By criticizing Obama for a lack of foreign policy experience, McCain raised the stakes for Obama's trip, "especially if he winds up going into two war zones," said Paul Friedman, senior vice president of CBS News.
Obama has traveled to Afghanistan and is expected to go to Iraq. He is also scheduled to visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England. Network anchors stayed home during McCain's recent foreign excursions.
When McCain travels to Afghanistan and Iraq, it's stale, old news. When Obama does the same, it's Obama traveling to two war zones! -- and it leads. But it's worse than that... the elite media simply cannot imagine that anyone in the country is interested in anything that a Republican says or does, except to the extent that it illustrates his perfidy. Thus, in their minds, there are no McCain stories to report in the first place:
Friedman cautioned against reading too much into things like PEJ's coverage index, noting that it's a long campaign. Yet it's an open question about whether Obama is simply a more interesting candidate at this point, partly because McCain has been on the scene longer.
While fairness is the goal, "what are we supposed to do, go gin up some story about McCain to get some rough equality of airtime?" he said. "I don't think so."
Well, for starters, CBS and the other nets could try honestly reporting McCain's speeches, policy proposals, legislation, pork-busting activities, biography, and growing support within both the Republican and independent communities... you know, the same things they report with breathless excitement about Obama. (Except that B.O. hasn't any of those qualities but the first -- a few speeches that push all the right buttons in all the right megaphonic media mavens).
But such open-minded, democratic coverage you will not see. Boiled down, the nabobs simply cannot bring themselves to believe that anybody cares a fig for John S. McCain. So they will go through the motions, rolling eyes and hucking and smirking, reassuring themselves that they're beacons of objectivity... all the while making the world safe from democrazy and other derangements.
But it's to no avail, because these media legends in their own minds are about as subtle, opaque, and inscrutible as Barack Obama's personal presidential seal. With every
"fawning" performance, the American voter will further discount anything he sees, reads, or hears about the Obamessiah from the anointed ones.
Date ►►► July 18, 2008
If you're wondering why the posting schedule has been so flakey (as opposed to the posting subject matter, which is just naturally flakey, nutty, fruity, and in general, like a box of libertarian-conservative granola), it's that we're currently on holiday in the Great White North.
(We once went on holiday in the great white whale, but it was too damp.)
At the moment, we're in Calgary, just back from the last two days of the Calgary Stampede. The Stampede calls itself in the "greatest outdoor show on earth," hoping this will be sufficiently different from another slogan that Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey won't sue. Unquestionably, however, it's the largest and most famous rodeo in the world; and I've wanted to see it for decades.
We finally seized the lariat this year, and a stint for the final week-end occupies the first part of our holiday. The second part, which takes place at the very moment you're reading this (unless you're a very slow reader), comprises a six-day horsepack trip through the Canadian Rockies, of which the kindest thing to say is that they look remarkably like the Colorado Rockies, except whiter and somewhat more socialist.
Last night, we watched the finals of the chuckwagon races, which were followed by a massive show that was a bizarre interbreeding between a rowdy nightclub act, a show at Disneyland, a 4th of July fireworks display in a smallish town in Ohio, the Circue du Soleil, a junior-high glee club, and a 1970s performance by Up With People.
(Today we saw the finals of the rodeo competitions: the rope and tie, bareback bucking bronco riding, steer wrestling, saddled bucking bronco riding, and "bucking" Brahma bull riding -- how come nobody ever says bucking anent bulls? -- but I'll talk about that in a day or two.)
The chuckwagon races were a new experience to me; I've watched rodeos on TV and even a couple of small ones around where we live; but I've never seen hot-rod chuckwagons before.
For those of you who have never watched Wagontrain or Bonanza or Gunsmoke, or indeed any Hollywood western made between the 1960s and the days of Tom Mix and Cheyenne Harry, a "chuckwagon" is the transport vehicle that followed along behind the drovers and the cattle on cattle drives, carrying the food, the cookpots and implements, and the cooks. Linguists believe this gave rise to a common expression for something that typically happened after the chuckwagons did their magic; but what do linguists know? They also claim, the cads, that the line "out, damned Spot" from the Scottish play refers to Lady MacBeth's pet leopard.
I suppose in days of yore, chuckwagon races used real chuckwagons; but nowadays they race specially designed wagons with little mini canvas coverings, all painted and bedecked in the logos of the traditional corporate sponsors of the wild west era -- Tellus Long-Distance Phone Service, the First National Bank of Canada, Canada Dry, and the Liberal Party.
In a very Canadian touch, the wagons all begin facing the opposite direction from where they're headed; at the sound of the horn, the first thing they do is turn around, attempting to smush various barrels dotted strategically around the start-finish area. They're usually unsuccessful, leaving many of them standing.
The wagons tear off down the course, each trailed by three hysterical cowpokes on laconic cowburros whose job, apparently, is to race after their wagonmaster with items and stuff he forgot; the sight of the red-faced, whip-wielding pokes spewing violent profanity as they try to move their lazy asses brought tears of joy to the audience's eyes.
There appears to be some rule that the pursuers of the winning wagon must stay within 150 feet of the chuckwagon itself -- that is, close enough that with a titanic heave, they can hurl the forgotten goods ("Those Left Behind") onto the chuckwagon's tailgate. Judging from the triumphal parade after each race, these goods include each wagon's "backup driver," or else the driver's wife (who would be the backseat driver)... or so I surmise, since the wagons only have one driver during the race; but when they come round again, he has a somewhat flustered and rumpled wife or perplexed partner seated next to him.
I forget who won. I doesn't make any difference anyway, because the chuckwagons don't have any food in them.
Speaking of food, we did remarkably well at the Stampede: We only ate a single bison rib each, and then we split a barbecued beefwich... spending a mere $70 Canadian. Oh, I forgot to mention: Sachi had a lemonade, whilst I drank a cup of peach juice; this accounts nicely for the money spent.
The chuckwagon races began at 8:00 pm sharp and finished at 10:30 dull; how many times can you watch little horsedrawn wagons fling themselves around a track at breakleg speed, with cookery and crockery strewing out behind like Toyota engine parts after you go over a speedbump, before your mind begins to wander?
So we were rather pleased when the rilly big shoe started about 11:00; it ran until midnight; then some more until about 1:00; then they decided they had a few more acts that hadn't had their chance yet -- did I mention the motorcycle stunt jumping on stage? -- so they continued on till about 2:00. By 3:00 am, we decided we had had enough, even if they hadn't... so we firmly turned our backs on the Bavarian yodeling society, the Chinese acrobats, the full-scale reenactment of Noah and his ark (the unicorns didn't make it aboard; so now we know), three guys named Pete who were having a beer-drinking and rump-kicking contest, a piper named Johnny Bagpipe who played Van Halen on the pipes, and an international chess championship -- all performing simultaneously with the Greek chrous, to general befuddlement -- and we wended our way to bed.
One of those is a real act from the show. I won't tell you which, but it turns out I actually knew him from 27 years ago, when I marched behind him in greatkilt and pike while he played a medley of "Scotland the Brave," "the One-Shoed Policeman's Jig," "the Flagellating Lepers' Reel," and "Star Wars."
This being Calgary in the summer, the sun was just setting as we staggered out the gates and into the waiting arms of a "courtesy bus" to downtown; due to traffic, we arrived only a little later than if we had walked. But all in all, a wonderful time was had by all, especially the Bavarian yodelers, who got the Chinese acrobats to bounce over the heads of the guys named Pete and beernap their kegs.
In the distant future of Sunday or Monday, I'll tell you about the strange scoring system of Canadian rodeos, in which everyone gets the same number of points, no matter what. I hope this little chat has been informative, and that you don't ever do it again or you'll be grounded, young man.
Date ►►► July 17, 2008
Shock News: Sandinista Ortega Snatches Land for Pals... Again
The reign of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas -- the Stalinists who held that country hostage for 11 years, against whom we supported "Contra" freedom fighters -- came to a strange end in 1990 when Ronald Reagan's "Contra" policy managed to force free elections in Nicaragua (held under Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush), and the Sandinistas were voted out of office. But before leaving, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega seized millions of acres of land and gave it to his friends and allies in the movement... thus committing one of the largest land snatches in Latin American history.
And proving once again -- it seems to need relearning every generation -- that if you scratch a Socialist, you'll turn up a thief.
Those who thought they had finally seen Ortega's backside (especially after the land grab) were stunned when the Nicaraguan people once again elected him as president just two years ago... with a scant 38% of the vote (worse than Clinton!) in a crowded field. But I don't think anybody is shocked in the least that, having once again wormed his way into power, he is back practicing his favorite hobby: Grabbing other people's property for himself:
President Daniel Ortega Saavedra beams from the billboards, promising "Citizens Power" as a solution to Nicaragua’s endemic poverty. "The world’s poor arise!" the signs say. But beneath the billboards, on walls and benches all over town, others have scrawled "No to CPC. No to dictatorship."
The graffiti alludes to Citizens Power Councils -- or C.P.C.’s. In December, Mr. Ortega established the neighborhood committees, which are controlled by his left-wing Sandinista party and administer antipoverty programs, despite a vote against the plan by the National Assembly.
Mr. Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader [former?], maintains that the councils are meant only to let community leaders have a say in where and how government money is spent.
But opposition leaders say the councils are another step in what they call the Ortega administration’s drift toward an authoritarian and secretive government that does not have to answer to the legislature -- mostly because the president controls tens of millions of dollars a year in aid from Venezuela.
Some of the president’s opponents charge that the Citizens Power Councils are nothing more than patronage mills, channeling government largess to supporters of the party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight. So a Stalinist thief is once again given the levers of power, and once again he abuses them to enrich himself and his pals; this is news?
But there is much more to this story; for what we are seeing in Nicaragua is stately but relentless "progress" from liberal democracy to Communist dictatorship, yet again under the direct command of the Sandinista Party... with Oogo Chavez as puppetmaster in Venezuela. These putatively private CPCs -- which are funded by low-cost loans from Chavez (and kept strictly off the books), and which are completely dominated by Sandinistas, despite that party's much smaller presence in the National Assembly -- have been given governmental power over many critical aspects of Nicaraguan society; they essentially take the place of government but are completely immune from legislative oversight.
Sandinista President Ortega has given these CPCs control over:
- Distribution of government food aid -- both who receives the food and which stores are picked to supply it; this is a critical function for a country that constantly mambos on the brink of utter economic collapse, and where a great many citizens are literally starving;
- Paving the roads, what few Nicaragua has left after decades of war;
- Approving small-business loans, typically the only funding source standing between poor villagers and welfare;
- Disbursement of free cattle, pigs, and seed stock as welfare for ranchers and farmers -- this way, Ortega gains control of both major sectors of society: the farmers and all other small businesses;
- Vaccinations for Nicaraguan children ('nuff said);
- And reading instruction for the poor, who are typically illiterate.
Overall control of the CPCs is in the hands of Daniel Ortega's communications director, Rosario Murillo; it's an irrelevant coincidence that Ms. Murillo also happens to be Ortega's wife. Council members are not elected; they are appointed by the president (or by his communications director). And while other party members can join the councils, the Sandinistas maintain a huge majority and can outvote everybody else combined.
This raises two interesting academic questions:
- At what point does a private organization, run by the president's wife and funded by a foreign dictator, which seizes control of many functions traditionally associated with government, and which proclaims itself to be the real intermediary between the proletariat and the government, become the de facto new government of Nicaragua?
The rhetoric is quite suggestive:
Jeannette Suazo, a Sandinista, is the chairwoman of the committee in a Managua neighborhood known as September 14th. She insists that aid is handed out without regard to politics, and she said that her committee had four members who belonged to the opposition party [the remaining 11 members, including the chairwoman, are Sandinistas, a nearly 3-1 voting advantage]. All are volunteers and get no pay, though some have government jobs, she said.
“We are the communicators between the people and the government,” she said. “It’s easier to solve these problems with an organized people than with a disorganized people.”
The other academic question:
- How do these "Citizens Power Councils" differ in any significant way from Argentina's Fundación Eva Perón?
To recap, the Sandinistas dominate these "private" councils about 3-1... even though in the National Assembly, the two Sandinista parties together comprise 46%, while the two liberal parties together add up to 53%.
In the election of 2006, Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front received 38% of the vote. Sadly, the two liberal parties, the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance and the Constitutionalist Liberal Party, split the anti-Sandinista vote, 29% and 27%. Had they unified, they would have had a clear majority of 56%, and Nicaragua would not be headed back towards Communist tyranny and government looting again. (Let that be a lesson to conservatives here who plan to "send a message" by voting for Bob Barr this November.)
This rolling catastrophe really makes one appreciate the hand of the divine that gave Colombia the brilliant Álvaro Uribe Vélez... instead of some Ortega-clone, who would have gotten his financing from either Oogo, the drug lords, or both. Too bad Barack H. Obama and the Democratic Congress are intent upon breaking our word to Colombia by tearing up the Colombian Free Trade Agreement and stamping on it; if we were simply to ratify the treaty, we could sell our own goods in Colombia and support freedom and democracy at the same time. Of course, that's almost certainly the exact reason the Democratic Congress won't even bring CFTA up for a vote.
Perhaps Democrats are hoping they can create some CPCs right here, ready to leap into the fray... just in case John S. McCain "steals the election" from the man who bought and paid for it.
Date ►►► July 16, 2008
NYT Wonders: Why Didn't Bush Invade Pakistan, As We All Urged?
The New York Times, in the first of an expected 632 installments, explains to us why al-Qaeda is much more powerful now than it was in 2000... and all because President George W. Bush neglected to do what the elite media now claim they repeatedly urged him to do: Send American "commandos" in "ground raids inside the tribal areas" of Pakistan, instead of fighting the thousands of open members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the country that al-Qaeda itself declared the core of their jihad.
I have never before been so convinced of the existence of alternative realities.
Here, on a nutshell, is how the Times perceives the buildup of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan to be Bush's fault:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush committed the nation to a “war on terrorism” and made the destruction of Mr. bin Laden’s network the top priority of his presidency. But it is increasingly clear that the Bush administration will leave office with Al Qaeda having successfully relocated its base from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s tribal areas, where it has rebuilt much of its ability to attack from the region and broadcast its messages to militants across the world....
The story of how Al Qaeda, whose name is Arabic for “the base,” has gained a new haven is in part a story of American accommodation to President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, whose advisers played down the terrorist threat. It is also a story of how the White House shifted its sights, beginning in 2002, from counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to preparations for the war in Iraq.
This is a remarkable change of tone. The biggest Democratic rap on the Iraq invasion has always been that we acted on the basis of ambiguous intelligence, rather than waiting until we had achieved perfect knowledge of exactly what stockpiles of WMD Saddam Hussein had. But now, the New York Times whines that President Bush hasn't even yet sent massive numbers of Special Forces (SF) into our ally Pakistan... against its will, enflaming the very tribal areas where we would have to work, and possibly driving Pakistan further into the arms of Taliban-style radical Islamism. "What's the matter with that Bush guy, anyway?"
Maybe it's just I; but honestly, I can't quite recollect all those Times editorials urging us to violate Pakistan's sovereignty, sending in hundreds of SF even after the president of Pakistan had already rejected such operations... and all on the basis of disputed intelligence:
The militants’ flight [post Tora Bora from Afghanistan to Pakistan] did not go unnoticed by American intelligence agencies, which began to report beginning in the spring of 2002 that large numbers of foreigners appeared to be hiding in South Waziristan and neighboring North Waziristan.
But Gen. Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, the commander of Pakistani forces in northwestern Pakistan, was skeptical. In an interview this year, General Aurakzai recalled that he regarded the warnings as “guesswork,” and said that his soldiers “found nothing,” even when they pushed into dozens of square miles of territory that neither Pakistani nor British forces had ever entered....
Former American intelligence officials said General Aurakzai’s sweeps were slow-moving and easily avoided by militants. Robert L. Grenier, the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad from 1999 to 2002, said that General Aurakzai was dismissive of the reports because he and other Pakistani officials feared the kind of tribal uprising that could have been touched off by more intrusive military operations. “Aurakzai and others didn’t want to believe it because it would have been an inconvenient fact,” Mr. Grenier recalled.
So the same intelligence agencies that the Democrats -- led by the Times -- were busily hounding off the stage as serial exaggerators anent Iraq were also saying that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were massing in Pakistan, and the drive-by media were lapping it up. In more clinical terms, the Times now insists that we should have incorporated CIA intelligence about Pakistan, while at the same time rejecting CIA intelligence about Iraq.
So why, demands the elite media, didn't we simply set up SF bases in Pakistan and finish the job?
When American military officials proposed in 2002 that Special Operations forces be allowed to establish bases in the tribal areas, Pakistan flatly refused. Instead, a small number of “black” Special Operations forces -- Army Delta Force and Navy Seal units -- were allowed to accompany Pakistani forces on raids in the tribal areas in 2002 and early 2003.
That arrangement only angered both sides. American forces used to operating on their own felt that the Pakistanis were limiting their movements. And while Pakistani officials publicly denied the presence of Americans, local tribesmen spotted the Americans and protested.
Under pressure from Pakistan, the Bush administration decided in 2003 to end the American military presence on the ground.
Liberals attack Bush for "going it alone" against Iraq, ignoring what our allies said (though most agreed to join us). And then they castigate Bush for refusing to actually invade one of our most important allies, clumsily thrashing around in the barely controlled tribal areas without even the support of Pakistan itself. I think I need to lie down with a wet towel on my forehead.
Shouldn't Bush have just gone with the facts on the ground, as reported by the CIA stations in the region? Yet even the Times admits there were pitched battles about that very intelligence, fought between the CIA on the one hand, and the CIA on the other hand:
Along with the Afghan government, the C.I.A. officers in Afghanistan expressed alarm at what they saw as a growing threat from the tribal areas. But the C.I.A. officers in Pakistan played down the problem, to the extent that some colleagues in Kabul said their colleagues in Islamabad were “drinking the Kool-Aid,” as one former officer put it, by accepting Pakistani assurances that no one could control the tribal areas.
On several occasions, senior C.I.A. officials at agency headquarters had to intervene to dampen tensions between the dueling C.I.A. outposts.
Missing from this odd exhortation to destabilization is any recognition that Pakistan is special in any way. In fact, in one very big way: The New York Times completely ignores the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear nation. After 9/11, and possibly because of the successful attacks, which boosted the stock of radical Islamists everywhere ("strong horse"), the secularist president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, was on the ropes. Any major incursion by the United States into Pakistan, particularly in the face of Musharraf's flat rejection of such American SF operations, would make it appear to Pakistanis that the United States was treating their country like a servant.
Such an infuriating image could well have toppled Musharraf; and as we're seeing today, with Musharraf weakened (even though not yet out of the picture), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has begun making overtures to the Taliban. Given that reality, the sudden collapse of Musharraf due to American intervention in his country could have brought to absolute power those like Sharif and Benazir Bhutto who are distinctly more friendly to the Talian and al-Qaeda. In fact, it was Bhutto herself who gave the Taliban its "start-up" money in the early 1990s, thus materially helping create that insane, theocratic, terrorist government.
It's true, as the Times notes, that the Pentagon and some CIA executives wanted a big strike in Pakistan to capture Ayman Zawahiri, bin Laden's number-one deputy and spiritual mentor; but the only intelligence indicating Zawahiri was to be in Pakistan for a terrorist conference was flakey... and President Bush decided, in the end, to listen to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and back off the mission (which had already crept up to a 100-man strong military assault). Maybe it would have worked; but if it didn't -- if it killed a lot of tribals and failed to net Ayman Zawahiri -- it would have been a strategic catastrophe.
With such high stakes, we want people making the decision who are not simply military; we have civilian control of the armed forces precisely because the latter often don't consider the political implications of military action: Had the tribes in the tribal lands risen up and rebelled against Islamabad, we would have lost all intel and all access altogether.
The Times article includes no consideration of the danger that excessive meddling by the United States in Pakistan could drive the Pakistani government away from us, and possibly into cooperation with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In fact, there is not even a single mention of the undisputed fact that Pakistan has demonstrated a nuclear weapons capability... and has a shameful history of transferring nuclear technology to very bad actors (via the A.Q. Khan network).
Too, the elite media's obsessive focus on bin Laden, the person, missed the point of the response to 9/11. Per Douglas Feith's book War and Decision, the focus was not on punishing Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda but on protecting America from further attacks. The Pentagon and CIA pulled off this miracle by aggressively confronting the attackers, if possible before they even launched their operation, even if that meant preemptive war -- but only as a last resort, not (as the Times seems to want) as a first option -- at least where our allies are concerned.
Simply put, the Times is still arguing, for the thousandth wearying time, that instead of invading our enemy Iraq, we should have invaded our ally Pakistan.
The closing dig by the Times against the administration is illuminating:
Leading terrorism experts have warned that it is only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack planned in the mountains of Pakistan is carried out on American soil.
“The United States faces a threat from Al Qaeda today that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001,” said Seth Jones, a Pentagon consultant and a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation.
“The base of operations has moved only a short distance, roughly the difference from New York to Philadelphia.”
What does Jones mean by saying America faces a threat "that is comparable to what it faced on Sept. 11, 2001?" We were successfully hit on 9/11 because we did not yet realize we were at war with the Iran/al-Qaeda axis... rather, that they were at war with us. But now we know; and now we have been acting as we should to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, territories, or military forces. And except for within the hot-war zones themselves, we have been 100% successful. Nothing succeeds like success; the Bush administration must have been doing something right since 2001.
To equate this with our eight years of somnambulism from 1993 through the first eight months of 2001 is not only tendentiously wrong... it's actually laughable. The elimination of Gorelick's Wall alone, along with the other changes wrought by the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, render us far less vulnerable today than we were on that dreadful day in September... and if Seth Jones doesn't know that, then he damn well should.
We're not perfectly secure; we never have been and never will be. And we may well need to step up our clandestine military activity in Pakistan. But if so, we must tread very softly; lest in our impatience at the pace we find ourselves sitting on a nuclear warhead, smoking a lit stick of dynamite.
Date ►►► July 15, 2008
Here's How to Get That Scientific Consensus on Globaloney: Jail "Deniers"
Though he now insists he didn't mean it "literally" (any of the several times he said it), Canadian anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC) advocate and occasional scientist David Suzuki has called for imprisonment of politicians who didn't kow-tow to globaloney hysteria, for the "intergenerational crime" of rejecting the Kyoto Protocol and other international global-warming demands:
"What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they're doing is a criminal act," said Dr. Suzuki, a former board member of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
"It's an intergenerational crime in the face of all the knowledge and science from over 20 years."
The statement elicited rounds of applause.
After a furor erupted over the "scientist's" call for an end to freedom of speech on this issue, Suzuki claimed he didn't really mean it literally. It was just a joke.
If we were talking about the United States, I wouldn't be worried; but this is Canada... the same country that is prosecuting both Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant for violating the "human rights" of Moslems by opposing creeping sharia-law through the West. The National Post notes at least one legal means by which Suzuki's joke could actually be implemented into law:
The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, a Liberal-sponsored private member's bill that passed and was given Royal Assent last year, legally requires the Conservative government to abide by the international pact's short-term environmental targets.
In the event that conditions are not met, government officials are held liable.
"Every person who contravenes a regulation made under this Act is guilty of an offence punishable by indictment or on summary conviction, as prescribed by the regulations," the act reads, "and liable to a fine or to imprisonment as prescribed by the regulations."
Adding fuel to this carbon-releasing fire, in late June, James Hansen -- the NASA scientist who has been the prime mover behind Globaloney for the past two decades -- agreed with Dr. Suzuki: Jail those globaloney deniers! He wants us to start with the CEOs of energy companies, who (it is well known) legally have no freedom of speech rights, because they're always saying things that any fool knows are damned lies:
James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature (?), accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.
Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress -- in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming -- to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.
Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.
In an interview with the Guardian he said: "When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that's a crime."
Yes; any fool. Hansen was unavailable to reveal whether this, too, was just a joke.
Here is the transcript of that "interview," which appears to be more of a monologue by Dr. Hansen:
Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.
CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.
Mr. Hansen was also unavailable to answer whether he thinks that infamous "deniers" who are also prominent, independent scientists, unconnected to any "fossil energy companies," should also be tried for "high crimes against humanity and nature." (Some of these AGCC dissenters, or "deniers," as Lawrence Solomon puckishly dubs them, are enumerated in the "slither through.")
The lesson here should be clear: Global warming hysteria is a creature of the Left; and like all leftish projects, freedom of speech is globaloney's enemy: Those who dare speak out are liars; liars are criminals; and criminals should be prosecuted... on whatever fanciful charges can be plucked from the ether. ("Intergenerational crime in the face of all the knowledge and science from over 20 years!" "High crimes against humanity and nature!")
Persuading the world that terrorism by Islamists has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam is another project of the Left... and as such, it too is subject to the "wicked words" exemption to freedom of speech, as Steyn and Levant have discovered: Both are now fighting for their liberty as of this writing.
I have a simple rule: If your thesis can only be supported by gagging anyone who dissents, then it is almost certainly wrong, and risibly so. Apply as needed.
As noted above, NASA scientist and AGCC High Panjandrum James Hansen has not stated whether he wishes to see criminal prosecutions against the following
Holocaust Anthropogenic Global Climate Change deniers; each of these is mentioned in the Lawrence Solomon book the Deniers, whence I compiled the list.
These are the men that Hansen, Suzuki, et al dismiss as poseurs, charlatans, and lickspittles of Big Energy:
- Syun-Ichi Akasofu, Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and its Director since its establishment in 1998 until January of 2007. Previously he was director of the Geophysical Institute since 1986;
- Reid Bryson (deceased), atmospheric scientist, geologist and meteorologist; professor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; first chairman of the Department of Meteorology; first director of the Institute for Environmental Studies;
- Robert Carter, research professor in the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, Australia; geologist and marine geologist with special interests in stratigraphy and, more recently, climate change; former Director of Australia's Secretariat for the Ocean Drilling Program;
- Rhodes Fairbridge, Australian geologist and expert on climate change; taught at Columbia University from 1955 until his 1982 retirement; supervising editor for the Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences; developed the Fairbridge Curve, a record of changes in sea levels over the last 10,000 years;
- Eigil Friis-Christensen, expert in space physics; Director of the Danish National Space Center; geophysicist at the Danish Meteorological Institute; between 1976 and 1997, Principal Investigator of the Greenland Magnetometer Array; 1991 paper, "Length of the Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate", published in Science, presented his findings on global warming and sun activity correlation, pre-dating the Rio Conference and Kyoto Conference; between 1991 and 1997, Head, Solar-Terrestrial Physics Division, Danish Meteorological Institute; Friis-Christensen and Henrik Svensmark were the earliest scientists to suggest a possible link between galactic cosmic rays and global climate change assisted by solar wind intensity variation, termed cosmoclimatology; Adjunct Professor of geophysics and space physics, 1996 to 2006, Niels Bohr Institute of University of Copenhagen;
- Vincent Gray, New Zealand-based coal chemist, climate author, self-selected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expert reviewer, founder of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition;
- William Gray, pioneer in the science of forecasting hurricanes; Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU); head of the Tropical Meteorology Project at CSU's Department of Atmospheric Sciences;
- Zbigniew Jaworowski, chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw; former chair of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation; principal investigator of three research projects of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and of four research projects of the International Atomic Energy Agency; held posts with the Centre d'Etude Nucleaires near Paris; the Biophysical Group of the Institute of Physics, University of Oslo; the Norwegian Polar Research Institute and the National Institute for Polar Research in Tokyo;
- George Kukla, retired professor of climatology at Columbia University; researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; co-author of a chapter in the book "Natural Climate Variability on Decade to Century Time Scales" published by the National Research Council;
- Christopher Landsea, Science and Operations Officer at the National Hurricane Center; formerly research meteorologist with Hurricane Research Division of Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory at NOAA; member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society;
- Richard Lindzen, Harvard trained atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
- Paul Reiter, professor of medical entomology at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France; member of the World Health Organization Expert Advisory Committee on Vector Biology and Control; employee of the Center for Disease Control (Dengue Branch) for 22 years; Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society; specialist in mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever;
- Nir Shaviv, Israeli associate professor of physics, carrying out research in the fields of astrophysics and climate science (correlations between sun activity and climate change); associate professor at the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem;
- Sami Solanki, Professor at the Institute of Astronomy at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (Swiss Federal Institure of Technology in Zürich); Director for the Sun-Heliosphere Department of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research; scientific member of the Max Planck Society; Chair (and spokesperson) of the International Max Planck Research School on Physical Processes in the Solar System and Beyond at the Universities of Braunschweig and Göttingen; editor-in-chief of the Living ReviewsTM in Solar Physics, an online review journal for solar physics and related fields;
- Henrik Svensmark, physicist at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen; director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute (DSRI), a part of the Danish National Space Center; previously headed sun-climate group at DSRI;
- Hendrik Tennekes, former director of research at the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut, or KNMI); former professor of aeronautical engineering at Pennsylvania State University;
- Richard Tol, Research Professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin, Ireland; Professor of the Economics of Climate Change at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Adjunct Professor at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh (PA, USA); Associate of the Research Unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University and Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Science, Hamburg, Germany;
- Edward Wegman, statistics professor at George Mason University and chair of the National Research Council’s Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematical statistics and is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and a Senior Member of the IEEE.
Date ►►► July 13, 2008
Democrats Might Want to Consider This...
This could very well revive the fortunes of the Democratic Party, as these are their natural constituents:
Dozens of German politicians have tabled [sent to parliament for a vote] a new law to extend voting rights to babies, toddlers, children and teenagers.
The bill, which has won the cross-party backing of some heavyweight German politicians, would wipe away decades of "exclusion" and "discrimination" against minors, according to its supporters.
(Hat tip to Blake Dvorak at RCP)
The proposed law would extend voting rights to every person in Germany, from birth onward. It's championed by a liberal party, the Free Democratic Party; I know you're shocked:
According to the head of the liberal Free Democratic Party traditional coalition partner of Chancellor Merkel's CDU party the constitutional change would enfranchise 14 million people.
"Unfortunately in Germany, 17 per cent of the population, namely the children and adolescent, are excluded from political decision making," said FDP chief Dirk Niebel.
As babies and even children clearly cannot understand what "voting" means, somebody else will have to cast their ballots for them; I'm sure the Free Democratic Party (who is pushing this) will be happy to take on the responsibility of responsibly exercising the proxy of those 14 million new voters ("17 percent of the population"). Naturally, the FDP will only vote the way they children themselves would have voted; they would never take advantage of the situation to pad their own turnout.
This is perfect for the Democratic Party in the United States. No longer would we Republicans be able to say that a vote for us would "put the grownups back in charge!"
Now if only the Democrats could emulate on a nationwide-scale the success they have had in liberal enclaves like Detroit and Boston in getting all those felons back on the rolls, they would never lose another election.
How Bush Got His Groove Back
Today, President George W. Bush did something that shocked some of us: With a sweep of his presidential hand, he rejected the attempt by a low-level advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency to force the administration to regular carbon dioxide (which we all exhale) as a "pollutant," defying both the Democrats and the Supreme Court:
The Bush administration, dismissing the recommendations of its top experts, rejected regulating the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming Friday, saying it would cripple the U.S. economy.
In a 588-page federal notice, the Environmental Protection Agency made no finding on whether global warming poses a threat to people's health or welfare, reversing an earlier conclusion at the insistence of the White House and officially kicking any decision on a solution to the next president and Congress.
The Democrats -- both their political wing in Congress and their journalistic wing -- reacted with befuddled fury; how dare the president try to censor Jason K. Burnett, the Democrats' best friend, when all he wanted to do was save the planet!
But we say good on President Bush that he finally found, well, the courage to tell both the Democratic mole inside the EPA and also the Supreme Court to go jump. The Democrats wanted Bush to use the Clean Air Act to "regulate" (ration and tax) carbon dioxide; but Bush said that the law was meant to cover pollutants... not perfectly natural gases that are, in fact, essential to plant life.
He says that it's up to the Democratic Congress to go through the formal process of trying to enact a new law to regulate carbon and carbonoids, if that's what they really want:
The White House on Thursday rejected the EPA's suggestion three weeks earlier that the 1970 Clean Air Act can be both workable and effective for addressing global climate change. The EPA said Friday that law is "ill-suited" for dealing with global warming.
"If our nation is truly serious about regulating greenhouse gases, the Clean Air Act is the wrong tool for the job," EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told reporters. "It is really at the feet of Congress."
But this is one of those "don't throw me in that bridal path" moments, because the minute the Democrats try to write a globaloney bill into law, they will run smack into the buzzsaw of the economy and energy prices: The people want, and will want for the forseeable future, more drilling... not lame and transparent attempts to force an end to the use of fossil fuels.
The Democrats at least realize they don't want to take the heat (no pun) for crippling the American economy; rather, they want to force Bush to do it -- then blame him for any problems:
Congress hasn't found the will to do much about the problem either. Supporters of regulating greenhouse gases could get only 48 votes in the 100-member Senate last month. The House has held several hearings on the problem but no votes on any bill addressing it. Both major presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, have endorsed variations of the approach rejected by the Senate.
What's interesting is that this is not really a fight over "anthropogenic global climate change," though that is at the heart of the dispute. The real issue here is the unitary Executive, which Democrats have failed to understand since the year Dot.
They believe, or at least claim, that the theory of the unitary Executive is that the president (the
"Executive" of the country) rules over both the other two branches, becoming supreme leader. This is risible on its face: The president cannot arbitrarily alter the Constitution, so he's stuck with the balance of powers. Rather, the theory of the unitary Executive is that the chief executive (the president) is the final voice of authority for anything emanating from an Executive department, including the EPA. Members of the agency, let alone individual, appointed members of the scientific staff, do not have authority to run their own foreign policy against the president's wishes.
Thus, it is (or should be) meaningless what a lower-level advisory committee at the EPA said about their grandiose plans; Bush has the authority to make them change their findings... especially when the science is still unsettled (scores of scientsts on "the other side" advancing very plausible counter-arguments that globaloney is just that... baloney). And especially does this president have the virtue of rightness on his side, since several other cabinet heads are totally opposed to trying to implement the Court's holding:
The EPA said it had encountered resistance from the Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Transportation departments, as well as the White House, that made it "impossible" to respond in a timely fashion to the Supreme Court decision.
"Our agencies have serious concerns with this suggestion because it does not fairly recognize the enormous -- and, we believe, insurmountable -- burdens, difficulties, and costs, and likely limited benefits, of using the Clean Air Act" to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the secretaries of the four agencies wrote to the White House on Wednesday.
While the GOP was in control of Congress, it sometimes seemed as if Bush's only function (apart from Iraq) was to rubber-stamp anything the Republican legislature sent him. But with the loss of both chambers in 2006, Rip Van Bush as awaked from his 40-year slumber and roared into his true power as president: I daresay he has had more success against the Democrats than against his own party.
Date ►►► July 11, 2008
OPEC Threatens America, America Laughs - or, the Ultimate Political X-Prize
In a bizarre, subtextual threat, the Secretary-General of OPEC, Abdalla Salem El-Badri, essentially said that if the United States attacks Iran, or even if we defend ourselves when Iran attacks us or Israel, OPEC will ensure that the price of oil skyrockets to an "unlimited" level:
In recent weeks, the price of oil has risen higher on speculation that Israel could be preparing to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. The saber-rattling intensified this week with missile tests by Iran. That has further shaken oil markets because of concerns that any conflict with Iran could disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf region.
"The prices would go unlimited," Badri said during the interview, referring to the effect of a military conflict. "I can't give you a number."
But of course, El-Badri is thinking about an Iraq-style invasion of Iran, which would be bad for several reasons (and is certainly not in the cards):
We simply haven't the troops; we're already fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the hundred or more low-level engagements we have around the world in what Thomas P.M. Barnett calls the "non-integrated gap" nations.
We still have not recovered from Bill Clinton ransacking the Department of Defense to find his "peace dividend," which he used for more social-welfare programs in the first couple of years of his presidency.
- The American public would not stand for another invasion/occupation; they're already more than half convinced (demographically) that the Iraq war was not worth fighting, even if we win. Of course, if we do clearly win, then many of those saying "it wasn't worth it" will change their minds... that's how such things work. But certainly most people would freak at the thought of invading and occupying Iran in the next few months.
- We might have a hard time pacifying Iran in the remainder of George W. Bush's presidency; and if Barack H. Obama is elected -- which would probably be more likely, given an invasion/occupation of Iran -- that would be the end of it. Bush would just be handing Obama yet another venue in which the latter could surrender to lawlessness and the world caliphate.
- A protracted and bloody invasion would turn the entire Iranian population against us and send them scurrying to support the mad mullahs. I haven't seen anyone dispute this point -- and it's a deal-killer all by itself.
- And most important to this anaylsis, such a force on force struggle would give those selfsame mullahs ample time to torch their own oil fields... leading to a disruption in the world oil supply that would indeed, as El-Badri suggested, lead to an "unlimited" rise in the price of oil: Our economy would absolutely tank, and I'm not willing to trade pacifying Iran for a complete collapse of the American economy. I don't think I'm alone in this.
Fortunately, we have a much better scenario available, which we've already talked about... the Herman Option, named after military historian Arthur Herman. Here is how we described it back in January of 2007:
Herman suggests a seven-point plan to break the logjam with Iran:
- Announce that we will not tolerate any nation interfering with the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz;
- Back that threat up by sending at least a carrier battle group (CBG) to the Persian Gulf, along with anti-submarine ships and planes (the latter are routinely carried on carriers), minesweepers, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System-equipped cruisers and destroyers, UAVs, and our own submarines;
- Declare a one-country blockade of all of Iran's oil shipments out -- and gasonline shipments in; a complete freeze-out. Everyone else gets to ship freely through the strait... just not Iran;
- Launch a "comprehensive air campaign" against Iran's air defenses, air bases, communications grid, and missile sites along the PG;
- Continue the campaign against the nuclear sites and all supporting infrastructure, including roads, bridges, power plants that serve the nuclear development centers at Natanz and Bushehr, and so forth;
- Finally, and most important, continue the campaign to take out all of Iran's gasoline refineries.
Herman points out the critical choke-point for Iran and the focus of this campaign:
It is still insufficiently appreciated that Iran, a huge oil exporter, imports nearly 40 percent of its gasoline from foreign sources, including the Gulf states. With its refineries gone and its storage facilities destroyed, Iran’s cars, trucks, buses, planes, tanks, and other military hardware would run dry in a matter of weeks or even days. This alone would render impossible any major countermoves by the Iranian army. (For its part, the Iranian navy is aging and decrepit, and its biggest asset, three Russian-made Kilo-class submarines, should and could be destroyed before leaving port.)
Contingent upon the completetion of the first six steps, Herman suggests the coup de grâce:
- American special forces would seize all of Iran's offshore wells and pumping stations, from the strait to Kharg Island (the small, unmarked island just off Iran's coast, due east of Kuwait and about 10 o'clock from Bushehr).
Herman concludes that if we did all this, we would able "to control the flow of Iranian oil at the flick of a switch."
I would add an eighth step, per our Iran Strategies 5: the Joint-Stike Attack, linked above:
- Simultaneously with the American attacks above, Israel strikes hard at Hezbollah, crippling that organization with airstrikes and missile attacks.
This is the take-away point: "Herman concludes that if we did all this, we would able 'to control the flow of Iranian oil at the flick of a switch.'" That means, among other things, that since we would control their offshore platforms, we could keep that oil flowing. After crippling the Iranian armed forces by cutting off their supplies of gasoline, we could also stroll into their land-based oil fields and take control... keeping that oil flowing too.
And here's the kicker: We could put all the money from the oil into an escrow account... and announce to the world that the Iranians will get all that money back -- when they have removed the mullahs from power and set up a free and democratic society... which is what the younger Iranians want to do anyway.
I'm sure the Moslem world would scream and rave; but it's a bit hard to accuse us of stealing Iran's oil, when we're putting every last rial into a transparent escrow account; and we offer to hand it over to the Iranian people, as soon as they put paid to the Persian carpetbaggers who have run their country into the ground. Think of it as the ultimate geopolitical X-prize!
While the price might skyrocket at first, as soon as it becomes clear that we're deliberately keeping the oil lines open, and that Iran is probably headed for democracy (like their two next-door neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan), I forsee oil prices dropping markedly, as the mad mullahs will no longer be figured into the pricing equation.
So to Abdalla Salem El-Badri, I will say this (quoting yet another great American Democrat): "Go ahead... make my day!"
Date ►►► July 9, 2008
Is "Stupid" the New "Cool" for Democrats?
Good news and bad news from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL, 95%):
"I'm open to drilling and responsible production," Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin told The Wall Street Journal, adding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could also support the move.
However, Durbin said his support for opening new areas to drilling was contingent on setting requirements that oil and gas companies begin production within a specified time frame on acreage they have leased from the government.
Reuters helpfully adds this, ensuring we all know who the real villains are:
Democrats say energy companies are producing oil and gas from only about a quarter of the 91.5 million acres currently leased from the government.
Um... how difficult is this concept? Let me lay it out in black and white. (Oops, this is Big Lizards... is brownish-red and parchment-tan)...
- Oil companies do not get to set up rigs and explore for oil before leasing the land they intend to explore. They're allowed to send petroleum geologists to walk around the joint and make an educated guess that this is the kind of geology that often contains oil... but that's it.
- So when the company leases land, it's really buying a pig in a blanket: Geologists don't really know whether it contains oil at all; and even if it does, whether that oil is economically extractable. They're gambling. (It's not a crap shoot, because they have intelligence; think of the company more as a professional poker player... the odds are still against making a hand; but he knows what those odds are, thus he has a good idea whether to raise, call, or fold.)
- So all that Reuters' last graf tells us is that Big Energy wins that bet about 25% of the time; and that 25% produces enough oil for them to show a profit.
- But what about that remaining 75% of lots where they're not pumping oil? Well, one of two things must be true: Either the company has not yet found any oil accessible enough to pump without losing money... or else they have found accessible oil, but they're deliberately not pumping it... and therefore they're committing corporate suicide for some unfathomable reason that we simply cannot -- er -- fathom. After all, their competitors are busily pumping every barrel of oil they can get their rigs on.
Somehow, I think the first option is more likely: They simply haven't found accessible oil on 75% of their leases; they looked and looked, but they came up dry. (Or else they grabbed the lease because it looked promising, but they haven't had a chance to explore yet because they've only had it for a few months -- and they're busy exploring on other leases.) The idea that they're sitting on billions of barrels of oil and deliberately not pumping it, at a time when a barrel of oil sells at an all-time high, is laugh-out-loud ludicrous.
Thus, if we take Durbin's comments seriously (and why should we? it's Dick Durbin), the deal Senate Democrats offer is that they'll graciously allow oil companies to drill where the oil is -- on the outer continental shelf (OCS) -- but only if they agree to also drill where the oil isn't... in the dry holes they're currently leasing.
Democrats: "In your heart, you know they're dolts."
Date ►►► July 8, 2008
Cheney vs. the EPA: the Sound of One Wing Flapping
Here's the scaremongering lede from the Associated Press -- funneled into hometown newspapers and dutifully recited on local news stations across the country:
Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a former EPA officials maintains.
When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of the science.
But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, says that Cheney's office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC's original draft testimony removed. [How would Cheney's involvement refute the claim that the snipped pages were scientifically inaccurate?]
"The Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony (concerning) ... any discussions of the human health consequences of climate change," Burnett has told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
AP and other elite media imply that the wicked George W. Bush and the administration try to censor inconvenient scientific truth that undercuts the interests of their masters at Big Oil. But what's really going on here is a desperate struggle by the Left to enshrine the conventional wisdom of anthropogenic global climate change into federal law quickly, before the public can catch up to the current science -- which has thrown a rising ride of cold water on global warming hysteria.
The Left? What has the Left got to do with the Bush administration's own former "senior adviser on climate change" to the EPA? Just a minor matter that AP forgot to include in their piece: Jason K. Burnett did not simply resign from the EPA in June "because of disagreements over the agency's response to climate change," as AP reports.
Burnett is a lifelong Democrat and well-heeled (a member of the David Packard clan, of Hewlett-Packard fame and fortune); and as even AP admits, he has donated more than $125,000 to Democrats since Algore's presidential campaign in 2000. This appears to be another sad instance where Bush foolishly reached out to Democrats, thinking they wanted to come together, right now, and solve problems.
He forgot, yet again, that to the Left, "the personal is political;" every waking moment is an opportunity to politick for their pet causes. And there is no branch of science more political today than anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC), the supposition that human industrial activity causes the Earth's temperature to soar -- causing disasters we can only avert by cutting back on our energy use so markedly, civilization itself would be set back centuries.
But evidently, AP doesn't think that proponents of AGCC can be politically motivated (they have no trouble believing the same charge against critics of the orthodoxy). The fact that Burnett has become an Obama campaign worker seemed irrelevant to AP in evaluating the accuracy and veracity of his pronunciamentos on global climate change, including this one:
"Climate change endangers health and welfare," Burnett said. "The EPA is required to use existing law to reduce greenhouse gases. The sooner we begin addressing it in earnest, the better off we'll be."
This is the "senior advisor on climate change," which is -- or should be -- a position held by a scientist. But Burnett is not a scientist; he is an economist... and judging from his political positions, not even a free-market economist.
It's not unlikely that his deeply held belief that EPA is required to reduce greenhouse gases surely influences the advisory conclusions he sends to that agency... and when they're not implemented, that he conveys to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 89%) for her to cite at a press conference, where she accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of orchestrating a "cover-up." (Burnett stood beside her on the podium smirking as she did so.)
I will agree with Barbara "Box of Hammers" Boxer on one point: There is indeed a cover-up of vital data related to anthropogenic global climate change. Proponents of globaloney hysteria ("Hansenites," I think I'll call them, after Hysteric in Chief James Hansen at NASA) have systematically covered up all scientific evidence that casts doubt on their current catastrophe theory:
- They have ignored evidence that the so-called "Hockey Stick graph" used in all early reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), showing a sharp and unprecedented lurch upward in global temperature in the twentieth century, was completely bogus: It was, in fact, an artifact of faulty statistical modeling, as demonstrated fairly conclusively by Dr. Edward Wegman. (The IPCC stealthily dropped the Hockey Stick from subsequent publications without actually coming out and admitting it was a fraud.)
- Hansenites have tried for more than a decade to cover up the existence of the Mediaeval Warming Period -- during which the Earth experienced warming that was faster and hotter than any experienced now... and all this happened long before there was any industrial activity anywhere on the planet.
- They have studiously ignored or even attacked the scientific evidence showing a significant correlation between sun activity and climate change -- in particular, the solar magnetic field and its relation to cosmic rays and low-altitude cloud cover on the Earth. Much research remains to be done, and thousands of scientists are involved in that very task... but so far, the IPCC's only response has been to accuse them all of orchestrating a vast, right-wing conspiracy with the oil companies to smear Algore. (No, I'm not kidding. Honestly. Read as much as you can stand, without dying from terminal ennui, of this inaptly titled Newsweek story, "the Truth About Denial.")
They have tried to suppress all evidence of the beneficial effects of a higher CO2 environment on crops -- including plants that are stronger, larger, more naturally pest-resistant, grow faster, and are tastier; the effect of higher CO2 on world hunger would be remarkable.
- Hansenites have consistently applied "static analysis" in order to produce reports showing utter disaster from what seem to be fairly minor predicted effects, such as a rise in sea level of a foot or two over the next hundred years: In order to show massive catastrophe, the IPCC assumes that human society will not respond in any way to the slight rise -- for example, by building sea-surge walls and levees in vulnerable areas, such as people in Europe and elsewhere have done literally for centuries.
- And when all else fails, globaloney totalitarians portray research as "denial" and equate it with denying the Holocaust. The IPCC itself has smeared the reputations of "climate-change deniers," tried to interfere with their funding, and even advocated criminally prosecuting scientists whose research leads them to dissent from global-warming orthodoxy, and any politician who votes against the IPCC's orders. Climate absolutists suggest such charges as "intergenerational crimes" and "high crimes against humanity and nature." We've scheduled a post to be published here on Tuesday that will detail this new tactic for promoting "scientific consensus."
(I strongly recommend the book the Deniers, by Lawrence Solomon, for much discussion of several of these scientific disputes.)
Given this history of utterly one-sided "debate" of the science behind the Hansenites' pronouncements of looming global ruin if we don't rush to cripple Western economies, is it any wonder that the Bush administration wants to ensure that the "scientific" recommendations Jason Burnett gives to the EPA and the "scientific" testimony that various "experts" (such as James Hansen) offer to courts are actually accurate, complete, and include the views of respected scientists, working in relevant fields, who happen to dissent?
And is it really nefarious if the administration acts to suppress partisan politicking disguised as climate science? Until we know exactly what testimony Vice President Cheney sought to have excised from the official report, and whether there really is actual scientific concensus on those points -- or whether they constituted deliberate exaggeration by a highly political non-scientist committed to implementing the establishment view on AGCC, and allergic to contrary data -- we have no way to judge whether Cheney's actions were reasonable or constituted "censorship."
The entire field of climate change is already so thoroughly tainted by politics, mostly from the Left, that it has become toxic. Globaloney is like a bird that tries to fly with only one wing. Removing from official reports tendentious, unverifiable claims actually furthers the cause of real science; Dick Cheney should do more of it, and we should applaud and encourage him.
Algore notwithstanding, the science is not settled. There is no scientific "consensus." People are confused by the similar word in the political sphere, where a consensus might mean that only 20% of politicians or voters disagree. But in science, the term "consensus" means agreement by every major, respected scientist working in the relevant field. If even a couple of them dispute some scientific theory, the science is not "settled."
With AGCC, however, it's not "a couple" if dissenters; there are literally thousands of scientists working in areas that show some propensity to undermine the naive version of globaloney. More research is clearly needed before legislators or the courts can implement policy; scientific questions are not resolved by shouting down the opposition.
Cheney might have engaged in improper, unethical, or even criminal behavior... but the Democrats have not even presented a prima-facie case yet, let alone responded to rigorous cross-examination by the other side. Until they get a lot more specific about exactly what was cut out (or attempted to be removed) and why, they have a pocketful of empty.
And for those answers, Democrats can no longer merely talk among themselves; they're actually going to have to ask Dick Cheney those questions in the press and give him the opportunity to defend his actions. And they're going to have to allow free testimony by scientists who have a different take on what the available evidence shows.
Finally, we will need a neutral arbiter to resolve who is right. And no, Jason K. Burnett will not suffice.
None So Benign Apprentices
Paul Mirengoff over at my favorite blog has published a thought-provoking post that I urge you to read. He labors a bit for the punchline, creating occasion to refer to both Bill Clinton and Barack H. Obama as sorcerers' apprentices; but the label is worth the labor, and he defends it well:
This ability to transform things so fundamentally (like into unlike; unlike into like) resembles magic, and to a certain kind of personality, it can be intoxicating. Among these types, one imagines, is the future politician. The risk of such intoxication is heightened by the fact that the post-modernism I described above has seeped into legal education, which means that too many law professors behave less like the restrained “sorcerer” and more like the sorcerer’s apprentice. Clinton and Obama both were law professors when they were young.
The only nit I intend to pick is that the contemporary image of the sorcerer's apprentice is forever tainted by the wonderful Walt Disney film Fantasia, where the S.A. is "played" by Mickey Mouse. Since Mr. Mouse is always sympathetic, a certain benign tolerance bleeds into what should be the portrait of an arrogant apprentice monkeying with spells he is not fit to cast, thus endangering himself, his master, and indeed the entire village. In Fantasia, to the charming tune of Paul Dukas, the criminally negligent apprentice becomes a cuddly scapegrace, a lovable rascal.
I don't see either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama as mere scallywag; each is darker, more cold-bloodedly narcissistic, more beholden to the evil of his master. Here is where I think Paul took his wrong turn:
The second factor is the boundless (and largely justified) self-confidence Clinton and Obama possess. Both are entirely self-made. Both came from the periphery of society and, seemingly without much effort, grabbed its most glittering prizes. For both, glibness was a key to the success itself and to the appearance of its ease. No wonder both believe they can magically talk their way out of contradictions.
In fact, neither is "self-made," in the sense of a person who succeeds by his own initiative and intellect. Each pol, Clinton and Obama, hooked up, early in his career, with a mentor, guru, kingmaker who propelled him to the upper echelon of political society before he was seasoned. Clinton was the protege of Sen. William Fulbright; Obama became the eager acolyte of the vile Jeremiah Wright. Interestingly, both mentors were well-known racists and demagogues even at the time their proteges sought the relationship, seemingly without qualm in both cases.
The evil of these gurus precludes thinking of either follower as good old Mickey. To stick with Paul's metaphor of the sorcerer's apprentice, Bill Clinton -- until he seized his own power -- played Grima Wormtongue to Fulbright's Saruman; while Barack Obama spent twenty years as the Mouth of Sauron.
That may not be entirely fair, but it strikes nearer the mark than Democrats would ever admit.
Date ►►► July 7, 2008
Service Record a Huge Plus - for Democratic Candidates
Newly minted Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA, 85%) has urged that John S. McCain should "calm down" on emphasizing his military experience and stop taking advantage of his valor and character as the Republican nominee for (among other tasks) Commander in Chief of all American armed forces:
"I think what we really need to work on over the next four, five months, and it goes back to the speech that Sen. Obama gave [Monday] and this little fight that I've been watching and that is, we need to make sure that we take politics out of service," Webb said. "People don't serve their country for political issues."
He continued: "And John McCain's my long-time friend, if that is one area that I would ask him to calm down on, it`s that, don't be standing up and uttering your political views and implying that all the people in the military support them because they don't, any more than when the Democrats have political issues during the Vietnam War. Let's get the politics out of the military, take care of our military people, or have our political arguments in other areas."
Now, who was it, during the Democratic Party national convention of 2004, saluted and declared he was "reporting for the duty?" Wasn't his bullet wound in the fundament and his imaginary trip to Cambodia -- with his imaginary CIA friend who gave him the magic hat -- good enough to earn this fellow a presidential nomination? But evidently, being shot down by the enemy and spending five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton now counts for nothing, say nine separate Democratic pols and pundits (plus Webb), according to Jim Geraghty at National Review Online:
Now, it would help if the man the Economist magazine labeled an "angry potato" would provide an example of McCain "uttering his political views and implying that all the people in the military support them when they don't." Has McCain said that everyone in the military supports the Iraq War? His idea of a "League of Democracies"? Tax cuts? Webb denounces a comment McCain hasn't made, and in fact I think Webb is the first to accuse McCain of this.
Jim Webb, a former first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and receipient of numerous medals (Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts... almost as many as John Kerry!) has certainly built his political career on his service. His political appointments, such as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Regan, most certainly depended upon his distinguished military background, including his graduation from Annapolis -- as well as his series of military novels.
And Webb made full use of his status as a decorated war hero when he ran for the United States Senate in 2006.
So what is this "calm down" business? When John Kerry run for the presidency, he could not finish a sentence without saying he served in Vietnam; it became a national joke. I heard no Democrat -- not even Jim Webb -- complain about that.
There is a concerted effort underway by Barack H. Obama supporters to marginalize McCain's military service record. It's not just Weasley Clark and Jim Webb; in April, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV, 89%), during an interview with The Charleston Gazet, criticized McCain for being "insensitive" to "human issues":
Rockefeller believes McCain has become insensitive to many human issues. "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit.
"What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."
Leaving aside the obvious stupidities -- McCain flew attack aircraft, A-4 Skyhawks, not fighters; you don't attack in an A-4 from "35,000 feet" but from flat on the deck; and there were no "laser-guided missiles" used during the Vietnam war -- the implication is truly disgusting: Rockefeller, based upon no evidence whatsoever, is calling McCain a war criminal who massacred civilians.
Some left wingers such as MoveOn are suggesting McCain was a traitor during his long captivity... again, without any evidence other than their own irrational hatred of John McCain. They claim he betrayed his country to the North Vietnamese, selling classified information for favors. These accusers demand McCain release his military record (I think it's clear they just want to retaliate for the earlier demands that John Kerry release his).
But that aside, accusing McCain of not thinking about servicemen because he opposed Jim Webb's G.I.bill is worse than disingenious. As Dafydd explains:
This version of the new G.I. Bill gives full benefits -- the same benefits -- to every vet who served at least three years. The net effect of this, of course, is to encourage veterans to leave the service after a mere three years, typically before even rising to the rank of sergeant or petty officer third class. Every institution from the Pentagon to the Congressional Budget Office agrees that it would hurt retention of combat veterans -- in the middle of a war.
So if a Republican uses his distinguished military service to boost his candidacy and promote a strong military, he is doing wrong and should "calm down." But if a Democrat uses his distinguised military career as a shield, so he can advocate policies that will help destroy the greatest characteristic of the American military, our stellar core of seasoned, experienced non-coms... then that is a great thing and should be applauded.
Date ►►► July 6, 2008
War Trauma, Media Style
A judge in upstate New York has set up a special court for veterans, evidently on the media-driven, criminal-justice theory that staggering numbers of vets, far more than ever in the past, are returning PTSD-struck from the parade of horribles in Iraq and Afghanistan:
While the defendants in this court have been arrested on charges that could mean potential prison time and damaging criminal records, they have another important trait in common: All have served their country in the military.
That combination has landed them here, in veterans treatment court, the first of its kind in the country.
[Judge Robert] Russell is the evenhanded quarterback of a courtroom team of veterans advocates and volunteers determined to make this brush with the criminal justice system these veterans' last.
"They look to the right or to the left, they're sitting there with another vet," Russell said, "and it's a more calming, therapeutic environment. Rather than them being of the belief that 'people don't really understand me,' or 'they don't know what it's like' - well, it's a room full of folks who do."
All right; I don't really have any objection to such a special court... in theory; though I have yet to see any evidence that veterans, as a group, tend to be more criminal-minded than civilians who have never seen an actual battlefield. (In fact, I'm of the impression vets are less likely to commit crimes than eternal civilians.)
I would expect such a court to be geared specifically towards those vets with extensive combat experience, having seen their best friends murdered by Islamist terrorists, who have seen children blown to pieces by al-Qaeda bombers. I can imagine a veteran who has had to deal with such death-worshippers and human-sacrificers might have problems adjusting to civilian life.
You know, vets like this guy:
Charles Lewis, who stood before Russell at a recent session, may be exactly the kind of defendant the judge had in mind. The 25-year-old acknowledged walking out in frustration from his last counseling session.
"We all know that you're a good person who at times has done some inappropriate things," Russell told him. "It's time to get past the nonsense, don't you think?"
Lewis nodded in agreement. A jet mechanic four years into what he thought would be a 20-year Navy career, he severely injured his leg on the flight deck of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2004 and was discharged.
One can only imagine the horrors he must have seen. I don't exactly recall which combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan used carrier-based aviation, nor do I quite understand exactly what trauma would be faced by a mechanic who stayed on the ship. But it must have been something pretty horrendous to produce such symptoms...
Admittedly stubborn -- he walked out of counseling because he got tired of hearing people complain -- the 25-year-old father of four is only now addressing anxiety and attention disorders linked to his wartime service and the toll it took on his leg and hearing. A 30-day stay in rehab to get off prescription drugs began his path through veterans treatment court.
Here is another obvious case of combat psychosis:
The approach cultivates a sense of trust and understanding, said Guy LaPenna, a 40-year-old veteran with a history of stealing and drug violations. The high-stress life of Navy duty aggravated problems he had before, but he said he left the service an angry alcoholic battling mental health issues.
Russell is "appreciative that we're working so hard," said LaPenna, a high-energy personal trainer. He is following the veterans court program to see a petit larceny charge dismissed, "but the real reward is getting my life back and functioning as a member of society, a productive member of society," he said.
Before I get lynched by vets, I want to say that I don't begrudge any service veteran getting some special treatment later in life; vets give a portion of their lives to their country, it's reasonable that they get some consideration in return.
But when the media begins slinging around words like "post-traumatic stress disorder" causing "anxiety and attention disorders" that are "linked to his wartime service" or "the high-stress life of Navy duty," I honestly expect better examples than four gut-churning years working below decks on an aircraft carrier which never came under attack (none of them have).
Rather than allow what could be a valuable program to be hijacked by anybody who has ever worn a uniform, no matter how far removed from the action or whether he even left the United States, I wish they would direct the benefits to those vets who actually fought and bled for America.
And I really, really wish the elite news media would stop trying to portray all veterans -- even those whose service was more or less indistinguishable from similar jobs in the private sector -- as ticking time bombs just waiting to explode. It's offensive and jarringly tendentious.
Date ►►► July 3, 2008
Supreme Sunshine Scenario
Maybe I'm slow (shut up, you in the back), but this just occurred to me...
If John S. McCain wins in November, then he will get to appoint at least one, possibly as many as three Supreme Court justices; the odds are that John Paul Stevens (who will be 89 years old when the next president is sworn at) will have to retire, as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (she will turn 76 a couple of months into the new term). Antonin Scalia will turn 73 about the same time Ginsburg has her birthday; and even Anthony Kennedy is in his seventies.
If McCain names someone like John Roberts or Samuel Alito to replace Stevens or Ginsburg, the nominee would be hard to filibuster in the Senate. It's one thing (and already upsetting to millions of American voters) to prevent an appellate-court nominee from getting an up-or-down vote.
But to prevent a vote on a Supreme Court nominee and leave the Court in a state where every controversial case ends in a 4-4 split, would be so brazenly politicizing that it would anger even centrist Democrats. Republicans would romp in the 2010 elections.
Yet absent a filibuster, a new Roberts or Alito has a very good chance of winning -- if not when named, then after the next congressional election. Again, ordinary American voters have a distaste for senators who openly oppose a Supreme Court nominee for obviously political reasons.
So what happens if we can get another Roberts on the bench? One intriguing idea is this: The very next time the Court hears a case that hinges on granting habeas corpus rights to enemy combatants captured and held abroad, it's entirely possible that the new Court will simply reverse the previous Court's Boumediene.
Why not? Which of the four dissenting justices -- Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Roberts, or Alito -- is going to flip over to counteract the new justice's vote to overturn? Kennedy will no longer be the "swing vote," because there will be a solid, 5-justice majority of judicial conservatives.
Certainly liberals are not going to get very far screaming about stare decisis -- the general bias courts should have against radically changing the law by court decision -- because the obvious rejoinder is that that is exactly what the Court did in Boumediene in the first place: It created a brand, new "right" out of thin air. In addition, it will only have been law for a couple of controversial, strife-filled years, hence not yet embroidered into the fabric of American society; and it will already have proven to be unworkable in the real world.
I think it would be an easy call. Justice Kennedy can write the dissenting opinion, if he wants.
So this may not be the catastrophe we all fear... if John McCain beats Barack H. Obama. Contrariwise, if we send B.O. to the White House, the Court will become even more noisome.
Think a second time, conservatives.
Date ►►► July 2, 2008
McCain vs. the Poets
Even Ronald Reagan never did this!
McCain's longtime nemesis within the Republican senatorial conference, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS, 83%) -- one of the pork kings on our side of the aisle -- chose this precise moment to imitate a monkey at the zoo, flinging poo at Republican nominee John S. McCain:
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., told a Mississippi newspaper that he saw McCain, during a trip to Nicaragua led by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., grab an Ortega associate by his shirt collar and lift him out of his chair....
"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said in an interview with The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever....
"I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.' I don't know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy ... and he just reached over there and snatched... him."
(Only the eplisis at the end of the first paragraph is mine; the rest were in the original. I have no idea what cuts they indicate.)
Closely questioned about the timing of Cochran's attempted (and failed) body slam -- why now, during the presidential campaign, when McCain's opponent is the most liberal senator in the body? -- Cochran's spokeschick, Margaret McPhillips, offered a full, complete, and precise explanation:
"I think Sen. Cochran went in to as much detail Monday as is necessary to make the point that, though Sen. McCain has had problems with his temper, he has overcome them."
"Decades have passed since then and he wanted to make the point that over the years he has seen Sen. McCain mature into an individual who is not only spirited and tenacious but also thoughtful and levelheaded," McPhillips added. "He believes Sen. McCain has developed into the best possible candidate for president."
Oh. Now I understand.
Three amusing points raise Cochran's sandbagging of his own party's nominee to the level where it deserves notice:
- There is real bad blood between Cochran and McCain; last month, the former said the idea of nominating McCain sent "a chill" down his spine. I'm a tad skeptical of Ms. McPhillips' suggestion that in today's comment, Cochran was only trying to show how much McCain has "matured."
- With (1) in mind, it's especially telling that Cochran evidently thought he would hurt McCain's standing by describing an incident -- hotly denied by McCain and the only other witness AP could find -- where McCain grabbed some scrofulous Sandinista by the scruff of the neck and worried him like a rottweiler with a miniature poodle.
For the historically challenged, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional) were Communist thugs who allied with Castro and the Soviets (a great band, by the way) to seize control of Nicaragua in a 1979 coup. They called themselves the "revolution of poets;" I'm sure you're all very shocked to learn that the leftist Democrats of the 1980s embraced these Communist dictators. I mean, that's so out of character for the post-Vietnam Left.
As Fidel Castro's lapdog, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega attempted to destabilize the rest of Latin America. (Oogo Chavez is today's Ortega; well, actually, as Ortega was just elected president of Nicaragua again, it's fair to say that Daniel Ortega is today's Daniel Ortega.) They struck a long-term deal with the Soviet KGB to help spy on us.
President Reagan had a long-term plan to drive the Sandinistas out of power; among other policies, the "Iran-Contra" scandal is so-named because it was an attempt to use arms sales to Iranian rivals of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini -- such as Hashemi Rafsanjani -- to support the "Contras," guerillas for freedom who fought against the Sandinista machine.
Eventually, the Sandinistas ran Nicaragua into the ground, and they were voted out of office in 1990. As they departed, they took the opportunity to seize massive tracts of land from private and public owners... and handed it out to their friends and cronies, in one of the biggest land-snatching schemes in a continent known for land-snatching schemes.
One assumes that when Ortega is again voted out of office, his personal real-estate holdings will undergo another huge expansion.
It's somewhat puzzling why conservatives -- the group McCain most needs to court now -- would do anything but stand up and cheer him having bitch-slapped some commie thug "down there," as Reagan used to refer to South America. For that matter, the Sandinistas no longer have the support of centrist Republicans and Democrats; maybe their poems weren't good enough. About the only people left who still think of them as the "revolution of poets" are ultra-liberals from the Barack H. Obama wing of the Democratic Party.
Oh yes -- I promised three reasons why this bizarre episode in Thad Cochran's political career deserves attention, but I've only given two so far. Here's another entry in the "you'd think you'd listen to your own words" contest:
- Per above, Cochran said, "I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.'"
Er... a "diplomatic mission" -- where "everybody... has got guns?" Evidently, they learned well at the feet of their master, Fidel... who regularly showed up at United Nations meetings sporting a loaded sidearm.
Yep, that's the Sandinistas for you. I'm sure you're shocked, shocked to discover that John McCain doesn't suffer murderous, tin-horn commie dictators gladly. He's always been so pacific towards them, live and let live.
I wonder what would happen if we took one of those polls asking, "now that you know, would you be less likely to vote for McCain -- or more likely? I suspect Thad Cochran's response would be, "Curses, foiled again!"
Date ►►► July 1, 2008
The New "Fairness" Doctrine
and why Patterico, with the best of intentions, got it so wrong.
Patterico has been scathing in his denunciation of the Bush administration and the Pentagon for how they conduct the military tribunals. Back in December, he dubbed the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay "Kafkaesque," saying "they just don’t seem fair." He concludes:
But I do know that the procedures in place now just don’t seem fair. If you can’t find out what evidence the Government has against you; if you can’t present your own evidence; if you are arguing to a tribunal that is told to presume that the Government’s position is correct . . . that’s not fair. It runs a real risk of causing us to hold people who are innocent.
There has to be a better way.
Then today, he crows, or perhaps "views with alarm," that a D.C. circus panel threw out the first enemy-combatant classification by the Pentagon of a detainee:
Add this to the Kafkaseque nature of the tribunals process, which has forced detainees to respond to secret evidence, together with the criticism by a former chief prosecutor that the Administration was rigging trials there to ensure convictions, and the picture is not pretty.
So why do I disagree with Patterico, and why do I think he has gone terribly awry? Consider the last line of his earlier post. The real question here is the very one Patterico begs: "There has to be a better way"... to do -- what?
What's all this then?
Those three judges, the "former chief prosecutor" (Air Force Col. Morris Davis), and Patterico all see these Commission hearings as fundamentally judicial. It's not unreasonable to draw that conclusion, since the result is that those found to be unlawful enemy combatants would be held for periods of time up to life -- and could even be executed.
But reasonable does not mean right... and this conclusion is fundamentally wrong: These hearings are not judicial, nor is their primary purpose justice or punishment; they are military hearings to determine if a detainee is dangerous to the United States.
That is why questions of "fairness" are inappropriate. Fairness is a valid, even vital concern in Patterico's line of work as a deputy district attorney. In civilian trials in civilian courts, the most important underlying issue is justice (of which fairness is an essential component). Practically, the most important question litigated is whether the State has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, by admissible evidence, that the defendant is guilty of the crimes charged.
But military commissions' most important underlying issue is the same as that of every other branch of the military: victory over our enemies. That means safeguarding American citizens and lawful residents and protecting us from international bad guys. Fairness has nothing to do with it.
- Is it "fair" to bomb a factory during wartime, knowing that at least some of those killed may oppose the war and only be working there under duress, or even as slave labor?
- Is it "fair" to imprison a captured enemy soldier for years, even if he is a draftee?
- Is it "fair" to fire upon enemy combatants, even knowing they are using innocent "human shields," who will necessarily be killed as well?
None of these is in any way fair to the innocents (or at least non-guiltys) involved. But in none of these cases is "fairness" the central concern. If any "crime" was committed, it's a war crime; and the prosecution of war crimes is primarily intended to deter our enemies from doing such things in the future, not to bring about abstract justice for acts in the past. For this reason, war-crimes tribunals traditionally grant many fewer "rights" to the accused than are found in civilian trials of ordinary criminals conducted by those same countries.
In the three cases directly above, Patterico would have no difficulty agreeing with me that we cannot invoke abstract "fairness" to refuse to fight in any situation where innocents might be harmed. On the battlefield, nobody except a pacifist absolutist would be so confused; and Patterico is not a lunatic pacifist by any stretch of rhetoric.
But when the military action shifts from the battlefield to a military commission or tribunal, it superficially resembles a courtroom; "counsels" present "evidence" while a (military) "judge" presides. And that is when those who have spent their lifetimes doing yeoman work within the civilian court system, trying to make America a safer and better place, seem to become befuddled. We see this from Patterico to the D.C. Circus to the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision.
It's said that to a carpenter, every problem looks like a nail, and every solution looks like a hammer. To a heart surgeon, every problem looks like a bad coronary artery and every solution looks like a scalpel. And to a lawyer, even many military lawyers, every problem looks like a crime, and every solution looks like a court trial.
Every objection seems to flow from this single, faulty conceptualization of what these commissions are and what they're supposed to do. For example, what about that charge that the commissions are "rigged" against the detainees?
This bloody fight's been rigged!
Col. Davis bases his accusation on three issues: a lack of "openness" at the commission hearings; the use of classified information that neither the detainee nor his counsel is allowed to see (which "could taint the trials in the eyes of international observers"); and that, as the Nation put it in an interview with Davis, "the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees to foreclose the possibility of acquittal."
The piece in that leftist magazine begins thus -- and here is the same misunderstanding, this time flashing in neon letters the size of the Hollywood sign:
Secret evidence. Denial of habeas corpus. Evidence obtained by waterboarding. Indefinite detention. The litany of complaints about the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is long, disturbing and by now familiar. Nonetheless, a new wave of shock and criticism greeted the Pentagon's announcement on February 11 that it was charging six Guantánamo detainees, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, with war crimes--and seeking the death penalty for all of them.
In the piece, Col. Davis lobs the allegation that Pentagon general counsel William Haynes demanded the tribunals produce nothing but convictions:
When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes--the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department.
"[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, which had lent great credibility to the proceedings.
"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals. We've got to have convictions.'"
First, I am rather skeptical that Haynes said exactly this. Was Col. Davis literally transcribing the conversation while it was in progress? Or is this his reconstruction of the conversation days, weeks, or perhaps two and a half years later? Is this exactly what Haynes said, or is this Davis' tendentious confabulation, based upon his appalled reaction to what he thought Haynes meant?
But let's leave this question aside... despite the fact that it cuts to the fundamental "fairness" of the accusation. How can Davis be unaware of the fact that earlier commissions conducted by the same Pentagon, taking place at the same Guantanamo Bay, managed to release hundreds of detainees from custody... including some who went right out and committed terrorist acts?
Finally, I truly question Col. Davis' historical understanding of war-crimes tribunals if he unfavorably compares the "fairness" of the military commission hearings today with the Nuremberg trials after World War II... considering that far fewer accused Nazis were "acquitted" than terrorist suspects have already been freed from Guantanamo, and the accused Nazis in 1945 had far fewer "rights" than the Military Commissions Act of 2006 gave to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay... even before the Boumediene decision.
To me, it sounds as if Davis is repeating at least one absurdist Democratic Party talking point, regardless of how many others he rejects. The viral meme "MCAs are nothing like the fair and just Nuremberg trials" can be "caught" by anyone whose mind is rendered susceptible by overly legalistic thinking.
The allegation that the system is "rigged" against acquittals is silly, because it has already acquitted hundreds; it betrays Davis' conclusion that these hearings just aren't "fair" to the "accused."
“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass -- a idiot."
In the New York Times article that sparked Patterico's post today, we discover that the D.C. Circuit panel threw out the Pentagon finding against Huzaifa Parhat, an Uighur Moslem from China, because the classified intelligence against him was not as specific and credible as one would demand in a civilian criminal trial:
Pentagon officials have claimed that the Uighurs at Guantánamo were "affiliated" with a Uighur resistance group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and that it, in turn, was "associated" with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The ruling released Monday overturned the Pentagon’s finding after a 2004 hearing that Mr. Parhat was an enemy combatant based on that affiliation. He and the 16 other Uighurs were detained after the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
The court said the classified evidence supporting the Pentagon’s claims included assertions that events had "reportedly" occurred and that the connections were "said to" exist, without providing information about the source of such information.
"Those bare facts," the decision said, "cannot sustain the determination that Parhat is an enemy combatant."
But "those bare facts" are all that we ever get from intelligence operations! That is precisely the reason why civilian courts have no business making the determination whether a person detained is truly an enemy combatant... because the standard demanded by a civilian court for a civilian criminal conviction is virtually impossible to meet in the context of terrorists picked up because of intelligence.
(For one major point, because terrorism is so incredibly destructive, we try to grab them before they carry out their schemes... which means, since the detainee didn't actually succeed, that little evidence is available other than supposition.)
Do these judges imagine that before the Marines open fire on a fleeing vehicle, they must have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the vehicle contains terrorists? Intelligence is always vague, almost never confirmed, and frequently obtained from foreign sources who do not reveal where they, themselves got it; but if they've been reliable in the past, we must assume they're reliable now, until and unless they disappoint us more than one usually expects from any intelligence. You cannot demand trial-level specificity and sourcing from covert intelligence; it's just not going to be available.
What the court derided -- quoting from Lewis Carroll's the Hunting of the Snark and mocking the administration -- is as good as it gets... and that's the very reason why a civilian court is not competent to make any of these decisions, let alone all of them, as the Supreme Court has now declared. It's as absurd as expecting the D.C. Circuit to approve missile targets in Pakistan.
One law professor understands this point; I'm pleasantly surprised the Times bothered to quote anyone on the military's side at all:
Some lawyers said the ruling highlighted the difficulties they saw in civilian judges reviewing Guantánamo cases.
“This case displays the inadequacies of having civilian courts inject themselves into military decision-making,” said Glenn M. Sulmasy, a law professor at the Coast Guard Academy and a national security fellow at Harvard.
I wonder if Mr. Sulmasy has more or less experience with the needs of the military than do the three judges in the D.C. Circuit panel who decided the Parhat decision.
Old King Cole was a tortured soul
In today's post, Patterico also calls attention to the upcoming trial of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of masterminding the bombing of the USS Cole... and the third detainee, along with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, who the CIA has said it waterboarded. Patterico notes that Nashiri claims his "confession" was induced by unspecified "torture".
Of course, Nashiri could be fibbing; to paraphrase Charles Bronson in Breakheart Pass, if a man is a thief and murderer, it follows he may be a liar as well. But let's suppose he is telling the truth for once. This point tells us nothing about whether he is or is not a danger: Even if the confession was true, he still might only have given it because of this supposed "torture."
Why do we customarily believe that in civilian trials, coerced confessions cannot be used? Two main reasons:
- We believe they are of dubious reliability, since the person being tortured might say anything he thinks his torturers want to hear.
Leaving aside the question of whether waterboarding really constitutes "torture" (it certainly forces people to say things they later wish they hadn't), this objection is easily dismissed: If detailed facts came out during the coerced interrogation that were checked and found to be accurate, and if those facts could only be known by the guilty (such as where the body is hidden, in a murder case), then we may conclude the confessor is guilty.
So that leaves only one reason why coerced confessions are never allowed in court:
- Forcing people to testify against themselves is, again, simply unfair; it violates the Fifth Amendment protection against enforced self-incrimination.
But this second point again depends upon thinking that the tribunal is an attempt to mete out justice to a mere criminal, rather than a way for the military to decide whether the country would be safer if we kept the detainee behind bars or even executed him.
Finally, one more purely legal point (bearing in mind I'm not a lawyer): It's plausible to argue that the USA PATRIOT Act allows these tribunals to used evidence obtained for intelligence purposes in military commission hearings, even if the intel itself was obtained by means that would ordinarily render it inadmissible in a civilian court hearing, absent the intelligence angle.
This is a point which I don't believe has ever been addressed by the Supreme Court (not even in Boumediene).
Thus, if we reject "fairness" as the core value we're trying to uphold in the MCA hearings at Guantanamo Bay, and accept instead that the core value is "victory in the war," then we cannot have a hard and fast prohibition on using coerced testimony or even confessions: Again, we're not trying to punish miscreants so much as (a) protect the country from them, and (b) pour l'encouragement des autres.
An army of lawyers
A maxim of the law is that it's better that a thousand guilty criminals go free than a single innocent man be wrongly convicted. But when we're discussing a thousand guilty terrorists, we have to think a second time. When we released Abdullah Salih al-Ajmi from Gitmo (which was clearly a mistake in hindsight), he went right out and killed thirteen innocent Iraqi civilians in a suicide bombing in Mosul.
So if Ajmi is typical, then a thousand guilty terrorists released could kill 13,000 innocent civilians and wound an additional 40,000. That's 53,000 innocent lives destroyed. Some may still believe that's better than keeping one innocent person in Guantanamo Bay... but that is not so obvious to me.
Many folks reading this will object that, even if it's true that judges and lawyers have an overly legalistic bias, it's likewise true that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 had an overly militaristic bias. But the captivity and treatment of enemy combatants, whether lawful or unlawful, is at the core of any military strategy -- thus it's fundamentally a military issue, where the most important issue is victory.
But with Boumediene, the Court has held that henceforth, all major decisions in the detention of combatants -- not just the strictly limited set of decisions that the MCA left up to the D.C. Circuit, but all decisions without exception -- will ultimately be decided by civilian courts, even lowly district courts, by civilian judges who cannot help seeing the "trials" as exercises in legal justice -- where the most important issue is fairness.
Perhaps this new "fairness" doctrine is all for the best; maybe I stubbornly refuse to see the obvious. But certainly nobody on that side of the aisle at any level, from Justice Anthony Kennedy to Patterico, has endeavored to make the case to me that in dealing with terrorists, fairness should trump victory.
I'm listening, but I hear no argument.
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