Friday, July 08, 2005

Hey, wait
We cut taxes... and tax revenues are up? Gosh, who would have thought that possible?

Think about it
Daniel Henninger makes an important point:

Every Islamic terrorist, from bin Laden and al-Zarqawi down to the next suicide bomber, knows how politics in the West works now. They know that many people of the West react to acts of violence differently than they did in 1940 when Winston Churchill demanded 'Victory in spite of all terrors. Victory, however long and hard the road may be.'

But there were no cameras and satellite feeds set up on every corner of that death-strewn road. Yesterday's attack produced another new-media first: Grainy video images fed by a cell phone from a bombed subway tunnel. If the American people had seen daily the up-close reality of every battle and bomb in 1943, might we have 'withdrawn' before June 1944?
Think about it. In the Battle of the Bulge, in just over a month between December 1944 and January 1945 American forces alone saw 19,000 KIA. If you've seen Band of Brothers, or any similar film, you may have some idea of what kind of hell our soldiers went through in that battle. (Note: I would never suggest that watching a film is in any way comparable to what those incredible men endured—it just gives those of us who weren't there some basic frame of reference to understand what went on).

I often hear the argument "well, Hitler was different—he was pure evil." Well, what do you say to a group of people who slaughter men and women guilty only of trying to get to work? Are we honestly to believe that withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan (remember, they want us out of both) will cause them to back down? Do we think that they will let bygones be?

"Well, we wouldn't be in that situation if it weren't for BushCo!" Riiiiiight. OK, let's think about this: we were attacked on 9/11. Everyone supported the invasion of Afghanistan, right? Iraq was the step too far?

But these people want us out of Afghanistan, too. So what's the Dem proposal in this hypothetical? How should we have responded to an attack like this if we hadn't invaded Iraq?

"Well, they wouldn't have attacked if we hadn't invaded Iraq." Really? So what was 9/11 about?

"Well, we built up an empire that oppressed these people, and they had a right to strike back in whatever way they could." (I sh*t you not, my roommate gave me a line almost identical to this ON 9/11). You may by now see where I'm going with this. The whole line of reasoning that I'm following here is based on the idea that we brought all of this on ourselves. From day one, these people hate us because of what we've done.

But really, what have we done? Yeah, we initially armed bin Laden to turn back Russia—who had actually invaded sovereign soil for their own gain. And then he turned on us... why? Recognizing that Wikipedia is far from 100% accurate, let's take their words with a grain of salt:
After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden offered to help defend Saudi Arabia (with 12,000 armed men) but was rebuffed by the Saudi government. Bin Laden publicly denounced his government's dependence on the U.S. military and demanded an end to the presence of foreign military bases in the country. According to reports (by the BBC and others), the 1990/91 deployment of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia in connection with the Gulf War profoundly shocked and revolted bin Laden and other Islamist militants because the Saudi government claims legitimacy based on their role as guardians of the sacred Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina. After the Gulf War, the establishment of permanent bases for non-Muslim U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia continued to undermine the Saudi rulers' legitimacy and inflamed anti-government Islamist militants, including bin Laden.
Soooooooo basically bin Laden wanted to defend Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein's aggression. He was turned down. The US then stepped up to do precisely what he'd wanted to do—and he denounced both Saudi Arabia and the US for doing what he wanted to do in the first place. Yikes, what a crime.

It's jealousy. He wants to run the show. He's not fighting for the liberation of his people, he's fighting to keep everyone that doesn't fit his image of Islam OUT. So, again, let's follow this line of reasoning.

Should we have let bin Laden defend Saudi Arabia from Saddam? Say we'd never built permanent bases in Saudi Arabia and the first Gulf War had never happened—does anyone doubt that Saddam would have hesitated from using Kuwaiti oil profits to build up his then-declared stockpile of WMD? Would things be better with Saddam running the table in the Middle East? No one (that I'm aware of) claims that the first Gulf War was an unjust war. But if bin Laden had had his way, it never would have happened.

It's simple: he wants to be the Caliph. He wants his brand of Islam to spread across the globe (either by conversion or by force), and he's willing to kill everyone who doesn't go along with him.

To get back to my original point: is this any less insidious than Hitler? Oh, wait. I'm remembering something about Hitler. What was it? Let's turn to Wikipedia again, for a brief summary of his thoughts in Mein Kampf:
In terms of political theories, Hitler announced his hatred in Mein Kampf toward what he believed to be the twin evils of the world: Communism and Judaism, and he stated that his aim was to eradicate both from the face of the earth. He also announced that Germany needed to obtain new territory: Lebensraum. This new soil would properly nurture the "historic destiny" of the German people; this goal explains why Hitler invaded Europe, both East and West, before he launched his attack against Russia.

In regards to foreign policy, Hitler states that a National Socialist foreign policy would go through several stages. In the first stage, Germany would, through a massive program of re-armament, overthrow the "shackles" of Treaty of Versailles and form alliances with the British Empire and Fascist Italy. The second stage would feature wars against France and her allies in Eastern Europe by the combined forces of Germany, Britain and Italy. The third and final stage would a war to destroy what Hitler saw as "Judo-Bolshevik" regime in the Soviet Union that would give Germany the necessary Lebensraum. In the so-called "Second Book" of Mein Kampf, which was written in 1928, Hitler expanded upon these ideas and went to suggest that around about 1980, a final struggle would take place for world domination between the United States and the combined forces of Greater Germany and the British Empire.
OK, there's no mention of Allah, and it's in Europe instead of the Middle East, but otherwise—sounds pretty much like bin Laden's goals, doesn't it?

Now, to bring this full circle, imagine if we'd gotten those cell phone images from the Ardennes Forest in late 1944, early 1945. Would Americans have had the stomach for war, or would we have heard the same arguments we're hearing today? Would we have withdrawn because it was our fault in the first place? After all, it was our allies that had subjected Germany to the infamous Treaty of Versailles that gave reason to Hitler's rise to begin with. Really, we'd driven him to it in the exact same way we've driven bin Laden to his current course—if anything Hitler's success can be even more directly attributed to the actions of the Allies following WWI than bin Laden's can to any of our actions. Surely it would have been appropriate for us to follow in Chamberlain's footsteps and declare "Peace in our time"? After all, we gave bin Laden what he demanded, so he'll leave us alone, right? Just like Hitler did after Munich?

No one (with the exception of Neo-Nazis) claims we should have left Hitler to his own devices. So why in the earth would anyone argue that we should back down in the face of bin Laden's aggression?

Thanks for sticking with me through that—I just needed to get it out. Please comment with any thoughts or criticisms.

UPDATE [7/8/2005 - 09:08]: Tech Central Station has more evidence of the lunacy I attempt to combat above.

UPDATE [7/8/2005 - 9:22]: Dave Justus points to another piece that speaks along these lines.

Honestly, are we supposed to be sympathetic to these people because they are threatened by our culture and want to kill us for it? And if so, how are we supposed to restrain culture from reaching the Middle East in this age of jet planes and electrons? Even if they would leave us alone if we left them alone, how are we supposed to do that? Can we help it that Muslims around the world have gotten a taste of personal liberties and want more?

I know I've been asking a lot of rhetorical questions—I just can't see any other way to get at this issue. I still invite you all to provide feedback.

Still another UPDATE [7/8/2005 - 15:01]: Lileks has similar thoughts.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Read
and learn. The only part I don't understand:

Looking for possible timings or pretexts, one of course comes up against the meeting of the G8 powers in Edinburgh and perhaps the imminent British spot in the rotating chair of the European Union. (It can't have been the Olympic announcement on such short notice, but the contrast with the happy, multiethnic crowds in Trafalgar Square yesterday could hardly be starker, and it certainly wasn't enough to get the murderers to call it off.) Another possibility is the impending trial of Abu Hamza al Mazri, a one-eyed and hook-handed mullah who isn't as nice as he looks and who preaches Bin-Ladenism from a shabby mosque in North London. He is currently awaiting extradition to the United States, and his supporters might have wanted to make a loving gesture in his favor.

This would mean that the cell or gang was homegrown, rather than smuggled in from North Africa or elsewhere.
Says who? If these guys were smuggled in months ago, and have spent all that time collecting the appropriate explosives, what's to say they couldn't have done this on a moment's notice? Think about it. What does it take to coordinate a couple of explosions throughout a single city to within a few minutes of each other? A couple of watches and a couple of cell phones? If they'd already run through the motions once or twice, they could have waited for years and then seen their moment after Britain won the Olympics yesterday.

As my brother pointed out, the fact that the explosions weren't timed very well signifies that instead of nice swiss army watches, the terrorists were using casios.

Can anyone explain this to me?

Oh, and make sure to read the whole thing, because this was not the point of the article.

This is probably
a good point.

Ok, here's a little bit
Head over to Andrew Sullivan and just keep scrolling.

Remember what we said on 9/11?

Now this nation that I love has fallen under attack.
A mighty sucker punch came flying in from somewhere in the back.
Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eye,
Man, we lit up your world like the Fourth of July.
That serves as a good example for me. 9/11 was a mistake, we said, because Americans weren't going to roll over—we were going to come back and rain hellfire down on those who'd attacked us.

Well, the Brits don't react with the same immediate anger that we do—but they're going to be pissed. Spain capitulated in the face of the Madrid bombings—Britain will not. This is just the thing to drum up support for their involvement in Iraq, not the opposite. Our strongest ally in the War on Terror has just begun to rededicate itself to that task.

The islamofascists have now pissed off the great majority of Anglo military might (remember, Australia lost a lot of people in the Bali nightclub bombings as well). If they actually want to win this war, that wasn't such a good idea.

What can I say?
I don't have anything beneficial to add concerning the attacks in London at the moment. I may have thoughts later, but for the most up-to-date information and analysis, I suggest you keep watching right here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Awesome
Considering the fact that, when Dick Cheney was appointed to pick Bush's VP he ended up becoming the VP himself, this could be great news.

Gotta Love Organized Anarchists
It seems that anarchists have forgotten what they're fighting for when they all stay in a centralized camp:

Earlier in the day, more than 100 activists, many clad in black and covering their faces with bandanas and wearing hoods, streamed out of a makeshift campsite in Stirling in central Scotland, 22 kilometers (14 miles) southwest of Gleneagles, where some 5,000 anarchists and anti-globalization protesters are staying.
And as far as their efforts to block the roads to Gleneagles and disrupt the summit—I've been to Gleneagles. The roads to get there are narrow and easy to block. In other words, the protesters can succeed in closing the roads, but so too can the organizers prevent the protesters from getting to the resort. Furthermore, I know for a fact that the resort has a helicopter pad, so closing the roads won't do these "anarchists" any good. Of course, canceling the event wouldn't do them any good either, but we already know they're oblivious to that fact.

WTF, mate?
Take a look at this story on CNN.com, about a Native American woman who wants to put up her son for adoption to be raised by a white, Indiana family because she thinks he'll have a better life, and the tribe, who is blocking her efforts.

I suggest this article because, I swear, they have a picture of a child drinking out of a whiskey (fire-water) bottle. Unbelievable.

Oh give me a break
Daily Kos is trying to criticize NY Governor Pataki because his son Ted, a classmate of mine at Yale, is seeking a three year deferment from his Marine service to go to law school.

Problem is, that was Ted's plan all along—he wants to serve, but wants to do so in the JAG, for which he finds himself best suited. I hate it when people make stuff up and use it as some sort of evidence.

"Don't Chickenhawk Me"
So says Donald Sensing, in dealing with the argument that the Army's failure to meet recruiting goals is a clear "expression of American's disenchantment with the war in Iraq." Read the whole thing.

And BlackFive points out:

While the Army is the only service suffering a serious recruiting shortage, it's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq surpassed it's re-enlistment goal by 250%...that should tell you what the men and women that are actively engaged in the fight think of the mission in Iraq.
That's pretty powerful information—and in three stories I've heard on NPR about military recruiting shortfalls, I've not heard it mentioned even once.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Liberals: pro-Litmus Test
I remember in previous judicial nomination battles, the idea of a "litmus test,"—i.e. judging a candidate based on his or her beliefs on specific issues such as Roe or the death penalty or gay rights—used to be frowned upon by both sides. Now, it seems that liberals are favoring this kind of inquiry.

Sorry folks, but as much as I'd love an anti-Roe justice, I'd prefer one that tried to read the Constitution based on original intent.

The Story Continues
Make sure to read yesterday's bleat first, but then I'm sure you'll enjoy today's. Really a very sweet story.

Lileks has the ability to make me nostalgic for things I've never experienced.

Heh.

Let's not be ridiculous
I agree with former Alabama Supreme Court judge Roy Moore when he says:

As Justice Thomas so appropriately noted, one may, and indeed must, question why the court cautiously avoids the words of the First Amendment. We need to restore the original definitions of "law," "establishment" and "religion" in the First Amendment. A monument or display could never be a "law," the mere posting or installation of it is not an "establishment," and the recognition of God by the public display of the Ten Commandments is not "religion." After all, the original definition of the word "religion"—the duties we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging those duties—which was recognized by the Supreme Court years ago, acknowledged God and a higher law.

With these cases, it should be clear that, as Justice Antonin Scalia opined in his McCreary County dissent, "nothing stands behind the court's assertion that governmental affirmation of the society's belief in God is unconstitutional except the court's own say-so."
I follow that. I agree with the idea that words should mean what they mean—and more than that, words should mean what they meant when they were written. I have problems with the idea that a "posting or installation of it is not an 'establishment,'" and I'm not entirely sure that recognition of a particular God by a public (government authorized) display of the Ten Commandments counts as anything less than religion. That being said, the text of the First Amendment reads, quite clearly, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." Let's read that again: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

In other words, it doesn't matter if a display of the Ten Commandments is an establishment, or if the public display of them is "religion"—as long as Congress (and I'll even let you extend that to other legislative bodies) didn't pass a law respecting that display. So what does Moore suggest? Take a breath and read:
A remedy is available in the Constitution Restoration Act of 2005—pending in both houses of Congress as H.R.1070 and S.520—which would enjoin the federal courts and the Supreme Court, under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, from interfering with the right of public officials to acknowledge God, and prevent those courts from ruling by foreign law rather than the United States Constitution they are sworn to uphold.
That's right, Moore has decided that the First Amendment trumps the separation of powers, and wants Congress to direct the Supreme Court in its interpretation of the Constitution.

I am very bothered by the decisions the Court has handed down regarding the First Amendment—I am even more disturbed by the idea that people want to leave Constitutional interpretation up to the whims of an elected body. The reason Court appointments are for life is pretty simple: judicial decisions, particularly on Constitutional matters, should be divested from the changing moods of the public. These decisions are supposed to be sustainable, and if we allow Congress to make these decisions they never will be. There have been relatively few reversals of precedent in the history of the Court—a good thing—and passing these bills into law would change all of that. Every time the majority of Congress changes, there will be a rush to reverse every interpretation one side didn't like. Imagine the fight we're about to see over one court seat occurring every time a new Congress takes a seat—not a pretty thought.

One last place Moore goes off the rails as far as I'm concerned:
In McCreary County, the court ruled 5-4 that the display of the Ten Commandments was unconstitutional under the Lemon test because they found a "predominantly religious purpose," i.e., to acknowledge the one true God.
Moore is just as bad as the liberals who want to banish religion from the public sphere. I agreed with him that, when put in charge of the decorations in the Alabama courthouse, he had every right to put up a monument of the Ten Commandments. I don't care one way or another if they're there, but I think he was acting within his authority. On this issue, however, it's quite clear that he believes the (Judeo)Christian God is the only one out there, and that it is his right to display that monument because of that "fact."

It happens that, in my opinion, the original intent of the Constitution backs up his behavior, but that's not his logic. And that's an insult to all of the good jurists out there who are truly working to uphold that wonderful document rather than bend it to their own designs.

I hope you all had a happy Fourth of July. May God continue to bless America.

UPDATE [7/4/2005 - 0:26]: So much for an independent court

Monday, July 04, 2005

Too Cute
Read the whole thing and get a special, very nice surprise at the end.