The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blood and Oil

In my last post, I referred to a piece by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the Web's best commentators on the world scene. Today, he’s at it again. In a piece called “Blood and Oil” Hanson states:
Islamic jihadists, fed from petrodollar wealth of the Middle East, have the cash to arm and plan operations from Baghdad and Kabul to Madrid and London. Thanks to oil, unhinged leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and Chavez in Venezuela can stay in power (and demand the world's attention) despite policies that ultimately harm their people, ruin their economies and imperil their neighbors.

Russia, meanwhile, is essentially threatening Eastern Europe with energy cutbacks and reviving the old Soviet nuclear and arms industries. It's stirring up an already volatile Middle East by selling radical Islamists everything from nuclear reactors to high-tech anti-tank guns. President Bush may have seen, as he attests, something reassuring in the heart of President Putin. But Russia's new oil riches offer a fast track back to superpower status -- which we're already seeing them use to silence critics at home and abroad.

It seems to me that we can win the war against Islamofascism relatively easily, but not by listening to geopolitical retread like James Baker and his “non-partisan” study group, who will, I suspect, offer retreat, appeasement, and delay as their primary remedies for Iraq, and by implication, the broader WoT.

But in a way, the Baker group really has no options. It appears that we don’t have the will to beat Islamofascism militarily. Stated bluntly, we don’t have the stomach to do what needs to be done. So be it.

So, for those who demand a bloodless war, we can do it without a shot, or a missle, or a bomb. But to do it, we’ll all have to suffer, major US corporations will need to (or be forced) to make major modifications to their business plans, and the fruits of our suffering and labor will have to be shared with friend and foe alike.

We need—right now, this very minute, this very second—to initiate a War against Oil (WaO). I’ve written about “War against Oil” before, but I’m more convinced than ever that it may be the only solution in our fight against Islamofascists.

The United States of America must become fully energy independent by the year 2016. As a country, we’ve done hard things before, and I’m absolutely certain that we can do this. The problem, of course, is political will. From President Bush to both Houses of Congress, there is no political will to get this done. And that’s a national tragedy.

We need taxation of gasoline (even if it causes a recession). We need very high fuel economy requirements for automobiles and trucks within three years and a significant tax on low efficiency vehicles (even if the automobile manufacturers scream). We need a massive multi-billion dollar research initiative for workable petroleum alternatives that can come on-line in five years (even if the oil industry screams); we need nuclear power on a very fast track (even if environmentalists scream), and yes, we’ll need to look for domestic sources of petroleum for the short and mid-term (even if environmentalists scream even louder).

We should do this not to “save the earth” or to avoid “catastrophic climate change.” We should do it because it's a weapon that the death cult we face cannot counter. Without petrodollars, these 14th century barbarians are lost. In a decade, we can hurt them badly – very badly. If we share the technology with the rest of the civilized world, we could, I suspect, reduce oil consumption by a significant amount. Within 20 years, by a very significant amount. Every percentage point is a battle won. In time, the Islamosfascists will lose their trump card and with it, their advantage.

And that would be a very good—and very satisfying—thing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Over the past year, I’ve said most of the things that appeared today in Victor Davis Hanson’s commentary at the WSJ OpinionJournal, but far less clearly and without his eloquence. I present the conclusion of his remarkable essay for your consideration:
After the horror of September 11, we in our sleep were also given a jolt of sorts, presented with enemies from the Dark Ages, the Islamic fascists who were our near exact opposites, who hated the Western tradition, and, more importantly, were honest and without apology in conveying that hatred of our liberal tolerance and forbearance. They arose not from anything we did or any Western animosity that might have led to real grievances, but from self-acknowledged weakness, self-induced failure, and, of course, those perennial engines of war, age-old envy and lost honor--always amplified and instructed by dissident Western intellectuals whose unhappiness with their own culture proved a feast for the scavenging Al-Qaedists.

By past definitions of relative power, al-Qaeda and its epigones were weak and could not defeat the West militarily. But their genius was knowing of our own self-loathing, of our inability to determine their evil from our good, of our mistaken belief that Islamists were confused about, rather than intent to destroy, the West, and most of all, of our own terror that we might lose, if even for a brief moment, the enjoyment of our good life to defeat the terrorists. In learning what the Islamists are, many of us, and for the first time, are also learning what we are not. And in fighting these fascists, we are to learn whether our freedom can prove stronger than their suicide belts and improvised explosive devices.

So we have been given a reprieve of sorts with this war, to regroup; and, in our enemies, to see our own past failings and present challenges; and to rediscover our strengths and remember our origins. We can relearn that we are not fighting for George Bush or Wal-Mart alone, but also for the very notion of the Enlightenment--and, yes, in the Christian sense for the good souls of those among us who have forgotten all that as they censor cartoons and compare American soldiers to Nazis.

So let me quote Winston Churchill of old about the gift of our present ordeal:

"These are not dark days: these are great days--the greatest days our country has ever lived."

Never more true than today.
VDH is a man who understands history. I hope that his belief in Churchill’s words is justified.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Ex-President Jimmy Carter has been making the rounds of talk shows pimping his new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. The book is a pathetic attempt at Left-wing revisionist history and is so clearly biased and riddled with factual errors that it’s surprising that he got it published. This … from an ex-President of the United States.

For those who may not remember, in 1979, then-President Carter’s feckless response to Iran during the Iran Hostage Crisis was an important catalyst for the ascendancy of Islamofascism in the Moslem world. His lack of resolve and poor leadership only bolstered the prestige of the Ayatollah Komeini, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, this same man has the temerity to suggest that the dominant problem in the Middle East is Israel—a world view that fits perfectly with the Left’s evolving “Israel is a mistake” meme.

In a thoughtful critique of this pathetic attempt at pro-Palestinian propaganda, Alan Derschowitz notes key factual errors in the Carter book:
• Carter emphasizes that "Christian and Muslim Arabs had continued to live in this same land since Roman times," but he ignores the fact that Jews have lived in Hebron, Tzfat, Jerusalem, and other cities for even longer. Nor does he discuss the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries since 1948.

• Carter repeatedly claims that the Palestinians have long supported a two-state solution and the Israelis have always opposed it. Yet he makes no mention of the fact that in 1938 the Peel Commission proposed a two-state solution with Israel receiving a mere sliver of its ancient homeland and the Palestinians receiving the bulk of the land. The Jews accepted and the Palestinians rejected this proposal, because Arab leaders cared more about there being no Jewish state on Muslim holy land than about having a Palestinian state of their own.

• He barely mentions Israel's acceptance, and the Palestinian rejection, of the U.N.'s division of the mandate in 1948.

• He claims that in 1967 Israel launched a preemptive attack against Jordan. The fact is that Jordan attacked Israel first, Israel tried desperately to persuade Jordan to remain out of the war, and Israel counterattacked after the Jordanian army surrounded Jerusalem, firing missiles into the center of the city. Only then did Israel capture the West Bank, which it was willing to return in exchange for peace and recognition from Jordan.

• Carter repeatedly mentions Security Council Resolution 242, which called for return of captured territories in exchange for peace, recognition and secure boundaries, but he ignores the fact that Israel accepted and all the Arab nations and the Palestinians rejected this resolution. The Arabs met in Khartum and issued their three famous "no's": "No peace, no recognition, no negotiation" but you wouldn't know that from reading the history according to Carter.

• Carter faults Israel for its "air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor" without mentioning that Iraq had threatened to attack Israel with nuclear weapons if they succeeded in building a bomb.

• Carter faults Israel for its administration of Christian and Muslim religious sites, when in fact Israel is scrupulous about ensuring every religion the right to worship as they please--consistant, of course, with security needs. He fails to mention that between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Hashemites destroyed and desecrated Jewish religious sites and prevented Jews from praying at the Western Wall. He also never mentions Egypt's brutal occupation of Gaza between 1949 and 1967.

• Carter blames Israel, and exonerates Arafat, for the Palestinian refusal to accept statehood on 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza pursuant to the Clinton-Barak offers of Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001. He accepts the Palestinian revisionist history, rejects the eye-witness accounts of President Clinton and Dennis Ross and ignores Saudi Prince Bandar's accusation that Arafat's rejection of the proposal was "a crime" and that Arafat's account "was not truthful"--except, apparently, to Carter. The fact that Carter chooses to believe Yasir Arafat over Bill Clinton speaks volumes.

• Carter's description of the recent Lebanon war is misleading. He begins by asserting that Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. "Captured" suggest a military apprehension subject to the usual prisoner of war status. The soldiers were kidnapped, and have not been heard from--not even a sign of life. The rocket attacks that preceded Israel's invasion are largely ignored, as is the fact that Hezbollah fired its rockets from civilian population centers.

• Carter gives virtually no credit to Israel's superb legal system, falsely asserting (without any citation) that "confessions extracted through torture are admissible in Israeli courts," that prisoners are "executed" and that the "accusers" act "as judges." Even Israel's most severe critics acknowledge the fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court, but not Carter.

• Carter even blames Israel for the "exodus of Christians from the Holy Land," totally ignoring the Islamization of the area by Hamas and the comparable exodus of Christian Arabs from Lebanon as a result of the increasing influence of Hezbollah and the repeated assassination of Christian leaders by Syria.

• Carter also blames every American administration but his own for the Mideast stalemate with particular emphasis on "a submissive White House and U.S. Congress in recent years." He employs hyperbole and overstatement when he says that "dialogue on controversial issues is a privilege to be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and withheld from those who reject U.S. demands." He confuses terrorist states, such as Iran and Syria to which we do not extend dialogue, with states with whom we strongly disagree, such as France and China, with whom we have constant dialogue.

Jimmy Carter could easily be dismissed as one of many far-Left spokesman who act as apologists for Hamas and Hezballah (yeah, that’s the same Hezballah that the NYT reports is helping train “insurgents” to kill US troops in Iraq). But his past role as President of the United States gives him significant media attention, and all too often, MSM interviews that never challenge his ridiculous and error filled claims.

For many years I had thought that Jimmy Carter was a fundamentally good man who botched the Iran Hostage Crisis badly. I now realize that whatever “good” once existed has been supplanted by a delusional ideology that sees oppression instead of a death cult; envisions Apartheid in the only country in the ME that shares the liberal values of his beloved Democratic party, and uses historical distorion and outright errors to make a vacuous argument.

I only hope that most people on the Left will dismiss Carter and his book for what they are—the delusional ranting of a old man. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen.

Update (12/07/06):

It appear that my criticism over Jimmy Carters shoddy work is shared by the first Director of the Carter Center at Emory University, Kenneth Stein, who resigned in protest over Carter's screed. Stein is a professor and expert on the Middle east. He writes:
President Carter's book on the Middle East, a title too inflammatory to even print, is not based on unvarnished analyses; it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments. Aside from the one-sided nature of the book, meant to provoke, there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book. Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information or to unpack it with cuts, deftly slanted to provide a particular outlook. Having little access to Arabic and Hebrew sources, I believe, clearly handicapped his understanding and analyses of how history has unfolded over the last decade. Falsehoods, if repeated often enough become meta-truths, and they then can become the erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and for policy-making. The history and interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is already drowning in half-truths, suppositions, and self-serving myths; more are not necessary.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


The Bush administration has been criticized for not talking directly with Islamofascists. Many on the Left (and a few on the Right) present arguments that suggest that dialogue with Islamofascist regimes (e.g., Iran) will help us to understand their grievances, and as a result, allow us to take action that will mitgate those grievances.

A commenter at the Belmont Club, "Doug," addresses this mindset:
Their [the Islamofascists] grievance is our freedom of religion. Their grievance is our freedom of speech. Their grievance is our democratic process where the rule of law comes from the voices of many not that of just one prophet. It is the respect we instill in our children towards all religions. It is the equality we grant each other as human beings sharing a planet and striving to make the world a better place for all humanity. Their grievance is the kindness and respect a man shows a woman, the justice we practice as equals under the law, and the mercy we grant our enemy. Their grievance cannot be answered by an apology for who or what we are.

And yet, many recommend dialogue or negotiation, in the vain hope that it may lead us out of this conflict. They ask, "What harm is there in talking?"

The harm is this: The West has come to believe that words are important, that a promise made is a promise kept, that a softening of language indicates a softening of feeling. We want to believe that all people are "good" and that every person will respond to reason. It's a wonderful fantasy, but it has absolutely no relation to the world as it exists.

In his fascinating (and troubling) book on power, Robert Green presents a collection of laws that allow an individual or a country to acquire and maintain power. He suggests that one should never look at the words of his enemy, only his enemy's actions.

If we look at the words uttered by Islamofascists, we encounter an ambiguous landscape—threats followed by calls for negotiation, venom followed by words of reconciliation. Many who believe in words see only the soft language and choose to disregard the hard words.

But if we look at the actions of the Islamofascists, we see only one thing—a nightmare landscape of death, intolerance, subjugation, and terror. That's who our enemy is, and all the talking in the world won't change it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Although the facts are in dispute, it appears that six Moslem clerics were unfairly inconvenienced when they were removed from a U.S. Airlines flight a few days ago. CAIR—a Islamist terrorist front group that the MSM insists upon characterisizing as a moderate voice for Moslem rights—flew into action immediately, leveling charges of racism against the TSA, the flight crew, the non-Moslem passengers on the plane, and the police. The Imans lamented their public "humilation" and threatened legal action. The MSM spun the story into one that focused on racism and intolerance in America. The airlines and the TSA promised to conduct full investigations of the incident.

Let's hold up just a minute. Every time I and millions of other Americans travel, we're subjected to unfair inconvenience precipitated by radical Islamofacists who have killed thousands of our brethren and continually threaten to kill more. CAIR and the MSM never lament the "humilation" suffered by an 80 year-old grandmother from Iowa who must undergo a pat-down search when the metal detector beeps, or the 30 year old Italian American man who has his suitcase searched when the wires from a iPod evoke suspicion, or the 60 year old Missouri woman (with roots in the US that go back 150 years) who is forced to remove her shoes in order to get on a plane. All because taking the correct security approach—targeted profiling—might offend the sensibility of CAIR and the MSM.

I know 9/11 was a long time ago, but recall that groups of Moslem males boarded four planes and did some very bad things. More recently, groups of Moslem males in the U.K. planned to board 10 aircraft and also do some very bad things. Forgive the flying public if they're just a bit skittish about groups of Moslem males flying together.

Is that fair to Moslem males? Of course it isn't. No more than it's fair that each and every one of us must undergo suspicion and searches when we travel.

But please, spare us all the talk about "humiliation" and "racism." The Imans do have a right to be "humiliated," but the cause of their humilation should be that they and other Islamic "leaders" have allowed their religion to be hijacked by Islamofacists. You know, the same 14th century death cult that makes intolerance and racism core ideological tenets.

Tell you what. When the six Imans in question unequivocally condemn Islamofascist ideology (no "buts" or "howevers"), when they openly accept each religion's right to exist, when they advocate Churches and Synogogues (or ba Hai temples) in Saudi Arabia, when they invite "non-believers" into Mecca—maybe those of us who have a hard time sympathizing with their plight as freqeunt flyers might come around. Until then ... well, we all have to deal with unfair inconvenience precipitated by Islamofascists, now, don't we?

Monday, November 20, 2006

See ya

The American public has spoken, and as a consequence, it appears that politicians on the left (and to a lesser extent, on the right) are clamoring for a “phased redeployment in Iraq.”

Politicians are skilled in the creation of euphemisms—“phased redeployment” is a classic example. It masks the reality that we’re bone weary of a difficult war in a difficult place, dealing with difficult people, for goals that are difficult for our President to enunciate.

The result—we’re ready to leave. The longer term result—we’ll turn our backs on the few Iraqi’s who truly did want freedom, allowing the many Islamist and secular thugs in Iraq to murder the innocent and ultimately, take over the country. It also gives a major propaganda victory to Islamofascists and strengthens the hand of Iran and Syria.

Now, all of that may be okay, but it would seem reasonable that we tell it like it is—“we’re leaving, we won’t shed any more blood or gold for your god-forsaken country, you had your chance but didn’t seize it in a timely manner, you’re on your own, see ya.”

But then, “phased redeployment” sounds a lot better on the evening news.

I’m not trying to debate whether or not we’re leaving. It’s a done deal. The only question is how long it will take and how much damage it will cause.

There is one more question, and it's a big one—do we have the will—the fortitude—to fight the enemy we face. I’m beginning to believe that we don’t and that is truly frightening.

Some will argue that “fight” is exactly the wrong word—that negotiation, coupled with major changes in our actions is all that is necessary to mitigate the threat … and oh, the threat is hyped anyway.

Victor Davis Hanson comments on this when he writes:
In short, while the Islamists get bolder and crazier, we become more timid and all too rational, quibbling over this terrorist's affinities and that militia's particular grievances--in hopes of cutting some magical deal with an imaginary moderate imam or nonexistent reasonable militia chief or Middle East dictator.

Well beyond us now is any overarching Churchillian vision of our enemies. We lack the practical understanding of an FDR that all of these Islamists loathe us far more than they despise each other. Their infighting, after all, is like the transitory bickering of thieves over the division of loot that always pales before their shared hatred of the targeted bank owner.

So we are at a crossroads of all places in Iraq. The war there has metamorphosized from a successful effort to remove a mass-murdering dictator into the frontlines of the entire struggle between Islamic radicalism and Western liberality. If we withdraw before the elected government stabilizes, the consequences won't just be the loss of the perceptions of power, but perhaps the loss of real power. What follows won't be the impression that we are weak, but the fact that we are--as we convince ourselves we cannot win against such horrific enemies, and so should never again try.

That stumble will send a shudder throughout the so-called West that will be felt worldwide. It will insidiously show that the premodern world proved the master of the postmodern, as al Qaeda's Alfred Rosenberg, the pudgy Dr. Zawahiri, boasted all along--whose followers will not be happy with a successful defense when they think they can go back on an even more successful offense.
In the end, the Islamicists' best way to blow up the world's Starbucks or to turn off freewheeling American television is ultimately with a whimper, not a bang. They need not plant a hundred thousand bombs across the Westernized globe, but simply to cauterize its very spinal cord in the United States--the willingness of the American public, as in the past, to confront only the latest challenge to their freedom and all the ripples from it.

In a few years we’ll look back at this time and be better able to judge the wisdom of “phased redeployment.” The question then will be whether our effort to remove young Americans from harm’s way inadvertently placed many, many more young Americans directly in the path of a deadly, on-rushing horde.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Joe – A Happy Ending

Earlier in the year, I wrote two comments lamenting the attempt by the Democratic party’s angry-Left wing to defeat Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman by endorsing a Greenwich anti-war millionaire, Ned Lamont. At the time, I noted that these attempts were ridiculous on their face, given that Lieberman exemplified everything that the Democratic party should be – liberal on social issues and strong on the defense of those social issues by being strong on the defense of this country. He also happened to be a smart, ethical, and honest politician – something that is in very short supply.

Joe won a resounding victory as an independent last week. To their credit, Connecticut voters rejected the angry-Left’s arguments and returned a good man to office as an Independent. And now, we come to the good part.

In a Real Clear Politics commentary, Barry Casselman comments on the underlying meaning of Joe’s victory:
The midterm elections provided radical left bloggers with, among many other results, their worst nightmare on Tuesday. They had succeeded, earlier in the campaign year, in helping defeat Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut after viciously attacking him for months. The senator did not go away quietly. He got back into the race as an independent. The radical blogosphere kept up the attack, trying to promote their candidate, the hapless Ned Lamont, into a U.S. senate seat. It didn't work, and it wasn't close. With the help of Connecticut Republicans and independents, as well as many Democrats, Lieberman won a huge victory as the Democrats won back control of the Senate by one vote.

That vote is Lieberman's. He is now de facto the most powerful member of the Senate. That's because he will keep his promise to organize with the Democrats. But they will have to be very good to him. Whatever chairmanship he wants. Whatever he wants for Connecticut. If that does not happen, he can easily take a few steps in the Senate chamber and give control to the Republicans. No one will be able to complain. He would have kept his promise to vote for the Democrats, but it was his other promise that the voters of his state care most about, i.e., his promise to deliver for Connecticut. The senate Republicans would be glad to give him a chairmanship and whatever he wants for Connecticut. President Bush would be delighted to cooperate.

Every once in a while, the good guys win. Joe is a case in point. Hopefully, the Democrats will come to recognize how lucky they are that Connecticut voters stopped the angry-Left from hijacking the party’s agenda. Had they succeeded, the Democrats and the nation would be the long-term loser.

Same Old, Same Old

It looks like the Palestinians have decided that they can live without handouts from the West and that brutal internal fighting between Hamas and Fatah have not evoked any sympathetic response from the West. So, in a classic (and in my opinion, cynical) move, they will form a “unity government” in hope of turning the aid spigot back on. Are they sincere about peace? I’d say they’re about as sincere as they’ve ever been, and that means they’re not sincere at all.

But that’s not the reason for this post. I’d like to deconstruct an article on this subject entitled “Abbas urges Israel to make Peace” by an Arab stringer by the name of Wafa Amr. Reuter’s is not known for its objectivity in the ME, but it is a major worldwide MSM outlet, and its reporting in this region is representative of the AP, CNN, the NYT, and many, many others. The problem isn’t so much a blatant misstatement of facts (although that happens commonly), it’s a lack on any context, and therefore, a purposeful attempt to draw the reader into erroneous conclusions. Let’s take a look:
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he expected to form a unity government with the rival Hamas faction this month in the hope of lifting a Western aid embargo.
So far, so good. A factual report that defines the story. He goes on the present excerpts from Abbas’ speech which add little but are innocuous. Then,
The United States and Europe imposed crippling sanctions on the Palestinian Authority when the militant Islamist group Hamas ousted Abbas's more moderate Fatah faction in an election in January.

Hamas “more moderate” than Fatah? That’s like saying that the Crips [a violent LA criminal gang] are more moderate than the Bloods [another LA gang]. Both Hamas and Fatah advocate the destruction of Israel. Hamas is just more honest about it.
Israel also withheld tax and customs receipts owed to the Palestinians. Hamas, which advocates Israel's destruction and helped spearhead a Palestinian revolt that erupted in 2000, has refused to soften its stand, prompting Abbas to seek to bring Fatah into the government in a bid to bridge differences.

Revolt? Oh, you mean the Intifada. Yeah, that’s what happened after Israel offered the Palestinians a settlement, brokered by Bill Clinton, that represented 90 percent of what they wanted – land for peace, economic incentives, a no-brainer. Except Yassar Arafat couldn’t do it, because Israel would still exist. So he blew it up, and hence, the “revolt.”
But Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said on Friday he was prepared to step aside to end the embargo.

It might be worthwhile noting that Hamas would still play a major role in the Parliament and states clearly that it has no intention of recognizing Israel – ever.
Israel has cautiously welcomed Abbas's efforts, though it insists that any new Palestinian government must recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence -- preconditions set by Western power-brokers -- before peace talks can begin.

"There is hope for the moderates, those who believe in a two-state solution," Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Friday.
So, faced with a new government that continues to advocate its destruction, what does Israel do, it says ‘okay, we’ll try (again).’ But like all articles of this type, Israeli optimism is always followed by a “but,”
But Abbas said Israel must also take the lead.

"It is high time the Israeli government realizes that the continuation of its settlement and occupation is an impossible matter and that military force, no matter how mighty, will not break the will of the people," he said.

Is that the same “occupation” that had Israel UNILATERALLY leave the Gaza, only to have a continuing stream of rockets rain down on its civilian population? Is that the same use of military force that attempts to stop these indiscriminate attacks? Yeah, the same.
Palestinians seek statehood in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Though Israel quit the latter territory last year, it has said it will keep Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank under any future peace deal.

The 1967 war resulted in a reshuffling of territory. Israel was attacked by the Arabs, not visa versa. It took the land as part of a defensive military action. It’s now willing to return 90 percent of it with nothing other than a pledge of peace. But that’s not enough. The Palis want it all, even though they never held claim to it in the first place! P.S. The “West Bank” was part of Jordan prior to the 1967 War, NOT part of any sovereign state called “Palestine” because there was no sovereign, Arab-governed state called Palestine – ever.
The diplomatic deadlock since Hamas's election victory has seen spiraling violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen, as well as fighting between Hamas and Fatah loyalists.
Israel has mounted military sweeps of Gaza to try to counter cross-border rocket salvoes and retrieve a captive soldier. The most recent mission culminated with the death of 19 civilians in an Israeli artillery barrage on the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.
Abbas condemned the killings -- which Israel said resulted from a gunnery error -- as a "barbaric massacre."

Inadvertent civilian deaths are morally equivalent to purposeful (that’s a key word in this discussion) slaughter of Israeli innocents by suicide bombers and indiscriminate rocket attacks that occur daily? Israel strikes back and occasionally makes mistakes. In a war, the unfortunate truth is that people (often civilians) die. The real issue is whether they are purposefully targeted. If the Palis were really concerned about the deaths of their civilians, maybe they’d stop the attacks that are planned and perpetrated within Gaza. Surely, "moderate" Fatah aided by a newly virtuous Hamas could do that, don't you think?
But he said that Hamas's hard line against peace talks, as opposed to the previous Fatah-led government's pursuit of coexistence with Israel, would only spell more bloodshed.
"Any political program that is not based on the national program that was endorsed by popular consensus, and enjoyed international as well as Arab support, will only give a pretext to Israel to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and to refuse to withdraw from our land," he said.

Of course, it’s the Palestinians who have prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state. But no one, particularly no one who sympathizes with their cause, wants to hear that. The beat goes on.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Among speaker Nancy Pelosi’s first duties will be the appointment of committee chairmanships, and arguably the most important of these is the appointment of a chairman to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Ms. Pelosci railed against “intelligence failures” during the past 6 years, so it would seem that she would want an honest, ethical, and competent Democratic chairman. Unfortunately, it appears that she will appoint Alcee Lamar Hastings, the reelected Democratic Representative from Florida's 23rd District, to the position. Peter Pham and Michael Kraus provide some background:
Barely two years into office, [then Federal] "Judge" Hastings accepted a $150,000 bribe in exchange for giving a lenient sentence to two swindlers, then lied in subsequent sworn testimony about the incident. The case involved two brothers, Frank and Thomas Romano, who had been convicted in 1980 on 21 counts of racketeering. Together with attorney William Borders Jr., Hastings, who presided over the Romanos' case, hatched a plot to solicit a bribe from the brothers. In exchange for a $150,000 cash payment to him, Hastings would return some $845,000 of their $1.2 million in seized assets after they served their three-year jail terms.

Taped conversations between Hastings and Borders confirmed that the judge was a party to the plot. Hastings was also criminally prosecuted for bribery, but his accomplice Borders went to prison rather than testify against him. Hastings was acquitted thanks to Borders' silence. [Borders was then pardoned by President Clinton, confirming the wisdom of his refusal to testify. In a remarkable display of chutzpah, Borders then applied for reinstatement to the District of Columbia Bar, claiming that Clinton's federal pardon eliminated his local disbarment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit did not agree, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. To former D.C. delegate Walter Fauntroy, Borders' case had a spiritual quality to it. "Being pardoned by the president is like being pardoned by Jesus," Fauntroy sermonized. Thankfully, the Supremes evidently disagreed with this "theology."]

"Be assured that I'm going to be a judge for life," Mr. Hastings told reporters in 1983 after his acquittal. But the arguments that swayed a Miami jury did not sway the Congress. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives impeached Hastings for bribery and perjury by a lopsided vote of 413 to 3. Then the Democrat-controlled Senate convicted him on eight articles of impeachment by well over the required two-thirds majority in 1989. Thus Mr. Hastings became only the sixth judge in the history of our Republic (and only the third in the 20th Century) to be removed by Congress. He was, and is, an utter disgrace to the nation and to the legal profession. Among those voting to impeach him were Ms. Pelosi herself, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip who is likely to become the new House majority leader, and Mr. Hastings' fellow African-American Congressman, Michigan's John Conyers, who took pains to deny that race had anything to do with the removal of the bribe-taking jurist.

So why on earth would Speaker Pelosi even consider elevating Hastings to the Chairmanship? Pham and Kraus explain:
The move would be a payback to the Congressional Black Caucus, to whose support Pelosi owes her election as Minority Leader and whose members she angered by picking Ms. Harman to be ranking member over Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop in 2003. The incoming Speaker must also mollify the Black Caucus for having pushed Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson (he of the frozen cash) off the Ways and Means Committee.

The “mandate” given to Ms. Pelosci and the Democrats has one clear implication: Americans expect them to do a better job in the global War on Terror than their predecessors. Every rational observer agrees that Intelligence operations lie at the center of both defensive and offensive operations against Islamofascist terrorists. The country (and the Democrats) cannot afford a disgraced ex-Judge to head-up congressional oversight of these operations.

So … this Ms. Pelosi’s first real test in the national defense arena: Will she put the good of the nation ahead internal party politics or will she begin to foster a “culture of corruption” all over again? Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The Democrats have clearly won a great victory. Their battle against the Bush administration was a strategic and tactical success. Aided by their allies in the MSM, they convinced the American public of the hopelessness of Iraq, and created a perception of a weak economy when unemployment is at the lowest level in years, real wages are rising slowly, and our GDP continues to grow at a healthy pace. But that’s politics.

It’s now time for the Dems to lead. And by that I mean that they must forget their war against George W. Bush and refocus.

I’d like to see the Dems, aided by their allies in the MSM, develop a strategy and tactics for dealing with our real enemies--not the imagined enemy that they defeated during the elections.

Our real enemies – Islamofascists (AQ, Hezballah, Hamas, and Iran) and North Korean – want to kill us. They threaten us regularly and will seize any opportunity to do so, if they perceive the USA to be weak-willed and isolationist. It’s now time for the Dems to clearly enunciate their policy for dealing with our real enemies and then to work with the President to implement the policy.

It was time for a change, and the Dems seized the moment. We all wish them well. But at the same time, we expect leadership – not political sniping, ridiculous and unnecessary investigations, and other beltway recriminations.

So, Dems, show us that you have a better plan for dealing with enemies that have not gone away (and may, in fact, be emboldened), regardless of the election results. Show us that you have what it takes to lead. Good luck!

Critical Thinking

Bill Whittle is one of the Web’s best essayists. His greatest strength is a clear-eyed view of the world – a view that is cynical when it needs to be, but always fact-based and rational. He’s not a guy you’d like to debate if you’re on the wrong side of reason.

In a new essay (take the time to read it in its entirety), entitled Seeing the Unseen. Whittle addresses the growing web of misinformation and falsehood that is taken as articles of faith by a growing number of Americans. He begins:
We live in a sea of information, an Information Age: and yet, it has been almost half a millennia since mankind has been so unwilling or unable to use critical thinking to separate the intellectual wheat from so…much…chaff! Critical Thinking -- the ability to analyze data, determine it’s usefulness and fidelity, to learn how to asses reliability, question methodology, weigh expertise and all the rest – is in shockingly short supply these days. It’s not just a shame; it’s an epidemic, it is a fatal metastasizing disease in a democracy where information is used by the public to make the decisions that steer the ship of state. For the ability to think critically allows us to see the unseen; to find the truth behind the falsehood, as well as the falsehood behind the truth.

Today, it seems that legions of people – growing legions – are falling victims to ideas and beliefs that on the face of it are patently false…things that are so clearly and obviously nuts that you really have to wonder what deep, mighty engine of emotional need could possibly drive a brain so deep into a hole. Seriously now, there are millions and millions of people on this planet who will torture logic and reason to mind-bending extremes in order to believe monumentally ridiculous “theories” … theories drawn from an emotional need so warped and debased that you are catapulted beyond anger and disbelief directly into pathos and the desire to call 911 before these people hurt themselves.

On the far-Right, we have the following ideas and beliefs that have resonated with far too many people:

  • The demand that "creationist" science be taught in our schools

  • The crusade against embryonic stem cell research and stem cell cloning

  • The depiction of gay marriage as a "threat" to conventional marriage and the resultant attempts to constitutionally ban it

  • A "right to life" world view that would force a person to continue living even when his quality of life is nil (think Terri Schiavo)

  • The dangerous melding of religion and government

  • The claim that family values is strictly the province of the religious right

Each of these issues crept into the political arena during the first six years of the Bush administration. The Republican administration was (and continues to be) on the wrong side of each of these issues. It's position is anti-rational and harmful to the country and its people.

But the far-Left also has its ideas and beliefs that have resonated with far too many people in the mainstream of the Democratic party. And today, with the transition to Democratic leadership in the Congress, it will become even more important to rely on critical thinking when you hear the following sound bites:

  • Rumfeld is a ‘chickenhawk’

  • Bush is an idiot” or “Bush Lied

  • Blood for oil

  • We can coexist with radical Islam

  • We have to end US ‘imperialism’

  • “Give peace a chance” or “War is not the answer”

Whittle addresses each of these far-left sound bites in his essay, using the simple logic of critical thinking to deconstruct each. Here’s a sample that addresses the array of arguments that imply that “war is not the answer.”
Okay. I’m listening. What is the answer?

No, you don’t get to say I don’t know but I know it's not war! If you admit you don’t know what the answer is, then it logically follows that you are in no position to say what it is not.

With regard to Iraq, Saddam started a suicidal war with Iran, and then with the United States. He then proceeded to break every single element of his cease-fire agreement…shooting at allied airplanes trying to belatedly enforce no-fly zones to prevent him from massacring even more of his own people, continuing with a well-documented and undeniable effort to obtain nuclear weapons, and all the rest.

So what is the answer, Mr. Moral Superiority? Sanctions? We sanctioned him for 13 years. He bribed the UN and stole billions of dollars for new palaces and industrial shredders for the opposition. Should we just leave him alone? The New York Times reported a few days ago that Saddam was a year or two away from a nuclear weapon. Do you trust the man’s judgment after Iran and Kuwait? I don’t.

War is an ugly, messy, filthy business, and the greatest slander I have seen in these last three years is the idea that somehow the pro-war crowd thinks war is a great thing. War is an awful thing. And yet I am pro war in this case. How can that be?
This is probably the most useful thing I’ll write in this essay:

Doves think the choice is between fighting or not fighting. Hawks think the choice is between fighting now or fighting later.

If you understand this, you understand everything that follows. You don’t need to think the other side is insane, or evil. Both hawks and doves are convinced they are doing the right thing. But it seems to me there is a choice between peace at any price and a peace worth having.

Whittle proceeds to recount the long and very sad history of appeasement. Whether its Rome and the barbarians, Europe and the Viking hoards or Europe and the Nazi menace during WWII, appeasement does not work – ever. When you hear anyone in the new congressional leadership say anything that could lead to any attempt at appeasement, keep this simple historical reality in mind.

In an early post, I commented on reaction formation – a psychological disorder that leads one to believe in things that are provably incorrect because belief in reality is simply too stressful. I think that’s one of the reasons that so many people in the USA have abandoned “critical thinking.” Reality is often stressful, it’s sometimes unpleasant, and in today’s world, it can be downright frightening.

As Whittle correctly states, “the ability to think critically allows us to see the unseen; to find the truth behind the falsehood, as well as the falsehood behind the truth.” We should all keep this in mind as the political rhetoric on both sides ratchets up over the coming two years.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Red, White and Blue

As the Democrats prepare to take over leadership of the House and very possibly, gain a majority in the Senate, I think the words of Leonard Pitts, a Liberal columnist for the Chicago Tribune should be required reading for every Democratic politician who will crow about how this election “vindicates” the “Democratic position” on domestic and international issues:

So, if you [Democrats] win power here, please don't assume it validates anything you've done. If you win, it's because of Mark Foley and Terri Schiavo and Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush and Jack Abramoff and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and Dick Cheney and Hurricane Katrina and 2,800 dead soldiers and because, as my mom used to say, enough is enough and too much stinks.

More to the point, you don't win because of you. I don't even know who you are. Ever since Bill Clinton left town, you have been inept at defining yourself, communicating your ideals with all the clarity of, well, John Kerry trying to tell a joke. I don't know what you believe, what you plan, where you want to take the country. I daresay most people don't. A victory here just means you were the only other game in town. And yet, it would give you a rare opportunity.

I suspect I speak for many when I say I'm tired of wedge politics. I'm tired of stupid, I'm tired of greed, I'm tired of polarization, I'm tired of red and blue mattering more than red, white and blue.

I want to know what it's like to have a sense of national mission, what it's like to strive for instead of against. I want to be hopeful about the future again, want my country to be looked at with respect again. Most of all, I want to see statesmen again. Meaning men and women who can debate, do battle, compromise and disagree over issues of great importance, but not let party, partisanship or politics stand in the way of doing what is best for the country.

Words well written. Why is it, then, that I have a very bad feeling that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other Democratic leaders will move in exactly the opposite direction? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.