Tuesday, December 20, 2005

James Jesus Angleton on Iran

Some of my favorite pieces on National Review Online are Michael Ledeen's "conversations" via a Ouija board with former CIA counterintelligence chief, James Jesus Angleton.

This may be the best one yet. Sure it's outlandish, but as Ledeen writes at the end, "...it does somehow explain everything."

How's the war going? Ask the Iraqis

Byron York of National Review Online has this piece about the surprising results of a public opinion poll conducted in Iraq.

So, don't listen to the Democrat's newest "useful idiot", John Murtha, or - crikey, I can't even think of adjectives that quite convey what a moronic demagogue Howard Dean is (oh, wait, I think I just did) - Howard Dean about how the things are in Iraq. Let the Iraqis themselves tell you.

Monday, December 19, 2005

McCarthy vs. McCain

One of the contributors to National Review Online that I enjoy the most is Andrew McCarthy. I've mentioned him several times in previous posts. He has a new piece taking on John McCain's torture ban. Here's a link.

Quite simply it's devastating. Reading it, I am completely baffled as to why anyone would want to extend such magnanimity and mercy to our enemies. McCarthy goes one better and shows how such a ban would be unconstitutional and dangerous.

John McCain, of all people, who suffered genuine torture at the hands of his Vietnamese captors during his imprisonment at the Hanoi Hilton (reportedly he can't even comb his own hair since he can't raise his arms above his shoulders), knows what real torture is.

McCain, of all people, should know that the abuses which took place at Abu Ghraib hardly constitute torture. In fact, I would hazard a guess that given the choice between enduring the torture they did and enduring the "torture" of the sort seen at Abu Ghraib, the "guests" at the Hanoi Hilton would have jumped at the latter.

What's even worse is that McCarthy shows how the adoption of McCain's amendment (which was tacked on to a defense appropriations bill so that those opposing the amendment could be accused of not "supporting the troops") would lead to the extension of Miranda protections to terrorists. With the extension of Miranda rights to enemy combatants would come court-appointed attorneys, paid for by the American taxpayers. It would also mean the right against self-incrimination.

All this means that non-American enemy combatants, captured on the battlefield, outside the United States, would have the same rights as you or I if we were accused of a crime.

Indeed, McCarthy shows how this has already happened. In the case of one of the Nairobi embassy bombers, a judge ruled that the perpetrator's confession should be supressed on grounds that he wasn't Mirandized.

Wait, it gets worse. The terrorist in question wasn't even in the United States at the time. He was in Kenya. Nor was he in U.S. custody; he was in Kenyan custody. The Kenyans (in this instance, better allies than the French) had agreed to allow FBI investigators to interrogate him. The judge ruled that this was enough to guarantee him Miranda protections.

Those of you under the erroneous impression that perhaps the Founding Fathers intended for such protections to apply to our enemies, McCarthy demostrates how this is not the case. McCarthy writes that "the very purpose of forming government was to secure...[our] rights from such enemies. It is impossible to separate the substance of the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment protections from the fact that those protections are designed to benefit only people who have joined the fabric of our society."

These are the likely results of the passing of the McCain amendment. I expect this kind of crap from Barbara Boxer or Diane Pelosi, but not McCain. (Although ever since the 2000 primary he has seemed to delight in his role as a gadfly.)

I can't believe that Bush can't even bring himself to veto this affront to our security. I despair that Bush will never learn this basic lesson: those on the Left don't hate him because they don't support his policies; they don't support his policies because they hate him.

Arab Hypocrisy

I know, I know. Where to begin?

How about with all the Arab high dudgeon over the Crusades? Osama Bin Laden has cited the Crusades as one of the reasons for his own jihad (really just an Arabic word for - wait for it - a crusade!)

Let's leave aside for a moment perhaps the most salient fact - namely that the Crusades happened ALMOST A THOUSAND YEARS AGO and were not launched by any entity even remotely resembling any of today's nation-states.

Instead, let's concentrate on the hypocrisy inherent in Arab protestations over the injustices suffered at the hands of the Crusaders. I say inherent because I want you to think about the answer to a simple question:

How do you think Islam spread from its beginnings on the Arabian peninsula?

That's right - it was a crusade. Mohammed didn't charge his followers with going out and spreading his word and convincing other peoples to follow those teachings. Nope, ole Mo' told his followers to put other peoples to the sword to convince them. Those who "chose" not to convert in this method faced two choices: death or permanent second-class status (dhimmitude).

Islam has never been spread by proselytization. It has always relied on force and coercion for its spread. This seems a strange way to spread the "word of God". I will grant you that Christianity has had its share of forced converts, but that was a perversion of Christ's true intent. Christ charged his disciples with spreading his teachings and setting an example. In fact, most religions rely on some form of proselytization. Mormonism is perhaps the most recent example of this phenomenon.

The Arab crusade was only halted by Charlemagne's grandfather, Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer - I love that name), at the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers, but not to be confused with the 1356 battle of the same name, fought between the English and the French during the Hundred Years War) in 732 A.D. It was there near the French town of Tours that Martel defeated an army of Muslims and forever halted their northward advance up from the Iberian Peninsula. After that, the Moors were contained in Spain until they were driven out by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1492.

In a sense, the European Crusades could be seen as a reaction to the Arabs' earlier one as well as a, well, crusade to retake the Holy Lands (i.e., Jerusalem) from the Saracens (Arabs).

Think about that the next time you hear someone getting their panties in a bunch about the Crusades.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

European ingratitude

Something that I've come to realize is that genuine gratitude is in short supply in today's civilization. I guess it is human nature that breeds resentment in the heart of the benefactor. It seems that helping those less fortunate than ourselves causes them to face up to the hard truth that they were unable to help themselves.

However, I find this explanation less than satisfactory in the case of present-day Western Europe. It does nothing to explain why the Europeans seem determined to act the obstructor in our efforts to fight Islamist terrorists.

This really puzzles me since the Europeans have nearly as much to fear as we Americans do. While we may be "public enemy number one", they have much larger numbers of Muslim immigrants in their midst which makes them more vulnerable. You would think that after the terror attacks in Spain and England, wilding Muslim youths in France, and foiled terror plots in Denmark and Germany, that the Europeans would be more supportive of the War on Islam.

You would think that. But you would be wrong. Witness the latest brouhaha over the CIA's operation of secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Leave aside for a moment the fact that, given the European's vulnerability to terrorism, they should be with us. But aren't those countries which helped us to operate this network of prisons sovereign? Don't they have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to assist us in this endeavor?

I am convinced it is not a coincidence that those countries with the most recent experience under authoritarian governments are our most faithful allies in this effort.

The Europeans, on the other hand, spent nearly 50 years enjoying the aegis of American protection from the Soviet threat. I think this is the prime cause that has bred the resentment to the United States; the fact that they were unable to stand up to the gravest threat of the latter half of the 20th century.

The "demise" of Israel

Stratfor, the private intelligence report, had this item on their website:

Israel is a "cancer" in the Middle East and its peace deal with Egypt should be submitted to a referendum, the leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) said in an interview published in Ahram weekly Dec. 15. Mohammed Mehdi Akef said the MB would not recognize Israel, and that he expected its demise soon. Akef stopped short of saying that the peace deal should be scrapped, but he did suggest it should be voted on.

I am most intrigued by Mr. Akef's assertion that he expected Israel's "demise soon". I find it intriguing since the Israelis have whipped the Arabs in every stand up fight they've had with their neighbors.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

A chance to get involved

The advent of the Internet has made it much easier to stay in touch with family and friends. It has also made it much easier to contact your congressional representatives. I regularly write my Representative and Senators so that they know what positions I would like them to take. After all, if I don't tell them how I would like them to vote, then there is no countervailing influence to the lobbyists and special interests groups.

A new bill has been introduced in the House which all American should support. Rep. James Sensenbrenner has proposed the Border and Immigration Enforcement Act of 2005 (H.R. 4437). This proposed law is a long overdue change to our nation's immigrations law. Among its provisions the children of illegal immigrants and resident aliens born in the United States are no longer entitled to American citizenship.

I searched Google and couldn't find one example of a country with a similar policy. This policy used to have a purpose in the early years of the United States' founding, when we were encouraging unfettered immigration. But now that expansion of our country is settled and the nations of the world have recognized the value of regulating the process of immigration and citizenship, this provision is an outdated loophole that is being exploited by illegal immigrants and those who wish to abuse the privileges of citizenship.

Predictably, immigration rights groups, civil rights groups and unions are opposing the bill. They have taken to using the same hyperbolic language to urge opposition to it, calling the bill an "unprecendented attack" on the "rights of undocumented immigrants" (if you know anythin about the history of our country, you'll know it's not). The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, an offshoot of the AFL-CIO, says that "[i]t offers only harsh measures meant to punish immigrants". (Note how they omit the fact that the bill targets illegal aliens not legal residents.) Civilrights.org says that the bill "takes a harsh and unfair approach to reforming our nation's immigration policies".

I am continually mystified by people who don't seem to value their American citizenship and who wish to offer it to any illegal alien who manages to break our laws and sneak into the United States. After all, no-one would suggest that if I broke into your house, I would have any right to take up residence. Yet, that is the logic that is at work under the current policy.

I urge everyone to go to the www.house.gov and www.senate.gov web sites and write your congressional representatives and urge them to support this bill.

Is Hawaii still part of America?

Check out this item from the Honolulu Advertiser.

Apparently Hawaii is preparing to enforce a 12-year-old law that requires owners to pay all unpaid parking tickets before registering a car. In Hawaii, parking tickets are attached to a car, not a driver. Now, on the one hand, it's easy to see the logic in such a law. The state has a vested interest in trying to punish scofflaws.

That being said, it's absolutely ludicrous, and probably unconstitutional, to punish one person for the crimes of another. Let's take an extreme example. Suppose I legally buy a gun and later it's discovered that the previous owner had committed a murder with it. Would it be permissible for the state to punish me for that crime? Of course it's not. Most people would scoff at the idea. Yet, the rationale behind such an action is that same logic at work in the Hawaii case.

I can only hope that some outraged Hawaiian will challenge this ludicrous law. Of course, I don't have much faith in the Hawaiian courts. Hawaii is the same state that is trying to make native Hawaiians a protected group with special status and privileges under the law.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Logic not journalist's strong suit

The Arizona Daily Star columnist Ernesto Portillo, Jr., wrote the following passage in an opinion column about Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist's abortive Congressional campaign for the House seat vacated by Chris Cox (who took over the SEC):

"On Tuesday, in Southern California's Orange County, Minutemen co-founder Jim Gilchrist lost his bid in a special congressional election. Gilchrist had widespread media attention for his hard-charging call to close the border. He had the backing of the Tombstone-based Minuteman group, which has created chapters and copycat groups across the country. And he had the support of national conservative commentators who dominate radio and cable television.

"Yet Gilchrist, a retired accountant from Orange County who made illegal immigration his only campaign issue, could not seal the deal in one of California's most conservative counties and the birthplace of the close-the-border movement. Gilchrist...placed third behind a Democrat, who had 28 percent, and the winner, a Republican state legislator who received nearly 45 percent of the votes. Gilchrist's supporters hailed his showing as a moral victory of sorts, but he didn't come close, despite all the fanfare over the Minutemen's supposed popular appeal."

This is what they call a logical fallacy. Portillo's reasoning goes like this: Gilchrist lost and his main issue was illegal immigration ergo Californians don't have any problem with illegal immigration.

They call it a fallacy for a reason: it's wrong. If you followed this race at all, you would know that Gilchrist didn't perform well in the debate, didn't heed his advisors in trying to get out the vote, and didn't heed his advisors in reaching out to absentee voters. Any of these reasons, and indeed all three of them taken together, offer a more likely reason as to why Gilchrist finished third in this race.

Try to guess which side of the illegal immigration issue Mr. Portillo falls on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Brokeback Mountain": This year's "Boys Don't Cry"

Are you ready for yet another movie that will be hailed by critics but that almost no-one will see? Then get ready for "Brokeback Mountain", the "gay cowboy movie".

This movie has a fair amount of starpower behind it. It's directed by Ang Lee, written by Larry McMurtry and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger and Randy Quaid. Critics are already falling all over themselves to praise it. It is the top Golden Globe nominee with seven nods. It was the big winner at the New York Film Critics Circle awards, nabbing awards for best picture, best director (Lee) and best actor (Ledger). It will certainly contend for many of the major Oscars.

I was struck by how delusional some of the breathless comments were from some critics about "Mountain". This one really jumped out at me:

"A lot of people among critics are responding to it because it is so daring," said Gene Seymour, chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle.

Daring? A sympathetic treatment of gays by Hollywood is daring? Uh, in a word, no. "The Passion of the Christ", a production about the last hours of Christ's life in Aramaic and Latin, THAT was daring.

Now, compare the box office of the two.

Critics are a bunch of iconoclasts whose main function is to extol movies that most people either haven't seen, hate or can't relate to, in order to make themselves seem smarter and more sophisticated than Joe Six-Pack. Probably to compensate for the fact that they have no real creative talent of their own. Deep down they realize what a meager gift it is to be able to eloquently piss in someone else's corn flakes. (And yes I realize the inherent irony in making such a statement on a blog.)

This situation reminds me of 1999's "Boys Don't Cry" another critical darling that no-one saw. According to Box Office Mojo, "Boys Don't Cry" grossed $11 million dollars at the box office. Let's assume an average ticket price of $5. I know that is likely a fairly conservative estimate but I'm trying to factor in the variance in ticket prices (even though probably most of the people that saw "Boys" did so in major media markets like New York and Los Angeles) and matinee prices. At a ticket price of $5, that means just a little over 2 million people saw the movie. That's not very many in a country of almost 300 million people.

Let's be honest here. "Boys Don't Cry" is a film about a transsexual. Do you know a transsexual? Does anybody you know know a transsexual? Most Americans simply can't relate very well to the issues in "Boys Don't Cry". And yet it was a critical darling. I think one can detect a similar parochialism in last year's "Sideways". Most of Americans don't know "Merlot" from moonshine; most of us aren't frustrated novelists. And yet this movie was nominated for "Best Picture"! I think this will be the case with "Brokeback Mountain". Do you know [m]any cowboys? If you do know any cowboys, are any of them gay?

France: What a joke

Check out this news story courtesy of Stratfor:

France sent a resolution to the U.N. Security Council lateDec. 13 that would expand the scope of the investigation into the deathof former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri to include terroristattacks in Lebanon since October 2004. The resolution, co-sponsored bythe United States and Britain, was requested by the Lebanese government,which is investigating a string of car bombings.

This is all well and good, but I just have one question: what are they going to do when they find out that some Syrian or Iranian-backed terrorist group is responsible? Pass another resolution? Goodness me, no! That would be too judgemental. Perhaps they'll threaten to pass another resolution. Or maybe they'll pass a resolution threatening to pass another resolution.

I got in an argument with an acquantaince of mine who is Dutch. Natch, he was against the war. I asked him, why, when every government of every power agreed that Saddam Hussein was a threat and a murdering tyrant? How many U.N. Security Council resolutions did he have to violate? You Europeans are the ones insisting that we get U.N. approval, I argued, so we sent Colin Powell and called your bluff.

His retort to most of my arguments was to ask why the U.S. couldn't have waited six months to invade. My reply to this was, how many people die at the hands of the Hussein regime in six months? He kept repeating, "Six months! Six months!" like this was some kind of argument instead of the nonsensical mantra he was turning it into.

This is why I think the U.N. should be scrapped: the dither while people die.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stanley "Tookie" Williams

The state of California executed notorious murderer and co-founder of the "Crips" street gang, Stanley "Tookie" Williams.

In the last several years, Williams had become something of a cause celebre among Hollywood's elite. Luminaries such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Joan Baez and Bianca Jagger (do the last two really count as celebrities?) had embarked on a campaign to try and win clemency for Williams. They had even gone so far as to nominate Williams for Nobel Peace Prizes over the last several years. Now, I'll admit that with recent prizes having gone to Jimmy Carter and Mohamed El-Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize has lost some of its lustre. Luckily, however, the Nobel committee retained enough good sense to not award a prize to this monster.

The reason the illuminati cited for wanting Williams' sentence commuted was that he had been reformed. They cite as proof the work Williams had done and the books he had written trying to educate California's and America's youth on the dangers of gang membership.

Such arguments are laughably easy to refute.

First, for having murdered four people in cold blood and then having boasted of the murders and joked about the pain and cruelty he had inflicted, one could argue that trying to make a lesson of his own sorry example to succeeding generations was the very least Williams could do. But it hardly diminishes the monstrosity of his crimes, nor does it merit a reprieve.

Second, a cynical sort might argue that "Tookie's" conversion was calculated to save his own hide. How lucky we are that we have the Susan Sarandon's and Bianca Jagger's of the world to remind of us of the potential for redemption in us all!

Stanley "Tookie" Williams, 1954-2005. Good riddance.

Orwell v. 2005

File this story right next to the one about the CIA selling crack in the ghetto,a missile striking the Pentagon, and Jews staying home from the World Trade Center on September 11:


I can understand why some people would want to peddle a story like this. It gets them a microphone and a camera in their face; it gets their picture in the paper. The attempt is to portray one's own group as victims of a nefarious conspiracy. The effect is to cloud any honest investigation of what actually went wrong.

What I can't understand is why a supposedly reputable news organization like MSNBC would want to give a pulpit to such fringe groups as are peddling these fantasies. Likewise I can't understand why the United States Congress would want to humor such dangerous fantasies.

They do a grave disservice to many of those most harmed by Hurricane Katrina. It absolves those involved from any reflection on their own role during the disaster. It hurts precisely those victimized the most.

Take Spike Lee (please). “I don't find it too far-fetched,” Lee said in a recent television interview, “that they try to displace all the black people out of New Orleans.” Now were I the one interviewing Spike Lee my next question would be a simple one: why? Frankly, statements like these exaggerate the importance of race.

Of course, I haven't conducted in-depth research on the attitudes and motives of the white community of New Orleans. Nevertheless (as Katherine Hepburn tells Humphrey Bogart in "The African Queen"), I feel confident in asserting that white people in New Orleans did not displace black people out of New Orleans. What possible motive would they have for doing so? It's absurd, plain and simple.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Madeleine Albright: Not the sharpest knife in the drawer

The Austin American Statesman has this story about a speech that the worst Secretary of State of the 20th century gave at St. Edward's University in Texas.

I thought the headline ("Albright criticizes war in Iraq but says U.S. must stay") was the typical, talking-out-of-both-sides-of-their-mouth carping that we hear from Democrats these days. However the real howler in this article was this line:

She said Clinton had so impressed the Arabs that he "could be elected president of any country" in the Middle East.

Now, correct me if I am wrong, but there are only three countries in the Middle East to which Bill Clinton could be elected to the presidency - Israel, Turkey, and Iraq. And the third one only because of the determination of the man Albright was bitching about.

Now, why couldn't he be elected president of the rest of them again? Oh, that's right. NONE OF THE REST OF THEM HAVE ELECTIONS!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

From the "It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy" file...

...comes this report:
Cuban President Fidel Castro is suffering from Parkinson's disease, according to a CIA
assessment issued Nov. 16. Cuban officials declined to comment on the assessment.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bill Richardson - Yep, He's a Clintonite

I'm not sure exactly when this story broke but I am just learning about it today. It seems that the former New Mexico governor and UN Ambassador under Bill Clinton has been claiming for the last 20-odd years that he was drafted to play baseball by the then Kansas City Athletics in 1966.

A story from thanksgiving Day's Albuquerque Journal reports that, in fact, Richardson was not drafted by the A's.

Now, I am not going to waste a lot of words on why people embellish or flat-out lie on their resumes. What I am more interested in is how public figures, politicians especially, attempt to explain their actions when they are caught.

In this case, Richardson's admission is the usual incredible - as in hard to believe (mainly because it's not true) - mea culpa. Not only is it hard to believe; we all know that it is disingenuous and insincere. A six year-old could listen to it and tell you it's a lie. Here's what Richardson had to say:

"After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter ... I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's," he said.

He had to research the matter to come to the conclusion that it wasn't true? Now, I willingly admit that I wasn't drafted by the A's - or anybody else for that matter - but I would have to believe that if I had been (in my late teens or early twenties), I have to believe that that would stand out a little. I have to believe this would stand out among the events of my life. I have to believe that it wouldn't require any "research" on my part to remember.

So, why do public figures go through the motions of pretending that they didn't know they were lying?

I can only believe it is because they think we, the public, are stupid and complacent.

They know that most of us have short memories and that we have more important things to do than wonder which politician is honest and which one is not. They count on it. So they go through the motions of pretending that the indiscretion in question was an honest mistake.

See, they also count on one other thing, and that's the weariness of the public. We have been so conditioned to believe that politicians are dishonest, that it doesn't surprise us when we are confronted with evidence of it. We shrug our shoulders and repeat the mantra, "They all do it."

Bill Clinton didn't invent this kind of behavior; he perfected it. Again and again he was caught out in scandal after scandal after scandal. And again and again he pretended to be contrite. He pretended these were honest mistakes. And we continued shrugging our shoulders. (Well, I didn't, but a lot of you did.)

So the next time a politician gets caught out on some howler, just remember we have only ourselves to blame. It's our complacency that lets them off the hook.

We should demand better. Unless, that is, you don't think we deserve it.

More on Immigrants

As I was trying to reduce the size of my e-mail backlog (thanks Nick!) today, I came across the below item in one of Chuck Muth's newsletters. You know you are on the right side of an argument when Teddy Roosevelt agrees with you.
"(I)f the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. . . . There can be no divided allegiances here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag. . . . (W)e have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people." - Teddy Roosevelt, 1907