May 04, 2006

Moussaoui Sentence Worse Than Death...For Him

The speculation about Zacharias Moussaoui's has ended, knowing that he will be imprisoned for the rest of his life. Peggy Noonan is displeased because he didn't get the death penalty.

Excuse me, I'm sorry, and I beg your pardon, but the jury's decision on Moussaoui gives me a very bad feeling. What we witnessed here was not the higher compassion but a dizzy failure of nerve.


It is as if we've become sophisticated beyond our intelligence, savvy beyond wisdom. Some might say we are showing a great and careful generosity, as befits a great nation. But maybe we're just, or also, rolling in our high-mindedness like a puppy in the grass. Maybe we are losing some crude old grit. Maybe it's not good we lose it.


He knew the trigger was about to be pulled. He knew innocent people had been targeted, and were about to meet gruesome, unjust deaths.

He could have stopped it. He did nothing. And so 2,700 people died.

Peggy may think that we wimped out by not sitting his ass down in the electric chair and pulling the switch. But she's overlooked a couple of things.

First, crazy or not, Moussaoui wanted to die, to become a martyr for the twisted harabahist ideology of a fascist Islamic cult. We denied him that 'honor'. He will rot away in a prison cell, out of sight and with no contact with the outside world for the rest of his life.

Second, by sentencing Moussaoui to life in prison at the federal Supermax facility in Colorado, we have done far worse than put him to death. He will be in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. He will have no visitors. He will have no contact with other inmates. He will be locked in his cell 23 hours a day. The only persons he will see will be the guards who will deliver his meals three times a day or escort him to a room for his daily 60 minute exercise period. That is it. He may, on occasion, be visited by some law enforcement or governmental official, but that's all. No friends. No relatives. No imams. Nobody.

To reiterate, we have done far worse than kill him. We have made him a non-entity, a living ghost who will quickly fade out of the the public's memory. And then he will die, as the presiding judge said, quoting T.S.Eliot, “with a whimper.”

I can think of no better fate for him.

Addendum: Do not think that because I believe he received an appropriate sentence that I am against capital punishment. I am not. I believe there are crimes so heinous that death is the only remedy. As I said above, in Moussaoui's case we denied him what he sought and in the process did more than kill him. We made him insignificant, something he feared far more than dying.

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February 17, 2006

How YOU Can Help Fight Illegal Immigration While You Sit There

The great site NumbersUSA has expanded very fast in the past year. Their website lets you fax Congress for free and let your voice be heard on immigration issues.

94,000 additional people in the past year have been free faxing to fix our broken immigration system!

I firmly believe that the faxes from their members had a lot to do with the pressure applied to our representatives in the House that got H.R. 4437 passed in December.

Now they need to raise a few bucks to expand their system infrastructure to handle the explosive growth.

The good news, they have found some grateful soul who cares about the issue so much they will do a 2 for 1 matching donation!

So please, head over to their donation page and send them a few dollars. Even if you just send $20 dollars that will mean $60 dollars to them with the 2 for 1 donation!

And if you haven't already, go fax your Congressional Representatives and let your voice be heard on immigration reform.

If you run a website feel free to copy and paste this in full.

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February 15, 2006

Waving Mexican flags on America's Independence Mall?

Philadelphia's Independence Mall - home of the Liberty Bell and of Independence Hall - was home to quite a spectacle earlier today as 1000 illegal aliens and their supporters marched against proposed immigration legislation. Some of them were even waving large Mexican flags. There are pictures of the protest here (including this with the flags). Here's a report from the local paper.

This was part of the “Day Without an Immigrant” protest. Illegal aliens were asked to not go to their jobs at Philly's restaurants. As was made clear in an earlier article, many Philly restaurants knowingly employ illegal aliens. It also contained a damning quote from the National Restaurant Association.

Realistically speaking, we only have two choices in this matter:

1. Give illegal aliens an amnesty or a “guest” worker scheme of some kind. (Alternatively, just leave things as they are). Those forces who support illegal immigration will still be out there, and they'll even have more power than before. And, they'll continue to support illegal immigration that occurs as a result of the amnesty. Expect to see more protests of this kind until illegal aliens are given almost all the rights of American citizens. Expect to see hostile foreign governments gaining more and more power inside our country and perhaps even agitating their citizens inside our country.

2. Completely oppose those forces who support illegal immigration. That includes those corrupt politicians who for one reason or another support illegal immigration.

With the second option, prices might rise. Would you rather pay a bit more at local restaurants, or would you rather have foreign citizens who are here illegally wave their flags on Independence Mall?

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December 08, 2005

Illegal Aliens Taking Congressional Seats Away From States That Don't Support Them

So you live in a state not affected by illegal aliens, or so you think. Did you know that they count illegal aliens in the census? Well they do and these numbers are put towards how the population is apportioned for seats in Congress.

Non-border states and states without a high population of illegal aliens probably do not take into account the fact that they are slowly being affected by states with high numbers of illegals. By including illegal aliens in the count states like California and Texas receive more seats in the House of Representatives and those with fewer illegal aliens lose seats. Illegal immigration is truly a national issue and not just a problem for those states being inundated with the security and economic implications of being flooded with them.

Your government is being hijacked by illegal immigration and the politicians and states that support them.

Boston Globe

A Republican lawmaker yesterday proposed changing the US Constitution to exclude non-citizens from the census for the purpose of drawing congressional districts, a move that effectively would deny them a voice in US politics.

Under the present system, as determined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the Census Bureau counts all individuals living in the country, once every 10 years. These data are used when drawing up the 435 congressional districts and when determining each state's vote in the Electoral College that decides presidential elections.


Supporters argue that the presence of non-citizens caused nine seats in the House to change hands between states in 2000.

California gained six seats it would not have had otherwise, while Texas, New York, and Florida each gained one seat. Meanwhile, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin each lost a seat and Montana, Kentucky, and Utah each failed to receive a seat they would otherwise have gained.

Originally posted at Diggers Realm

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November 11, 2005

French Riots: An Everyday Frenchmans Perspective - Must Read!

I received a very informative email from Simon in France. Simon has given me permission to post it and for any other bloggers out there that wish to, feel free to repost it. Other than minor editing here it is in it's entirety.

It seems that in USA, people are misinformed about the spread of the riots. let me give you a piece of enlightenment about them.

Muslim riots happened in areas mostly populated by Muslim immigrants (up to 80%).
The riots were contained in those areas by a police which were conscious of not committing any flaw that was expected by the Mollas to upsurge all the Muslim people.

Most of the rioters were known by the police for many acts of serious delinquency .Some spent few years in jails others were probably relaxed by a Justice poisoned by Marxists ( Syndicat de la Magistrature - union of leftist lawers ) .In my opinion , those gangsters were monitored by the Mollas who pushed them to provoke the authorities , expecting any flaws that could be used to upsurge the whole Muslim Mass.

Those Muslim bastards never come and put the mess in French countryside villages where most of people are deer-hunters and have hunting guns. Should they do it, be sure that they will be welcome by the same kind of "welcoming committee " that in any USA village. They know it.

Unfortunately, these riots didn't spread in well-standard living areas where the so-called "bobo" live. Should it happen , that it would wake them up from their mental anesthesia.

France people can be divided in 4 categories:
The Politicians, the " BOBO ", the French popular Mass and the aliens.

All French politicians (right and left), are graduate from ENA ( Ecole nationale d'Administration ) where their little brains were formatted by those stupid utopias ( so called "Valeurs républicaines" ) , to become the puppets of a few powerful people belonging to the international industrial and finance world .Worst , they are certainly members of a freemasonry sect called "Loge du grand orient" famous for its atheism and strong anti-clerical ideas. They let the Muslims come in, to give low-wage employees to our companies, even in a time our European countries became hit by unemployment.

Pushed by far-leftist activist, they set the Family Gathering Scheme in the name of "Human rights"
Knowing the kind of welfare system they could benefit in France, Muslims came in mass with wife (s) and made many children receiving money for it!

Even illegal immigrants came in mass knowing that they can get support from Marxist Associations.
Industrial and finance powerful men were happy with that prospect because they think only "consumers in a Multiculturalism world" and disregard religion and cultural differences.

They have done the same mistake that all Western World politicians have done.

Like Maurice Allais pointed out (French economist who received Economy Nobel Price): with their family , immigrants from undeveloped countries cost 4 to 5 more that they can give to our society. Worst their religion and customs push them to reject our western values and make them inassimilable to our European civilization. Their immigration in Europe is only profitable to a minority of swines in power.

"bobo" means bourgeois-boheme ( happy-go-lucky upper middle class) .This degenerate upper middle class controls nearly everything : education, literature, media, justice ..They are poisoned by utopist ideas ( "everybody is nice, peace and love , multiculturalism , world is a village ") and have set a dictatorship of thoughts in France .They believe that their extremely idiot thoughts is well-thinking ("intellectuel").

They enjoy a good living and can't (or doesn't want) see reality .All upper middle class in Europe have the same disease.

They are so silly that they can't make any difference between the European immigrants that came in France after www1 and www2 and the Muslim one .I spent hours to explain them that this first immigration was easily assimilated because of our common values, customs and RELIGION!

They don't want to admit that Muslims are simply aliens.

The fact that they disregard religion in the name of "laicity" blind them on Islam antagonisms with both Western civilization and the so-called "laicity".

Well set in a comfortable way of life they don't want to be told about the prospect of a Civilization War between Western countries and Muslim world that could hit down their quiet and luxury life.

They do prefer giving lessons to others all around the world rather than questioning themselves.

Even if not Marxists, they have been poisoned by Marxism dictatorship of thoughts through medias and education and probably believe that they can change the world with their big trap and little balls.

These "bobo" think that France colonialism has exploited North-Africa and Africa and they use culpabilization against French people to justify their laxism towards Muslim immigration.

Argue against them and you are systematically a racist who risk to be suited.

Everybody who knows something about history of "Industrial revolution " in Europe in XIX century knows that the corebase was coalmining and steelworking. In France, those two were in North and Northeastern France (Lorraine disputed between France and Germany for that reason).

I am a native from Lorraine: my parents and grand parents were labours in steelworking, and I can tell you and all those stupid "bobo " that Lorraine has never been neither in Africa nor in Arabian countries. This to say that no Industrial country (USA and Europe) got rich and powerful with coffee, tea, orange and bananas! From Africa. Worst, France spent a lot of money in Africa and Maghreb to help them to develop. Algeria benefits from heavy investments at a time it was a French colony. All that for peanuts.

Should we have kept our money in our pocket that our economy would be more flourishing nowadays.

Aside their anti-Christian mentality, the "bobo" has plaid an insane anti-patriotism activism, thinking that could help Europe nations to fuse in one.

As a matter of fact Marxists took profit of the WWI European suicide to inject their stinking ideology.

It is obvious that 90 yrs after WW1, France didn't really recover from it. Anybody who does visit France should take attention to the Death Monuments settled in the middle of each French village and little towns.You will find much more names engraved on stone than living inhabitants.

More than 1.5 millions of French brave guys on a population roughly 40 million sacrificed themselves with a self-abnegation that only Russians did equal during WW2 in the Stalingrad battle.

Adding probably 1 million more due to subsequent disease in 1918 and you get a reap of youth.

Marxism took the opportunity of this drama and shock to spread in France through 2 political party: Socialist Party and then Communist Party. Both fuse in the Front Popular and won the election in 1936.

Worst they welcome in France their communist brothers from Spain and Italy after these two countries turned sad. Part of French communists are descendant of these Italian and Spanish communists.

Once in power their concerns were social sheme, offering holidays to workers, favoring class-strikes, puting the mess in armament factories, at a time a guy called Adolf Hitler was rearming his Reich. Every knows the following of the story.

To end with the "bobo" and their hypocritical concerns with "social welfare ", they should learn that the first social protection for labours to be implemented in Europe was in German Reich by a man called Otto von Bismark. As you know , he was far to be a Marxist!

In conclusion with Politicians and the "bobo" chapters: in a day we are celebrating the sacrifice of ww1generation , there is no need to say that the Braves are spinning in their tombs and trenches .Looking at "bobo" and politicians , and sick of it our Brave French ancestors are throwing out .they are not the only one .

French popular mass does also: this is the so-called silent Majority formed with Middle class and labours .
They are both French rooted people and French native descendants of European immigrants, which made efforts to fuse in French people.

You can't see them demonstrating in street: THEY do WORK! Except when hit by unemployment .
They are bored of paying taxes:

  • to feed illegal immigrants

  • to assist lazy people who does not want to make any effort

  • to refill the loss of government owned companies

They are bored of being insulted of racist and fascist by the "bobo" , when they complain about Muslim unwillingness to accept our European values.

They are bored of corrupted politicians.

They are bored of strikes by a few Marxist activists, which nowadays do represent NOTHING in the Labour population.

In my humble opinion, I think the pot is boiling, nobody knows yet how and when it will explode.

Let me say something about the European immigrants in France:

My father ancestors were Austrian and migrate in 1715 while my mother's parents were Italians and migrate in 1919. I was at school with the French native sons of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish Hungarian immigrants. Their parents came in France with a snotty nose and nothing even a bundle. They work hard: to build a House, and to give a welI education to their children.

I grew up with their children. Never saw them rioting, selling drugs, burning cars.
THEY worked hard at school, they wanted to learn and get a job. Bloody hell! There was a kind of gentle competition between us to be the best at School!

The "Bobo" and Politicians, who both never grew up with European immigrants, are so blinded by their shit "Republican Values and Laicity " that they ignore what made the fusion possible: CHRISTIAN VALUES and GRECO-ROMAN VALUES. Believers or not believers, most of European immigrants were educated at home through a remaining of CHRISTIAN VALUES.

I am not a believer, my Mum is a strong one. Even ignorant about religion, I was educated with mother's Christian values and I can tell you that I know all the benefit of them! Like it or not: These values are the Key success in both USA and Europe.

So long we will keep them against winds and tides, we will survive.
Let the bastards of any kind undermine them, and we westerners will be destroyed.

Aliens: Those are the Muslims immigrants. There is nothing to be said about them (you saw them at TV news) except that our European politicians let them do their Djiad in our home with the support of stupid "bobo" who think that the riots are a expression of "social despair ". BULLSHIT!

My late father was a labour and a non-believer, he worked with some Muslims labours in a steelwork company and therefore knew very much about their beliefs. Some of them were living in a house next to my grand mother's one, at a time the Muslims were staying as "single". Of course they were nice and helpful people.

But the day the Politicians bastards allow them to call their wife and family in France 30 yrs ago, my father who knew much about his Muslim colleagues told me something I will never forget.

"These Muslims are nice persons BUT they are different from us. Once settled, their Imans and Mollas will come and put their hand over Muslims. They will tell them to make as many children as they can to conquest and impose Islam. My bet that in 50 years, Europe will be the next Liban." Was he wrong? Have a look on TV news!

Some brave historians who dared facing the Marxist "well thinking ", told several years ago of a tough "wake-up" and a "RECONQUISTA " in all Europe in the future. Whatever the human cost, this reconquista will be beneficial for all Europeans, because it will remind them what are their real identity and VALUES. Those they should have never swapped for bullshit something values.

Diggers, that was long to write and long for you to read. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Please, do me a favor: be nice to repost it to how many blog you can: la shawn barber and so on


Well Simon, I don't actually operate La Shawn Barber's Corner, but I'll send it to her and see what she thinks.

Originally posted at Diggers Realm

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June 22, 2005

US Air Force Academy and Christian Faith

Originally posted at Confessions of a Pilgrim

Today on the floor of the House of Representatives Indiana Representative John Hostettler erupted in a fit of inspired rhetoric that resulted in the transcription halting for roughly 45 minutes while order was restored. What Mr. Hostettler said will be all over the MSM by dawn. Why he said it may be missed in the feeding frenzy.

There is some background here that is important to understand before we get to the meat of this thing.

I've been following the reports coming out of Colorado Springs for about 6 months. From what I have read and heard there does indeed seem to be something going on out there and the Academy, if not the big boys at the Pentagon, should be looking into it.

Unfortunately, the US House of Representatives decided to jump the gun today when Section 9012 of the Defense Appropriations bill which read in part:

Congressional Record for June 20, 2005
[Page: H4759]

(1) PLAN.—The Secretary of the Air Force shall develop a plan to ensure that the Air Force Academy maintains a climate free from coercive religious intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing by Air Force officials and others in the chain-of-command at the Air Force Academy. The Secretary shall work with experts and other recognized notable persons in the area of pastoral care and religious tolerance to develop the plan.

(2) REPORT.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report providing the plan developed pursuant to paragraph (1). The Secretary shall include in the report information on the circumstances surrounding the removal of Air Force Captain Melinda Morton from her position at the Air Force Academy on May 4, 2005.

was read and quickly amended by Representative Duncan Hunter(R-CA) to read:

Amendment offered by Mr. Hunter:

Strike section 9012 (page 115, line 14, through page 117, line 5) and insert the following:


(a) Sense of Congress.—It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) the expression of personal religious faith is welcome in the United States military;

(2) the military must be a place where there is freedom for religious expression for all faiths; and

(3) the Secretary of the Air Force and the Department of Defense Inspector General have undertaken several reviews of the issues of religious tolerance at the Air Force Academy.

(b) Report.—

(1) RECOMMENDATIONS.—The Secretary of the Air Force, based upon the reviews referred in subsection (a)(3), shall develop recommendations to maintain a positive climate of religious freedom and tolerance at the United States Air Force Academy.

(2) SECRETARY OF AIR FORCE REPORT.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report providing the recommendations developed pursuant to paragraph (1).

which essentially allows the Academy to continue their reviews and supply their recommendations to the Congress before any thing more was to be done. The original language of the bill would force the Academy to halt their ongoing investigation and comply with the “sense of the Congress”. Mr. Hunter was correct in suggesting allowing the Academy and the Air Force to continue their investigation.

During the ensuing debate Mr. Hunter clarified why he added the amendment:

[Page: H4760][emphasis added]

My point is this, there are a number of reviews that are ongoing right now at the Academy, and in this letter that Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Secretary Michael Dominguez, sent to me, I think the crux of our amendment is laid out and I think justifies. He talks about the work that is ongoing to make sure that the Academy has religious freedom and religious tolerance. He says, As this work progresses, and I am quoting the Secretary, our work and critics of that work will generate news stories. It was a news story that generated this base provision that is in the bill. I ask that you reserve your opinions on this matter until I can get to ground truth through the objective processes now ongoing.

That is what he asks for. He has got lots of reviews, and what we say is, we reestablish, revalidate that there should be both freedom of religion and religious tolerance, and we set a date for a report to come back after the reviews are done, for the Secretary of the Air Force to report back to us with the reviews and with recommendations.

Amen and Amen Rep. Hunter! We cannot continue to allow the media to determine policy for our military whether that is on the battlefield or the classroom. Unfortunately for the House this debate took a decidedly bad turn. Mr. Hunter took exception to the “coercive religious intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing” portion of Section 1 of the portion of the bill in question.

[Page: H4760]

The word “proselytizing'' could possibly be applied to what they were doing in that battleground in Iraq[Pilgrim: A Church service Mr. Hunter was forced to enter during a mortar attack] . I have always thought that when I argue religion I am making reasoned judgments and the other guy is proselytizing, and the problem is with that word. With establishing that as a standard, that people in uniform have to adhere to, the average person in uniform is going to say, what does proselytizing mean? Am I proselytizing, and if they are not sure whether or not their statement is proselytizing, you know what they are going to do? They are not going to say anything, and we are going to put a chill on what we have heretofore for our entire history welcomed, and that is, expression of religious views by our uniformed personnel.

Representative David Obey (D-WI) entered into the discussion:

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, the language of the committee amendment does nothing whatsoever to discourage proselytizing. What it does is make clear that the Congress of the United States is opposed to coercive and abusive proselytizing. I think it would be good to go back and look at the history of this problem.

This is a classic tactic of the left, inserting some fairly harsh words(coercive, abusive) but still vague enough that ANY definition could be applied to them. Is inviting a fellow cadet to a Bible Study coercive? Is denying to laugh at a crude joke or correcting religiously offensive behavior abusive? We are so worried about offending Mohammed at Gitmo yet a Christian can't say, “Don't say that around me” when someone says “goddamnit!” because it's coercive or abusive.

This is probably what set Representative John Hostettler (R-IN) off a bit later when he said:

[Page H4763]

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. It continues unabated

[Page: H4764]

with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats. Do not get me wrong. Democrats know they should not be doing this. The spirit of, if not the exact, language in the underlying bill added by the Democrat ranking member, the gentleman from Wisconsin was offered by a Democrat in the Armed Services Committee during consideration of the fiscal year 2006 DOD authorization bill.

The author of that language in the authorizing committee, the gentleman from New York, has suggested since that time that “extremist groups'' are behind the removal of language similar to his. I and others who spoke in opposition to that amendment had never even heard of the notion of such an amendment until the gentleman from New York actually offered it during the committee markup. And so I am curious as to who these extremists are that the gentleman from New York spoke of.

Mr. Chairman, we may never know because that is the nature of this debate, name-calling of unspecified people and groups who hold a world view different than many of these Democrats. And, as I said, Mr. Chairman, Democrats know they should not be doing this. Following the overwhelming opposition voiced at the DOD markup, the Democrat ranking member of the committee requested the gentleman from New York to withdraw the amendment, which he did. *.*.*

The last sentence of Mr. Hostettler's remarks were stricken from the record at HIS OWN REQUEST roughly an hour later.(Mr. Durbin, take note of this please) Mr. Obey saw fit to make sure they made there way into the record however:

[Page: H4764]

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I move that the gentleman's words be taken down.

The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman will suspend.

The Clerk will transcribe the words.

[Time: 16:26]

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the last sentence I spoke.

The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Indiana?

Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, reserving the right to object, I think the House needs to understand why I objected to the language of the gentleman.

As I understand it, the language that the gentleman is saying he will withdraw is the following: “Like moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians.''

The reader will notice the time marker in the above quote. This denotes a suspension of the transcription while a minor brawl erupted on the House floor. No punches or the like of a Sumner-Brooks fight on the Senate Floor but rather a rhetorical brawl where Mr. Hostettler was threatened with censure if he didn't have his own words stricken. To his credit, he didn't take two days and issue a weak statement…he did the right thing and had his overly heated rhetoric stricken from the record. Not because he thought what he said was wrong, but because the work of the House had to continue and he wanted to be part of it. You can go to the Congressional Record and read Brer Obey's attempt to extricate himself, and his party, from the tarpit Representative Hostettler had tossed them into. The fact remains that Hostettler was right in what he said but perhaps he could have used different words so he didn't have to remove them from the record later.

There is a war against Christianity and the opposition uses veiled words with intentionally vague definitions. Any attempt to offer a Christian prayer at a public function is met with severe and immediate reactions by the opposition claiming the mythical “seperation of Church and state”. Let someone wish to offer a Muslim prayer at a public function and it's called Diversity.

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June 13, 2005

Achilles Last Stand: The Primal Heroic Response

© David Blue, 2005

“If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?”
   — Proverbs 24: 10-12

I composed this piece in response to Joe's Zimbabwe Changed My Mind: Guns Are A Human Right. (And I must thank Joe for some editing I asked for, but the final result is Nobody's Fault But Mine.) Joe talked about a number of things in his post, but I want to draw on my personal experience here and focus on one thing: what makes people act when the chips are down?

Where, in other words, do heroes come from?

It isn't just a rhetorical question - understanding the answer could save somebody's life.

Posted by Winds of Change at 01:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 07, 2005

THIS Is A Gulag

Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International has characterized the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay as “the gulag of our times”, demonstrating her utter lack of perspective or knowledge of history. Anne Applebaum, the author of GULAG: a History, neatly places the Soviet Gulag into the proper historical context (excerpted from a PBS interview and cleaned it up for readability):

It belongs in the context most obviously of the Holocaust, which… killed six million Jews plus many millions of other people plus the enormous destruction of the Second World War. It belongs in the context of the Chinese and Cambodian revolutions and the… famine in China and the culture revolution in China which…which killed-the…Chinese, the experience of Chinese communism is probably in the… many, many tens of millions. The gulag itself… I think my estimate is that some eighteen million people passed through the camps… of which two to three million probably died.

Nationmaster attempts to enumerate the physical toll of the Soviet Gulag system:

Read the Rest…

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May 12, 2005

Buchanan, Nazi Apologists and Revisionist History

[by Armed Liberal] I challenged conservative historian Niall Ferguson's misinterpretation of World War II's cost below; Robin Burk added a great precis of Walzer on war afterwards.

But it takes one of the original idiotarians, Pat Buchanan, to misinterpret the end of that war.

Stephen Green shows Buchanan for the fool his arguments make him. My favorite line:

It took 40 years, but today Pat Buchanan hit bottom on the slippery slope from Young Turk conservative columnist to Nazi Apologist troglodyte.
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Minuteman Project Has 15,000 Volunteers

15,000 people have volunteered to give up their free time to patrol our borders with the Minuteman Project and report not only illegal aliens, but potential terrorists to the proper government authorities. Why anyone would be against a group doing this voluntarily and with no direct confrontation is beyond me. Border Patrol and the US government should be lauding these people for providing a service for free that not only secures our borders, but helps the overburdened Border Patrol.

Washington Times

The organizer of last month's Minutemen border protest says more than 15,000 people have volunteered for future citizen patrols along the Mexican border.

"We considerer this a mandate from the citizens of the United States," Chris Simcox will tell a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee Thursday, according to a copy of his prepared testimony obtained by United Press International.

Tipped by: Speed of Thought

Originally Posted at Diggers Realm

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April 24, 2005


Today, in Australia, it's ANZAC day.

Last years post says it all, and I invite all readers to revisit it.

This one though is dedicated to Lieutenant Matthew Goodall, Royal Australian Navy.

I knew him at ADFA, the Australian Defence Force Academy, merely as Midshipman Goodall, in the late 90's. In the CompSci lab (Universally pronounced Kompski by the students), as with all the officer cadets, I'd peered over his shoulder as he was working, sometimes sitting next to him and explaining a solution, sometimes getting him to write on the whiteboard as the class discussed alternate ways of tackling a problem.

“Well done that man. Next Victim!… Hmmmm…. Midshipman Goodall!”
“Yea!” “Onya Matt!” “Show us how to do it mate!” “Get stuffed the lot of ya!”

Those may not have been the exact words. From memory, he was a pretty laid-back kind of guy, coolly competent, the kind to take banter in his stride. Polite too, a good-natured grin would be more his style, as he did, indeed, show the rest how to do it.

If it was in my power, I'd grant him a Summa Cum Laude, not just for Computer Science, but for something far deeper and more important. Lieutenant Goodall died along with eight others while delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims when the Sea King helicopter they were in crashed in Indonesia recently.

Greater Love Hath No Man…

To me, he'll always be 19 years old, decked out in his dress whites and shorts, cracking the odd joke with the rest of the class, swearing at the bloody machine and tapping away at the keyboard in the lab.

They shall grow not old
as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.

Onya Matt.

Posted by Alan Brain at 11:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 01, 2005

What is this Country’s Judicial System coming to?!

I don't know why this infuriates me so. I mean we knew the man was incompetent but his testimony yesterday after pleading guilty just crawls under my skin. His testimony ANY day regarding this is just pathetic.

“I exercised very poor judgment in the course of reviewing the files,” Berger told reporters outside the courthouse after pleading guilty. “I deeply regret it. It was mistaken and it was wrong.”

“My motivation was to help prepare myself and others,” he said.

Hmmm…so you “mistakenly” stole documents from the National Archives, took them home, and destroyed them by cutting them up with scizzors? Ya know, I came up with some pretty good tales attempting to get away without doing my homework in grade school but this one would have gotten me a very sore butt.

$10,000 and no jail time for stealing National Security Documents? G. Gordon Liddy was convicted of a felony and served 4 years in prison for attempting to steal campaign material. Sure…that makes sense.

This line makes me wonder how much he was paid by the Kerry campaign/Clinton cabal:

He would not answer questions as to why he decided to destroy three of the documents.

So far this week we have watched a woman starve to death because the Judicial System said it was OK while a Trade Lawyer/former NSA walks for stealing and destroying National Security Documents. Is it just me or is something askew here?

I've been torn about the Schiavo Case. The law is what the law is and the Courts had their say which amounts to State Sponsored Torture in my view. No one had the stones to do anything about it…although doing something about it would mean Jeb Bush calling out his “posse” to go liberate Mrs. Schiavo and placing his brother in a terrible position. The laws that put her, and us, in this position need to be changed. The US Senate passed an Unconstitutional Bill of Attainder and folks screamed about the 11th Circuit ignoring what it said. Whatever. The Senate screwed up in a BIG way but I'm growing used to that. The Republican Leadership won't step up to the plate and stop the unconstitutional actions of the democratic minority for reasons that escape me. So…a woman dies a painful agonizing death and we all pat ourselves on the back because, once again, we have let the Judicial System work it's magic on a case originating in Florida.

I'm not at all torn about the Burger case. He's a thief. He stole from MY National Archives. He stole National Security Documents because MY Congress trusted him. He's a thief of the worst kind. He betrayed the trust MY Country placed in him. Treason? No. IDIOCY? Certainly. But once again we're faced with allowing the Judicial System to work it's magic or forming our own little gang of vigilantes and taking care of this problem. Clearly the vigilante approach is out of the question. I wouldn't touch Mr. Burger for fear of catching something and he's not worth the bullet or the rope anyway. So he walks.

As I am typing this the Pope is near death in Rome. It's clear he's gonna die and has no quality of life right now. Let's just go ahead and kill him. He can't eat or drink on his own so remove that feeding tube and watch him dry up and starve. The US Supremes have quoted International Law…why not apply US Law to the Vatican? Put him out of his misery right? That's what we did in Florida right?

While we pat ourselves on the back for killing Mrs. Schiavo and the Pope I think I'll go to the National Archives and steal the Declaration of Independence. $10,000 is a small price to pay compared to what I could get for it on Ebay.

Originally posted on Confessions of a Pilgrim

Posted by Wayne Fielder at 08:34 PM | Comments (86) | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Your Actions Matter - and You Are NEVER Powerless

I've had this post slated for this day for a week now. How ironic that it would run the same day as Armed Liberal's post about the extraordinary kids of Carl Hayden High… and how appropriate.

Paul Loeb has written a book called The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear. It leans left, and there's some material in it whose tone and therapeutic orientation reflect the left's current state rather than offering vital self-reflection. So why bother with it? Because there's also a lot of good material and truth, stuff that crosses party lines and ought to speak to citizens of all political affiliations - or none. I'm on the email list, and this is an example that was just crying out to be shared. I've received permission from Paul Loeb to do so.

I'll start with the money 'grafs, then continue on to the full article below the fold:

“In many cultures, there is a disembodied force that demands that every action be ethical: honor. “Bog, Honor, Ojczyzna,” or “God, Honor, Country,” is the Polish national motto. My stays in Poland introduced me to otherwise empty-handed activists who faced off against Nazis, Communists, and now, capitalism, with relentless personal power. “Burnout” and “apathy” were not in their vocabulary. Even when serving time in prisons that appeared on no map, they felt visible. Honor recorded their every deed, and ensured that it mattered.

I suspect that we all have our three-in-the-morning moments, when all of life seems one no-exit film noir, where any effort is pointless, where any hope seems to be born only to be dashed, like a fallen nestling on a summer sidewalk. When I have those moments, if I do nothing else, I remind myself: the ride in the snow; the volunteers at the food bank; the Nepali peasants who fed me. Activists like the Pole Wladyslaw Bartoszewski who, decades before he would earn any fame, got out of Auschwitz only to go on to even more resistance against the Nazis, and then the Soviets. Invisible, silent people who, day by day, choice by choice, unseen by me, unknown to me, force me to witness myself, invite me to keep making my own best choices, and keep me living my ideals.”

Amen. Your deeds matter - and you are never powerless. There's lots more good stuff in Danusha Veronica Goska's essay - here's the whole thing…

Posted by Winds of Change at 04:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2005

A Special Holocaust Museum Opens In Israel

This was published earlier on Joe Gandelman's weblog The Moderate Voice.

In early 1973, a few months before he died, my grandfather Abraham Ravinsky opened for the last time a old, yellowing, musty smelling photo album.

“You see this one, Joey?” he said, pointing to a picture of a child. “He was killed by Hitler.”

Then he'd point to a group shot of family members, all wiped out “by Hitler.” This man who had survived the Czar's pogroms in Russia, and gotten to the U.S. right the Communists (who he hated) took power later learned that many of his beloved, left-behind relatives had been murdered by the Nazis or died in concentration camps. But his beloved wife Rose, and daughters Ruth, Anne and Helen were safe in the U.S. and he raised his family here.

My grandfather NEVER forgot what happened - and on that day he was again making sure I would never forget as he opened his memory book, glanced at it, then looked at my face to see if it registered, his Spencer Tracy-like face capped by a head of pure white hair then turning to find yet another page to show me with more photos of human beings whose lives were wiped out because of the utlimate act of political and racial demonization.

In Israel on Monday, a special museum was opened. It commemorates the Holocaust — so no one can EVER forget. Even reading a small portion of the Washington Post account will haunt you (if you are human) for days. Here's a small part (read it all yourself):

JERUSALEM, March 15 — The grainy black-and-white photographs of death shock the senses. But it is the personal remnants of life that wrench the heart — a red-and-white polka-dot bow from a little girl's dress, a postcard flung from a cattle car by a desperate mother, an entry scrawled in a diary one horrible day more than 60 years ago.

“A sight that I will never forget as long as I live,” Abraham Lewin, a teacher in Warsaw, wrote on Sept. 11, 1942. “Five tiny children, 2- and 3-year-olds, sit on a cot in the open field. . . . They bellow and scream without stopping. . . . 'Mommy, Mommy, I want to eat!' The soldiers are shooting continually and the shots silence the children's crying for a moment.”

Lewin's diary, the little red bow and a vast array of other personal items displayed in the new Holocaust History Museum — inaugurated by Israel on Tuesday — represent a dramatic transformation in this country's attitudes toward the dominant event in modern Jewish history, according to historians and museum organizers.

Historians say it is the kind of museum that Israel could not have contemplated 32 years ago, when its predecessor opened. Emotions were still raw then, families of Holocaust victims weren't psychologically ready to give up personal mementos, and the Israeli national consciousness centered on the entire Jewish community rather than on individuals.

“Until a few years ago, we looked at the Holocaust as a phenomenon of the collective,” said Dalia Ofer, a professor of Holocaust studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “We never thought of how each individual person who was consigned to life in the ghetto tried to live his life. This doesn't take away the importance of the collective . . . but another element has been added.”

“We're putting individuals at the center, delivering history through personal stories,” said Avner Shalev, chief curator of the $56 million museum, which took a decade to plan and build.

Yes, it was personal. As personal as my grandfather, pointing to each photo, telling me something about the little boy in the photo who had his brains blown out, about the robust-looking tall, thin man with the long, gray beard who he was told died in a concentration camp, about the group photo showing five people whose final years were filled with unspeakable horrors, grief and pain.

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Amira Hass writes:

We remember and feel the pain of that liquidation day by day. Let us confront them with it day by day. For example, let it be inscribed on a large marble slab outside every house in which Jews used to live, where they were deported and where they were murdered. Let every railway station from which the human transports were dispatched provide the information: when, how many trains a day, how many people. Let the names of those responsible for the transport be written down - at the police station, the railway station, city hall.

The way to fight the fading memory is not merely with memorial monuments and ceremonies. It is done mainly with an uncompromising rejection of the master race ideology, which divided the world into superior and inferior races and denied the principle of equality among human beings. We were placed at the bottom of the ladder of the Nazi ideology. Would this ideology not have been criminal had we been ranked in the upper rungs?

An ideology that divides the world into those who are worth more and those who are worth less, into superior and inferior beings, does not have to reach the dimensions of the German genocide to be improper and wrong - the apartheid in South Africa, for example.

In her piece, Hass warns Israelis about falling into the same trap in regards to the Palestinians. And that point is a good issue for another time.

But today, I read about the museum and think about my grandfather showing me that book, turning a page, looking at my face. He had done this before but he did it with more determination that day…that last time.

He didn't know it would be the last time he would remind and warn me.

But, then, none of us know if it'll be the last time when we remind and warn young people of what happened.

So we do it when we can — and museums do it when we can't.

Posted by Joe Gandelman at 02:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2005

Buyer's Remorse

A spark was lit when I read this yesterday :

That’s right, personal responsibility. I still believe in that and I’ll be holding myself as well as all my republican friends responsible for getting that guy elected. At the same time, in my defense, I still don’t think Kerry was a viable alternative. Not because he’s a dem. (I voted for Clinton and would have done it again if I could have) but because I just don’t like the guy.

Similar words have been spoken/written by me several times in the past couple of weeks to close friends. Some have reacted with dropped jaws, some have just nods sympathetically.

I've also left similar sentiments in comments on various blogs and, for the most part, they were met with a flurry of clenched fists and righteous indignation, with calls for me to go out and start protesting (or something like that) to prove my regret.

Well…no. It's not like that. First of all, I am not sitting here admitting to the world (ok, just the minuscule part of the world who reads this) that I regret my vote so I can, oh, get a pat on the head or a clap on the back or a wide-armed welcome back to the fold. I'm not going back to any fold and I don't seek anyone's approval.

So what is it that's causing my “buyer's remorse” as it's been called? It's a combination of things, and most of it stems from the fact that I was a one issue voter in 2004. And now, the issues I ignored in order to give my support to the war on terror are coming back to haunt me.

Social Security. Bankruptcy. The insistence of the far right that they have some kind of religious mandate now and we need to revert back to our Christian roots and morals. And yes, Iraq. I know all about the good things in Iraq. I know about the schools and the hospitals and elections. And I love that. I love the slow spread of democracy. I love the trickle down effect of taking Saddam out of power. But more and more, I'm thinking, at what price? Every time another soldier dies, another bomb goes off, another hopeful Iraqi policeman is murdered, another hostage is taken and another day looms on the horizon with no end in sight, I think at what price?

I'm not about to go stand on some street corner and protest the war. It's not like that. But my all-out support has certainly waned. I see no clear exit strategy. I just see more of our men and women dying. I just see more innocent Iraqis dying. Every day, first thing in the morning, I bring up my Command Post editing page and look through the morning news. And the stories are always the same. Car bomb. Roadside bomb. Death. Dead. Soldier killed. There used to be much more good news interspersed with those reports. But my hope for seeing this work has dissipated.

I know some of you are ready right now to send me links, to lecture me on why Iraq will turn out ok, why the spread of democracy will come about, why Syria and Iran and North Korea will all fall eventually. That would be great if it was my only gripe with this administration. But it's not.

And it's my own damn fault. What did I think would happen down the road as a one issue voter? I didn't think far enough ahead, I guess, to see how those other issues - with me as gay rights supporting, fiscally conservative atheist - would affect me later on. That once the smoke from the war on terror cleared, so to speak, I would have to deal with the fact that I voted in an administration that stands for a lot of things I'm against.

Not that I would have voted for Kerry. Just because I'm experiencing this regret doesn't mean I'm going to go running back to the left. I abandoned them with good reason. So I'm back where I was right around September 11, 2001. Standing firmly in the middle, getting a little flogging from both sides. I spent years on the left side of the line and discovered I didn't like it there. And now I spent a few years on the right side of the line and, frankly, I hate it here. I thought the “big tent” of the Republican party would be home. Turns out it was just a temporary shelter, given to me by the party who knew damn well that I was only as good as my support for the war on terror.

There are others out there like me. I talk to them at work. I talk to them in the parking lot of schools, waiting for our kids. I talk to them in email or instant message, people from across the country who feel that twinge of regret. What we all have in common is this: we feel used. We feel taken advantage of. We feel manipulated.

This is where some people are going to expect an apology. Don’t hold your breath. That’s not what this is about. When I made my vote, I did so with the best interest of my family in mind. I honestly believed I was making the right choice. I wasn’t the one who voted a certain way just because I hated the opponent. I believed in the war on terror. I believed in the war in Iraq. I believed that the other issues weren’t as important. So I’m not looking for forgiveness for anything. And this doesn’t mean that I’m going to suddenly sign up for the Democrat party and start carrying around No Blood For Oil placards. There are people who have seen this “confession” from me already who assume this means I think George W. Bush is an evil person, that I’ve finally joined the BusHitler crowd. No. Hardly. I don’t hate George Bush, much as I don’t hate John Kerry. I just don’t think that either of them is what America needs.

That opens up a lot of questions, most of which don’t have ready answers. What does American need? Who is the right person for this country? How do we fix Social Security? Who will make our future fiscally sound? How do we stop the bleeding in Iraq and at the sam time, keep Iran and Syria at bay, without losing more and more of our good men and women in the armed forces? How can we learn to accept people who are different from us? How can we stop trying to legislate someone else’s idea of morality? How can we teach the people of this country to start taking responsibility for their own lives instead of expecting the government (or trial lawyers) to do their decision making for them? How can we make our education system better for our children?

I placed my wager and lost. Unfortunately, there was no real winning wager this time around. Is there a person out there who will make us all feel like winners? Or is that just a pipe dream? Will there every be a candidate who will please mostly everyone?

I’m not looking for absolution from Democrats and I’m not looking to be reviled by Republicans. I’m just voicing my opinion that I think things have gone steadily downhill since November. I find myself in more and more instances slinking away from the right. But I stop at dead center because there’s no place for me to go. Maybe I just don’t know how to make a commitment. Maybe the fact that I’m a gay rights supporter who drives an SUV and is against gun control, who doesn’t believe in God, who is an un-P.C. person that hates the NEA, who thinks faith based initiatives are wrong and the government should stay out of our bedrooms, who is no longer so gung ho about things in Iraq, means I should do some soul searching.

Or maybe it's not up to me where I go from here. What does your party or your candidate have to offer me? I'm up for grabs.

Posted by Michele at 08:50 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 13, 2005

Save Our State Rally Against Home Depot Successful [Pics]

Protesters at the street corner in front of Home Depot

The Save Our State rally against Home Depot yesterday seemed to go off well. They were protesting Home Depot's support and work with La Raza, a group that is in support of returning the southwest states to Mexico. They were also protesting Home Depot's support and implementation of day labor facilities on their property for illegal aliens.

Home Depot Employed Rooftop Spotters
The rally went off well with 75 supporters showing up. While they didn't accomplish their goal of clogging up the whole store -- in effect shutting it down they did get Home Depot's attention. Home Depot had a large quantity of extra employee's on hand, had rooftop spotters, undercover agents and apparently even infiltrators who posed as protesters and reported to the store management on their actions and locations.

The protesters also got the media's attention as CNN's Lou Dobbs Show appeared with cameras and several papers showed up including the Los Angeles Times and The Daily Bulletin.

Protesters in the parking lot in front of Home Depot

Save Our State
Earlier this week, Home Depot spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher stated that she expected "business as usual" at their Rancho Cucamonga store in response to our demonstration.

Apparently, "business as usual" consists of placing spotters with walkie talkies and cameras on their rooftop, having "undercover" personnel film and follow various activists from our organization during the entire event. Business as usual also apparently consists of staffing the store with approximately 200 employees. There was nothing typical about Home Depot today.

Inside the store Home Depot had blocked off several aisles, had several employees stationed at the ends of each aisle and had two employees at each of the 15 registers.

Commenter SherriCorrell made this observation on the Save Our State message board after the protest.

It's astonishing how they brought in all the EXTRA people AS IF you, THE LEGAL U.S. TAXPAYING CITIZENS were the enemy INSTEAD OF THE ACTUAL ILLEGAL INVADERS.

What a sad state this country is in.

A sad state indeed when top retailers of our country openly support illegal aliens and the breaking of our country's laws.

See also my previous entry on this protest where there was some heated discussion.

Other Commentary On The Protest:

Michael Williams
faute de mieux
You've Been Told
Darleen's Place who lives down the street from this Home Depot and plans to shop at Lowe's from now on.

Originally posted at Diggers Realm

Posted by Digger at 04:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

It was the strawberries ... the strawberries ..

The following editorial was written by Darleen Click and first appeared here. It is reprinted with permission of the author.

John McQueegFor good reason the blogsphere is rightfully alarmed by the threats coming from the FEC in regards to free speech on the Internet. Transcripts of the interview with FEC commissionar Bradley Smith can be found at

She [Judge Koller-Cotella] orders us to regulate the Internet, again what I point out is — it is in no way limited to paid advertising. In fact, it would be contrary to the tone of the opinions limited only to paid advertising. In another part of the opinion, she struck down one of our regulations where we exempted unpaid advertising. So, I, you know, this was, it’s – it’s in no ways limited to unpaid advertising …

I note that we didn’t have enough votes to muster up an appeal of the judge’s decision, uh, on this particular issue, so obviously, uh, half of my colleagues [the 3 Democrats] at least feel that we should be doing more regulation of the Internet.

The McCain-Feingold Campaign “reform” bill was conceived and passed before I became a blogger. At that time, I posted on message boards, some on Yahoo!, where I argued vehemently against the bill as a direct assault on free speech. The idea that somehow if some speech could be defined as having “monetary value” then it could be regulated as “in-kind” contributions struck me, not as a noble exercise to keep so-called corruption out of elections, but as a fortification of the incumbents' ramparts against the challenging rabble. Indeed, the restrictions on all ads within the immediate time-period before an election is particularly egregious. Of course, one didn't see any particularly hard-hitting newspaper editorials opposing McCain-Feingold because such free-speech regulation reinforces the newspapers' traditional King-making power. Newspapers can still run their own editorial endorsements and, as we clearly saw in the last election, can slant their “news” coverage of the candidates in support of their editorial position.

The McCain-Feingold Incumbents Protection Act got its impetus during the 2000 campaign as John McCain railed, shrieked and gnashed his teeth over “dirty Texas money” financed independent ads sullying his sainted and clearly not-to-be-questioned record in Arizona. McCain was so incensed over individuals exercising their First Amendment rights on their own dime he figured it had to be a conspiracy that must be stopped. The MSM embraced the “maverick” McCain who's ostensible mantel of Republicanism allowed them to use his intemperate remarks and attacks on fellow Republicans as a figleaf for their own anti-Republican bent. They rarely questioned his red-faced podium pounding about “reforming” campaign “finances” and certainly didn't ask the tough questions on squaring the outright bans on “advocacy” with the First Amendment.

And now, in the wake of the 2004 elections and the success of the blogsphere, the sights of those who can't stand independent speech has been set upon the Internet and bloggers. The language of the McCain-Feingold used to piddle all over the Constitution in regards to “in-kind contributions” is being geared up as a firehose aimed at people who are using the Internet as a virtual townhall. It's not only Free Speech but Free Association that has arroused the continued ire of Capt. John McQueeg (as evidenced by his disingenuous attacks on the Swiftboat Vets who spoke out against John Kerry). For McQueeg and his fellow travelers in the FEC, people are allowed only to associate, trade information, debate the merits and demerits of issues and candidates when such activities ineffectual. There is little difference in kind between my advocacy speech in puting up a “Bush-Cheney 04” sign in my front yard and having the same graphic on my weblog. But McQueeg wants my weblog defined as a “monetary contribution.” If I host a cocktail party for 25 neighbors to share campaign literature I received from a presidential candidate or I send an email to 25 people in my address book with the same information, McQueeg wants the FEC to “regulate” the latter.

As long as us little-people know our place on the good ship [Mc]Caine, Cap'n John won't punish us.

I call bovine excrement. This is a direct assault on the Constitution. And I don't want to hear about “end runs” around the regulations that call for bloggers to have to do something to “qualify” as the press so they can get an exemption. I have the right under the First Amendment to Free Speech and Free Association. No one, no McQueeg, no Judge Koller-Cotella, no FEC Democrat can take that away. My blog is my own piece of virtual real estate and if I can have a sign on my lawn or a cocktail party in my house than I can damned well do the same thing here.

I will not be shutup or shutdown. The last thing all the McQueeg's want to fool with is a pre-menopausal woman. I just am in no mood to suffer such mendacity.

Others discussing the issue:

Jeff Harrell rightfully points out that the Federalist Papers (a series of public relation advocacy releases written under a :::gasp::: pen name) would have been banned under McCain-Feingold.

Capt. Ed writes an open letter here

LaShawn Barber notes that this issue unites bloggers across the political spectrum here.

Powerline has been running with this across several posts, the latest on how McQueeg's mouthpiece is trying to deceptively quiet the great unwashed bloggers.

Michelle Malkin posts a nice roundup of related links.

You know, hyperlinks which the FEC thinks represents in-kind “contributions”. Gosh, ya'think if I put a bunch of charity hyperlinks on my blog the IRS will let me deduct them as “in-kind” monetary contributions??

Of course, the irrepressible CITIZEN JOURNALIST weighs with a mini-manifesto and an update.

UPDATE Capt. Salty, while disclaiming any endorsement of McCain-Feingold, skates around the semantics of “advocacy” and “activism” while asking why shouldn't “activist” Screw-'em-Markos be regulated by campaign “finance” laws. Let me be perfectly clear and this is where my libertarian side (do notice the small “L”) comes to the fore. As long as all financial arrangements are disclosed and transparent, IMHO any further “regulation” of campaign “finances” are an assault on the First Amendment. Limiting MY ability to use MY money, whether it's for a backyard BBQ for Bush or a weblog for the Governator, is a direct contradiction of everything the Founding Fathers were thinking when they drew up the Constitution.


Darleen maintains a weblog about “parenting, politics and other prattlings” here.

Posted by Michele at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2005

Tom Ridge and... home improvement?

[Former DHS Secretary Tom] Ridge to join Home Depot board:

…”We are honored to have [Ridge] join our board, where we expect that his unique global experience and perspective will make a profound contribution to our company and our shareholders,” said Home Depot Chief Executive Bob Nardelli…

As covered at The Lonewacko Blog in the past (1 2 3 4 5…), Ridge was not exactly a good friend to those who believe that the U.S. has borders.

For its part, Home Depot has helped create several day laborer centers near its locations and, of course, many or most of those day laborers are illegal aliens.

Here's just one example:

The Home Depot contacted Catholic Charities and other social service nonprofits, the local police department, and city leaders, asking them to work together to create a solution that each part of the community felt good about and that included getting services to people who needed work. As a result, the group worked together to plan a new day laborer center, to be operated by Catholic Charities in conjunction with several social service and employment agencies. The store donated land across the street for the center and helped provide start-up funding. The city helped put up fencing and spread leaflets to day laborers throughout the area. The company, nonprofit, and city worked together to create a win-win solution for everyone…

Now, maybe this is not a payoff for his support of wide-open borders. Perhaps, as the first article discusses, it has something to do with the run on duct tape that Ridge caused…

Posted by Lonewacko at 09:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2005

The Last Warrior Standing

This Op/Ed was submitted by readers Mike Cohen & Elliot Chodoff.

~ Alan


An historic picture emanated from Sharm e-Sheikh this past week. For the first time in history, an Israeli leader sat down together with Arab leaders at an official, public and televised conference with no international mediators in sight, official or otherwise.

Everyone in the room, everyone in the picture, was a native of the region, a full-fledged resident of the Middle East. No Americans - although Sec. of State Condaleeza Rice was in the region yesterday, she wisely decided to absent herself from the meeting - no Europeans, no Russians and most importantly, no United Nations envoys attended or were invited. No one but the assorted plaintiffs was at the table, no external advocates or judges. The “bilateralism” David Ben Gurion dreamed of has finally arrived - if only for a day.

Left to their own devices the participants ventured into various renditions of the period to come. All the talk was of peace and hope, none of the past and nothing about recriminations. But more than talk there were quite a few historic images that are worthy of mention and note, above all the image of Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, sitting at an official Arab League table not only as an equal, not only as a messenger, but as a victor - The Last Warrior Standing - alone, with no recognizable faces behind him, save his lawyer and advisor Dov Weissglass.

Ben Gurion, Dayan, Golda, Begin - all gone. Peres and Shamir, alive but very noticeably (especially Peres) absent. No current, past or future colleagues or coalition partners anywhere in sight.

On the Arab side – all the kings, presidents and chairmen of yesteryear were gone. Hussein, Sadat, Assad, Nasser, and most importantly Yasser - all gone.

During a quick look around the room one could note that everyone was wearing a western style suit and tie. No leaders in uniform, no leaders with guns.

The entire road from the Sharm e-Sheikh airport to the resort hotel where the “Middle East Quartet” summit was being held was lined with the flags of the four nations, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

The black, red and white of the regional Arabs flags mixed and provided sharp contrast to the bright blue and white Star of David, this had never happened before. The Israeli flag was noticeably absent from all previous events on Arab land, most notably on the streets of Aqaba during the U.S. sponsored summit there in June 2003 - the birthplace of “the roadmap.”

In the room itself, fittingly the same room that traditionally hosts the Arab Summit, the Israeli blue and white stood side by side with the banners of the three Arab participants, five flags of each stood proudly behind the host Mubarak, five flags each that added a sense of grandeur, of color and of historic accent to the event.

But the starkest image of all was still that of Ariel Sharon.

Ariel Sharon fought in every Israeli-Arab war, dating back to the 1948 War of Independence, and was a significant participant in the development of the Israeli Defense Forces as a commander and warrior.

Sharon was injured at Latrun in the battle over the road to Jerusalem in 1948. He led the battle against the Gaza-based Fedayeen terrorists in the 1950’s. Sharon was the commander who crossed the Suez Canal and arguably won the Sinai battle in 1973. Sharon directed the IDF in battle as minister of defense during the early 1980’s and was globally and domestically reviled and shunned for decades as the “butcher of Beirut.”

He was all but written off as a possible national leader until the fighting began in the fall of 2000, and Israeli political pundits have been prophesying his imminent fall from power since the day he took office in March 2001. Yet, there he was, quite literally The Last Warrior Standing.

Regardless of one's political orientation and personal feelings about Sharon; no matter what hopes or dangers we each foresee coming out of the Summit's proceedings; in fact no matter what happens tomorrow; if the old adage that the last man standing wins, Ariel Sharon is the last warrior standing and, at least for the day, he has emerged the big winner.


Mike Cohen, a native of Houston, Texas, is a veteran political & military strategist. He is the editor of “Where There Is No Vision, People Die,” (Proverbs 29:18), and “By Omission or Commission” a two-volume Middle-East Road-Map Primer for the 21st Century. Elliot Chodoff is a political and military analyst specializing in the Middle East conflict and the global war on terror. He has presented and published papers on the subjects of Deterrence and US Military Manpower Policy, Cultural Relativism and Nuclear Deterrence in the Middle East. His paper on Combat Motivation in Infantry Units is on the recommended reading list of the US Army War College. Both Cohen & Chodoff are currently based in Israel.

Posted by Alan at 09:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tale of Two Mosques

Please examine these two ledes and then tell me the difference:

THIRTEEN people were killed and 23 wounded today … [in a] mosque in the town of Balad Ruz, north-east of Baghdad

The death toll in a … Tehran mosque has risen to 59, a police official said Monday night

The difference, of course, is the first story resulted from a terrorist car bombing while the second resulted from a fire. I ask, though, which received greater press exposure? At a certain level, both were preventable events, therefore making the greater distinction that of 13 dead, 29 wounded against 59 dead, 250 wounded.

Now, this commentary may be mistaken as being dismissive of the terrorists, a Pollyannish panglos of the dangers that yet stalk the Iraqi people. Rather, I hope it will be read as just an expression of exasperation that events in Iraq are so often presented as if they happen a vacuum, that Iraq is all death and gloom while the rest of the world, untroubled by American intervention, lives in peaceful idylic bliss. Long after the terrorists' teeth in Iraq have been pulled I'm sure mosques will be burning down because of unsafe heating practices.

Yes, it's important to accurately communicate problems and challenges in Iraq, but it is only responsible to present them with perspective and understanding their true relative importance.

Posted by submandave at 03:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 07, 2005

The Rhetoric of Ronald Reagan

Yesterday was Ronald Reagan's birthday. My views on Reagan are, well, complex (and probably a bit conflicted). But his birthday reminded me of a post I wrote on my old and now dormant blog, Avocare, around the time of his death. I repost it here for those who admired the power of Reagan's words.



When I was 17 or so, I was ranting about some piece of US foreign policy when my father looked at me with level eyes and said, “Buddy, if you’re not a liberal when you’re 18 you got no heart, and if you’re not a conservative by the time you're 28 you got no brain.”

Reagan was president then, and I was not a big fan. Now that I’m well into my mid-30s (“middle aged,” my wife says), I’ve come to appreciate and admire Reagan. He was the essential optimist at a time in which America desperately needed optimism. At a time when Jimmy Carter was telling us we should be confident, Reagan gave us reasons to be confident, and led the way through his own confidence and optimism. Many presidents have spoken of the shining city on the hill; Reagan truly believed in it.

I’ve also come to admire Reagan for his fundamental belief in the power of rhetoric … rhetoric in the classical sense, not the current and bastardized sense of double talk by evasive politicians. Reagan understood and respected the power of his words, and he understood better than anyone since FDR (yes, better than Kennedy) the power of presidential discourse in making great things possible.

Reagan has six speeches listed in American Rhetoric’s list of the 100 most significant American political speeches of the 20th century (the list was complied by two professors of Rhetoric and Communication, who asked 137 leading scholars of American public address to recommend speeches on the basis of social and political impact, and rhetorical artistry):

Only FDR and JFK have as many on the list. Some people, though, try to taint Reagan’s oratory as less substantive than some of his predecessors. These people remember him as the Actor President, noting with a curled lip that Reagan was all sizzle and no steak. But they forget that his most noted speeches were policy speeches wrapped in soaring oratory, and not soaring oratory alone.

Let’s take them one at a time.

The Time for Choosing speech, a campaign address in support of Barry Goldwater during the 1964 campaign, is actually in speech in which Reagan outlines what would become the Republican agenda 20 years later: the importance of small government over large, of empowering individuals to pursue their own interests, and of preserving America as “the last best hope for man on Earth” through winning the Cold War. He said that day:

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin—just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard 'round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn't die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well, it's a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said that “the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits—not animals.” And he said, “There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

The “Putting America Back to Work” speech is remembered first as an eloquent and vital inaugural address, but in it Reagan declared his intentions to reduce the size of the federal government, return power to the states, reduce taxes, strengthen the country’s ties with its allies, and act with force in the world if required. This speech also closes with these lines, some of the greatest presidential rhetoric ever spoken:

This is the first time in our history that this ceremony has been held, as you’ve been told, on this West Front of the Capitol.

Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand. Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man. George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Beyond those moments, monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom.

Each on of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam. Under such a marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division.

There, on the Western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy fire.

We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.

And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.

Compare those words to these from Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech …

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path — the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

The answer to America’s crisis of confidence is … energy policy? Compare these two speeches and the difference between telling Americans to be confident and giving them a reason for confidence should be clear.

I vividly remember the Evil Empire speech, and in particular I remember thinking “this maniac is trying to get us all killed.” But what Reagan was doing in this speech before evangelical Christians was sending a message to the Soviets that the policy of the United States would not be one of a nuclear freeze … that to do so would reward the USSR for its military buildup. Reagan knew the Soviets supported a freeze because it would freeze their military advantage, and more important, would free their economy from an arms race they could not afford. In this speech he was letting the Soviets know he knew, and that he wasn’t going to fall for it.

We will never give away our freedom. We will never abandon our belief in God. And we will never stop searching for a genuine peace. But we can assure none of these things America stands for through the so-called nuclear freeze solutions proposed by some.

The truth is that a freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, for that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength.

I would agree to a freeze if only we could freeze the Soviets' global desires. A freeze at current levels of weapons would remove any incentive for the Soviets to negotiate seriously in Geneva and virtually end our chances to achieve the major arms reductions which we have proposed. Instead, they would achieve their objectives through the freeze.

A freeze would reward the Soviet Union for its enormous and unparalleled military buildup. It would prevent the essential and long overdue modernization of United States and allied defenses and would leave our aging forces increasingly vulnerable. And an honest freeze would require extensive prior negotiations on the systems and numbers to be limited and on the measures to ensure effective verification and compliance. And the kind of a freeze that has been suggested would be virtually impossible to verify. Such a major effort would divert us completely from our current negotiations on achieving substantial reductions.

He was also letting his allies and enemies know the gravity he attached to the Cold War: that he saw it not simply as an imperial arms race, but as a battle of philosophy regarding the freedom and potential of man. He was saying to his peers worldwide: “Liberty=Good, Totalitarianism=Bad, and I’m never going to forget it, so don’t ever expect me to let up on the pressure.”

The “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech, which Reagan gave 20 years ago today at the 40th D-Day anniversary in 1984, is one of his most eloquent. But this too was a policy speech. After showering appropriate praise upon the Rangers who climbed those cliffs 60 years ago, Reagan let the USSR and western Europe know that the policy of the United States would be to welcome improved relations with the Soviets, but that they must first change their ways. As he said then:

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

It was then that he articulated the second point of policy: than until that change came, the US would actively strengthen the NATO alliance.

The “Space Shuttle Challenger” address was poetry, not policy, but it demonstrated the power of the president to salve our wounds during times of national grief … perhaps the most eloquent such example since Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Even here, though, he offered vision and outlined our direction as a nation:

And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle's take-off. I know it's hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons. The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we'll continue to follow them.

I've always had great faith in and respect for our space program. And what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute.

We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.

Finally, the “Tear Down This Wall” speech, delivered in 1987. This speech represents the third element of what, along with the Evil Empire and Pointe du Hoc speeches, became a triumvirate of Cold War policy addresses by Reagan. That day he said:

We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control. Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace , if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet, in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete. Today thus represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand ready to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world.

In this speech he completes his Cold War storyline: from we believe totalitarianism is evil and a threat we’re not afraid to fight (Evil Empire) to we’ll welcome you into the fold but you have to give up the fight (Pointe du Hoc) to the conclusion—now is the time; join us in creating a better world for people everywhere, and use Berlin as a symbol of your good intentions. And we now know that the storyline he offered is precisely, and not coincidentally, how history eventually unfolded: from standoff to cautious engagement to reconciliation and partnership.

Ronald Reagan believed words were important … that they meant something and should always be taken seriously. He believed that presidential discourse was more than political discourse, it was a means of getting things done: of shaping America, of articulating vision and charting direction, and of pressurizing the social and political system to achieve grand outcomes.

He knew that once a president of the United States says something, the toothpaste is out of the tube. Rather than fear that finality, he used his oratory with courage and conviction, making declarations that gave us reason to feel better about being Americans, that initiated paths of policy that led toward outcomes he desired, and that ultimately led us closer to that shining city on the hill.

In 1995, Ronald Reagan wrote a letter to the American people announcing he had contracted Alzheimer’s disease:

My fellow Americans, I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.

Upon learning this news, Nancy and I had to decide whether as private citizens we would keep this a private matter or whether we would make this news known in a public way.

In the past, Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had cancer surgeries. We found through our open disclosures we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that as a result many more people underwent testing. They were treated in early stages and able to return to normal, healthy lives.

So now we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clear understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it.

At the moment, I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life's journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters.

Unfortunately, as Alzheimer's disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.

In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.

I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

Thank you, my friends.

Though never spoken, this text was the ultimate entry in Reagan's oral history. And even in the end … indeed, in his very last line of public address … he reminded us of his confidence in us and our future. Here’s hoping he rests in peace and sunshine.

Posted by Alan at 07:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 05, 2005

Why The Dems Need A Strategic Message

As a follow up to this post and this post, today I see purplerpose at Small Precautions:

When I started this blog back in November, one of my first posts concerned the need for the Democrats to create an effective elevator pitch. That is, I called on the Democrats to develop (perhaps only for internal purposes) a statement that would capture the emotional core of why people identify (or would like to identify) with the Party. In other words, I called for a simple statement of principle that (1) the vast majority of Democrats could happily sign up for, (2) would appeal to many swing voters and independents, but (3) would cause hard-core Republicans to feel unvarnished revulsion.

Well, recently we spent a little time with reader RWM to formulate a draft of what such a Democratic Party elevator pitch might look like. As a template, we considered Josh Marshall's suggested that the Republican elevator pitch consisted of the claim that, “They're for lowering taxes in exchange for giving up whatever it is the government pretends to do for us, (at a minimum) riding the brakes on the ongoing transformation of American culture, and kicking ass abroad.”

For the Democrats, this is what we came up with:

The Democrats are for promoting fairness and the rule of law at home and abroad, for keeping government out of the morality business, and for ensuring equal access to economic opportunity and political power.

Does that work?

Interesting. Frankly, I think the casting of the Republican message is too complex. Most Red Staters … just my view here … think of the Republican philosophy in much more simple and clear terms, and not in terms of the trade off noted above. As I wrote before, I think it's much more along the lines of:

We'll let you keep more of your money, we'll keep you safe internationally through strength, and we'll keep government off your back.

I'll put on my communication consultant hat for a few minutes. (Ohhh … blurring the line between work and blog!!)

These kinds of messages … let's call them “strategic messages,” messages that speak to a philosophy while also providing a sense of direction … must have several characteristics to work.

  • They must be universal: There can't be anyone who hears the message and says “that has nothing to do with me.”
  • They must be simple: If my Grandma May couldn't get the message, it's not sufficiently simple. This doesn't mean you dumb the message down, it means you put it in language everyone can understand.
  • They must be appropriately broad: Ambiguity is a good thing with strategic messages. If they're too specific they can't be used to explain everything—in this case, policy decisions—you might need to explain. At the same time, they can't be so broad that they lose meaning (which is why “thousand points of light” left everyone scratching their heads … nice metaphor, but too ambiguous).
  • They must offer a sense of what and why: Saying “here's what we're gonna do” doesn't' cut it; the message has to speak to the underlying values or philosophy as well. Why these choices as opposed to others?
  • They must be actionable: People in the system, in this case, other Democrats, have to be able to look at the message and say “Ok, I know what kind of stuff I can do to move this forward.” (Again, another reason why just stating a vision … “We believe in a great America” doesn't cut it. What do I do with that if I'm a city council member trying to support the party agenda?)
  • They must be relevant: They have to be meaningful to people … hit them where they live and apply to their lives.

The Republican message is so well understood by so many people because it has met these characteristics since Reagan first articulated it in his 1964 “Time of Choosing” speech. The Dem strategic message needs to be equally simple, broad, universal, actionable, relevant, etc.

The day after the election I described one such possible message:

We believe in this land no man is a loser … that everyone has potential. And if times get tough, which they will, we'll be there to give you a hand up, but never a hand out. Oh … and we'll keep you safe, too.

I'd change that some now, and make it even more clear:

We'll make sure you have a fair shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; we'll give you a hand up but not a hand out if times get tough; and we'll keep you safe internationally through strength.

Note that this is what I think the message SHOULD be, not what it currently is. Frankly, I don't KNOW what it currently is, which simply reflects the problem. Let's admit it … until the international war on terror resolves in some fashion, the Dems have to co-opt the Republican national security argument, and Clinton showed quite well how the Democratic agenda could succeed by speaking to a value of personal responsibility (a hand up, not a hand out) … frankly, they're both themes that are highly relevant to large numbers of folks from both sides of the isle.

That message passes my tests, at least for me. I could use protection of liberties and opportunity, a caring but fair government, and security to explain just about any policy while still speaking to Dem values, couldn't I?

Just my two cents.

No charge, Democrats. But now I have to find a chance to offer some free counsel to the Republicans as well (equal time, after all).

Posted by Alan at 09:53 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

February 03, 2005

Some Affirmation

William Voegeli, today:

Ruy Teixeira says that after 2004, “the bigger question is: What do the Democrats stand for?” Here's a better and bigger question still: What do the Democrats stand against? Tell us, if indeed it's true, that Democrats don't want to do for America what social democrats have done for France or Sweden. Tell us that the stacking of one government program on top of the other is going to stop, if indeed it will, well short of a public sector that absorbs half the nation's income and extensively regulates what we do with the other half. Explain how the spirit of live-and-let-live applies, if indeed it does, to everyone equally—to people who take family, piety and patriotism seriously, not merely to people whose lives and outlooks are predicated on regarding them ironically.

Until those questions are answered, until Americans have confidence about the limits liberalism will establish and observe, it's hard to see when the Democratic narrative will again have a happy ending.

Me, the day after the election:

The Democrats can find their way back, but they first must craft the compelling narrative … the political philosophy that will be relevant to Rotary members all across this land: We believe in this land no man is a loser … that everyone has potential. And if times get tough, which they will, we'll be there to give you a hand up, but never a hand out. Oh … and we'll keep you safe, too might be a start. Clinton had that narrative nailed … but when he left office, the narrative left with him.

Before the DNC I heard Mark Shields note that Reagan said his inspiration was FDR, and that the next great Democratic leader will say his inspiration was Ronald Reagan. He's right. The Democrats are never going to get America to come to them; they must go to America … an America that has changed from when it considered the Democratic Party the party of the “average” man, as it did in 1964. They must articulate a clear and compelling political philosophy and narrative … here's what we stand for! … and must then leave their ivory tower and go to the field … spreading that compelling narrative one school board race … one Rotary Club … at a time.

Nice to have a little affirmation, if the spin is a bit different. Grass roots, Democrats, grass roots. Not the special interest brand, like environmentalism and the pro-choice effort, but the school board kind. The county commissioner kind. One office, one Rotary club, at a time.

Otherwise … well, it's cold in the wilderness.

Posted by Alan at 08:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

State of the Union Quick Thoughts, 2005

Here's the link to the transcript & video. Once upon a time, I'd have gone out and done a blog reaction round-up. Don't have the energy or the enthusiasm these days - someone use the comments section to point me at a good one, let's just link to that.

Thought I'd throw out a few stream of consciousness comments here…

  • Overall, this was good. Surprisingly good.
  • No question what the defining moment was for this speech. I thought it was the looong standing ovation given to Safia Taleb al-Suhail and all of the Iraqi people - until Ms. al-Suhail stepped forward to hug Mr. and Mrs. Norwood, and brought the house down.
  • W. isn't a speaker. Tony Blair is a speaker, often more lethal on his feet than he with a prepared text. W. needs to craft and practice, or he's in trouble. But then, that ain't his archetype. The cowboy lives by deeds, standing tall and then giving his gun a little twirl at the end. Now think of the megaphone at Ground Zero. The aircraft carrier landing. Dropping in on a warring and dangerous Baghdad to serve turkey to the troops. Ms. al-Suhail and the Norwoods. Bush communicates best in deeds, in tableaux that speak incredibly loudly. I'm trying to recall another politician who could match that particular style and gift. I can't. It's W's saving political grace and potential disaster point, all in one.

Read the Rest…

Posted by Winds of Change at 04:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 31, 2005


Iraq's beautiful ink-stained fingerIraq won. America won. The human race won.

Immediately after polls closed, the New York Times grudgingly released their big story: “Amid Attacks, A Party Atmosphere on Baghdad's Closed Streets.” You almost had to admire the Times' pluck: they so wanted tragedy, but they were grudgingly admitting the truth.

But then, barely four hours after polls closed, they changed the headline on the exact same story to this: Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24

You have to laugh, don't you?

Millions upon millions voted despite being told that they and their families would be murdered—then walked the streets proudly waving their inked fingers, undeniable proof of their exercise of the franchise, showing anyone who wanted to see what they'd just done for themselves, their families, and their country.

Thousands of polling places were open and, despite our worst fears, only a handful saw any violence at all. At the few places that did see violence, people still showed up in droves to vote anyway.

Terrorists—and please, can we now dispense with the Orwellian term “insurgent?”—were openly defied and in some cases beaten senseless by enraged voters armed with nothing but their shoes.

Countless millions walked miles to vote. In one case, a polling place had to be opened over 10 miles away from its original location at the last moment—and people by the thousands streamed on foot, some of them on crutches, just to get there.

There's an old joke about walking a mile to smoke a camel. Well, these people walked ten miles on crutches just to smoke a terrorist.

How can your heart not burst with admiration?

Millions upon millions—including women and members of every minority group—voted for the first time in their lives. Even in neighboring Iran and Syria, expatriate Iraqis were able to vote while native Iranians and Syrians, still denied the right to vote in their own nations, looked on in wonder as freedom was exercised by their Iraqi friends.

And this is what the New York Times thought the most important, take-home message was: “Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24.”

They couldn't even call them terrorists.

I'm sure it'll get worse in the coming days. After all, these are the people who for two years now have consistently painted the greatest American military success story since 1945, and the lowest casualty rate in world history, as a “quagmire” that's “spinning out of control.” These are the people who've given free voice to the modern reactionaries who speak of “imperialism” and “hubris,” who demand that our poltical leaders admit failure, and compare terrorists who bomb hospitals and cut civilians' heads off to America's minutemen.

For two years, despite all of this anti-American propagandizing from our own press corps, our brave men and women in the armed forces have been protecting human rights, opening schools and hospitals and power plants and water and sewage treatment centers, stringing telephone and internet wires and helping to open free radio and television stations and newspapers. All while the naysayers just sneered. Then the naysayers and the petty, carping critics could do nothing but bite at GI Joe's ankles while he was setting up safety zones so that the Iraqis could hold free elections.

Then, while native Iraqi police and army did most of the security work, millions upon millions defied the terrorist threats and voted—while GI Joe stood quietly aside, blocks away from the polling stations and careful to stay out of the way. Our boys and girls were there, ready to help but only if called upon by the Iraqis themselves. And for the most part, they weren't needed. So they stayed out of sight all over the country, while the Iraqis had their much-deserved day of freedom without our intrusion.

Yes yes. “Insurgents In Baghdad And Elsewhere Kill 24.” That's the take-home message. You have to laugh, don't you?

Well, soon it'll be back to talk of our imperialism and our hubris and our inability to “admit failure.” We'll see prominent interviews with sullen Iraqis who didn't vote, or who complain that things still aren't perfect. Rarely will anyone note the irony that the freedom to complain is something these people never used to have, and that the freedom to vote includes the freedom not to vote if you don't want to.

Almost two years ago, on February 15, 2003, long before our military action to liberate Iraq from fascist tyrannty began, I started the following internet button campaign:

I remember the names I got called for that. The sneers at my character and at anyone who would display such a button. I remember being called an imperialist, a “Bush apologist,” a right-wing propagandist, a liar, and worse by the kind of people who read things like Daily Kos and Metafilter and Democratic Underground and Truthout and Indymedia and The Nation. By the kind of people who make excuses for lying hate-propagandists like Michael Moore. But those voices, they just get smaller, and tinier, and funnier, and sadder, all the time.

Today, with the exception of the days my sons were born, I have never felt prouder. All of us bloggers who supported Iraq's liberation from fascism, all of us who worked against the relentlessly defeatist American press corps, have something to be proud of. We were nowhere near as important as those who served in the military, nowhere near as important as the countless Iraqis who took control of their own fate despite the those who said the Iraqis “didn't want” or were “incapable of” democracy. Our role was small.

But we mattered. We let people know that most of the press wasn't telling the full story. We let people know that the press wanted us to fail, wanted us to lose. We let people know there was reason for hope and optimism. We let people know this was a fight worth fighting, a cause worthy of American blood and treasure.

By the way, remember this?

I never forgot.

We were right.

(This item originally appeared here.)

Posted by Dean Esmay at 07:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 30, 2005

Johnny Carson 1925-2005: An Appreciation

(NOTE: This was also published on Joe Gandelman's blog The Moderate Voice)

It's a cliche now to say "we will never see his kind come our way again," but it's clearly true about Johnny Carson, who died recently at the age of 79.

He had become an icon reflecting his generation in an era when broadcasting was at its height; his comedic style was shaped by radio and early television  — in contrast to today's late night hosts who grew up watching television and are imprinted by years doing comedy clubs as they struggle to build audiences in an era of narrowcasting.

Carson was a powerhouse: if CBS's stonefaced Ed Sullivan made or broke careers with who he had on his Sunday night variety show and whether he rebooked them, an appearance on Carson's show could jumpstart a career — and an on-air invitation after a "set" on his show to sit on Johnny's couch to chat could make a career zoom into the stratosphere.

In marking Carson's death, the lives, careers and influence of the other two key people who helped develop the Tonight Show shouldn't be forgotten.

Steve Allen was a radio comedian with comedy strongly rooted in vaudeville-style schtick. He hosted the show from 1953-1957. Allen was a beloved figure among comedians for his talents, ad lib ability, encouragement of young comedians…and for being the beloved Steve Allen.

My personal Steve Allen story: Some years ago I got one of Allen's books on comedy but couldn't find the others that were out of print. I wrote to him telling him how much I loved his books and analysis…and within three days a UPS truck drove up delivering me a free batch of autographed books by Allen on show biz and speaking. He died in 2000.

Jack Paar replaced the zany Allen on the Tonight Show. The unpredictable, often emotional Paar veered the show away from mostly vaudeville style comedy, improv and show biz talk of Allen into a newer area: politics and popular culture. It became known for launching several "celebrities" who were seemingly celebrated for simply being celebrated. Paar was a fine comedian but his shows contained the seed of some of the modern daytime celebrity talk shows. He died in 2004.

Of the three, Carson, in the end, proved to be the one who transcended being a host to being A Mega Star.

His show got whopping ratings. It made careers. It decimated any competition the hapless CBS and ABC threw at him over the years (including an attempted comeback by Paar).

Carson also took on a new role: as the NEW Bob Hope. Early in his career Hope latched onto using topical jokes. Carson took the use of the opening monologue with quickly-perishable and risky topical jokes to new heights. These jokes were so risky that Carson always had some "save" lines ready in case a joke bomb. And because he often skewered politicos (unlike the gentler Hope) his late night wisecracks became an indicator of the conventional wisdom about key political figures and issues.

Ironically, the critics were lukewarm to Carson when he took over.

I remember well how, in 1962, some critics panned Carson. He was, after all, such a sharp departure from the emotional Jack Parr. But Carson quickly triumphed — in a matter of style AND substance:

It turned out that Johnny Carson had the best comic timing in the business with the exception of someone who he had clearly studied: Jack Benny. Like Benny, Carson would "pan" the audience after a joke, to extend the laugh. Like Benny, he wasn't afraid to wait for a laugh or to slowly deliver a joke. (As an entertainer I studied Jackie Gleason for years and am now studying Jack Benny's TV and radio performances and Benny's timing…cloned by Carson…is truly an art).

Indeed, Carson would later in his career be criticized by some for having borrowed parts of some mannerisms or bits from Jackie Gleason, Jonathan Winters, and Steve Allen (who took him to task for it).

But in the end, virtually everyone loved Johnny.


Was it his timing, his solidly-written jokes and shows, his willingness (like the great Jack Benny) to let performers around him get all of the big laughs while he assumed the role of one of the best straight men (when he wanted to be) of his generation?

No, not entirely: it was because Carson had class.

A likability. An assurance.

And in the end, he maintained his classy attitude even when NBC passed over the person he reportedly wanted to replace him (David Letterman: some reports now say Carson helped Letterman with jokes in his final months).

Entertainers are shaped by what they watch and the context of the era of show business in which they performed. Carson's was the era of Benny, Hope, Lucille Ball and others.

It's an era that's largely gone, displaced by ironic humor and comedians that surfaced by going through the comedy club farm system.

Jay's or David's couch is nice…but it's not Johnny's couch.

And since Carson left, it has been evident that an important piece of furniture — and a beloved fixture — have been missing from the room.

Posted by Joe Gandelman at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Remembering The Horrors And Significance Of Auschwitz

(Note: This is also posted on Joe Gandelman's blog The Moderate Voice)

The gray haired man looked a bit like how actor actor Spencer Tracy looked in Tracy's final years. He had been sitting at a dining room table in New Haven, Connecticut when he called his over his teenage grandson.

"This was my family," he said, slowly opening the photo album. Then he started pointing to a host of aging photos showing large, smiling groups of people of all ages.

"He's dead — killed by the Nazis. She's dead — killed by the Nazis. This little boy? Hitler killed him, too.And this little girl." And so it went, as he showed his grandson the photos of family members who had been murdered by the Nazi regime in concentration camps. Some had simply disappeared.

He was a vigorous Jewish senior who even in his 80s wanted to get up on a ladder to cultivate apple trees. And although he pointed to these yellowing photos with a minimum of high-drama — he talked in soft-matter of fact voice — he would look at his grandson as he pointed to each photo. You could tell he wanted his grandson to take it all in…so that he'd never  forget.

I haven't.

Over the years I heard and read about the other unspeakable horrors of the Nazi regimes successful effort to dehumanize a group of humans. Of lampshades made out of human skin. Guards knocking out corpses teeth to melt down precious metals. Of the unspeakable and sadistic experiments.

I'd still have this thirst to find out more — until I read The Book. I forget the title, but I found it in the San Diego library. It was a detailed report on first hand reports of genocide.

One section detailed how Nazi soldiers bayoneted babies.

Another how children (infants, toddlers, elementary school age and teens) were shoved screaming off a cliff into a hole that was quickly covered with dirt, and many of the survivors died screaming and crying as they suffocated to death, with  young guards laughing as the muffled screams of terror and slow smothering tapered off.

Another detailed how two  little kids were carefully lined up to sit one in front of each other, then killed with a single shot, as a kind of human video game.

How could it happen? How could it happen to ANY group? How could this kind of barbarity — which really goes beyond the phrase "war crimes" — EVER happen? How could a regime or whole people lose take of their senses? And wasn't it nice that this was eradicated with the death of Adolph Hitler and the dismantling of the Nazi regime?

Except that it wasn't.

On September 11 Americans got a taste of the same mentality, as stewardesses throats were cut to attract and kill male airplane pilots, as planes with innocent men, women and children were flown suicidally into buildings — to kill more men, women and children whose crime was this: they were Americans and did not believe as the Muslim extremist terrorists did. The terrorsts needed a high body count.

I will never forget visiting Connecticut shortly after and seeing my father Richard Gandelman as he sat his wife, two of his grown kids and his grandkids in a restaurant that had been reeling from the loss of business due to 911 fears. My father, a proud World War II veteran, thought this kind of thing had been eradicated by the War…but we had gotten an inkling that it wasn't dead after all. He knew what this meant; he had lived through it before and thought the world was safer now due to his and his generation's  enormous sacrificies.

A hasty judgment? Not at all.

Anyone who watched any of the glorified snuff videos of hostages being jumped from behind and screaming as their heads got cut  off had to conclude: "They're back."

For "they" are the people who dehumanize — and have no compunction about wiping out people due to their political beliefs, ethnicity, nationality.

We're not talking about causalities of war, of carelessness, or even of acts that fall under "war crimes" — but the cold-blooded murder of people based on ideology or religion. The murder of people because of WHO THEY ARE.

For Auschwitz and what happened there was not only about religion. Indeed, increasingly, info has come out that the Nazi regime's ultimate goal was to turn Nazi ism into a reglion in itself.

The fact that a death factory could efficiently and brutally wipe out so many people reflected the success of mental reconditioning that allowed the Nazi regime to have so many agree to quietly go for the ride.

It wasn't just fear; it was spreading a perspective and values. Some supported it; some stayed silent because they didn't like the Jews anyway and it wasn't their problem.

Today, that attitude has a new incarnation: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

The Muslim world faces a choice today with this new incarnation of Nazism that — given a chance and a weapon falling into their hands — would not hesitate to use a nuclear weapon to get a nice, big body count in the U.S. or (many fear)intentionally  unleash a horrible disease upon its foes' shores.

The goal of creating a 1,000 year Reich no matter who had to be rubbed out has now been replaced by the desire to create a pan-Islamic Caliphate.

How do people and countries resist? By NEVER going quietly. By taking military action, if warrented. But above all by RESISTING  terrorist threats  —  as more than 70 percent of the Iraqis did today, as they bravely headed to the ballot boxes fully knowing that their lives may be on the line. (More than 72 percent of the Iraqis — better turnout than in U.S. elections— headed to the polls.)  By realizing we all have our individual and collective Moments of Truth — when a choice may make or break us physically and spiritually.

But when I hear Auschwitz, I still think back to my grandfather, showing me the pictures. I think back and grieve for all of those men, women and children who had such a horrific, fear-filled, beyond nightmarish end. And if I pause and think, I start to literally shed tears for those poor kids who never had a chance to live — who were mercilessly gassed, bayoneted, lined up and shot, buried alive….  all because they came from a group that had been  dehumanized so successfully that many who could have spoken out or acted did nothing. And, in doing nothing, those that didn't act or looked the other way became moral accessories to the acts.

IsraPundit as this story about a Holocaust denier.
—IsraPundit also coordinated a MUST READ blogburst commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by allies. Click here to find a long list list of participating site, and you can visit them.
—Remembering Auschwitz, editorials by Trinidad News and  St. Paul Pioneer Press give a flavor of some of the mainstream press coverage.

—A survivor remembers.
—German papers are reportedly divided on how to handle it. Spiegel Online reports:

With all the press coverage this week surrounding Thursday's 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, German papers on Thursday are divided as to how much more attention the event really needs. A number of papers completely avoid the topic on their front pages, preferring instead to lead with the imminent introduction of university tuition in the country. Most, however, devote a number of pages to articles, opinion and photos from the Third Reich's most infamous concentration and death camp. And, as this is likely one of the last chances to carry first-hand accounts of survivors, many publications choose to tell very private stories of horror and suffering.

Check the link for specifics on what German publications wrote.
Muslim Wake Up stresses that what happened at Auschwitz can't be accurately compared to Palestinian complaints, but does restate the general  Palestinian case. Key quote on Auschwitz:

The mass killing of millions of people from the very old to newborns with industrial efficiency for the sole purpose of exterminating a whole race is beyond words in its cruelty, criminality, abhorrence and indeed in its uniqueness. The road towards peace and reconciliation does not go through denial of the suffering of Jews; understanding the narratives of the "other" is a prerequisite for any real reconciliation. Those Muslims and other supporters of the Palestinians who deny or minimize the Holocaust do major disservice to the Palestinian cause and cause more Jews and Israelis to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinians.

—The Mississippi Press:

The lesson of history, as German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder pointed out, is that the evil of the Nazis "did not come from nowhere. The brutalization of thought and the loss of moral inhibitions had a history; above all, Nazi ideology was desired by the people and man-made."

Today in France, anti-semitism is on the rise. White supremacists and neo-Nazi groups are well-known by authorities in Europe and North America.

That is reason enough to care about the soldier and the death camp and the 1.5 million people who were slain.

A generation of Europeans — perhaps some Americans too — are growing up in disbelief that such inhumanity to man could take place in a civilized society.

More recent examples: Rwanda, Cambodia, the Sudan, tell us it indeed can.

We must commit our hearts and minds and souls to a simple, but powerful phrase:

Never again.

—This article on Bosnia's war horrors involving a prision guard who is interviewed reminds us that it can happen anywhere.

Posted by Joe Gandelman at 04:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

Freedom and Peace

Originally posted at Confessions of a Pilgrim

I just finished reading through several of the speeches of Sir Winston Churchill. I was struck by the similiarity in sentiment of Churchill and our President George Bush as it relates to Bush's Inaugural Address. Both men understood well the struggle they found themselves in and held firmly to the hand of an Almighty God to guide them.

Like many others, I have to wonder what the response would be of Bush's detractors to Churchill's words of the late 1930's and 1940's. I've read through the rhetorical blog-skirmish between Smash and Chris Alemany and can't help but think Chris would have loved Neville Chamberlain's response to Hitler's first land grab. For the life of me I can't understand how people think that Peace can be simply the absence of conflict. If we just empty our guns and dismantle our military the world will be safe from War. If we just hold hands and “talk” we can all come to a common understanding.

What started the skirmish was a comment left to Smash's post about a protest around the San Diego area where Chris said:

“Freedom is a Human Right”

That's exactly right… but no Human being should be subjected to all out war by foreign country in order to gain that right.

Some Americans need to learn that the United States is not and need not be the “Superman” of the world.

What Chris doesn't understand is that these people already HAVE that RIGHT...their oppressors will not allow them to exercise that right. This right was given to ALL people by a Gracious God and no one can revoke it. Voltaire said, “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be”…even this French “free thinker” knew that the right to Freedom is an inherent right of being HUMAN and said human need only recognize it. What I don't understand about Chris' perspective is that following this logic America, England, and CANADA should have never stormed the beaches at Normandy if “no Human being should be subjected to all out war by foreign country in order to gain that right”. I don't understand Chris' perspective at all. President Lincoln should have never resupplied Fort Sumter, triggering the American Civil War if “no Human being should be subjected to all out war by foreign country in order to gain that right”…tipping the hat to Jefferson Davis' position that the CSA was a soveriegn country(I disagree with said position).

Freedom is. Period. When a people are denied the free exercise of this right by a select few there is tyranny and it simply cannot stand. Eventually there will be revolt and a blood letting….followed by another revolt and blood letting…followed by another revolt…etc…until the Final Revolt where Freedom prevails. In the interim there will be periods of no conflict…is that Peace? Is Peace the absence of armed struggle? John Fitzgerald Kennedy didn't think so and neither do I.

Those of the loyal(?) opposition would have us believe that we were at Peace with Iraq before March of 2003. Does the fact that the military conflicts never made the papers that happened on a daily basis during the years between the cessation of hostilities following the liberation of Kuwait and the invasion in 2003 mean that a condition of PEACE existed between Hussein and America? What about the thousands being tortured, raped, and butchered by Hussein and his minoin, does the fact that those atrocities were not daily headlines at the NY Times mean a condition of PEACE existed? What about the hundreds of thousands of dollars from Iraqi coffers paid to barbarians for killing the children of Israel…does the fact that this arrangement was not widely known mean Hussein was at PEACE with Israel? No.

So, do we split hairs? Do we set a limit of atrocity, of LIMITED Freedom, before we declare that Peace doesn't exist? Are we prepared to say, “Well…only 10,000 girls were raped by Hussein's regime…that's okay.”? Are we prepared to say, “Hey, it's only $25,000 per bomb laden barbarian! We can deal with that.”? Would we be prepared to tell King George, “Look, we just want our tea for can continue to force your troops into our homes…”? Would we be willing to allow a few House Slaves per household? I wouldn't.

There comes a time when enough is enough and sometimes ONE TIME is enough. The world is not full of love and light. Humans are by nature WICKED and prone to acts of evil beyond our comprehension. We are restrained ONLY by our love of Freedom…and by extension God. This is the true reality and no one “likes” it but we all must deal with it.

While the loyal(?) opposition rants and raves about how Hussein was “in a box” and the more strident of them spewing forth the most hateful and scandalous articles, pictorials, and comments about individuals in the Administration, 150,000 of our friends, brothers, sisters, and parents are fighting to preserve their Freedom. As Churchill said in the summer of 1940, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Posted by at 11:35 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: Tom Barnett on "The Pentagon's Debate Over What Iraq Means"

tpmbarnett.gifWe've been linking to the work of Tom Barnett for some time, including his two Esquire articles, The Pentagon's New Map and Mr. President, Here's How To Make Sense Of Our Iraq Strategy, and just yesterday, the CSPAN stream of his famous Defense Dept. brief on a grand military strategy for the United States.

He's a heavy hitter: From 1998 through 2004, Tom was a Senior Strategic Researcher and Professor in the Warfare Analysis & Research Department at the Naval War College. He's also served as an advisor to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, Central Command, Special Operations Command, and Joint Forces Command. From November 2001 to June of 2003, he was on temporary assignment as the Assistant for Strategic Futures, Office of Force Transformation (OFT), where he worked on concepts linking change in the international security environment to the imperative of transforming U.S. military.

And here's the really great part: Tom has agreed to author an exclusive perspective piece for the Command Post's Op/Ed page, which you may find below. We're thrilled to have his contribution, and we hope you find the content enjoyable and provacative.

And Tom: Thank you.

~ Alan & Michele


The Pentagon's Debate Over What Iraq Means

By Thomas P.M. Barnett

The Pentagon is primarily in the business of preparing for war, not waging it. War is waged by commanders in the field. What the Pentagon does is think long and hard about what the future of war should be like. It then directs vast R&D and acquisition programs to generate a force capable of waging war successfully in that domain. Its demands for intelligence tend to be future-oriented.

Right now, there is a debate raging within the Pentagon and the military as a whole about what the war in Iraq and the subsequent (and ongoing) occupation tell us about the future of war. This debate pits two fundamental, dominant visions of future war against one another. I consider this juxtaposition to be a false dichotomy, meaning a choice that does not need to be made and, frankly, should not be made.

The two sides in this debate are functionally derived: the “air community” versus the “ground community.” The air community tends to be known as the Network-Centric Operations (NCO) crowd, whereas the ground-pounders fall under the rubric of Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW).

Net-centric operations are a long-term effort by the military to understand how the rise of the information age alters the fundamental nature of war. In the vernacular of NCO advocates, the past force was platform-centric, meaning we organized ourselves around the major "platforms", the machines we created to wage war (aircraft, ships, tanks, etc.). The future, by contrast, is network - centric: platforms are nothing more than nodes in a larger network whose main power isn’t its massed fire, but its ability to wield that force with pinpoint accuracy.

NCO defines the 20th Century's long march toward "winning from above," the notion that you can effectively bomb your way to victory. Going into Iraq, it seemed as though NCO was not only the dominant mode of future-war thinking, it had reached such an apogee that serious thought was given to radically slimming down the ground forces into a future, "transformed" force.

The trajectory of combat across the 1990s hadn't served the Army and Marines well in Pentagon debates. While the Air Force was winning wars "all by itself" in Iraq, the Balkans, and later-Afghanistan, the Army and Marines were left holding the bag in such crappy situations as Somalia and Haiti. Within the Pentagon, Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) was strongly perceived—and is still perceived in many quarters today—as a form of war that the American public can't stomach in terms of losses incurred (“body-bag syndrome”), longevity (America's SADD: strategic attention deficit disorder), immoral acts (e.g., atrocities like Abu Ghraib and beheadings of hostages), and demand for resources (Senator So-and-So: "We spend more money in Iraq by breakfast than we've spent all year on [name his or her favorite cause]").

Right through "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq (May 2003), the NCO crowd seemed ascendant. Rumsfeld was right in both Afghanistan and Iraq: the small "footprint" force, armed with high-technology, could network its way to relatively bloodless (for our side) victories. In only a few weeks of major combat operations, neither war cost the U.S. more than 200 dead. That isn't just impressive, that's absolutely amazing.

But in that hubris lie the seeds of NCO's current problems, plus a growing backlash among the Fourth Generation Warfare crowd. The extremely spotty planning by the Pentagon for the occupation and postwar stabilization of Iraq enabled the rise of the disastrously efficient insurgency we face today. Arrogance about what could be achieved by NCO contributed to that bad planning, but frankly, far more of it was a result of the Pentagon's defensive response to the Army’s charges that Secretary Rumsfeld and his lieutenants were willfully disregarding its warnings about necessary troops levels on the ground.

You remember the debate: Rumsfeld versus then-Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki. Rummy said we could "win the war" with a small, highly transformed force, whereas Shinseki argued for massive ground forces (roughly 200,000). In the press and in our own wording of this debate, the argument became known as, "How many troops are required to win the war?" Later accusations revolved around whether or not "Rumsfeld sought to fight this war with too few troops!"

My problem with this description, as I've noted many times in my blog, is that it conflates two concepts: regime takedown and the post-conflict stabilization / nation-building effort. I call the former, the "war," and the latter, the "peace." So, in my more careful lexicon, I say that Rumsfeld was arguing—and arguing correctly—about how to "win the war," while Shinseki was arguing—and arguing correctly—about how to "win the peace."

The current fight between NCO and 4GW, over who "lost" the war in Iraq, is basically a repeat of the Rumsfeld-Shinseki argument. The 4GWers accuse NCOers of blindly stumbling from a 3GW victory over Saddam into a 4GW stalemate with the insurgency. But again, this accusation tends to conflate two very different situations: one the war, the other the subsequently botched peace. But the 4GW crowd’s answer can’t be simply, "Let's get ready for counter-insurgencies because NCO is powerless to deal with them."

4GW is essentially guerrilla war that seeks to defeat an enemy not militarily, but politically, and not on any one battlefield, but over years and even decades of low-intensity conflict. Mao is considered the father of modern 4GW, though it’s obviously been around as long as weak forces have met far superior forces. In his recent book, The Sling and the Stone, Thomas Hammes runs through the history of this modern variant of guerrilla war, from Mao to the Viet Cong to the Sandinistas of Nicaragua to the Intifadas of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Naturally, al Qaeda is considered very 4GW, coming as it did out of the great victory that was the Islamic insurgency's defeat of the superpower Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

The answer on Iraq (and future situations) needs to be: "Let's get so good at the follow-on System Administration model that when our NCO force defeats a regime, we effectively shut down the possibility of 4GW by flooding the country with peace-maker troops capable of 4GW combat, staffed up big time with support personnel, lots of foreign coalition forces, and plenty of civilians experts all brought together in a larger force that's optimized for stabilization and reconstruction efforts." In other words, the best 4GW strategy is to prevent insurgencies before they start.

In short, our choice isn’t between Network-Centric Operations or Fourth Generation Warfare, it's how we focus each effectively on the logically-defined tasks of effective regime change, a list that covers both war and peace. A Pentagon debate that pits these two visions of war against one another is self-defeating and a waste of time. We must take advantage of the force-structure savings allowed by NCO (e.g., the smaller footprint) to build up our 4GW capabilities and marry those with the larger force requirements entailed in successful SysAdmin work.

In Asia today, there is a huge ongoing battle for "hearts and minds" that has nothing to do with a 4GW enemy. Yet, if this battle is waged well, it will do much to prevent such an enemy's rise in the future and diminish the appeal of enemies who already exist within the region. It is the battle to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake-driven tsunamis, the largest humanitarian assistance / disaster relief operation the world has ever seen. A truly transformed U.S. military, one that covers both the Leviathan and System Administrator functions effectively, will be a military that not only efficiently processes a politically-bankrupt regime like Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It will also be a force ready to deal with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to preemptively secure "peace victories," in situations like the one we face today in southern and southeast Asia.

For me, that is the force worth building for the future worth creating.

Copyright The New Rule Sets Project, LLC.

Printed with permission

~ ~ ~

Thomas P.M.Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map, is launching the Rule-Set Reset strategic journal as an e-journal that is distributable by email or download, available to subscribers only. The inaugural edition is free and includes the "The Pentagon's Internal War Over What Iraq Means," an expanded version of "The Pentagon's Debate Over What Iraq Means," published by permission at The Command Post. You can email Tom at

Posted by Alan at 12:19 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

Your "Guide for the Mexican Migrant" roundup

The Mexican government recently distributed a comic book presenting safety tips for those illegally crossing the border into the U.S. Some have called it a how-to guide for illegal immigration.

You can see the comic book starting here (Spanish only), and it's available here together with a translation and an NYT article on the comic book.

In reverse chronological order, here are list of the posts at my site about the guide:

"Mexico publishes guide to assist border crossers": The Drudge-linked AZ Republic article that started it all; post includes quote from earlier article about consul general visiting a day laborer center. (source articles here and here)

"[WH] Spokesman to 'look into' illegal-alien guide": Scott McClellan weaves and bobs compassionately.

"Mexico's Border-Crossing Tips Anger Some in U.S.": The LAT weighs in, getting a B- for their coverage. (source article)

"Mexico and its illegals": a WashTimes editorial. (source article)

"A big cuchi-cuchi! from our "friends" to the south": I provide my own limited "translation."

"Mexico Defends Comic Book for Illegal Immigrants" (source article)

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) on "Illegal Immigration and Remittances For Dummies": "[it's a] flagrant example of the Mexican government's lack of respect for U.S. laws." (source article)

"Illustrating folly": The AZ Republic seems mostly angered by Mexico's tactical blunder in this editorial. (source article)

"No Humor in Comic: Advice on breaking U.S. law is ill-advised": a similar editorial from the Dallas Morning News. (source article)

"Education and immigration": another similar editorial from the the Long Beach Press-Telegram. (source article)

"A Mexican Manual for Illegal Migrants Upsets Some in U.S.": the NYT weighs in. (source article)

"Migration pamphlet draws fire in U.S." the Houston Chronicle report includes this priceless quote from a Mexican official: "The Mexican government in no way encourages emigration." (source article)

"Illegal Immigration and Remittances For Dummies" to be distributed in the U.S.? that's what one Mexican newspaper says. (source article)

Translations of the "Guide for the Mexican Migrant": includes two "translations" and one translation.

Apologists for the "Guide for the Mexican Migrant": it'd look something like this AZ Daily Star column. (source article)

"The Mexican-American War, Round 2": from Don Feder (source article)

"[AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano] critical of Mexican manual" (source article)

"Illegals and the State Department": The WashTimes tries and fails to get the State Dep't to do something about the comic. (source article)

"Dumb Like a Fox": we should follow the money. (source article)

Now that's an apologist!: A very minor scholar wants us to see things from the Mexican perspective.

Links to source articles might expire. Some of my posts above include background information or links to other articles.


"Immigrants Hail Mexico’s Migrant Guide": 9 out of 10 illegal aliens praise the guide. Also confirms that consulates are distributing the comic in the U.S. (source article)

Posted by Lonewacko at 11:07 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

Paging Bob Geldof

It was only a matter of time before the self-anointed pop stars, legends and entertainment kings and queens came out of the woodwork to show an outpouring of love, sympathy and a willingness to chip in to the tsunami-ravaged lands.

I don't mean to sound cynical (wait, yes I do), but the stars and their benefits are just a bit tiresome, not to mention unnecessary.

My first thought upon hearing that there would be telethons, albums and concerts all in the name of tsunami relief was where were these people last year when 400,000 lay dead in Bam, Iran? Plenty of Iranian entertainers came through, but I don't recall the head honcho of NBC planning a telethon to help out.

Why the difference in humanitarian aid? I don't know. When you think about it, the amount of people and organizations rushing to donate money and goods to the hard hit regions seems overwhelmingly good, altruistic and heart warming on first glance, but perhaps on further reflection you might say to yourself - imagine if Amazon just randomly put up a front page link one day during the year for people to donate to AIDS awareness or starving kids in America? How much money could they raise for other causes? And hey, where is the telethon/album for the people who have lost their homes and businesses in hurricanes and wildfires?

It's so easy to be cynical. Mega stars stumping for a cause just gives my cynicism that bitter twinge. I just get a bad taste in my mouth every time a group of celebrities (or psuedo celebrities) get together to try to get you, their fans, to donate to a cause. I think, instead of spending time getting all these people together, renting a studio, writing a song, recording the song, putting the album in stores, waiting for the constant airplay to kick in and, in essence, begging their public to send money to whatever they are singing about - why don't they all just reach into their pockets and donate a cool million each? Sondra did it. Leonardo did it. It seems a hell of lot more sensible, logistically and monetarily, to just cut a check and get the money where it's going. But, no. Rather than donate out of their own bank accounts, they'd rather reach out to you - you who buys their albums and t-shirts, you who probably has $24 in your bank account at the moment and no gas in your car - to put the dollars in the coffer because, hey, they are donating their time, man. They are donating their talents. And that should be enough. Right?

Any moment now Bruce Springsteen will hold a press conference, with Bono on one side and Sting on the other. They'll announce a huge show at some vast stadium, maybe two stadiums - one in the U.S. and one in the U.K. Bob Geldof will come out of obscurity to smile for the cameras and remind people that he was at the forefront of the pop-star-as-philanthropist movement. Tickets will be $50 and up. There will be t-shirts, water and food for sale at the show, as well as frisbees and beach balls imprinted with the TsunamiAid logo, which will be copyrighted and trademarked and perhaps drawn by a famous artists. The shows will be simulcast on Pay-per-View. The second the concert is over and the now broke fans have gone home, the DVD and CD will be for sale. Millions and millions of dollars will be raised. By the fans of these stars. Yet the stars will get the credit for raising the money.

We don't need overripe pop stars to get us to donate. How much has Amazon raised already? How much in private donations have been given? How many people have already volunteered to go over and help with the recovery efforts? We did this all without the benefit of some guy with a hit record telling us to.

Instead of putting together a big show with overhead costs, instead of dragging has been stars out of the B-movie retirement home to answer phones on a telethon, instead of cajoling, pleading and guilting their fans into coughing up more (in the guise of pop culture paraphernalia) than they already gave - why don't they all just reach into their pockets and say, here, here's a million to the cause. I don't even care if they stage a press conference where they are holding up a huge, fake check and presenting it to that scarred super model who got stuck in the tree. Give the media your best smile. Boast about how much you gave. Feel smug. As long as you're not putting on this act like you raised shitloads of money when all you did beg the people who afford you your million dollar homes to give it up for the TsunamiAid©) fund.

I give it less than 24 hours before either Springsteen or Sting, flanked by the members of a reunited-minus-one Queen, announces a huge concert. And less than 24 hours after that before the website and subsequent store go up.

You may commence with flaming my blatant cynicism

Update: AHA! LiveAid 2, coming soon to a stadium near you!

Posted by Michele at 08:42 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

January 01, 2005

Counting The Cost

The human toll of the recent tragedy will never be known exactly. It looks like it will never be known even approximately. All the official figures are, as at 01 January 2005, neccessarily drastic under-estimates. To see why, and what the difficulties are in estimating even approximately the toll in human life, read on.

From the Times of India :

A senior official in New Delhi said because of the massive area covered by tsunami and majority being poor arriving at a final accurate figure of casualties is next to impossible. He pointed out that in several instances entire villages have been swept away, with no survivors to even update officials about the tragedy.

In several of these areas there are no ration cards issued, no government records of them,” says a district level official in Tamil Nadu.

We are very sensitive about the complications that could arise because of problems in counting. We are trying our very best to be accurate to the last person,” he added.

But the woeful task of counting the dead is not an easy task.

Already in several areas the official number of dead is way below what the locals claim. In Kulachal locality of Kanyakumari district alone local survivors are putting the number of dead at a couple of thousands.

We have buried about a 1000 in the local church itself. The rivulet here is still filled with bodies, so is the beach,” one of the survivors told on Wednesday.

According to official estimates, the entire Kanyakumari district has only around 800 dead.

The confusion over the number of dead is worst in the case of slums where a large number of people are also floating population in search of jobs.

OK, award for “most unfortunate phrase of the year” there. You see, most of these jobless people, their wives, their children, are indeed “floating”. Their bodies in their thousands are just off the coast. Those not already consumed by sharks. When a tsunami hits, it floods inland. But it then recedes just as quickly, taking bodies, and in some cases entire towns with all their buildings with it, way out to sea. That's what happened to Galveston, Texas in 1900. Most of the bodies were never recovered, and the toll could only be estimated from records. Was the figure for Galveston 5000, 6000, 7000 or higher? We'll never know. You'll find all three figures stated in various sources.

A large underwriting of the figures would also happen in Andaman and Nicobar Islands where many of the tribals live deep inside jungles, and many of them may not be on the government records.

Indian government officials have stated in reports aired on Australian TV that at least one tribe's status is unknown. They shoot at strangers. All strangers. And they have done for some time, possibly 30,000 years or more. The report didn't say whether their arrows are tipped with flint or bone arrowheads, or just fire-hardened. No-one has any idea as to how many of this tribe were there before the earthquake, nor how many were killed. Other tribes, well, we have estimates of how many there were, but no-one knows if they're reliable, nor how many are still left. We'll never know.

A senior official in Delhi said only in the case of Kerala the exact figures would be available because the damages are limited and it is a small geographical entity with hardly any floating population, and a high penetration of ration cards and proper census.

But in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar islands such accuracy cannot be expected. The coastal regions of these areas also have a high concentration of poor along the coast who were also the main victims of tsunami’s fury.

The lack of accuracy in counting the dead would complicate the matter when it comes to distribution of compensation, admit officials.

“We cannot help it. We have to go by our records,” says a Delhi official.

They have no other choice. But observers at the scene, and local residents, have stated that many, many thousands of undocumented people who used to live on the coast of India… aren't there any more. 10,000? 100,000? We don't know, and never will.

Some idea of the casualties can be gleened by the grisly flotsam washing up on Indian beaches. Bodies, in their hundreds, their thousands. Nameless, and some days after the tsunami, now literally faceless. So many, so tragically, awfully, horribly many of them children.

We can estimate - by counting the number of documented, identifiable corpses that have been recovered, comparing that with the number missing, and figuring out what proportion of the dead we'll have bodies for. Then extrapolating. If we have 100 bodies of the 1000 people we know were there, then we're recovering only 10% of the bodies. If 10,000 bodies of unknowns wash up, that means that about 100,000 have died. Simple Math. I don't know what the figures are, or the proportion. And frankly, people on the scene have better things to do with their time than body counts. They're too busy trying to prevent many more tens of thousands dying from disease, something as simple as a small cut or a mouthful of contaminated seawater can be fatal without treatment. From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

According to the leader of Indonesia's Red Crescent relief team in Banda Aceh disease and illness are already starting to claim lives.

Many victims survived the flooding but they suffered lung diseases because they swallowed foreign particles,” Indonesian Red Crescent team leader for Aceh Agoes Kooshartoro told AFP.

Over the past five days many people have died because of this. They survived the waves but they died of infections.

Then there's deliberate Government obfuscation by less-than-free regimes in the region. From Reuters via the ABC :

Burma has raised its tsunami death toll to 53 as disaster experts wondered how the military-ruled country escaped the massive destruction the wall of water wrought around the Indian Ocean.

The official Myanma Ahlin newspaper, which reported a toll still lower than the United Nations estimate of 90, said most of the deaths, up from the 36 the Government reported earlier, were in the Irrawaddy Delta area.

Again, from the AFP via the ABC :

The number of people killed in Somalia when a deadly tsunami struck the African country's Indian Ocean coast on December 26 has climbed to 176, presidential spokesman said on Saturday.

How reliable is this figure? Given the difficulties the huge Indian bureacracy has in coming up with reliable figures, I have absolutely no idea.

It's not just local governments that have a problem. From The Australian :

Most of the Australian victims were in southern Thailand where more than 2000 foreign tourists are confirmed dead out of a total of more than 4500. Asked if the Australian toll — which stood at 11 yesterday — could be in the hundreds, Mr Keelty said: “Well, yes.

With 1250 Australians missing, clearly the numbers are going to be a lot larger than the 41 who we have grave fears for today, as well as the confirmed dead,” he said.

The figure will be somewhere in between but you've got to expect that in a disaster of this size — where we are talking tens of thousands of people (dead) — the percentage of Australians who will not have survived this will be much greater than the figures that we are currently looking at.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday that of the 1250 Australians who might have been in the areas affected by the tsunamis, more than 850 might have been in the Phuket region of southern Thailand and more than 200 in Sri Lanka.

DFAT [Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - the Aussie State Dept] said last night it revised down its list of those for whom it held grave concerns to 39 including 34 in Thailand, two in Indonesia, two in Sri Lanka and one in the Maldives. DFAT said 28 Australians were in hospital, 23 in Thailand, four in Sri Lanka, and one in the Maldives.

From the AFP via News Ltd :

Thailand's final death toll from the tsunami disaster is likely to be 7000 to 8000, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said today.

Thousands of people listed as missing are probably dead, he said in his weekly radio address six days after the tragedy.

In Thailand the final death toll is likely to top 7000 to 8000. We expect to find more corpses as everywhere we went we found bodies,” Mr Thaksin said.

Late yesterday the confirmed death toll was 4560, including 2230 foreign holidaymakers.

There were 2145 Thai victims and 185 bodies whose race could not be determined, said the interior ministry's disaster mitigation department.

By now, many of the corpses are only vaguely recogniseable as human. In a few days, such things as race, or even sex, would only be identifiable by a time-consuming forensic examination, or DNA.

Corpses will be floating in the sea,” Mr Thaksin said. “For example, we recovered some 200 bodies in Thai Muang (near Khao Lak).

“Of the 6500 missing, it is likely that they could be dead as many days have passed,” he said.
The ministry said 6541 people are missing and 10,509 were injured. Mr Thaksin has said previously that 80 per cent of the missing are presumed dead.

If applicable to the missing Australians, that would be over 800. 4 Balis. DNA and dental records will be able to give closure to families of victims whose bodies have been recovered. But a tsunami, by its very nature, sweeps many victims out to sea, and most of those corpses are never found.

So expect the toll to be estimated as well as it can be, but not very accurately, some time in the coming years. But one thing's for sure: it will be much higher than the figures reported as of now. If you have a loved one missing, don't lose hope though. Some of those missing are being found safe and well, and will continue to be so for some time.

Posted by Alan Brain at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 29, 2004

It Could Have Been Worse

Cross-posted from AEBrain, the blog.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami could have been worse. A lot worse.

That's a particularly cold-blooded thing to say about an event that's caused at least half a million casualties (injured and killed), with 70,000 confirmed dead at the moment.

Nonetheless it's true. Just have a look at a graphic of the event.

Indian Ocean Tsunami
Click on graphic to show animation

As you can see from this simulation (Animation provided by Kenji Satake, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan, via ITSU), the Tsunami was focussed mainly to the West, with a slightly lesser wave to the East, and relatively little North and South. especially North.

Indian Ocean Tsunami RadiiNow please look North. The “crinkly bits” to the right of the Indian subcontinent represent the deltas of Bangladesh. Population 141 Million. Most of whom live within 2 metres of sea level. The Maldives only had a population of 280,000, and they were badly hit, with some parts rendered permanently uninhabitable. Bangladesh is at almost exactly the same distance from the epicentre as the Maldives, and are equally low-lying, 2/3 of the country being river delta within a metre or two of sea level.

When the first reports came in, it wasn't clear how big the seismic event was. One source said 6.8, another 8.0, another 8.5. When I saw that last figure, I immediately thought about Bangladesh. Why?

From WorldInfo :

The 1970 cyclone killed over five hundred thousand people. In the 1991 cyclones over two hundred thousand people drowned and many millions of homes were destroyed….
In 1991 a tsunami wave killed one hundred and thirty-eight thousand people in Bangladesh.

That was a small one, and there was plenty of time to see it coming - much smaller than the one that hit the Maldives with no warning.

I'd been thinking about Indian Ocean Tsunamis for a day or two, due to Friday the 13th and Jay Manifold's calculations about an Indian Ocean Impact.

So when the news came that the quake was 8.9 on the Richter Scale (soon to be upgraded to 9.0), I feared the worst. But as the hours ticked by, it soon became more likely that the reason there were no reports of devastation in Bangladesh was because there was no devastation, not because there was no Bangladesh.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for parts of Aceh province in Indonesia, whole towns and villages are on maps, but from aeriel reconnaisance, no longer exist.

When I first started posting about the event over at The Command Post, I feared that the death toll would be in Millions, or even tens of Millions in Bangladesh, with another fifty or a hundred thousand everywhere else combined. Not just feared, I figured that if either the waves were unfocussed and omnidirectional, or focussed North-South, then at least a Million people had just died. I could see no way around it. It would have taken an extraordinary focussing of the energy East-West to keep the toll below that. But wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, such a focussing happened.

Never in my entire life have I been so glad to be wrong.

So now when I see the heartrending pictures - a man cradling the lifeless body of his infant son; a mother with terrible wounds searching desperately for her children; or even think of the gay couple Carmel and I know well (they live not far from us) who were in Phuket and are still unnacounted for - I can't help thinking how much worse it could have been, by a factor of not just 10, but 100.

My favourite Marxist, Norman Geras, discusses with sympathy those whose faith in an Omnibenevolent God has been shaken by this event. Well, there are 10 Million reasons why my agnosticism, and unbelief in a God who participates in human affairs has been shaken. There aren't 10 Million corpses, mainly children, in the Bay of Bengal today. As I write this, I still can't believe that we dodged this particular bullet. When I first posted the alert over at TCP, I had an icy pit in my stomach. Now I'm quite literally shedding a few tears of relief as I type this.

Oh yes, after a steady increase to a chance as high as 1 in 32, it looks like 2004 MN 04 won't be hitting us after all.

It could have been worse.

Posted by Alan Brain at 08:30 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 12, 2004

Tim Oren: Machine Translation & the Global Blogosphere

(This post is a more formal version, with links, of my rant about machine translation (MT) at the Global Voices session at the Harvard Berkman conference. There's an earlier backgrounder on the marketplace on my home blog, Due Diligence, and also see this general background at Wikipedia.)

An obviously valuable addition to the global blogosphere would be automatic language translation. The good news is that more non-English tools like Spirit of America's Arabic blogging tool are popping up, enabling those who don't speak English to join the blogosphere. One downside is the potential for creating language islands, isolating those without bilingual skills.

So, what are the prospects for the blogosphere getting access to state of the art machine translation (MT) technology on reasonable (preferably free) terms? Better than you might think.

Continue Reading “Machine Translation & the Global Blogosphere”

Posted by Winds of Change at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 07, 2004

Oppose sham "intelligence reform"

The immigration-related provisions might have been removed from the Intelligence Reform Bill. If the bill passes, illegal aliens could continue to get driver's licenses and could continue to use foreign IDs that are only of use to illegal aliens. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers had a combined total of 63 driver's licenses from various states.
  • The FBI and the DOJ call those foreign ID cards - including Mexico's Matricula Consular - a security threat.
  • From Chapter 3 of the 9/11 Commission Staff Report: “…abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity…”
  • The news media barely covers the immigration-related provisions. The news media rarely mentions that there's more than one group of 9/11 families, and that the “9/11 Families for a Secure America” opposes this bill unless it includes immigration-related provisions. (See also “9/11 Families Back Sensenbrenner in Intel Fight”)

What you can do:

Please contact your representatives and tell them: don't pass this bill unless it includes those immigration-related provisions.

You can send free FAXes here.

And, here are some phone numbers:

Sen. Collins(R-ME) at (202) 224-2523

Sen. Lieberman (D-CT) at (202) 224-4041

Rep. David Dreier (R-CA)
Glendora 626-852-2626
DC 202-225-2305

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) at (202) 225-2976

Rep. Hoekstra (R-MI) at (202) 225-4401

Rep. Harman (D-CA) at (202) 225-8220

(According to KFI's John & Ken, David Dreier might have found religion: due to Political Human Sacrifice, he might have supported these immigration-related provisions.)

Posted by Lonewacko at 01:23 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 06, 2004

Milstuff for Dummies: Force Structure

There's an amazing amount of military detail available on the net, from wikipedia entries to the services' sites to the invaluable StrategyPage. There's also an increasing amount of timely interpretation of events from the milbloggers, and chewy analysis from the likes of Wretchard. What I've missed (and that might be my fault) are backgrounders that pull together the details, events, and forecasts into patterns that are recognizable by the novice.


So, with hat tip and apologies to the titles of the book series, this is my first attempt at “Milstuff for Dummies”, a crowd in which I include myself. My goal is to pull together a set of basic consensus facts into an understandable – and short - narrative, as a common base for further discussion. I desire and encourage admonishment on any factual errors by those in the know, while suggesting that debate on consequences might be better on another thread.

This first attempt explores the topic of the size of the military, and how it's put together. This week's force increase in Iraq makes it a timely issue, and if I survive this experience more or less intact, other subjects may follow sporadically. Without further ado:

bq. Continue Reading “Milstuff for Dummies: Force Structure”

Posted by Winds of Change at 07:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2004

Hillary's stealth issue for '08

NewsMax offers a roundup of Hillary being to the “right” of Bush on immigration matters: “Hillary Eyeing Immigration as Top 2008 Issue”. There's no outright statement from her saying if she ran she'd make it a key part of her campaign, but some of the things she's said might make people think she's got that in mind. If she makes reducing illegal immigration a key part of her campaign, who would support her and who would oppose her?

On the opposition side would be the de facto left-right alliance that supports massive legal immigration and massive illegal immigration. You can see this alliance at work in the opposition to Arizona's Prop. 200 or in the categorized list of the 400 companies and organizations that support the AgJobs amnesty program. The members of this alliance include:

  • The media. They smear those who oppose illegal immigration as “nativists”, they write editorials supporting illegal aliens taking education dollars from U.S. citizens, they publish “pro-illegal immigration puff pieces”, they ignore the elephant in the room, and on and on.

  • Big business: banks, growers, money transfer companies, sweatshop operators, etc. etc. It's all about the “cheap” labor and the new consumers.

  • The Ethnic Industry. All of these are far-left, and many are quite simply anti-American. It includes college professors, politicians trying to increase their power by bringing in new constituents of the same race, and “grassroots” organizations like MALDEF, NCLR, and LULAC. Believe it or not, behind many of these groups you'll find Ford Foundation money. For instance, UCLA published a “study” advocating voting rights for illegal aliens. The school at UCLA it came from was founded by the Ford Foundation, and the “study” was written by a former president of MALDEF. MALDEF had been more or less created out of whole cloth by the Ford Foundation. (On the other side, 47% of Arizona Hispanics voted for Prop. 200)

  • Immigration lawyers. Here's a tangible example involving Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT). After reading about his funding, see this.

  • The government of Mexico. Partial control of our immigration system has been turned over to a foreign government; what Mexico wants is apparently more important than what American citizens want. For its part, Mexico receives almost as much from remittances (money sent home from workers in the U.S.) as it does from oil; remittances are Mexico's second greatest source of income. Even if someone is ignorant of our history with Mexico, it should come as no surprise that they claim part of our population as their own, they threaten us with civil unrest if they don't get their way, their agents criss-cross the U.S. selling ID cards to their citizens despite many or most of the recipients being here illegally and despite the FBI calling those ID cards a terrorist threat, and they are allowed to or encouraged to meddle in our laws.

  • Non-corrupt ideologues. A small percentage of Americans support illegal immigration despite not being paid to do so. Almost all of them are far- or very far-left. For a small example, see the comments here (especially those by 'm berst') or see this thread. Some libertarians support Open Borders, but even Michael Badnarik opposes illegal immigration despite supporting massive legal immigration.

What about the other side of the ledger?

Here's who Hillary would get support from:

  • The 75% of the American public who support a reduction of illegal immigration. (Pew PDF)

If handled correctly, I think she'd find that the support would far outweigh the opposition, despite the opposition's clout. For every member of the far left she lost, she'd gain at least one and probably more from the center or the right.

In the words of the Sacramento Bee's Daniel Weintraub:

I wouldn't be surprised if immigration became a major issue again, and it will happen overnight if we are attacked by terrorists who are found to have entered the country through the Mexican border. Right now both parties are reluctant to address it. The Democrats seem to believe that illegal immigration is really no different from legal immigration, and the Republicans are afraid that if they focus on it, they will suffer a backlash from Latino voters, as they did in the 1990s. I have always thought that a leader willing to take a calm, rationale look at illegal immigration while lauding legal immigrants would do fine. Seems to me that illegal immigrants hurt legal immigrants by “cutting in line” in front of those who are waiting and by bidding down wages in the entry level jobs that many legal immigrants hold as they try to climb up the economic ladder. Handled carefully, this should be an issue that appeals across party lines.

Posted by Lonewacko at 03:16 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 25, 2004

The Desolate Wilderness And The Fair Land

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is a day of traditions. Here's one of mine.

Each year since 1961, the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal has published the same two pieces on it's Op/Ed page—The Desolate Wilderness, an excerpt by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, describing what he and other Pilgrims saw in 1620—And The Fair Land, a piece by the Journal editorial board. My tradition has been to take time on Thanksgiving morning to read these pieces back to back, reflect on their meaning, and share them with others.

I now extend that tradition to my Command Post family. Enjoy.

The Desolate Wilderness

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other's heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them.

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

And the Fair Land

Anyone whose labors take him into the far reaches of the country, as ours lately have done, is bound to mark how the years have made the land grow fruitful.

This is indeed a big country, a rich country, in a way no array of figures can measure and so in a way past belief of those who have not seen it. Even those who journey through its Northeastern complex, into the Southern lands, across the central plains and to its Western slopes can only glimpse a measure of the bounty of America.

And a traveler cannot but be struck on his journey by the thought that this country, one day, can be even greater. America, though many know it not, is one of the great underdeveloped countries of the world; what it reaches for exceeds by far what it has grasped.

So the visitor returns thankful for much of what he has seen, and, in spite of everything, an optimist about what his country might be. Yet the visitor, if he is to make an honest report, must also note the air of unease that hangs everywhere.

For the traveler, as travelers have been always, is as much questioned as questioning. And for all the abundance he sees, he finds the questions put to him ask where men may repair for succor from the troubles that beset them.

His countrymen cannot forget the savage face of war. Too often they have been asked to fight in strange and distant places, for no clear purpose they could see and for no accomplishment they can measure. Their spirits are not quieted by the thought that the good and pleasant bounty that surrounds them can be destroyed in an instant by a single bomb. Yet they find no escape, for their survival and comfort now depend on unpredictable strangers in far-off corners of the globe.

How can they turn from melancholy when at home they see young arrayed against old, black against white, neighbor against neighbor, so that they stand in peril of social discord. Or not despair when they see that the cities and countryside are in need of repair, yet find themselves threatened by scarcities of the resources that sustain their way of life. Or when, in the face of these challenges, they turn for leadership to men in high places-only to find those men as frail as any others.

So sometimes the traveler is asked whence will come their succor. What is to preserve their abundance, or even their civility? How can they pass on to their children a nation as strong and free as the one they inherited from their forefathers? How is their country to endure these cruel storms that beset it from without and from within?

Of course the stranger cannot quiet their spirits. For it is true that everywhere men turn their eyes today much of the world has a truly wild and savage hue. No man, if he be truthful, can say that the specter of war is banished. Nor can he say that when men or communities are put upon their own resources they are sure of solace; nor be sure that men of diverse kinds and diverse views can live peaceably together in a time of troubles.

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere-in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

Posted by Alan at 07:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack