Peace through victory - the American way.

Monday, February 27, 2006

24 Becomes Farce And Risks Jumping The Shark

"Pray with me, Mike," says the President to his closest advisor in tonight's episode. This imitates an infamous episode in Richard Nixon's career when he supposedly asked Henry Kissinger to do the same. The moment in 24 felt wrong. Very wrong. Laughably wrong, even.

This entire season has teetered on the verge of the ridiculous. We've seen the President who just signed an anti-terrorism treaty agree to allowing two attacks by terrorists on the Los Angeles area. Both within one morning. The character of the President is a weak-willed man but his actions strain all credibility.

24 has always made it a point to portray Americans at the highest levels of government, business, and the military as conspiring with terrorists to carry out attacks against the United States. This year the writers have gone all the way and made the President a co-conspirator. Unwilling and coerced but a co-conspirator nonetheless.

The show has always required some suspension of disbelief but the events this season are pushing the limits. Even the show's trademark cliffhanger episode endings are starting to wear thin. It's beginning to remind a bit too much of an old-time Saturday serial ala The Purple Monster Strikes or Flash Gordon.

It's nice to see Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) acting again, however.



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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tutoring Adults In Reading.

San Diego's READ program held its annual awards banquet this evening. "READ/San Diego provides free tutoring services for adults 18 years of age and older in San Diego Public branch libraries as well as in partnership programs throughout the City and County." (Website here.) The tutors are volunteers.

Adult illiteracy is an expensive problem that costs the American economy $73 billion each year. Companies spend almost $17 billion each year on workers with low literacy skills. It is estimated that there are 93 million adults in the United States in need of some literacy assistance.

READ San Diego's annual banquet showcases the volunteers who give of themselves to help others learn. (Pictured at left is Lorraine Rankin after receiving her commendation for tutoring.) But the stars of the evening are the adult learners who had the courage, discipline, and work ethic to better themselves. (Pictured at right is Ranleigh Miller whose advances in reading have enabled him to obtain a better job so he can better support his wife and their new child. He now is able to read to his child. And his improved literacy has enabled him to learn to use a computer.)




Thursday, February 23, 2006

Moslems Bombing Mosques In Iraq.

The news in Iraq doesn't look good since the Shiite mosque was bombed. These Iragi blogs (here and here) are reporting from the ground. A few things are clear.

First, within Iraq it's as clear as it's ever been that the US should have killed Moqtada al-Sadr when it had the chance. The little creep is just plain trouble. Most of the violence against Sunnis appears concentrated in regions near where his thugs have their stronghold. Some enemies you co-opt, some you marginalize, and others you kill. Mookie falls in the third category. Can we do it now?

Second, the Sunni Arabs in Iraq made a huge mistake when they chose to let Zarqawi and his killers hide out within their communities. If the Shiites finally decide they've had enough the Sunni Arabs will have nobody but themselves to blame.

Third, on a broader scale, it's not Jews or Crusaders blowing up mosques. It's Moslems. The US has been careful not to make its war on terror a war against Islam. Shiites and Sunnis apparently have no qualms about fighting a religious war against each other. Mister Americano has long believed there is a multiparty civil war being fought within Islam. One conflict involves Sunnis against Shiites. That's apparently been going on for centuries. The other conflict involves Islamist extremists against moderates and has been fought for decades now throughout the Moslem world. This conflict is fought between Shiites and Sunnis and within the Shia and Sunni communities. Islam in the 21st Century is a mess and there's no getting around that fact.




Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why All the Fuss About Arabs Operating Our Ports?

Mister Americano doesn't know enough about the contract to the United Arab Emirates company to run America's ports but Mister Americano knows terrorism.

On the one hand, the UAE is an ally and we need to be able to trust our Moslem allies in this war. On the other hand, terrorism gets financed through UAE banks. On the other other hand, the UAE is the banking center of the Persian Gulf so it stands to reason that some money would pass through there and end up in terrorist hands.

On the one hand, the company is foreign owned. On the other hand, the employees at the ports are going to be American longshoreman.

It may not be a bad move for America to have the company get the contract although politically it's not such a good idea for the Bush Administration. Perhaps Karl Rove has a secret plan to get Democrats elected to Congress so President Bush can become a fiscal conservative and veto a spending bill for once.

But if the worry is terrorism the fuss seems to be much ado about nothing.

Mister Americano watches the TV show 24, so Mister Americano knows terrorism, and terrorists are rarely Arabs. In four seasons of 24 only one terrorist plot involved Moslem extremists and those apparently were Turks. But there is one thing that all the terrorist plots had in common: the involvement of rich white guys from the highest levels of American business, military, intelligence, and government, ready to sell out the United States for money, oil, racism, or perverted patriotism.

Maybe we're actually safer trusting our ports to an Arab ally than we would be if we put rich white American guys in charge.


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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Regime Change For Iran?

It's looking more and more that the United States is on a collision course with Iran. This story (here) underscores the conflict.
"The Bush administration, frustrated by Iranian defiance regarding its nuclear program, proposed yesterday to spend $85 million to promote political change inside Iran by subsidizing dissident groups, unions, student fellowships, and television and radio broadcasts."
This is a smart move. Even if Iran is viewed only as a nuclear proliferation problem, pushing regime change is wise.

The mullahs in Iran have made it clear that they want nuclear weapons. Inspections and testing can only go far in thwarting their ambition. Moreover, Iran, like any country, is entitled to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and then there would be no legal bar to Iran developing nuclear weapons.

The mullahs can't be trusted to give up their ambition to get nukes, and they can't be trusted once they get them. The safer solution is to ensure that the government in Iran can be trusted. Supporting democratic and peaceful regime change is a right step in that direction.


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Fighting A War Or Fighting Crime?

The West is divided in this war. One of the fault lines is over whether the War on Terror is a real war or a metaphorical war. This AP story published in the San Diego Union Tribune (here)shows how that divide played out recently in Germany.

After 9-11 the German government passed a law to permit hijacked planes to be shot down by the military as a last resort. The Federal Constitutional Court reviewed the law and struck it down.
"In its ruling, the court found the bill 'incompatible with the fundamental right to life and with the guarantee of human dignity' for innocent passengers on an aircraft.

It also found that allowing the military to shoot down civilian airliners violates a constitutional bar on the military being deployed for domestic security – except in natural disasters or after a particularly serious accident has happened."
First, the notion that the dignity of innocent passengers on a hijacked plane heading for destruction is violated if the passengers are killed by being shot down is ludicrous. The bill only authorized shooting down the plane as a last resort. In that circumstance, the passengers are going to die as victims of terrorism. Is it really more dignified to die in a successful terrorist attack or die by friendly fire that thwarts the terrorists.

As for the use of the military, the ruling makes some sense if a terrorist hijacking is viewed as a crime to be dealt with by law enforcement. In that case, there is no justification for using the military. But the ruling makes absolutely no sense if a terrorist hijacking is viewed as an act of war that the military should be able to defend against, even as a last resort.

If the West is going to win the war we're fighting at some point the idea that we're fighting a real war is going to have to sink in and become more widespread.


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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Might Western Impatience With Islam Lead To Total War?

The thing about Western democracies is they aren't patient. That impatience makes it hard to sustain a long shooting war. Democracies want their wars to be short. If a democracy is fully committed to what it is doing, it will fight brutally if that's what is needed to get the war over quickely. If not, it will find a way out of the war and abandon it.

The violent and unreasonable reaction against the Danish cartoons is leading to a tipping point in Western-Islam relations. Quite simply, the West is losing patience with Islam. General William Tecumseh Sherman famously said that 100,000 Southern men had to be killed to set the conditions for peace in the American Civil War. A similar situation may exist today within Islam.

Western impatience with the situation in the Islamic world is a very real threat. Time is running out for moderate Moslems to act. It's up to moderates to take their religion back from the extremists. Western impatience may lead the West to abandon the region and leave the moderates to fend for themselves. Given the strategic importance of the region that is not likely to happen.

Islamist extremists often refer to the Crusades in describing this war. Their desire is to have a war between the West and all of Islam. Western impatience may provide the Islamists what they want and teach them the meaning of the old cliche, "be careful what you wish for." The West is adept at total war and committed to waging it when necessary. The destruction of Europe during World War Two shows what Westerners are capable of when aroused.

The West has not yet decided that a total war is necessary because we still believe that the problem is not with Islam but with Islamist extremists. The day we stop believing that is the day we view the war the same way the Islamists do as a war between the West and all of Islam. The day the West views the war the same way the Islamists do is the day the West fully engages its war machine and begins to wage total war. It's up to moderate Moslems to prevent the coming of that day.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Baseball Love Affair Begins Again; Padres Fan Day At Petco Park

Spring training begins this week. To kick off the year, the San Diego Padres opened Petco Park to the fans over the weekend, allowing them to tour inside the home team clubhouse and also to go onto the field.

It's a long walk to the locker room through a large industrial looking tunnel.
One of the first rooms in the team clubhouse is the weight room. One player was there working out.
Further down the hall are the locker rooms. First up is the small staff locker. Notice the folding chairs.A little further on and higher up the status ladder is the locker room for the coaches. A bit bigger and a bit more luxurious.Manager Bruce Bochy has his own office.But the kings of baseball are the players. It shows in the players' locker room, a large and luxurious room. Not pictured is their private kitchen just off the locker room.
Down some stairs and a short tunnel is the dugout. Here's a view of the field the players see from the dugout. Cardboard Khalil Greene was posed for pictures this day on the first base line.
Here are two views of the outfield from around home plate.
These views shows why it's so hard to hit homeruns to right and center field in San Diego. Left field is noticably closer, which helps explain why the Padres have gone after right-handed power hitters over the off-season. Why those players are all in the last years of their career is another story.

Here's a view of home plate from right center field, 401 feet away.Last year this fence was 411 feet away. The team decided to bring it in to make the park play more "fair." The hometown sluggers complained the past two years about how hard it was to hit homeruns to right center. Opposing teams didn't seem to have the same trouble, however.

The gap in left field is 358 feet. This sign, and all the billboards on the outfield fences, are soft and padded.Keep that in mind the next time a player crashes into one trying to catch a fly ball.

Fans were not allowed to walk on the infield or outfield grass but they were allowed to run the bases. Here's the view of second base.The foot looks larger in person.
Fans were also allowed to throw pitches in the visiting team's bullpen. It's not as easy as it looks. Mister Americano threw four pitches, not a strike among them, and one pitch went down that runway about 5 feet off the plate.We'll never criticize a politician's lame attempt to throw out a first pitch ever again.


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Monday, February 13, 2006

Al Gore Sucks Up To Saudis.

Apparently, it's not just the Bush family who is cozy with the Saudis. How else to explain this AP story that describes former Vice-President Al Gore's bottom-kissing speech in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia? (Here.)

The former VP took the occasion of this speech to slam the American government's actions in the War on Terror in front of a foreign audience, on foreign soil, in a country where most of the 9/11 hijackers originated. In the speech he recited the usual litany of complaints about abuses of Arabs after 9/11, and told his audience that Americans did not support the Bush Administration's tactics. And then he apparently came out in favor of increased Saudi immigration to the United States and not enforcing America's immigration laws.
"He said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaeda's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications. Gore said Arabs in the United States had been 'indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable.'"

The man's personal animus against the current President, and his bitterness at being thwarted in his attempt to steal the election in Florida in 2000, has driven him off the deep end. The man should be ashamed of himself.


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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Who Would Jesus Bomb Is The Wrong Question.

Mister Americano saw a bumper sticker this morning on the back of a Volvo that read: "Who would Jesus bomb?" Admittedly, Jesus probably wouldn't bomb anybody. Unfortunately for smart-ass peaceniks, Jesus has a Dad.

Call him Yahweh, Jehoveh, or just plain God, whatever. You may have read about him. He's the God of the Old Testament and he's never been a God who is shy about having his followers wage war on their enemies. We're not talking namby-pamby wars that end with an armistice or truce, a peace treaty, or even surrender and occupation. No, we're talking wars of genocide and conquest. He's a "kill them all and I'll sort them out" kind of God.

So, who would Jesus bomb? Maybe nobody. But that doesn't matter because Jesus is a good Son obedient to his Father. The real question is, who would God the Father bomb? In today's world, there are plenty of targets.


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Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Rebirth Of America Is Less Than One Week Away.

Pitchers and catchers report for spring training starting next week. (Here.) Yes!



Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Old Media To Readers And Viewers: Get Your Information Elsewhere.

The Mohammed cartoon controversy has revealed that the internet can be a better source of news than old media. Anyone interested in this subject knows that to see what the fuss is all about you have to go the internet to find the images. Most media in the United States have chosen not to publish the cartoons. The editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune gave this explanation in her paper today. (Here.)
"Karin Winner, editor of The San Diego Union-Tribune, said, 'The issue of the cartoons brings into focus one of the most difficult decisions that editors have to make. Is our primary responsibility to print everything, regardless of who may be offended, or to show restraint and invite criticism from those who would accuse us of hiding the truth?'

She added, 'Right now, my concern for our Muslim community overrides the news value of publishing any of the cartoons. The cartoons have been well-described in these pages over the past few days.'"

Granted the images have been "well-described." But there's an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

It's not possible to understand what the fuss is all about without viewing images. For instance, not all the cartoons are offensive. Those that are offensive are no more offensive to Mister Americano's eye than many political cartoons published in newspapers every day. Others may disagree. But how can anybody make a decision on that without seeing the images? Describing the cartoons without showing them deprives readers of the opportunity to decide for themselves the relative offensiveness of the images.

American media who have decided to privilege sensitivity over publication of the images, have all but told their readers and viewers to go somewhere else for the information they need. So, if you haven't already, follow this link and see for yourself what the fuss is all about.


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Moslem Cartoon Publication Not An Either-Or Event In War On Terror.

Hugh Hewitt continues his criticism today of the Danish newspaper's decision to publish the cartoons that have offended Moslems around the world. He continues to view the publication through a black and white, either-or lens. It's clear that he views the publication as a major mistake that gave a victory to the Islamist extremists we are fighting in this war. (Here.)

As we argued before, this cartoon controversy both hinders and benefits our war effort. It gave propaganda ammunition to our enemy. But it also illuminated once again the nature of the enemy and made clear the consequences of defeat to our freedoms, which will strengthen our resolve to fight this war, it smoked out the enemy within, and it has forced moderate Moslems, once again, to face the fact that Islamist extremists have tarred the image of Islam and that they, the moderates, have to do something about it. Moderate Moslems are not prepared to go to war against the West over this incident. The people who are, we were fighting already. (Read our views in full here and here.)

Several days ago Hewitt chastised bloggers for viewing the issue too simply and not understanding that the issue transcends "either-or" thinking.
"Many commentators want to define the debate as an either/or choice between the cartoonists and the jihadists. That's not the debate at all, and suggests an inability to grasp the real complexity here. It is not only consistent but compelling to both demand that the jihadists who threaten the press or who burn embassies be defeated and to also conclude that the cartoon fiasco was an unnecessary and expensive diversion from the central confrontation with the jihadists."

As Hewitt said this is not an "either-or" situation. Some of us have tried to go beyond that simple dichotomy. It would be useful if Hewitt would examine in more depth whether the publication and the ensuing controversy is solely a victory for the jihadists.


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A Measure Of Good News About Iraq.

A member of Iraq's democratically elected parliament is visiting San Diego. Yonadam Kanna spoke at a public event and gave an upbeat assessment of conditions in his home country. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on the story.
"As part of his 10-day trip, he's meeting with Iraqis around the United States to give his viewpoint on the prognosis for his country. San Diego County has the third-highest population of Iraqis in the country, behind Detroit and Chicago.

'The picture you have here is not correct,' he told about 300 people. 'Today Iraq is free without Saddam and even small Saddams.'

Although he couldn't give a timetable, Kanna said he believes that U.S. troops will soon not be needed to provide security in Iraq's major cities.

'For sure in the coming weeks or months, you will see the withdrawal of forces,' Kanna said.

He said economic conditions have improved in Iraq, noting that police officers and teachers who used to be paid only $30 per month now receive $300 monthly.

'We are on the way as a free economy,' he said.

Kanna said he hopes to set up Iraqi consulates in Chicago, Detroit and San Diego, and help Iraqis who fled their homeland recover property confiscated under Hussein."
Read more here.


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Monday, February 06, 2006

Nice Tribute to UC Berkeley On Tonight's 24

In tonight's episode the terrorists from the unidentified former Soviet republic had to call a nerve gas expert. CTU monitored the call and a photo and bio of the expert flashed on a computer monitor. Not for long, but long enough to see that he graduated from UC Berkeley in 1970. The headquarters of 60s radicalism. A nice little touch by the producers.



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Publishing Offensive To Islam Cartoons Is Not A Causus Belli.

Hugh Hewitt continues his criticism of the Danish newspaper's publication of the cartoons that have offended Moslems. (Here.) He believes most of the debate misses the main point and wants these questions answered.
"The debate begins with these questions: Are we at war with Islam? Do you want a war with Islam?
My answers and the answers of any sensible person ought to be "no," and "no." I'd like to see blogggers who are opining on the caroons answer these questions up front."

The answer to these questions of course is "no" and "no." Hewitt is right about that but wrong about the issue. Publication of the cartoons is not a cause for war. The people offended enough to go to war over these cartoons are the people the West is already fighting.

No reasonable moderate Moslem offended by the cartoons would want to go to war with the West over the publication. Moderate Moslem clerics agree. (Here.)
"'Regretfully, the march did more harm to the prophet than it did good,' said Sunni Sheik Ibrahim Ibrahim, who was in the crowd. He said he and others tried to stop the mob, but 'we got stones and insults.'
"Lebanon's most senior Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, issued an edict banning violence, saying it 'harms Islam and Prophet Muhammad the same as the others (the publishers of the cartoons) did.'"

According to a recent blog post at The Mesopotamian by a self-described devout Moslem in Iraq, Sistani himself has criticized the protests against the cartoons. The blogger is rightly offended by the cartoons but is not willing to side with Islamist terrorists. He comes to the same conclusion Mister Americano reached (here) that moderate Moslems would be better directing their rage at the Islamist terrorists who have hijacked their religion and made it synonymous in the mind of many Westerners with terrorism.
"In this respect I would like to draw attention to the statement issued by the venerable Al-Sistani, who while deprecating the blasphemous sacrilege, nevertheless clearly lays the blame on the extremists and Takfiris for the harm done to the image of Islam in the World, and need I remind you of the religious status of Al-Sistani. The rage of the Islamic world would be far more appropriate if it is directed against those who blow up mosques during prayer time, kidnap murder and torture innocent travelers, and all the other repertoire of atrocities committed in the name of Islam, It is this that is the real blasphemy and real affront to the name and reputation of our religion and its great founder the Prohpet (PBU), and not some silly cartoons in an obscure Danish paper that nobody would have noticed were it not for this artificial uproar of which the real agenda and purpose is all too apparent."

Alliances are a two-way street. The West must be allied with moderate Moslems against Islamist terrorists. The West owes moderate Moslems due regard for their feelings. But moderate Moslems owe the West due regard for the freedoms we enjoy.




Sunday, February 05, 2006

How Publishing The Offensive-To-Islam Cartoons Both Helped And Hurt The War Effort.

There are a host of issues swirling around the offensive-to-Islam cartoons controversy. Hugh Hewitt (here) believes one issue is paramount.
"But the central issue is largely unaddressed: Does the press in the West owe the war effort against the jihadists nothing, or even anything at all? The jihadists are hungry for information and for propaganda. If the West's media is eager to supply either or both, there isn't much anyone can do to stop that supply --nor should there be-- except via careful reminders to responsible journalists that there's a war on, and everything that is printed is part of that war.
"Many commentators want to define the debate as an either/or choice between the cartoonists and the jihadists. That's not the debate at all, and suggests an inability to grasp the real complexity here. It is not only consistent but compelling to both demand that the jihadists who threaten the press or who burn embassies be defeated and to also conclude that the cartoon fiasco was an unnecessary and expensive diversion from the central confrontation with the jihadists."
Earlier in his post Hewitt gives evidence for his conclusion that the cartoons have hurt the war effort.
I see that Jordan's King Abdullah visited some areas in Mississippi and Louisiana that were hammered by Katrina.

And in Lebanon, it looks like the Syrian secret police got their hat trick when it comes to burned embassies.

There are allies and enemies of the United States among the nations that are home to most of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims.

Jordan is an ally; Syria is an enemy. Did the cartoons help Jordan or Syria?

Hewitt raises an excellent question about whether the Western press tends to help or hurt the war against the jihadists. First, if the Moslem reaction to the cartoons causes publishers to think about consequences to the war before they publish something that will be a good thing. The press could use an injection of responsibility.

But the answer to the question of whether the cartoons helped or hurt the war effort is both yes and no.

The harm to the war effort is as obvious as the enraged demonstrators in Europe and the Middle East and the destruction they have wrought. Publishing the cartoons gave the Islamist terrorist leaders a weapon to use against the West and an issue to rouse their rabble. There's no sugarcoating the propaganda victory the cartoons handed to the jihadists.

But there is a benefit too. The benefit to the war effort is the addition of clarity to the conflict and the tendency of that clarity to push Europe and America closer together.

Publishing the cartoons helped to smoke out the Islamist enemy within Europe. Weeks of Moslem youths rioting in France could not convince most Europeans of the threat posed by radical Islam to European identity. But the reaction of Moslems in Europe who carried signs during demonstrations that said the blasphemers of Islam should be beheaded, among other hateful messages, appears to be waking up some Europeans.

This global war on terror is actually a war against Islamist extremism. It's a long ideological war. Democracies have a hard time maintaining the will to fight long wars. It benefits Western democracies in a long war to be reminded once in a while of the nature of the enemy and the stakes of the conflict.

Opponents of the war often mock President Bush's claim that the Islamist terrorists hate us for our freedoms. The enraged reaction of extremist Moslems to the mere publication of offensive words and images is a brutal reminder to weak-willed Westerners that our enemy does hate our freedoms and that if they were to win, they would take those freedoms away from us. That reminder helps the war effort because it carries the potential to strengthen the West's resolve to win.

Moderate Moslems stuck in the middle have the hardest decision to make. They are going to have to decide for themselves at whom to be angrier: the offensive cartoonists who tar Islam and Mohammed as violent terrorists; the Islamist terrorists who commit barbaric acts of violence in the name of Allah; or their fellow Moslems whose violent reaction to the cartoons helps to prove the cartoonists' point.




FISA's 72 Hours Of Free Wiretapping Myth.

A difficulty in understanding the National Security Agency's inernational communications eavesdropping controversy is the lack of clear and precise information on what is being done and the requirements of the law. One fact regularly raised as an argument against the NSA surveillance is the "72 hours of free wiretapping before a warrant need be sought" meme. Commenters regularly bring up this provision of FISA to suggest that the NSA can wiretap anybody willy nilly and then go to court 3 days later to get a warrant to justify the surveillance ex post facto.

It turns out the provision is not as generous to the NSA as the meme suggests. The San Diego Union Tribune published an interview on Sunday, February 5, 2006, of Air Force General Michael Hayden. (Here.) Hayden "is the highest ranking military intelligence officer in the U.S. military and the first to serve in the newly created post of principal deputy director of national intelligence. He was director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005."

Here's what he has to say about the 72 hour provision:
"First, I need to get a statement of fact out. Under the FISA statute, NSA cannot put someone on coverage and go ahead and play for 72 hours while it gets a note saying it was OK. The attorney general is the one who approves emergency FISA coverage, and the attorney general's standard for approving FISA coverage is a body of evidence equal to that which he would present to the court."



The Misdirected Rage In The Mohammed Islam Cartoon Fuss.

These are the caricatures of Mohammed (here) that have caused all the violent outrage among Moslems and sparked a debate about the parameters of free speech.

It's true that publishers need to be responsible when they exercise their right to free expression. Some have taken the Danish publisher to task for needlessly inflaming moderate Moslems, who we need on our side in the war against Islamist terrorists. (See here.) But the cartoons that sparked the outrage are fairly typical political cartoons and well within the mainstream of political discourse. The Danish newspaper was not irresponsible to publish them.

If these cartoons are enough to elicit the kind of rage we've seen among Moslems then we've got a serious problem with co-existence. Moslem-majority countries are free to limit the right of free expression within their borders in a way that prevents people from depicting Muhammed, either critically or positively. They aren't free to dictate the scope of freedoms enjoyed by people living in Moslem-minority countries.

If Moslems are going to live in countries where they aren't a majority, they are going to have to get used to living with a little sacrilege now and then and learn the techniques of peaceful protest: writing letters, organizing boycotts, peaceful demonstrations; arson, trespass, shooting guns into the air, threats of beheadings, and the rest are not acceptable. Grow a skin. Fortunately, American Moslems apparently have done just that. Many European Moslems apparently haven't.

Frankly, it's hard to understand just what the rage is all about. The cartoons are pretty mild and not all of them are critical of Islam or Mohammed.

Two cartoons are most often mentioned as offensive: one depicts Mohammed's turban as a bomb and the other shows Mohammed in heaven telling a line of suicide bombers to stop because heaven has run out of virgins. There is no doubt that these two cartoons are offensive to Moslems. But both cartoons are based on a real public perception of Islam.

Who has not heard that suicide bombers are greeted in heaven by 72 virgins? The virgins cartoon is a pointed mockery of that belief. It's not a mockery of Islam, it's a mockery of a truly ridiculous notion apparently held in all seriousness by people who blow up themselves and innocent civilians. As for the bomb turban cartoon, Moslem terrorist bombers today justify their violence as a religious duty to fight a holy war. They have made the bomb synonymous with Islam. They are the ones who have symbolically turned Mohammed's turban into a bomb. The cartoon simply reflects what Islamist terrorists have done to the image of Islam in the world.

Moslem apologists will often tell the rest of us that Islam is a religion of peace and that jihad is a personal struggle not holy war. They are talking to the wrong people. They should be talking to their fellow Moslems who pervert their religion and tar it with a violent image. As long as terrorists commit barbaric acts of violence in the name of Mohammed and Islam, no amount of public relations is going to convince others that jihad is not the Arab word for holy war or that Islam is not a religion of war.

Think about it, when non-Moslems think of Islam today are they likely to think of peace and of people struggling within themselves to do the right thing? Of course not. Tragically, the images likely to come to mind when thinking of Islam today are suicide bombers, thugs yelling "Allah is great" while beheading helpless civilians, planes crashing into buildings, and other acts of terrorism in the modern world.

Unfortunately, the image of contemporary Islam has been dirtied by terrorists who commit barbaric acts of violence in the name of Islam and of Mohammed. The offensive cartoons bluntly depict that reality.

If rank and file Moslems are offended by the depictions in these cartoons, it's time for them to alter the image of contemporary Islam. It's time for them to direct their rage at terrorists who act in the name of Islam. It's time for them to tell the terrorists that jihad doesn't mean holy war. It's time for them to tell the terrorists that Islam is not a religion of war. It's time for them to take back their religion so that cartoonists will have no basis for drawing cartoons that associate Islam and Mohammed with terrorist violence.




Friday, February 03, 2006

The President's Admission Of Dark Days Ahead.

President's Bush's State of the Union address contained this passage:
"Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world."
After that passage he introduced his plan to develop alternative fuels to run our homes, factories, and automobiles. Fuels that we have here in the US that will free us from depending too much on foreign sources.

The rhetoric of "addiction" is nonsense. America is not addicted to oil. Oil is the fuel we use to run our civilization. We may use more than anybody else and depending on your politics that either means we waste it or we just produce more than anybody else. America is no more addicted to oil than humans are addicted to food.

Leaving that aside, the key phrase in the President's quote is "which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." That the President makes this statement, and then proposes we free ourselves from relying on imports from those regions, is an admission that the Middle East will get worse in the near term before it gets better. Something that is obvious to any reasonably aware observer.



War Is Sometimes The Answer

The unresolved situation in Iraq has caused a steep decline among Americans to support the war. Despite the difficulties faced in Iraq and the failure to find evidence of WMDs, Americans appear willing to go to war with Iran to stop the mullahs from obtaining a nuke. (Zogby poll here.)
"The comprehensive new Zogby poll shows that 64% of respondents favor joint U.S.-European military intervention to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and 63% favor joint military action with the United Nation to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Another 47% would support unilateral military action by the U.S. against Iran."

The lesson Americans seem to have learned from the liberation of Iraq is that when military action is necessary it should be done multilaterally not alone. Americans still embrace the need for war in some circumstances. Given the dangerous times we live in, the resolve of the American people is encouraging. If Iran's government doesn't back down, we will be in some kind of shooting war with them by year's end and it won't be without popular support in the US.



Jimmy Carter's Hamas Humbug

Former President Jimmy Carter appeared on Larry King Live the other day and talked a bit about the Palestinian elections. (Transcript here.) For a man whose name is synonymous with respecting the rule of law he showed an astonishingly breezy disregard for it.
KING: What do you do when you want a democracy, a this country would like all countries to be democratic, and in a democratic election they elect someone you don't like?

CARTER: Well, obviously if you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world then when people make their own decision about their leaders I think that all the government should recognize that administration and let them form the government as decided by the people themselves. If there are prohibitions, for instance, like in the United States against giving any money to a government that is controlled by Hamas, then the United States could channel the same amount of money to the Palestinian people through the United Nations, through the refugee fund, through UNICEF and things of that kind.

So, I hope that the people of Palestine who already suffer, as you know, under Israeli occupation, will not suffer because they're deprived of a right to pay the schoolteachers, the policemen, their welfare workers, the health workers and provide food for people. So, that's what I hope that it won't cost the Palestinian people their quality of life.
There you have it. In Mr. Carter's view the recent decision by the Palestinian people to elect a terrorist organization into government should have no consequence for them. The Palestinians can elect whomever they want and the rest of the world not only has to recognize that government, they have to continue their policies with respect to the Palestinians as if nothing has changed. In this view, elections don't really matter.

Sure, he would accept the United States respecting form by not sending money directly to Hamas, but he suggests we evade the substance of the law by continuing to send an identical sum of money to the UN for distribution to the Palestinian people directly. How this can be done and avoid Hamas is not explained. But the more important question that Mr. Carter simply ignores is why this should be done when the Palestinians freely and knowingly chose Hamas to govern them.

It's not as if the Palestinians are powerless subjects of a dictatorship that gives them no voice in their own affairs, like the North Koreans or the Cubans. No, the Palestinians just voted a new government into power in free and fair elections.

If the Palestinians "suffer because they're deprived of a right to pay the schoolteachers, the policemen, their welfare workers, the health workers and provide food for people" as a result of this election and a cutoff of funds from the West, well, that's their problem and they brought it on themselves by choosing anti-Semitic genocide over co-existence with Israel. The West should let them suffer the consequences of that choice.

Not that they'll suffer much from a cutoff of Western money. Their Arab brothers will open their fat petro-dollar filled wallets. And when they do, that will tell us a lot about whether they support co-existence with Israel or driving the Jews into the sea.