Friday, July 29, 2005

Touch But Don't Look

Democrats are worried that teenagers are viewing porn. Their solution? A new tax. It is unclear quite how this will keep kids from accessing the sites, but that is not the point. Democrats want to be seen as concerned about child access to pornography (not to be confused with child pornography).

A week ago Hillary Clinton led the charge against Grand Theft Auto - an ultra violent game that, when some special codes are entered, also has an explicit sex scene. Again, th worry is that young teens will see some sex.

Reportedly this is the new strategy to fight the Republicans.

Too bad Democrats are so inconsistent. The same people who want to shield teens from seeing sex have no objections to them having sex.

Consider their objections to abstinence-based sex ed. They insist that the kids are/will have sex anyway so we must not tell them that this is bad.

What about abortion for teens? Democrats are all for this. No parental notification needed. I've always been a bit puzzled by this attitude. It's not like a girl can skip the abortion and hide the pregnancy (ok, it can happen but it is rare). They must be afraid that a these girls will not have an abortion. I've complained before about some people actually being for abortion in all cases.

Anyway, the Democrats are against teens viewing sex without their parents' permission but they insist that we assume the kids are having sex and that we make it easy to hide pregnancies.

I don't think that this is their magic bullet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's All Relative

When I was growing up it was generally taught that America was the best country in the world. We are the world's oldest and most successful democracy with freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. We have a working separation of powers between the different branches of government. Our model as a melting pot successfully integrated people from nations that had warred on each other for centuries.

In the late 1960s, during the Viet Nam war things changed. Cultural relativism came in. America's faults were suddenly discovered and magnified.

By the time my daughter was in grade school they were teaching that the relocation of Japanese Americans during WWII was the same as the Holocaust. Never mind that we gave our prisoners food, shelter, and weekend passes while the Nazis starved and gassed the Jews.

In 1992 we hammered over the head with stories about how good the Indians were compared with the rapacious western civilization that displaced them.

We are constantly reminded that several signatories to the Declaration of Independence owned slaves.

American colonialism is the root of all of the world's ills, even in former European colonies.

And of course, there is the Bush = Hitler mantra of the far left.

The reason I brought this up is a column by Andrew Barnes printed in the July 23 Columbus Dispatch. Barnes was writing about religion. He started with his own Christian upbringing and contrasted that with today's Christians (a standard rhetorical trick). He then went on to complain that people who argue for policy changes based on religious morality are not open to compromises like normal people.

Then he said that Christians who desire social change are exactly the same as violent Islamic terrorists, only their methods are different.

Funny, I thought that only Republicans and Sith Lords dealt in black and white. What happened to nuance? Did Barnes really mean to equate organized religion's support for civil rights with the Taliban?

Regardless, it's not what they want that is the problem. Constitutional freedoms allow for Christians to argue against abortion and for Moslems to argue for the establishment of Sharia as long as they follow the proper forms. It's when you start blowing people up that you have crossed the line.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Other 9/11

It's hard to know what to make of this story. Someone was just convicted in India of being part of a plot to hyjack two planes and crash them into London landmarks on September 11, 2001.

AN INDIAN man was jailed in Bombay yesterday for plotting to fly passenger jets into the House of Commons and Tower Bridge in London on September 11, 2001.

Mohammed Afroze was sentenced to seven years after he admitted that he had a role in an al-Qaeda plot to attack London, the Rialto Towers building in Melbourne and the Indian Parliament.

[...] Afroze admitted that he and seven al-Qaeda operatives planned to hijack aircraft at Heathrow and fly them into the two London landmarks. The suicide squad included men from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afroze said. They booked seats on two Manchester-bound flights, but fled just before they were due to board.
Here's the part that makes me wonder:

Mr Solker said that police from Britain, Australia and the US had been to India to see evidence against Afroze, but had not requested extradition.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bad Timing

Recently the anti-war left got a boost with the publication of a new book, Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. This book purports to be the first in-depth look at suicide bombers from 1980 to the present. Among the findings:

FACT: Suicide terrorism is not primarily a product of Islamic fundamentalism.

FACT: The world's leading practitioners of suicide terrorism are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka - a secular, Marxist-Leninist group drawn from Hindu families.

FACT: Ninety-five percent of suicide terrorist attacks occur as part of coherent campaigns organized by large militant organizations with significant public support.

FACT: Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.

FACT: Al-Qaeda fits the above pattern. Although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se, one major objective of al-Qaeda is the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Persian Gulf region, and as a result there have been repeated attacks by terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden against American troops in Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole.

FACT: Despite their rhetoric, democracies–including the United States–have routinely made concessions to suicide terrorists. Suicide terrorism is on the rise because terrorists have learned that it’s effective.
This book has been getting a lot of buzz. Last week it was the basis of articles in the Columbus Dispatch and Slate.

This book is just what the anti-war left wanted to hear. According to it, we are not fighting a religious war. We are actually in a struggle against a nationalist movement to reclaim a country from the government left behind when the Europeans retreated from their colonies.

Framed this way, the whole war against terror is exactly like Viet Nam. These are all loaded terms used by the left to describe the Viet Nam War.

The trouble is that it doesn't match the most recent bombings in England or Egypt.

In England the chief suspects were born in England. As Fareed Zakaria points out
Nor can foreign policy really explain such rage. The invasion of Iraq clearly has greatly enraged many Muslims, radicalizing some deeply. But can a disagreement over foreign policy really make a Briton like Germaine Lindsay, who had never even visited Iraq, kiss his pregnant wife and child goodbye and go out and blow himself and others up?
Where are the clearly defined goals in these bombing? Britain was a leading partner in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq but Egypt was against both.

Al Qaeda has always had the opposite of clear goals. They never claimed credit for September 11. The FBI had to figure it out and many people still don't believe that they did it.

A terrorist group with clear goals immediately takes credit for their actions and gives a list of demands that will stop further acts. We know in general what bin Laden's goals are from statements that he has made but he has been very poor about making concrete demands. The closest he came was a couple of years ago when he offered a truce for any European country that pulled out of Iraq - a truce that was quickly broken when Spanish authorities discovered further plots even after they recalled their troops.

All of this should seem self-obvious but people were accepting Dying to Win anyway.

It's hard to imagine this continuing after the last three bombings. Had terrorism been confined to Iraq and the Middle East in general then Democrats would have started the 2006 Congressional campaign saying that all we need to do is withdraw our troops and terrorism will stop. Once the Viet Nam parallel is fixed, this is inevitable. The Domino Theory did not happen therefore the spread of terrorism will not happen.

But they can only say this as long as the bombs are limited to Iraq. Once the bombs started going off in Europe and Egypt this whole argument evaporated.

We are still left wondering what al Qaeda's goals are? It isn't getting US troops out of Saudi Arabia. We pulled most of our troops some time ago.

It's not just Iraq either, or if it is then we have a positive connection between the bombers and Saddam.

It might be about revenge for overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Too bad Kerry identified this as the "right" war (if Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time then Afghanistan must have been the right one).

But probably it is because they hate us - our permissive culture and democratically elected government.

UPDATE: This article explains that Egypt is a target for having a generally pro-western government. Egypt was the first Moslum country to make peace with Israel and it accepts hugh amounts of foreign aid from the US. This is at odds with the concept that al Qaeda is after specific political goals and in line with the concept that they are generally at war with the West.

UPDATE II: Jane Fonda is going on an anti-Iraq war bus tour.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The New Marxism

Fareed Zarakia was on the Daily Show last night talking about the London bombings. One comment he made got me to thinking. He was talking about the disaffected youth being attracted to al Qaida and mentioned that not so long ago they would have been attracted to Marxism.

There are several parallels that can be made between Marxism and the militant version of Islam sometimes called islamofascism.

A big one is their total disregard for innocent life. To their adherents, both movements are more important than any individual's life or even any group of individuals.

Both want to set up a utopia with a dictatorial central government. Both believe that this must be a violent revolution vs the French Revolution.

Both attract disaffected young men from middle class families in industrialized nations. Much has been made of the nationalities of the 9/11 hijackers but most of them grew up in Europe. The number of terrorists with connections to Britain is surprising. More big-name bombers and attempted bombers are British than Saudi.

Both see their cause as inevitable.

Both movements intend to make mainstream religions subservient. Under Marxism, religion is discouraged. Under islamofascism, only the Suni version of Islam is allowed.

Both movements have charismatic but sociopathic leaders. Both Che and bin Laden are immortalized on t-shirts.

When implemented, neither movement has been the utopia that was promised. I think that the USSR was the world's longest-lived communist country and it finally fell apart from economic stress. The Taliban embodies islamofascism and Afghanistan was a wretched place under the Taliban.

Both movements see the combination of democracy and free market embodied by the US as weak and decadent.

There are significant differences in content between the two movements. Marxism is a political movement with atheism as its official religion while Islamofascism is a religious movement with the goal of recreating the Caliphate to handle politics.

On the surface the two are distinct. Marxism is open to all but Islamofascism is only open to Muslims. This difference vanishes when you take conversion into account. For example, Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was a convert.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, Marxism has declined. Many who would have been Marxists are affiliated with the Greens or various anarchist groups, or both. While they believe in violence, they tend to smash windows and burn buildings under construction and they are not part of an actual armed revolution.

It is likely that there will always be disaffected youths and that in wealthy nations, there will be enough to take up the cause of violent revolution. When viewed in this light, there can be no resolution with the terrorists. They are not as interested in building something new as with tearing down the old.


How often have you heard someone from the left say, "I supported the war in Afghanistan but not Iraq." This article points out that the overthrow of Afghanistan enraged Moslums at least as much as Iraq. Also, the bombers from July were from Leeds, not Bagdad.

Glenn Reynolds quotes Australian prime minister John Howard's response to questions about links between the London bombings and the invasion of Iraq.

Both point out how difficult it is to retire from the war on terror. The radicals have lots of greivances against us, many of them pre-dating George Bush.

Even the radical member of Parliament, George Galloway found himself in trouble during his most recent campaign. A group of radical Muslems burst into his room and threatened him for participating in democracy. When we say that they hate our freedoms, democracy is high on the list. It has been singled out by bin Laden and others as an obomination.

Thomas Fiedman wrote a recent column pointing out that, while Islam has a long history of tolerating other religions, Islam has always had the power. Believers in other religions had to pay tribute and otherwise respect Islam.

The point is that radical Islam declared war on us independently of anything that George Bush or Tony Blair ever did to provoke them.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Court Fight

Less than 24 hours after Bush announced his first candidate for the Supreme Court, announced a Stop Robert campaign. Originally their web site simply labeled Roberts a "conservative." After reflection, they stepped this up. Now Roberts is a "right-wing lawyer and corporate lobbyist." An entry quoted in the Daily Kos says why they took this tack:

Blasting Roberts as a corporate lawyer is an excellent smear tactic. People hate lawyers. They dislike and mistrust big corporations. It also conveniently happens to be true -- just as it was literally true that John Kerry is an upper crust Bostonian married to a woman with a fuckload of dough. Sliming Roberts as a corporate lawyer is probably more effective than attacking him for his views on abortion or other social issues, since a.) the paper trail is better and b.) it can be used as a wedge to separate him from some of his socially conservative but downwardly mobile supporters.
The big question is why are they doing this? By all accounts, Roberts is one of the best qualified nominees possible. He may be conservative, and this is not settled, but he is not likely to be a crusading conservative.

Roe v Wade will not be affected. Most court watchers counted six votes for upholding Roe including O'Conner. At most this would make the vote 5-4 in favor.

Probably all of this is just going through the motions. MoveOn and the Democrats have been saying for years that we had to give them money to either keep Bush out of the White House or keep him from appointing conservative judges. Never mind that Clinton got to appoint liberal judges, Bush cannot be allowed to appoint conservative ones.

So Bush picked a compromise candidate. Lieberman admits that he has no objection and that will probably go for enough Democrats in the Senate to prevent a filibuster.

But these groups raised all of this money for a fight. If they don't demonize Roberts and fight him as hard as they can they will not get any money for the next fight. They are stuck going through the motions.

This will not help the left in the long-run. They are likely to lose. Bush picked a non-controversial candidate. There is no real dirt on him, at least none that turned up in the last 48 hours. They can try to manufacture some.

If they succeed they will get the Republicans really upset. After all, this is a compromise candidate.

If they lose they will upset their constituency, the people who selected Howard Dean because they want to see Republican blood.

Meanwhile, Ann Coulter is upset that Roberts is not conservative enough.
But unfortunately, other than that, we don't know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever
Funny thing - in the same column she lists Justice Thomas as a good justice. He was the ultimate stealth candidate. He refused to give his views on anything during his confirmation. That's why the left resorted to painting him as a sexual predator.

But then maybe Coulter is mad because she wasn't nominated. She actually is qualified and anyone would look next to her.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reverting to Form

London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, surprised me on July 7 when he condemned the terrorist bombing in London. Livingstone is known as Red Ken because of his politics which tend to support Palestinian terrorists over Israel.

Red Ken returned to form in a recent statement in which he blamed the bombing on the war in Iraq and on "... 80 years of Western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of a Western need for oil."

Ken's view of history overlooks a few important events such as World War II and the Cold War. Surly Ken is not going to blame current governments for Hitler's capture of the Arabian Peninsula as he drove into Africa. It is true that we supported several corrupt governments but the worst excesses were during the Cold War when tin-pot tyrants could take bids on which side would give them a better aid package.

As for the war in Iraq, it is an unknowable. Yes, the terrorists say that this is their motivation now but the shoe-bomber claimed that the sanctions on Iraq motivated him and no one ever made an official statement on what inspired September 11.

The punchline of a recent Doonsbury is that they hate us for our freedom.

Since Bush said it, it must be self-evidently false. Right?

Except they really do consider democracy an abomination to say nothing of Western culture which encourages all sorts of things banned by the Koran.

Would the London bombing have happened if England was not in Iraq? Maybe not. Would other bombings have happened elsewhere? Almost certainly. The problem is that there is no way to tell. Our lack of resolve in the face of previous bombings encouraged September 11. We have Osama's own word on it.

What about the flypaper analogy? Funny thing about real flypaper - it catches lots of flies but not all of them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Some Forgotten Details

In the coverage of Rove's emails, a lot of facts have gotten lost. I had to remind my wife what the whole thing is about. Much of what is being reported on the news is incomplete or inaccurate. I thought that this would be a good time for a recap.

In his State of the Union address prior to invading Iraq, President Bush stated that British intelligence learned that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium from Africa. Shortly after that, former ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an editorial saying that Bush had lied, that Wilson had been sent to Africa to investigate the charge and found that it was false. He went on to say that he knew that the final report was wrong immediately because it named the wrong officials as confirmed by Google.

A few months after this, Robert Novak wrote a column attacking Wilson's credibility. Among other things, Novak mentioned that Wilson was not particularly qualified to have done the investigation and only got the job because his wife, Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, recommended him.

Wilson shot back charging that his wife's status as a CIA employee was secret. He wrote a book insisting that his wife's identity had been revealed specifically to endanger her life and that this was meant as a warning to any other whistle-blowers.

Democrats took up the charge, some going so far as to insist that Novak should be charged with treason.

So far this has all been covered in the re-cap. Now we get to the part that is being ignored.

Around a year ago it came out that Wilson is a liar and a political hack. He was hired because his wife recommended him. The report he turned into the White House indicated that Iraq was trying to buy Uranium, just the opposite of what he was claiming in public. As for his claim that he knew immediately that the final report was wrong - he made that up. It turns out that he has never seen the report. He does not have security clearance for it.

It is also unclear just what Valerie Plame's function is. At the time of Novak's article she was an analyst based in DC. No one seems to be sure if she ever did any field work or if it was within five years of the leak. Her daring life as a Jane Bond might be another of Wilson's fabrications.

So Rove was trying to shield the White House from a cheap political attack based on lies. In the process of defending the President, Rove told how Wilson got the job and in the process, let slip why Plame was in a position to get her husband a job. He does not appear to have meant for this information to get out but it did.

Of course, the left hates Rove with a passion. They are sure that without him they would still control the country and that the road to retaking Congress and the White House begins with removing Rove. Accordingly they are jumping all over the story and distorting the facts. Look at this example from Keith Olbermann:
In his ‘story guidance’ to Matthew Cooper of Time, Rove did more damage to your safety than the most thumb-sucking liberal or guard at Abu Ghraib. He destroyed an intelligence asset like Valerie Plame merely to deflect criticism of a politician. We have all the damned politicians, of every stripe, that we need. The best of them isn’t worth half a Valerie Plame. And if the particular politician for whom Rove was deflecting, President Bush, is more than just all hat and no cattle on terrorism, he needs to banish Rove -- and loudly.
As a news anchor, Olbermann certainly knows that the work that Plame was doing when the story leaked was not covert investigation so her value was not destroyed. Olbermann is simply working himself into near hysteria in order to justify getting rid of Rove.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Blame Bush First

While watching coverage of the London bombing, I wondered how long it would take the Left to blame Bush for causing it.

Not long. A few minutes later I saw footage of Hillary speaking in the Senate. She was saying something about how Bush needed to spend more on national security (for Britain?).

By the weekend a consensus appeared among the mainstream left that the bombing repudiated Bush's "flypaper" strategy in Iraq - that it is better to have the terrorists attacking our soldiers in Iraq than our civilians in America. Never mind that this seems to have been perpetrated by a small group within Britain while September 11 involved people from multiple countries and three years of planning.

Eric Alterman started with a story saying that authorities are investigating the possibility that the terrorists trained in Iraq and ran with it. In Alterman's alternate reality a routine investigation becomes a certainty with the implication that the British terrorists would not have been able to learn bomb making without Iraq.

All of that is nothing, though. Comments at the Daily Kos suggested that Bush and Blair arranged for the attack themselves in order to distract people from the G8 conference. All of this got so bad that Kos removed the comments.

Others remain. Here is one conspiracy monger who is convinced that the British set up July 7 and that the US set up September 11.

All of this ignores a few important points. The most important is that the terrorists were attacking us prior to Iraq or even Afghanistan. They began planning September 11 in 1998 while Clinton was still president and peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians looked promising.

We are not dealing with reasonable people. Withdrawing from Iraq is currently their top demand but if they are successful, what will their next demand be?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yes... but

The 3rd episode of 30 Days was supposed to show how the Muslims living among us are victims of September 11-inspired paranoia. There were numerous comparisons made to the Oklahoma City bombing. What was missing was any realization of why Muslims in general are treated with suspicion in America. They did demonstrate it, though.

Part way through the show the current victim was arguing about terrorist bombing with his host. The argument was cut off in the middle by a call to prayer but not before we heard part of a "yes... but" statement.

When hundreds of people were killed in Oklahoma City, very few people cheered. Hardly anyone said that the bombing was justified and everyone who did say such a thing was treated with suspicion.

There was some suspicion that the Oklahoma City bombers were affiliated with radical white separatist Christians. The basic tenets of these groups have been disallowed by all mainstream Christian denominations.

That cannot be said of September 11. We saw pictures of Palestinians literally dancing in the street. The Taliban protected responsible people.

And Muslims in America say, "Yes, the bombings were bad, but they were justified."

Until the most common response from the Muslims living among us is, "The killing of innocent civilians is unconditionally wrong," then they are splitting their loyalties and we do not know which side they really favor.

An interesting development, according to the New York Times (I read it in a dead tree edition so I don't have a link), what had been Britain's most radical mosque is not calling for members to help bring the latest bombers to justice.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Is Rove Right?

In a June 22 speech on the state of conservatism, Karl Rove said:
But perhaps the most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. In the wake of 9/11, conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban; in the wake of 9/11, liberals believed it was time toÂ… submit a petition. I am not joking. Submitting a petition is precisely what did. It was a petition imploring the powers that be" to "use moderation and restraint in responding to theÂ… terrorist attacks against the United States."
Democrats went ballistic over this. There were calls for Rove's resignation. Keith Olbermann's response is typical:
In the ravings of Karl Rove against liberals (and the ravings of liberals against Karl Rove), I am reminded of yet another in my endless supply of pop culture references: The Twilight Zone episode called "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street."
[...] Think of how we responded — politically — to 9/11. First there was overwhelming non-partisanship. Years of deteriorating relations between the parties vanished; were even apologized for. And within three years the Republicans were insisting that a Democratic presidential victory would mean more terrorist attacks.
There is an interesting retorical trick at play here. Rove said "Liberals" but everyone is responding as though he had said "Congressional Democrats." He didn't and that makes all the difference.

An article here lists some of the liberal organizations that were against invading Afghanistan. I remember seeing a "Not in our Name" protest in November, 2001. A women-only group wore black dresses and veils to show solidarity with Afghan women against US oppression (I suspect that these same women were protesting Afghan women's oppression by the Taliban a few months earlier).

So, is it fair for Rove to smear all Democrats because of the actions of some fringe elements?

Yes, when these elements include George Soros's Open Society Institute and Half the financing for Kerry's campaign (the anti-Bush half) came from these sources. When you take someone's money it implies that you support their views.

This touches a huge problem that the Democrats have. Since McGovern in 1972 they have been the party of peace. A big wing of the party is against war for any reason. Congressional Democrats in 2001 knew that this was an unworkable position but since then the peace activists have mobilized to retake control of the party. You don't have to look any further than the current DNC chairman, Howard Dean.

I admit, I'm not sure of his stands on Afghanistan. They don't matter much anyway since no one was paying attention to him until 2003 when he briefly emerged as the Democrat front-runner on the basis of his anti-war stance.

As long as the America-is-wrong/the terrorists-are-right wing of the party has such a prominent position Rove is justified in his comments.