Tuesday, November 9, 2004

The Moral Apostasy of the Left

Atheist Christopher Hitchens recognizes an important difference between left-wing atheists and the Christian George Bush: The left apologizes for religious fanatics. The President fights them. In an excellent essay for Slate Hitchens delivers an indictment of his erstwhile allies on the ideological left. A couple of salient excerpts:

So here is what I want to say on the absolutely crucial matter of secularism. Only one faction in American politics has found itself able to make excuses for the kind of religious fanaticism that immediately menaces us in the here and now. And that faction, I am sorry and furious to say, is the left. From the first day of the immolation of the World Trade Center, right down to the present moment, a gallery of pseudointellectuals has been willing to represent the worst face of Islam as the voice of the oppressed. How can these people bear to reread their own propaganda?

Suicide murderers in Palestine-disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO-described as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time....

George Bush may subjectively be a Christian, but he-and the U.S. armed forces-have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled. The demolition of the Taliban, the huge damage inflicted on the al-Qaida network, and the confrontation with theocratic saboteurs in Iraq represent huge advances for the non-fundamentalist forces in many countries. The "antiwar" faction even recognizes this achievement, if only indirectly, by complaining about the way in which it has infuriated the Islamic religious extremists around the world. But does it accept the apparent corollary-that we should have been pursuing a policy to which the fanatics had no objection?

Secularism is not just a smug attitude. It is a possible way of democratic and pluralistic life that only became thinkable after several wars and revolutions had ruthlessly smashed the hold of the clergy on the state. We are now in the middle of another such war and revolution, and the liberals have gone AWOL.

Now if Hitchens were only willing to see that the strong sense of moral purpose and judgment which inspire his writing are without any substantial foundation in a universe without God, perhaps he would abandon not only the left but also the left's atheism. After all, a consistent thinker like Mr. Hitchens must recognize, once he reflects upon the matter, that one cannot be both an atheist and a moralist. Ultimately, one or the other must be thrown over.

If there is no God then there is no right or wrong apart from our subjective tastes or preferences. Our personal predilections, however, offer us no ground at all upon which to stand while passing judgment on the behavior of others, and Mr. Hitchens has built his career upon the passing of such judgments.

The Good News Keeps Coming

Arthur Chrenkoff's 14th edition of Good News From Iraq is on-line, and there's a ton of it. One wonders how many Democrats know about this site. Surely they aren't aware of it at ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN else their reportage on Iraq wouldn't be so consistently gloomy and pessimistic.

Speaking of Iraq, and more particularly, Fallujah, Belmont Club is on top of military developments there.


Captain's Quarters offers some pungent thoughts on the self-absorbed snifflings of Florida Democrats who are seeking therapy for what's being called Post Election Selection Trauma:

Just when I thought it was impossible for Democrats to sink any lower in their post-election tantrums - after all, it's hard to top secession as a political strategy for the arrested-development set - now they have their very own psychological disorder, according to the Boca Raton News:

The Boca Raton News reported Tuesday that Palm Beach, Florida trauma specialist Douglas Schooler alone has already treated 15 clients and friends with intense hypnotherapy since the Democratic candidate conceded on November 3.

"I had one friend tell me he's never been so depressed and angry in his life," Schooler said. "I observed patients threatening to leave the country or staring listlessly into space. They were emotionally paralyzed, shocked and devastated," he told the daily.

"We're calling it 'post-election selection trauma' and we're working to develop a counseling program for it," said Rob Gordon, the Boca Raton-based executive director of the American Health Association.

I have a theory that Democrats are secretly thrilled to have lost this election to George Bush, and this report confirms it. Nothing makes a Leftist happier than to belong to a victim class, and now they have created one that may exceed any that came before. It makes them feel more complete than even an official apology would. Next up, of course, is forcing employers and health-care providers to recognize it as a disability under ADA.

I would have thought that such a report could only be published by the Onion, but unfortunately this may be the least irrational reaction by Democrats this week. We've had MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell call for secession, his colleague Keith Olbermann proclaim the election rigged (while providing no evidence whatsoever), and massive requests for immigration information from Kerry supporters to everywhere except, oddly enough, France.

So far, the Democrats are demonstrating that they are anything but; in order to support democracy, one has to accept when their candidate loses as well as when they win. I'd like to ask how it feels to be less committed to democracy than the Afghanis, whose opposition candidates readily accepted their election results despite numerous hardships and difficulties. It's embarrassing when mainstream voices in a major party call for the breakup of the United States, and it's an insult to the men who gave their lives to keep the Union together less than 150 years ago, especially since the stakes are so superficial and petty.

At least they gave the "illness" a good name. Post-election selection trauma, or PEST, describes these summer patriots to a T.

The symptoms of the disorder make the sufferers sound like spoiled, self-centered brats who are so used to having their way that they can't believe they didn't get it in the election. One wonders how many of Mr. Schooler's clients beat their legs with their fists and stomped their feet when they realized that George Bush was going to win.

Hewitt On Specter

Hugh Hewitt has been arguing persuasively against denying Arlen Specter the chairmanship of the judiciary committee. His latest on the subject is here. He asks a number of pointed questions of those, like us, who think that Specter's intemperate and ungrateful remarks at a press conference last week make him unfit to serve. We find his argument compelling and are willing to abide a Specter chairmanship until the moment the Senator shows any sign of wavering with regard to a qualified Bush nominee.

Hewitt asks the following questions:

Would stopping Specter make it more or less likely that he would vote for Bush nominees to move from the committee to the floor?

Would stopping Specter make it more or less likely that Specter would vote to end filibusters on the floor?

Would stopping Specter make it more or less likely that Specter would vote to confirm nominees once they had made it to the floor and once a filibuster had been broken?

What would the effect of blocking Specter have on the conduct of his colleagues from the GOP's "center-left" wing, especially Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine and Chafee of Rhode Island? Would blocking Specter increase the likelihood of their opposition to Bush nominees? Can opponents of Specter guarantee that they can have their cake and eat it to, or might these four (and perhaps Hagel of Nebraska) respond by returning fire on nominees?

Specter's opposition to Bork in 1987 was 15 years ago. Specter supported Clarence Thomas and every Bush nominee since W's election in 2000. On what basis do opponents of Specter base their belief that he will oppose Bush nominees in the second term?

The answer to the last question, of course, is that he as much as said he would, but nevertheless, Hewitt is correct that bumping Specter could be counterproductive, especially by making an enemy out of him and hence his liberal Republican allies in the Senate.

Even so, the outcry that Republicans heard in Washington about Specter's pending selection is salutary. It sends a message to both the Republican senators in general and Specter in particular that the base back home is watching their every move and the good folks who comprise that base expect that the President's agenda will not be unfairly impeded, especially by members of his own party.

Tightening the Ring of Fire

Excerpts from the fourth rail, a milblog which is providing good analysis of the Fallujah battle:

Power has been cut off in the city, and all roads have been closed. The only people permitted to exit the city are women, children and boys under 15 and men over 50 years of age. The task force is using the full compliment of tools at its disposal: tanks, Bradley infantry vehicles, artillery, airstrikes, JDAMs, UAVs, robots, and the most effective tool in the U.S. military, the Infantryman and Marine trained in urban warfare (Military Operations on Urbanized Warfare - MOUT). The U.S. military seems to have perfected urban warfare and took historically low casualties in Fallujah last spring and in Najaf last summer. But the insurgents in Fallujah have had seven months to prepare the battlefield. Expect heavily fortified bunkers, roads littered with IEDs and buildings extensively booby-trapped.

A look at the map below [at the link] indicates that the city is effectively surrounded (blue boxes indicate suspected troop positions, keep in mind my assumptions on the Coalition forces both West and Southwest of the city). The neighborhood believed to be the stronghold of the insurgents is Jolan. Expect a box to form around this neighborhood as the Coalition forces segment and destroy all opposition in their area of operations; everything moving in this box will be fair game. The Marines and infantrymen will take buildings that will give then tactical superiority, then proceed to segment the Jolan neighborhood and clear the areas block by block, leveling any buildings deemed a threat to Coalition forces and clearing lanes of fire if needed. The railroad embankment to the North of Fallujah, the highway to the East (not pictured) and the Euphrates River to the West are effective man-made and natural boundaries that will help prevent the escape of insurgents fleeing the battlefield.

We haven't seen anything to suggest that there are simultaneous operations going on in Ramadi and other Sunni cities. Apparently, the commanders on the ground have decided that they would deal with these cities seriatim rather than all together as had been thought a possibility a couple of weeks ago.